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James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls Paperback – March 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1136 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014025773X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140257731
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robert Eisenman, one of the most eminent researchers of early Christianity working today, has produced an exhaustive study of the historical milieu at the time of Jesus and come to the conclusion that James, rather than Peter, was heir to his teachings. Because the historical material regarding James is actually quite plentiful, a clear picture arises not only in regard to who James was, but by extension, who Jesus was also. Controversy is assured; still, given a patient reading, one will discover that Eisenman's research is meticulous, his arguments cogent, and his conclusions persuasive. This should prove to be a popular and influential book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In previous writings (most recently, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, LJ 2/1/93), Eisenman drew attention to apparent parallels between the Qumran community reflected in the scrolls and the early Jewish Christian community led by James, the brother of Jesus. In his latest work, he attempts to examine further those parallels and to rescue James from "the scrapheap of history." Eisenman believes James's role in early Christianity has been downplayed in the tradition(s) preserved in the New Testament, primarily the Gospels and Acts. Vestiges of the real James are blurred. Eisenman, therefore, chooses to place more confidence in extra-biblical writings, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls, for understanding James and his role in early Christianity; he takes every opportunity to deprecate the writings of the New Testament (except where they can be pressed into service to strengthen his case). At times it is difficult to determine whether the author's goal is to reclaim James or defame the New Testament. This piece of tendentious research is not the key to unlocking anything about early Christianity.?Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Steiner on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Eisenman's "James" is the BEST work of non-fiction I have EVER read. It should be required reading for anyone who makes ANY claim to (Western) Religious Knowledge -- theological, historical, or spiritual. It is not for the faint of heart: It is both physically massive and conceptually dense. In my case, six months, cover-to-cover. My wife called it the "Omnipresent Tome." To pick it up is a true investment -- But boy does it pay.

Though deep scholarship, Eisenman's tale is nonetheless gripping. He outlines his premises, then weaves and connects them with meticulous care. His book reads like a detective story. But "James" is much more -- a monumental struggle to recover lost memory. A Deleted History, to which each of us has a real and important relation. It is a story of intrigue and transcendence, of subterfuge and conflict.

For some readers, the book must imply a dark, unspoken theme. Dark, because there is the most Insidious and Ironic Purpose behind our forgetfulness. Eisenman is not just reproducing the shattered. He is not merely recreating processes of undirected time. He is helping us to name the Culpable, the Robbers of Self-Memory, the Perpetrators of the Shattering. "James the Brother of Jesus" shines a very direct light on the shadowy foundations of Western religious assumption.

I was fascinated by the principal personalities of Eisenman's story -- James, Josephus, and Paul -- as well as the dozens of fragmentary echoes of voices that were silenced long ago. One is left wondering at the Systematic Erasure of early witness. So much history (yet so little) exists only as attributed quotes, eviscerations which appear in others' writings, as if they had crawled there to be hidden, like the Treasures of the Copper Scroll...
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90 of 102 people found the following review helpful By A Reader VINE VOICE on September 15, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Theology and bibical study has a tradition of tough-mindedness and intellectual rigor that makes extreme demands on the modern reader who has grown up with Sesame Street and Chicken-Soup For The Lazy. Eisenman cuts the reader no slack.
This volume should be read with the understanding that any commentary on the Dead-Sea Scrolls published more than perhaps 5 years ago was warped into meaninglessness by the pious orthodoxy of the guardians of those scrolls. Any reader of the King James version of the New Testement must acknowledge that James was the brother of Jesus and the designated leader of the church after Jesus departed the scene. Orthodoxy has never explained how the theology of Paul came to dominate the Christian tradition and the little letter of James is taken with such a large grain of salt. Eisenman is a giant step in that direction and deserves a respectful counter-argument from the orthodox tradition
John P. Meier's 2 vol work "A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus" is a good supplement to Eisenman. Meier has more extensive footnotes with good expanding remarks on Josephus where Eisenman only cites his sources. Eisenman makes good use of "the normal canons of historical argument and literary analysis" particulary as they have developed in redaction criticism of the bible. The reader need not have a degree in bible studies to slog through this difficult intellectual swamp. But the reader will drown if they depend on a traditional Christian fundamentalist life jacket to keep their faith afloat while making this journey.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Castellanos on January 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have found Prof. Eisenman's work extremely valuable. His critics are right when they point out that the book is long, repetitious, and difficult. This is why I consider the book falls a star short of a 5 star winner. But perhaps the detail of the book is necessary. In Prof. Eisenman's profession "proofs" do not exist. Only interpretations. The more detail you have, perhaps the better the interpretation. I am not sure Eisenman is always right, but he is, nevertheless, enlightening. And he, trying to recover the true story of early christianity, is closer to the truth than those who look for "Jesus, the son of God" rather than "the historical Jesus". For many, the mere fact that Jesus had a brother will be a revelation. But it is equally valuable to consider that the "Ecclesia" James (and, by extension, Jesus) had in mind was a nationalistic, apocalyptic, fanatic movement against the Empire of the time. Paul, being accomodatitious with power, rejecting the local aspects of early Christianity, and transforming Jesus into a supernatural figure, made Him universal. No mean feat, but is chilling to consider that that was not the original intention. Serious work, made by an open mind. You will require one too to painfully read it. But, when you are in pain, you must remember that the author took greater pains to write it: he had to argue against orthodoxy, even Divinity, and he was mostly successful.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is long. The author is somewhat tedious in his explanations. BUT... if you have questions like:
- Was "Jesus" the first person of that name?
- Did he have biological brothers?
- What happened to the "Christians" in Jerusalem?
- Why would the Sanhedrin meet at midnight during Passover?
- Why did the Romans crucify Jesus?
- Why is Judas Iscariot the only "apostle" with a surname?
- How did the "apostle" Paul get Roman citizenship?
- Why is so much New Testament material written by Greeks, by people who never met Jesus?
- Where is the material written by those who met him face to face?
- and more....
Then this is THE book for you. Mr. Eisenman is a creditable source, a central researcher of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Palistinian antiquity. I won't say it's an easy read, but the points he makes are consistent and have the ring of truth. Those entrenched in blind faith may find themselves challenged.
Those concerned about the recent movie, "The Passion Of Jesus The Christ", may find that it no longer matters.
I found this book life-changing, though I expect to challenge some of it's tenets by reading the Dead Sea material myself.
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