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Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts Paperback – November 25, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Why did Jesus happen when and where he happened?" is the question that drives Excavating Jesus, a collaboration between the leading historical Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan and noted Galilean archeologist Jonathan Reed. Excavating Jesus is a groundbreaking work of popular biblical scholarship, an extraordinarily mature and accessible integration of textual study with archeological research. "Words talk. Stones talk too. Neither talks from the past without interpretive dialogue with the present. But each demands to be heard in its own way," the authors write. True to this principle, Crossan and Reed consider archaeology and exegesis "as twin independent methods, neither of which is subordinate or submissive to the other." The bulk of the book identifies, analyzes, and integrates what the authors believe to be the "top 10" archeological discoveries pertaining to the life of Jesus (such as the house of the apostle Peter at Capernaum), and the top 10 exegetical discoveries (such as the Dead Sea Scrolls). Their excavation of the most important sites and texts, accompanied by stunning illustrations and photographs, provide perhaps the most precise picture of the world in which Jesus lived. For many readers, this information will also shed light on the central themes of Christianity. For instance, in the first century in Galilee, "the Kingdom" meant the Roman Empire. "When, therefore, Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, he chose the one expression most calculated to draw Roman attention to what he was doing. Not the 'people' or the 'community' of God, but the 'Kingdom' of God." That's why the Baptism movement of John and the Kingdom movement of Jesus started there and then." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In his monumental The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, Crossan brilliantly challenged conventional historical Jesus scholarship. Using social-scientific and literary critical methods, he uncovered the layers of the Jesus traditions in the Gospels, excavating not an eschatological prophet preaching a future divine kingdom, but an itinerant Galilean peasant preaching a kingdom based on "commensality," or the just distribution of food. Many critics disagreed violently with Crossan, contending that his book was full of outlandish assertions. Now Crossan partners with archeologist Reed to demonstrate the material basis of his earlier textual arguments. With exceptional skill, the authors weave a spellbinding tale of the ways that recent archaeological finds support the rich textual layers of the Gospel stories. For example, Crossan and Reed show the radical nature of Jesus' kingdom of itinerancy and commensality by using the archeology of Herod's palace to demonstrate that his meals, far from the all-encompassing feasts associated with earlier temples, had become elite affairs. Jesus' invitations to the marginalized and outcast to sit at the table flew in the face of this social and political structure. Like any other book that uses archeology to support its claims about biblical texts, this one will be criticized for using material remains to read the Bible in a particular way. However, Crossan and Reed's book provides a fascinating, beautifully illustrated and elegantly written account of the life and times of Jesus, providing readers with one of the richest glimpses into Jesus and his world now available.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: REVISED & UPDATED With a Full Evaluation of the "Brother of Jesus" Discovery
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 Reprint edition (November 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060616342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060616342
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John D. Crossan is generally acknowledged to be the premier historical Jesus scholar in the world. His books include The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, and Who Killed Jesus? He recently appeared in the PBS special "From Jesus to Christ."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By LarryE on October 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I would account this a good book, well worth the read. The noble attempt to fuse archaeological evidence with Biblical exegesis is very helpful in giving a much clearer vision of life in the first century and thereby putting a context to Jesus' life and preaching.
It is not, however, free of flaws, and those have caused me to give it only three stars instead of four. One is that the jumping back and forth between archaeology and exegesis is sometimes confusing. Another is that whole paragraphs, whole physical descriptions, entire lines of argument, are sometimes repeated almost word for word. These are problems that superior editing could have and should have dealt with.
Another issue involves not so much a flaw as a caveat, but it does matter. I freely admit to not being a believer; my interest is in the historical Jesus, the real, actual flesh-and-blood person who sought to bring a prophetic message to the ignored and exploited, who died likely thinking himself a failure and convinced, if the Gospels are to be believed at all, that even God had forsaken him - but whose life and death became the basis for one of the world's great religions (and political forces).
In pursuing that interest, I've read several books on the Gospels and the life of Jesus by various authors (including Crossan) and I've noticed they all share one characteristic: Every author has his or her own Jesus, their own particular view of him and of how he himself saw his work and his intent, and they invariably interpret Biblical passages in ways that fit their notions. This is as true of devout believers as it is of dedicated debunkers. The current volume is no exception, and the caveat is thus that the book should be read with open eyes as well as open minds.
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91 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Callahan, M.D. on October 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The world's premier Historical Jesus expert and a brilliant young archaeologist of the Galilee team up together in a fascinating new book that digs down through the complex layers of ancient ruins and ancient texts to uncover a fuller portrait of Jesus and the first century Palestine where he lived. In their unique collaboration, *Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts*, John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed explore and weave together the ten most significant archaeological findings from ancient Palestine with the ten most significant textual discoveries of modern biblical studies. The result of their combined efforts is an unforgettable glimpse into the everyday life of Jesus of Nazareth as we've never seen before.
Crossan, the best-selling author of several authoritative books on the Historical Jesus including *The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant* and *The Birth of Christianity*, marries his exhilarating and provocative portrait of Jesus as a counter-cultural itinerant Jewish preacher of a radically just and egalitarian Kingdom of God with the phenomenal advances in biblical archeology and cultural anthropology that have revolutionized those disciplines over the last one hundred years. Reed, author of the highly-praised study *Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: A Re-examination of the Evidence* and lead archaeologist at the current Sepphoris excavations in the Galilee, provides compelling descriptions of first century material culture that persuasively paint a clear picture of the clash of two kingdoms--the earthly imperial Kingdom of Rome as practiced by the Herods and Caesar with tacit cooperation of leading Jewish elites, and the divine but also earthly Kingdom of God as preached by Jesus and his peasant followers.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on December 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm not necessarily stating my beliefs, just reporting the claims of this book and also in some cases extending to logical conclusions the authors' theories and suggestions as I felt them to be. I hope I neither offend anyone, nor misrepresent what Crossan was attempting to say.

Jesus was of rural, small-town origins.

Jesus was born into one of the most desolate areas of his homeland. Galilee of that era was the sticks and Nazareth was not a community so much as a commune. It was around twenty buildings housing circa a dozen families, their livestock, their possessions. There was no road leading to it, merely a footpath many miles through the wilderness. There was a communal well, but no public buildings such as a house of worship, law court or marketplace. The people of Galilee spoke in a "rural" accent so thick it was all-but incomprehensible to the more urbane Jews of Jerusalem. Jesus was from such an off-the-beaten-path place it is unlikely many living more than a few miles from it had even heard of Nazareth. In other words, we're talking remote.

Jesus was possibly an illiterate.

Before this sounds impossible, remember, even in a Jewish population that prized education among males, most people at that time and place were probably illiterates. This is not to say Jesus was unintelligent. The quotes and parables attributed to him suggest he was anything but mentally deficient. Jesus would have had a strong background in the oral traditions of his people and like most illiterates, the parts of his brain that dealt with memorization would have been highly stimulated, giving him a keen memory and immediate grasp of verbally-presented facts.

Jesus' parentage.

Jesus may have been conceived without sex and born to a virgin.
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