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The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasa [Paperback]

By John Dominic Crossan (Author)
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Item description for The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasa by John Dominic Crossan...

Offers a historical look at the life of Jesus Christ, portraying him as a courageous Jewish Mediterranean peasant and a radical social revolutionary

Publishers Description

"He comes as yet unknown into a hamlet of Lower Galilee. He is watched by the cold, hard eyes of peasants living long enough at a subsistence level to know exactly where the line is drawn between poverty and destitution. He looks like a beggar yet his eyes lack the proper cringe, his voice the proper whine, his walk the proper shuffle. He speaks about the rule of God and they listen as much from curiosity as anything else. They know all about rule and power, about kingdom and empire, but they know it in terms of tax and debt, malnutrition and sickness, agrarian oppression and demonic possession. What, they really want to know, can this kingdom of God do for a lame child, a blind parent, a demented soul screaming its tortured isolation among the graves that mark the edges of the village?"

-- from "The Gospel of Jesus," overture to The Historical Jesus

The Historical Jesus reveals the true Jesus--who he was, what he did, what he said. It opens with "The Gospel of Jesus," Crossan's studied determination of Jesus' actual words and actions stripped of any subsequent additions and placed in a capsule account of his life story. The Jesus who emerges is a savvy and courageous Jewish Mediterranean peasant, a radical social revolutionary, with a rhapsodic vision of economic, political, and religious egalitarianism and a social program for creating it.

The conventional wisdom of critical historical scholarship has long held that too little is known about the historical Jesus to say definitively much more than that he lived and had a tremendous impact on his followers. "There were always historians who said it could not be done because of historical problems," writes Crossan. "There were always theologians who said it should not be done because of theological objections. And there were always scholars who said the former when they meant the latter.'

With this ground-breaking work, John Dominic Crossan emphatically sweeps these notions aside. He demonstrates that Jesus is actually one of the best documented figures in ancient history; the challenge is the complexity of the sources. The vivid portrayal of Jesus that emerges from Crossan's unique methodology combines the complementary disciplines of social anthropology, Greco-Roman history, and the literary analysis of specific pronouncements, anecdotes, confessions and interpretations involving Jesus. All three levels cooperate equally and fully in an effective synthesis that provides the most definitive presentation of the historical Jesus yet attained.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasa by John Dominic Crossan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • New Yorker (The) - 05/24/2010 page 74
  • Library Journal - 02/01/1992

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   544
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 1993
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060616296  
ISBN13  9780060616298  
UPC  099455019002  

Availability  0 units.

More About John Dominic Crossan

John Dominic Crossan 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...
  1. Biblical Scholarship in North America

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Crossan, John, Dominic
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Jesus > Historical Jesus
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > New Testament Studies > Jesus Studies

Reviews - What do customers think about The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasa?

Massive Scholarship, But Not Concise Enough  May 13, 2008
This is an enormous collection of material about the world at the time of Jesus. It's difficult and very long reading. Many of the ideas about Jesus and the text are conjectural. That's fine, but there are ways to at least cover the texts we have more clearly. Crossan writes about Roman lifestyle, modern scholarship about anthropological views of revolts, --it's very wide ranging and, ironically, very far from the historical Jesus.

Crossan has the habit of using complex prose, and witty section headings. Those section headings, while insightful, don't allow you to get a sense of what the section covers. That just adds to the sense of rambling over a very wide focus.

This text brings an almost encyclopedic amount of material together that helps to build a picture of the world at the time of Jesus of Nazareth. Be prepared, it's very slow going. I feel that this text is more a collection of historical notes, than a finished product. I did not find that it was succinct enough to warrant the effort to read every word.

The scholarship is fine and the writing is interesting (if dense at times). It pulls together some of the ideas of a major NT scholar. I'm still looking for a readable and comprehensive work that covers this material a bit more succinctly. This work, which is worth looking at, to say the least, didn't quite fit what I am looking for. I think most readers are also looking for something more informative and clear.
Christ in Context  Dec 29, 2007
"The Historical Jesus" by John Dominic Crossan is a scholarly work that is intended for those willing to undergo a baptism in detail that will leave them fully immersed in the life and times of Jesus. But be forewarned; the book will overwhelm the casual reader, and it is not likely a weekend read for anyone.

Nevertheless, those who take this long journey will find it rewarding, for it will help put in context the troubled times in which Jesus lived, times that were likely to produce prophets and protestors. That Jesus could find an audience for his message of peace in such times is a miracle in its own right.

