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Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of his Life and Teaching Paperback – December 30, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0567645173 ISBN-10: 0567645177 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: T&T Clark; 1 edition (December 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567645177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567645173
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,126,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'In several important respects this lively book goes against the grain of recent scholarship, both conservative and radical. But it is a needed and challenging reminder of the fragility of much that passes as the 'assured results' of scholarship. The detailed attention to the relevance of the Aramaic language for constructing Jesus is particularly noteworthy and consistently provocative.' - Dale C. Allison, Jr., Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, PA, USA.
(Dale C. Allison)

'Only a handful of New Testament scholars can deal with Hebrew and above all Aramaic sources as well as Maurice Casey. After an extensive career concentrating on the life and teaching of Jesus, and at the pinnacle of his intellectual prowess after writing a number of specialized studies, he now generously shares his deep and manifold insights with a larger audience. With neither ecclesiastical nor atheistic baggage to weigh him down, Casey caustically comments first on those who do not take Jesus' Jewishness seriously, especially his native tongue Aramaic. This criticism of older and the most recent secondary literature is - unfortunately - well-deserved. Yet the following chapters with positive analyses by far prevail, making this volume a must read for all those seeking a balanced, yet deeply scholarly view of the life of Jesus by an independent historian. Casey candidly points out what we can reasonably know about Jesus, but just as importantly, what we cannot know. This fascinating volume deserves close reading and a very wide audience.' - The Rev. Dr. Roger David Aus, Berlin, Germany (Roger David Aus)

'This learned and comprehensive book should prove to be the major historical Jesus publication of the decade. While we all know that much has been written on the historical Jesus, Casey still manages to provide a distinctive slant, most notably with his reader-friendly use of Aramaic reconstructions of Jesus' words and actions. The review of scholarship, which combines savage humour with scholarly insights, hits hard at numerous approaches to the quest for the historical Jesus, from famous historical Jesus scholars to 'mythicist' and conspiratorial theories in popular culture. This book should reinvigorate a tired scholarly quest and raise the bar in the learning required to do serious historical Jesus work.' — James G. Crossley, University of Sheffield, UK. (James G. Crossley)

'Maurice Casey has devoted himself to the study of Aramaic... and now puts this knowledge to use in his heavy tome on the Historical Jesus.' (The Pastoral Review)

'this book is in many respects an impressive achievement.' (The Rev Dr Petor Ensor Methodist Recorder)

'The book is an admirable, fascinating, and stimulating study of Jesus against the background of a Judaism shaped by Aramaic speakers, and, as such, it is well worth reading.' (The Church Times)

Reviewed in Contemporary Review

'In several important respects this lively book goes against the grain of recent scholarship, both conservative and radical. But it is a needed and challenging reminder of the fragility of much that passes as the 'assured results’ of scholarship. The detailed attention to the relevance of the Aramaic language for constructing Jesus is particularly noteworthy and consistently provocative.’ - Dale C. Allison, Jr., Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, PA, USA.
(Sanford Lakoff)

'Only a handful of New Testament scholars can deal with Hebrew and above all Aramaic sources as well as Maurice Casey. After an extensive career concentrating on the life and teaching of Jesus, and at the pinnacle of his intellectual prowess after writing a number of specialized studies, he now generously shares his deep and manifold insights with a larger audience. With neither ecclesiastical nor atheistic baggage to weigh him down, Casey caustically comments first on those who do not take Jesus' Jewishness seriously, especially his native tongue Aramaic. This criticism of older and the most recent secondary literature is - unfortunately - well-deserved. Yet the following chapters with positive analyses by far prevail, making this volume a must read for all those seeking a balanced, yet deeply scholarly view of the life of Jesus by an independent historian. Casey candidly points out what we can reasonably know about Jesus, but just as importantly, what we cannot know. This fascinating volume deserves close reading and a very wide audience.’ - The Rev. Dr. Roger David Aus, Berlin, Germany (Sanford Lakoff)

'This learned and comprehensive book should prove to be the major historical Jesus publication of the decade. While we all know that much has been written on the historical Jesus, Casey still manages to provide a distinctive slant, most notably with his reader-friendly use of Aramaic reconstructions of Jesus’ words and actions. The review of scholarship, which combines savage humour with scholarly insights, hits hard at numerous approaches to the quest for the historical Jesus, from famous historical Jesus scholars to 'mythicist’ and conspiratorial theories in popular culture. This book should reinvigorate a tired scholarly quest and raise the bar in the learning required to do serious historical Jesus work.' – James G. Crossley, University of Sheffield, UK. (Sanford Lakoff)

'Maurice Casey has devoted himself to the study of Aramaic… and now puts this knowledge to use in his heavy tome on the Historical Jesus.' (Sanford Lakoff)

'The book is an admirable, fascinating, and stimulating study of Jesus against the background of a Judaism shaped by Aramaic speakers, and, as such, it is well worth reading.’ (Sanford Lakoff)

... offers the safest route toward a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of Jesus. (Sanford Lakoff)

From the Back Cover

Professor Maurice Casey provides a sophisticated and engaging historical reconstruction of Jesus’ life tackling controversial issues such as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. Casey’s masterful treatment of the Aramaic sources and background to the Gospels make this volume unique in that no other life of Jesus has been written by a scholar with such expertise in the language which Jesus spoke, as a result Casey is able to draw us closer to the historical Jesus than ever before.

