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Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence Hardcover – March 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"A masterful, erudite, and well-written review of the archaeology of the world of Jesus. Highly recommended for scholars and students alike." Shimon Gibson, Chair of the Department of Archaeology, University of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, and author of The Final Days of Jesus: Archaeology as Evidence

"This book, by a leading New Testament scholar, is a user-friendly introduction to what the main issues are, and what archaeology can contribute to the search for the Jesus of history. Evan's book is a fine and useful entry point for considering important but often neglected sources and their impact on our understanding of the historical Jesus." Anders Runesson, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, McMaster University

"Craig Evans has done a favor for the lay public, college students, seminary students, and likely more than a few scholars in the writing of this book. We expect clarity, accuracy, and detailed knowledge from Evans, and he delivers it. Readers at many levels will be grateful for being spared archaeological jargon and for his many insights." James F. Strange, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Graduate Studies, University of South Florida

"Although written for non-experts, this up-to-date survey of a truly fascinating topic has much to teach the experts, too. Particularly noteworthy is the thought-provoking case for widespread literacy in Jesus' Jewish world, a case that goes against much recent work." Dale C. Allison Jr., Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

"Craig Evans has a gift for synthesizing large swaths of complicated, technical material, identifying its most significant implications, and making it accessible to non-specialists. Scholars, students, and general readers will benefit from this engaging overview of how archaeological finds illuminate the life of Jesus, from Galilee to the grave." Mark A. Chancey, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University

"In 1943 F. F. Bruce, the distinguished New Testament scholar wrote a classic work, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Many challenges to the credibility of the Gospels have been raised since then by some skeptical scholars. Craig Evans, with a mastery of all of the relevant archaeological, inscriptional and literary evidence answers in a lucid exposition the question discussed by Bruce with a resounding 'Yes'." Edwin M. Yamauchi, Professor Emeritus of History, Miami University

About the Author

Craig A. Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. The author or editor of more than fifty books and hundreds of articles, Evans is a regular guest on many national media outlets, including Dateline NBC, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and BBC. He is an internationally distinguished authority and lecturer on the historical Jesus. For more information, visit craigaevans.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; F First Edition Ex-Library edition (March 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664234135
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664234133
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Craig A. Evans is Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He has written a number of books about Jesus and the New Testament at both scholarly and popular levels and appeared as a guest expert on a variety of television shows. "The goal of this book," he writes in the Preface, "is to present what I regard as the most important archaeological discoveries pertaining to Jesus of Nazareth in a way that can be accessed by non-experts."

The book contains and Introduction, five chapters and two appendices. The Introduction notes that "what archaeologists uncover is not so much proof as clarification." In terms of biblical archaeology, this means that archaeology sometimes makes a direct "correlation" between the text of the New Testament and its finds. Generally, however, what if finds works more indirectly, showing that New Testament accounts have "verisimilitude" or "resemblances to the truth." Correlation proves; versimilitude clarifies.

Chapter 1 reviews the archaeological evidence about Jesus' hometown, Nazareth. The Jesus Seminar generally and John Dominic Crossan particularly have argued that the New Testament Gospels misrepresent the historical Jesus. Instead of a Jewish Messiah and miracle worker, they conclude that Jesus was a "cynic sage." For this interpretation to work, Jesus' home life could not have been devout, and he must have been exposed to a significant Gentile presence. Unfortunately, archaeological digs in both Nazareth and Sepphoris (the nearest large city to Nazareth) make this significant Gentile presence. Both the village and the city were inhabited by Torah-observant Jews. This coheres with the Gospel portrait of Jesus himself as a Torah-observant Jew.
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Format: Hardcover
This book may be written by a scholar, but it's clearly aimed at the general reader. Anyone can pick it up and enjoy it. And one more terrific selling point: Evans has provided lots and lots of pictures, many of them of items locked away in private collections.

It is pleasant for those of us with orthodox Christian beliefs to dwell on the last few decades of archaeological discoveries. Because--sorry minimalists!--time and again the truth has left you with egg on your faces.

David and Solomon were fictional characters, insisted the minimalists, Right up until the moment when the ninth-century BC stone tablet was found at Tel Dan.

Then "Radio carbon dating at Megiddo, Qeiyafa...confirmed the emergence of an Iron Age kingdom of David some time around 1000 BC" which left the minamalists with nothing to mutter about except the lack of any proof positive of literacy. That is, until the famous "ostracon...found at Qeiyafa" (p 2) eroded even that last bastion they clung to.

I believe you can now find minimalists living under assumed names in various university libraries, licking their wounds and generally sulking about.

Evans gives a wonderful overview of the finds in Galilee. Remember Crossan and his silly argument about a Cynic Jesus? Evans explains just how unlikely that idea now looks, in the face of all those archaeological digs in Sephoris and Nazareth.

Before 70 AD neither place shows evidence of pig bones. Instead, there are the very Jewish stone vessels and the presence of many miqvehs in Sephoris. Before 70 AD there are no coins found with pagan images. No pagan idols in any buildings. All those things only appeared after the terrible war that ended with the destruction of the temple.
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Format: Hardcover
Craig A. Evans picks up the challenge laid down by modern non-Christian scholarship by addressing a number of objections to the historicity of New Testament culture. "Jesus and His World" is published by Westminster John Knox Press, ISBN: 978-0664-2341-33.

Evans' style is appreciated, dealing squarely with evidence without appealing to pity or tradition as the basis from which he proposes his themes. And although dissenting scholarship is addressed, it is not done so in a negative or demeaning manner. This is an honest, forthright study of archeological insights into uniquely historical events that have rightly come under the scrutiny of some of the most respected Biblical critics.

An example of his scholarly integrity can be seen in a chapter dealing with the supposed burial chamber of Christ and His family. Although the existence of the actual burial tomb of Jesus would arguably be a boon to Christian researchers, Evans takes a cautious route, analyzing Jewish funerary customs to show how Jacobivici and Cameron stepped too far over the edge of scholarship into a garden of unjustifiable speculation.

Evans turns the process of intensive archeological processes into a narrative that is accessible to the layman. His ability to address issues like Nazarene culture in the first century is simple, straightforward and compelling.

I could see every reason for including this book on the syllabus of any apologetic course, whether offered in the pew or in a post-secondary setting. Although certainly not an exhaustive examination of every cultural argument against first century Christian origins as portrayed in the New Testament canon, Evans comprehensively addresses the most speculative of contemporary sensationalistic rebuffs of the Christian faith.
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