Desire of the Everlasting Hills
is another present from the pen of Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization
and The Gifts of the Jews
. In this third volume of the bestselling Hinges of History series, he knits together history, politics, sociology, and faith with contemporary insights that yield remarkable results.
After painting with broad brush strokes an entertaining picture of the Greek, Jewish, and Roman world, Cahill focuses on Jesus. With illuminating deductions and clever speculation, Jesus is seen though the eyes of his biographers in their Gospel accounts. Each of these authors' lives is reconstructed in such a way that the richness of their writing and their subject matter is wonderfully enhanced.
The section on Paul, detailing how his life and letters shaped the early church, should be required reading for every student of the Bible. From his beginnings in the cosmopolitan city known as Tarsus through his calling, like the patriarchs and prophets before him, he becomes "the perfect vehicle for this moment in the development of the Jesus Movement." His mix of Greek reasoning with rabbinical training casts the stories of the early church into a thoughtful theology. He is seen here as the earliest egalitarian who not only impacted the early church but all of western civilization.
Cahill challenges many traditional religious ideas while also taking on some of the more radical contemporary interpreters of biblical literature. As with the other volumes in this series, the marginal notes are filled with a wealth of interesting information. Combining his own fresh translation of many New Testament highlights with respect and humor, Thomas Cahill's book is for the believer and nonbeliever alike. --Tracy Danz
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From Publishers Weekly
Cahill, no stranger to sweeping historical narratives (The Gifts of the Jews; How the Irish Saved Civilization), triumphs again with this imaginatively written account of Jesus and the early Christian Church. Cahill begins in the manner of most Jesus books, with the Greco-Roman world of the three centuries before Jesus, but here Greece and Rome come to life in Cahill's depiction of their violent despotism. Cahill has an eye for the common person's experience of war, famine and religious upheaval, and it is with this vantage point that he shows readers why Jesus' message of peace and forgiveness was so very startling. Cahill is familiar with biblical scholarship of the origins of the Gospels and their various theological differences, but he is more interested in how ordinary folks might have received Jesus, whom he portrays as "no ivory-tower philosopher but a down-to-earth man" who "hugely enjoyed a good dinner with friends." Although this idea is by no means original, Cahill presents Jesus with infectious energy, and his take on Mary is certainly fresh. "With her keen sense of retributive justice," as evidenced in the Magnificat, Cahill writes, Mary was disappointed with Jesus' odd admonitions to turn the other cheekAshe had been "counting on something with more testosterone in it." The best chapter of all is on Paul, whose theological contributions are beautifully recapitulated for the layperson (Cahill also rightly highlights "Paul's perceptiveness, even craftiness, in dealing with other human beings"). There are a few glosses in the book, including instances in which Cahill elevates pious legend to fact; for example, he asserts that the remains of Simon Peter's home "may still be seen at Capernaum, when in fact the home's history has by no means been stablished. Overall, however this is an engrossing portrait of Jesus through the eyes of His family and followers.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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