Casey provides an up-to-date overview of the historical Jesus debate, covering the Jewishness of Jesus’ teaching, the foundation of early groups of his followers, and the location of Jesus within his wider context. He also gives a bold ideological critique of the very discipline of historical Jesus research, discussing the possibility that anti-Jewish views have skewed research in the past. This major contribution will be of interest to anyone interested in the historical figure of Jesus and the roots of Christianity.


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By unkleE on April 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for two specific reasons, and it lived up to expectations.

1. Maurice Casey is an expert in Aramaic, and I wanted to get an insight into the Aramaic behind the Greek of the gospels. Casey delivered, time and time again explaining idiom and meaning that isn't obvious from the Greek. IT was exciting at times.

2. I want to base my historical understanding of Jesus on a range of scholars, both believers and unbelievers, to give some sense of the boundaries of scholarship. (I think too many read only what they want to hear.) I have several books by believers (NT Wright, Craig Keener, etc) so I chose Casey as an unbeliever. Again, he gave a different perspective as I wanted.

Casey's other big virtue is that he doesn't allow his non-belief to drive him to unhistorical scepticism. He regards Mark as a very good source, written very early, and Matthew and Luke as good sources too. He believes the historical case for many of Jesus' saying and miracles to be very good, though he gives a naturalistic explanation for them. Of course he is sceptical about some things too, such as the Gospel of John's historicity, but that doesn't change the very good insights which the book provides. You don't have to agree with someone about everything to gain from their insights.

I have only three criticisms. (1) He is trenchantly critical of those he disagrees with, and I found the forcefulness of his language a little overdone at times. (2) When he has come to a conclusion, he is very sure of himself. (3) He builds a picture of Jesus as a Jewish prophet who could not have made claims of divinity in any way, and allows this to control his conclusions about the genuineness of particular sayings. But what if Jesus was indeed divine (as christians believe)?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By FRAP38 on May 31, 2011
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While any serious Jesus scholar can never say they agree with everything that an author has wrote...this comes pretty close. Since I have read it, I constantly refer back to it while engaged in another book, "lets see what Casey wrote about this." Is what I constantly find myself doing and often find that his analysis make much more sense. I liked his analysis of the flaws in other scholars, he holds no reservations in bashing the evangelicals and the atheists. Certainly one of my favorite Jesus scholars, right up there with Crossley, Vermez, and Freidrikson. A fantastic book that covers all the major areas of Jesus study.
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Format: Paperback
I was reading the reviews posted in Amazon of Jesus of Nazareth in order to write a review of Casey's subsequent "Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?" I can understand what the reviewers of this book say, but what I found amazing about Casey's work is the number of bloggers who attacked his work: which was the reason for writing the second book. This fact should be emphasized (as the first reviewer does). The real value of Casey's work is his scholarly historical expertise in the Aramaic sayings of Jesus. Many of the bloggers who attack Casey are not scholars, but are able to broadcast highly questionable views thanks to the internet: Casey's second book starts with a first chapter that lists and critiques these bloggers.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Clifford J. Stevens on October 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With an apparent show of scholarship and a fantastic knowledge of ancient documents, Maurice Casey has written, perhaps, the most biased account of the historical Jesus, and the most mythical conclusions of the Gospel accounts of his life and person.

It is the range of his scholarship that is deceiving, demonstrating no accurate and provable knowledge of Second Temple Judaism, as well as an infantile knowledge of the literary nature and historical thrust of the Gospel narratives. As for the religious culture at the time of Jesus, he is so far off base that his text reads more like a text for one of Cecil B. Demille's cinematic extravaganzas. He literally salts his sometimes accurate data with subjective interpretations and agnostic conclusions that one wonders which author of Form Criticism is his inspiration.

He is not an independent historian, he is something of a literary hack who inserts into historical documents and Gospel narratives a deep philosophical bias, dipped into several versions of Logical Positivism. I expect he would have been philosophically comfortable with the members of the Vienna Circle, who invaded European scholarship after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and poisoned American and European scholarship on ethical, scientific and religious matters. His study of Jesus of Nazareth is his own agnostic interpretation of the New Testament, with a flare for creating his own hypotheses and Biblilcal hieroglyphics. He is not a credible witness to the historical period he presumes to write about.

I wouild be deeply interested in seeing him apply his interpretive talents to Aristotle, Moses, Thomas Aquinas and the Gospel of John.
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12 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Daniel on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is based on some facts, but wherever facts clash with the author believes or opinions the opinions win and the facts are discarded.

For example he correctly said that most historians date Matthew between 75-85ce but then without giving any reason he said in his opinion it should be earlier 50-60ce. Afterwards through-out his work he used this subjectively (not historically) made date throughout his book conjectures and theories.

Be careful this book in no way reflects what most historians think to know about Jesus, this is also shown in the lack of Bibliography.
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