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Jesus Before Christianity Paperback – September 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; 25 Anv Sub edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570754047
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570754043
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I wish that I had read this book a long time ago.
Donald A. Vossler
Whether you are thrilled by this book as a Christian or merely wish to know more about the historical Jesus, by all means, read this book.
David E. Blair
I find this book very interesting and insightful.
Doris Bissonnette

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 95 people found the following review helpful By David E. Blair on December 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Orbis-Maryknoll's 25h anniversary reissue of Nolan's book is both timely and well advised. Jesus Before Christianity is above all a very careful explication of the life of Jesus as it is portrayed in the New Testament. It tends to concentrate on His mission prior to the resurrection and, therefore, weeds out much Christological material, early Church development, and liturgical instruction. It also occasionally references Jesus to Old Testament prophecies where called for. What we have here is a remarkable book of exegetics, interpretation, and commentary on the New Testament in so far as it sheds light on the historical Jesus. Nolan a Roman Catholic priest brings a fresh outlook and vast erudition to his task considering its original publication date. That many a reader is excited by his project is a tribute to his writing and the message he finds in Jesus' life.

He arranges his book in nineteen chapters each of which examines an aspect of Jesus and or his mission. Do I necessarily agree with each of the author's interpretations? No, not always, but at his best, he has an expansive understanding of God's love and compassion that is deeply moving. Written in the 1970's, Nolan is well versed in the literature of the mid Twentieth Century regarding his subject. The bibliography and footnotes are a treasure yielding much to read of further interest. So who is Nolan's Jesus? He reminds one of John Crossan's Jesus but with far greater majesty and simplicity. His portrait of Jesus as the revelation of the one true God is moving. Compassion and love and an unerring sense of the truth distinguish Jesus in this book. Regarding the human aspect of Jesus, little I have read is more insightful or convincing.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really like this book and the approach it takes. Rather than looking at mere historical facts or starting with a lot of assumptions, it starts from scratch. Most importantly, it looks at various points where Jesus had to make a decision and analyzed the meaning based on the decision made. In other words, it looked at what Jesus' behavior meant relative to a particular historical and social context. This is a very psychological approach and one that sheds light on his life by providing a somewhat different lens than most people use habitually to understand Jesus' life.

Also, this book is well-written and easy to read. It brings the bible and the figure of Jesus and his time to life. It provoked a lot of inquiry on my part and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author also follows a good line of reasoning and seems to try very hard to avoid bias.

No book is perfect and this book is no exception. However, overall it is well done, scholarly and accessible. If you are a Christian or just someone curious about the historical Jesus, you will find a lot of value here. Many parts of the book read like good fiction and like good fiction this good storytelling is quite compelling.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By BBG on August 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was so stunned to read the one-star review that I had to write. Above anything I have ever read, this book changed my life. It was a clarion call for we who say we are Christians to wake up and absorb the radically uncomfortable messages of the real Jesus, Jesus the Jew, the Jesus who existed before the apostles hit the road to create the belief systems and institutions that undergird Christianity. His profound messages speak of love for the dispossessed, the exploited, the forgotten, and challenge our rationalizations about why we deserve to enjoy such cushy lives without thinking twice about our impact elsewhere in the world. If you want to learn, and to grow deeply and broadly in your faith and in its expression in the world, read this book. But be warned: you may feel a strong pull to radically change your own life -- for the sake of others.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By steven gray on October 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
Nolan's audience is anyone sincerely interested in Jesus of Nazareth, believer and non-believer alike. I have been a Believer for fifty years and have read at least fifty books about Jesus. This one captures the human side of Jesus, the lover of God and Man, better than any I've found to date. No one can come away from this book unchanged. Nolan's treatment combines historical data, religious insight, and contemporary issues in such a thoughtful, respectful, matter-of-fact, even-handed manner that the faith of the believer and the curiosity of the bystander both must be deepened. I recommend this book to the sincere of any stripe. Let Jesus speak for himself, and find out how his life, love, respect and compassion has changed and will continue to change the world and everyone in it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A reader on November 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a mass-attending Catholic, I have spent many Sundays go through the motions of "religious" life. My religion meant very little to me until I read Jesus Before Christianity. Jesus' radical teachings to throw off the chains of power, prestige, wealth, and group solidarity and live a life of compassion towards all others is just as relavant today as it was 2000 years ago. Please, read this book and take to heart what Jesus really meant so that you may truly live.
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