The book also explains the political realities among the various groups and sects in a First-Century Judea under Roman occupation. Seen in this light, Jewish religious and political leaders behaved practically, not meanly. In fact, from their perspective, they were behaving nobly, for their actions were an attempt to preserve the faith, the people and the nation.

Such information is not usually found in the traditional teaching of the Christian church, let alone in pot-boiler propaganda such as Mel Gibson's medieval movie rendering of "The Passion of the Christ". Anyone who wants to understand why that movie was an outrage to some should read "The Historical Jesus".
Historical Jesus, a serious study  Dec 15, 2007
This is an essential work for any serious understanding of Jesus today.
I do not agree with all Crossan's interpretations, but he gives essential background for study of Jesus life and times from an historical perspective. The first half of the work details the social, political and religious atmosphere of the times which I found tedious but then discovered information that gave me important insight into the life of Jesus that Ihad not seen before. I found his codes of types of authentations to be confusing until I broke the code with the help of the internet.
Massive, Important Scholarship  Aug 21, 2007
For all its flaws, John Dominic Crossan's "The Historical Jesus" is certainly essential reading for anyone interested in, well, the historical Jesus. Crossan is a scholar of the first order, and his massive erudition brings together otherwise disparate pieces of ancient history and literature, biblical and secular, to create an honest and methodologically consistent portrait.

Alas, it is his method in which I think the most flaws are to be found. The two most cited sources for his program of stratifying the "first layer" of the Jesus tradition which then moves on to multiple attestation are the "Sayings Gospel" Q and the extracanonical Gospel of Thomas. While Q is a pretty uncontroversial result of over a century of scholarship, it is uncertain, first, whether such a document exists, and second (and much more controversially) whether different layers of its construction can be identified. As for the Gospel of Thomas, his remarkably early dating in the 50s CE (compare with canonical Mark, which in his view does not come around until the early 70s, although here he is at least more or less backed up by the majority of critical scholars) is certainly open for debate. John Meier, in the first volume of his "A Marginal Jew" series, convincingly summarizes a case for the dependence of Thomas on the synoptic gospels. It is something of a shame that Crossan's portrait of Jesus depends so heavily on questionable dating; the preacher of a sapiental Kingdom of God, at least, would not have anything near the force it currently does were the Gospel of Thomas put in the second century, which is where many scholars place it.

Still, the merits of this work are many and much-needed. Among them are his critical reading of Josephus, the analysis of different protest movements in the Roman Empire (which follows on the work, primarily, of Richard Horsley), and his always insightful reading of Jesus' parables. While Crossan is often credited, and criticized, for classifying Jesus as a sort of Jewish cynic, I don't think the radicalism he sees is necessarily dependent on any philosophical "type." It's a natural enough result of his stratigraphy of the Jesus tradition.

No one can accuse Crossan of being unprovocative, and this work has inspired lively debate within the now puttering historical Jesus enterprise. Even if you disagree with him utterly, he is a force to be reckoned with. I find that my loyalties lie more with scholars like Meier and E.P. Sanders, since their portraits do not rely on terribly specific dating of the gospels, much less different layers within them, which I believe Crossan judges with too much confidence. Meier's volume 1 to "A Marginal Jew," mentioned above, contains the best criticism I have seen of Crossan and others' tendentious dating methods. Donald Harman Akenson, in his "Saint Saul," also has good critiques of such methods, although at times his criticisms amount to little more than personal attack.

As Crossan says in the closing paragraph, "if you cannot believe in something produced by reconstruction, you may have nothing left to believe in." In this I think he is quite correct, and even if his isn't the best, it is certainly one of the most formidable and enduringly interesting.
Crossan's Jesus  Nov 22, 2006
Crossan writes well, and his "historical Jesus" is a must-read and a fast-read for anyone interested in Jesus or Christianity.
There is a trend for academics teaching the Bible or religion to write popular works that would hopefully capture the imagination of the non-initiated or the curious (e.g. Bart Ehrman's or N.T. Wright's rapidly accumulating volumes). They come from both ends of the political/world-view/ philosophical and what-have-you spectrum and in between. This book was one of the pioneers of this approach.
In any case, works that touch on the figure of Jesus and beliefs about him are bound to elicit controversy and discussion. That is often part of the author's agenda. And they all must be taken with a grain of salt - whether it's Schweitzer's Jesus, Bultmann's Jesus, Ehrmann's Jesus, Fredericksen's Jesus, Sanders' Jesus, Wright's Jesus, Vermes' Jesus, Liberation Theology's Jesus, the Jesus Seminar's Jesus....
What matters is that the author should be responsible enough to take into account conflicting issues, proceed in a reasoned argument, and be intellectually honest.

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