Item description for The Birth of Christianity : Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan...
Overview The world's foremost expert on the historical Jesus brilliantly reveals how Christianity emerged in the period after Jesus' death. "Flashes of genius" ("San Francisco Chronicle").
Publishers Description In this national bestseller, John Dominic Crossan, the world's leading expert on the historical Jesus, reveals how Christianity emerged in the period following Jesus' death. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Crossan shines new light on the theological and cultural contexts from which the Christian church arose. He argues powerfully that Christianity would have happened with or without Paul and contends that Jesus' "resurrection" meant something vastly different for his early followers than it does for many traditional Christians today--what mattered was Christina origins finally illuminates the mysterious period that set Western religious history in its decisive course.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Birth of Christianity : Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus by John Dominic Crossan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly Best Books - 01/01/1998 page 47
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John Dominic Crossan is the author of The Historical Jesus (T&T Clark, 1991). He chairs the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature. Luke Timothy Johnson is Woodruff Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. The author of a number of best-selling books, he is also editor of the Anchor Study Bible. Werner H. Kelber is Turner Professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University.
John Dominic Crossan currently resides in Clermont, in the state of Florida.
John Dominic Crossan has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Birth of Christianity : Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus?
important but unreadable May 29, 2008
Too many fine biblical scholars like Crossan and Robert Eisenman just do not know how to communicate. They should take a lesson from Bart Ehrman who does.
The Birth of Christianity by Dominic Crossan Mar 1, 2008
Highly recommended for open mind students in religion. A must read book scholarly done with an intellectual honesty.
A magnificent edifice, but is it built on sand? Oct 10, 2006
Like a lawyer with a weak case, Crossan relies on razzle-dazzle and hand-waving, but I'm afraid the jury will have to render a verdict of Not Proven.
As a layman, in the academic and religious senses, I'm not qualified to criticize his argument in detail, so I can only go by my sense of smell, which in this case detects reductionism, anachronism, grasping at straws, cherry picking of the work of others, and perhaps even wishful thinking.
The subtitle might lead you to expect a hypothetical reconstruction of events between 30 and 50 CE, but that's not really what Crossan is up to. In fact, the sources we already have for those years, namely Acts and the letters of Paul, are somewhat arbitrarily swept off the table right at the beginning of the book, and only referred to subsequently when needed to support an argument. Instead, Crossan builds an elaborate argument, painstakingly making his case point by point, revealing his conclusions only after a lot of (very selective) side trips into anthropology, archaeology, literary criticism, psychology, and God knows what else.
In a way it's a shame that Crossan feels he has to work so hard to make his case, as his basic point certainly has merit -- that the historical Jesus and his immediate followers were primarily social reformers firmly rooted in the Jewish concept of justice. They probably lived communally in Jerusalem (just as they are described in Acts, of course), and after Jesus' death, were more interested in his teachings than his divinity.
Possibly, but if that's all Jesus was, why should we still be so interested in him 2000 years later? Surely, at a minimum, he was one of the most original and charismatic thinkers of all time. Spiritual giants like Jesus, even if they are only human, still have the ability to see beyond the narrow confines of the space and time in which they find themselves. For Crossan, though, Jesus is closer to a proto-Gandhi or Martin Luther King than to a figure of almost, if not literally, superhuman stature.
With all my reservations, though, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It may be a hard slog, but parts of it are brilliant and profound. I certainly learned a lot from it, and I'm eager to explore the subject with other authors. It could be that they will convince me that Crossan is full of hooey, but I'm still not sorry I spent so much time in his very entertaining company.
Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah Jul 11, 2006
What a big disappointment this book was.
As I read it, I kept expecting eventually to hear about the birth of Christianity. But this book is not about the birth of Christianity. Rather you read 600 pages devoted to John Dominic Crossan's ego.
Mr. Crossan repeatedly writes: 1. What he is going to tell us, 2. Why he is going to tell us, 3. How he is going to tell us, etc. But, he never tells the story of the birth of Christianity. There is no story or history explaining the early development of Christianity. It is not that there is a story that I disagree with, or one that I find boring; rather, there is no story at all.
The book's title is not just misleading, it is an absolute lie. This book is not about the birth of Christianity.
Mr. Crossan's book is pathetic, when compared to G.A Well's "Who Was Jesus" or L.Michael White's "From Jesus to Christianity" or Arthur Drews' "The Christ Myth." All three are much better books. And while I may not agree with everything these authors say, at least they tell a story of how Christianity developed.
The Birth of Christianity is Revisionist and Boring May 10, 2006
The Birth of Christianity
This book is more "the death of clarity" than "The Birth of Christianity."
Crossan squanders a great deal of time and consumes precious ink in this book, the stated purpose of which is to offer the reader an account of the first two decades of the early Christian Church. Crossan says less about this than one would hope and takes more pages of print than necessary to do so. He seems concerned about connecting the beginnings of Christianity to the larger cultural milieu and showing how Christianity is much more like the rest of the culture than heretofore imagined.
For instance, he points out that stories about Augustus and other ancients are like unto the stories about Jesus (their births the result of a divine-human encounter) and he compares Christ's resurrection appearances to commonplace wishful visions of the grief-sick minds of bereft loved-ones in any century.
This would be reason enough to avoid this book but frankly, Crossan is also guilty of boring the reader.
Why would we wish to hear about the "Perfect Storm" sinking in a book that purports to be about the decades between Christ's resurrection and Paul's letters? I cannot think of any reason.
But Crossan pads his text with that and similar filler - as if he reached for everything he had been reading at the time and said, "Mmm, how can I put this in there, too?" The end result is an unsuccessful mishmash of words, words, words-enough to make a tenth grade English teacher quit and get a job at the five and ten.
If you want to read about the first several decades of the Christian church there are better-many many much better-books to read. Serious readers, whether laypersons, clergy or theologians, would be better served to go again to the classic scholarly writers who have tackled this subject successfully. They will have all the detail with no filler whatsoever:
- A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Revised) Kenneth S. Latourette - still THE classic resource of the history of the church. No serious reader should miss it.
- The Early Church (Hist of the Church). A brilliant work of scholarship, beautiful prose.
And the best of the recent books on this subject:
- From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith - filled with charts, graphs, sidebars and other features to help the reader understand the message.