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Christian Origins: A People's History Of Christianity, Vol. 1 Hardcover – November 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: People's History of Christianity (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Press (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080063411X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800634117
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,835,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

With Horsley, contributors include: Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley, Allen Dwight Callahan,Warren Carter, Neil Elliott, Steven J. Friesen,William R. Herzog II, Clarice J. Martin, Carolyn Osiek, Raymond Pickett, Barbara R. Rossing, Antoinette Clark Wire.

About the Author

Richard A. Horsley is Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author of The Message and the Kingdom (2002 with Neil Asher Siberman), Jesus and the Spiral of Violence (1992), and Jesus and the Empire (2002).

Customer Reviews

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Well written and informative.
T. Olcott
This paradox is seen best through the book, as Horsley et al weave the empirical story of Rome masterfully with the peasant following of Jesus.
Sherwin Sun
I highly recommend this book because it would give the reader a greater awareness to the people's history.
Tiffany L. Boatman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Valencia E. Edner on October 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The people are the most important part of history...

Fortress Press' A Peoples History of Christianity series understands one fundamental premise. There is no real history if the people are forgotten. In the first volume, Chrsitian Origins, Richard Horsley and those who contribute essays present an intriguing view of the thoughts, practices and beliefs of those in the Judean community who were affected by Jesus' sojourn. These people, historically invisible, are the faces in the crowds; those who gathered and hoped for deliverance from their circumstances. Horsley et al, give a riveting view of the lives of these persons and the impact of the ministry of Jesus on their lifestyles and their political views. Horsley is particularly engaging as he articulates the importance of the "Jesus movement" and the people's expectation of its renewal of Israel. These essays not only give light to the well known biblical accounts, but present a fresh outlook through the lens of the people who were apart of the communities affected by the spread of Christianity throughout the places that the apostles traveled.

One of the most notable chapters is William Herzog's essay "Why Peasants Responded to Jesus." This chapter looks at "doing history from below" exploring the use of parables as a means of expressing the pain associated with the oppression felt by those who were poor citizens under Roman rule. The distress of the poor and peasants reflected the socio-economic climate of the day, and the words of Jesus, especially in the parables that illuminated the disparity between the rich and the poor, helped to empower and give hope to those who were apart of the community.
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42 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was really looking forward to getting this book. It is volume one of a seven volume series on the history of Christianity written from the perspective of the common peasants of the time rather than the usual history written from the viewpoints of kings and famous writers and theologians.

But whenever you teach history from only one side, you are bound to have distortions, and this book is a clear example. Richard Horsley's introductory chapter lays the groundwork for the rest of the volume, as he discusses the peasant revolts of Theudas and Judas and the factors that led some of the common people to go along with them.

But Herzog's chapter on how peasants would have responded to Jesus was where things really got interesting. He contends that Jesus taught in parables to give peasant people encouragement to interpret their world.

But the Bible says just the opposite. It says that Jesus taught in parables "so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding" (Mark 4:12). In other words, the parables were a way for Jesus to deliberately teach so that those who were missing the point would continue to miss the point (both peasants and teachers of the law), and by logical extension, those who were alive to the truth would get it (the disciples).

Herzog also states that the parable of the rich man and Lazarus was to encourage the peasants about how there could be a great reversal in fortunes for the poor and the rich.

But Jesus is alluding to eternity beyond this life whereas Herzog seems to think that Jesus was painting a dream of something that could happen on earth. Herzog completely misses the otherworldliness of the context.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Hrebik on October 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Haven't they dominated center stage long enough?
By Kevin Hrebik, MAR, MDiv (in process)

Having been significantly impressed with the book as a whole, it came as a surprise to read other basically negative reviews, especially to claim insufficient premise support. Granted, no book will ever please everyone, but what book claims to? By the same token, what perspective is all-encompassing? Even the Bible is criticized for not being a science book or a history book, but neither of these is its purpose (although it contradicts no real science or real history, i.e., micro-evolution portending macro-evolution and thus being junk science, putting theory ahead of fact). That the authors chose to explore the relatively young and still undeveloped social and literary science of a "people's perspective" is to make an a priori case for their not being able to speak simultaneously and with equal weight to all standard perspectives, or to possess incontestable evidence.

It seemed the critics were somewhat patronizing and arguably illustrated the thesis of the commendably creative seven-volume series, that the vast preponderance of history has been written from the "top down", from the perspective and perpetuation of the elite view, assiduously capturing only the key people, events and "major tradition". A "bottom up" view of history, thus the subtitle, "A People's History..." written from the "minor tradition" and encompassing much harder to find nuances, requiring incomparably greater research and analysis, and some necessary speculation, is not only welcome but sorely needed.
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