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Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography + The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant + The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Based on Crossan's acclaimed and controversial The Historical Jesus ( LJ 2/1/92), this elegant new reconstruction popularizes and occasionally elaborates on that earlier work. Gone is the massive documentation. What remains is an engrossing, often startling exploration of key themes, in which Crossan weighs scriptural texts against anthropological, historical, and literary standards, sifting through accrued layers for evidence of earlier (if noncanonical) sources. He acknowledges his naturalistic assumptions ("I presume that Jesus... could not cure... disease"), which, together with his critical method, cause him to dismiss the virgin birth, say, or the passion/resurrection narratives, as historically invalid. Yet he also offers nuanced, powerful readings of Jesus' teachings. Bound to disturb some people and stimulate others, this is recommended for all libraries where lay readers are likely to be interested in the issues raised.
- Elise Chase, Forbes Lib., Northampton, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Based on Crossan's more scholarly text, The Historical Jesus (1992), this biographical study makes the author's view of Jesus as a social revolutionary available to a wider audience. Crossan clearly defines the problem of trying to locate the historical Jesus in the midst of myth, and he tells readers how he intends to find that Jesus: through cross-cultural anthropology, Greco-Roman and Jewish history, and literary and textual evidence. Compared to A. N. Wilson's Jesus: A Life (1992), which brought a real man to life, this account gives little sense of a flesh-and-blood Jesus, though Crossan offers some thought-provoking theories about the man and his mission. What is most interesting about the book, though, is Crossan's portrayal of the times and the milieu that gave birth to a new religion. While, at the end of the book, readers may still not be sure if Jesus was a savior or a sorcerer, they will certainly understand the cultural and historical dynamics that allowed him to step forward in that particular time and that particular place. Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006180035X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061800351
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,749 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

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 183 people found the following review helpful By leosullivan13 on March 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Dr. Crossan's hugely popular book has come to represent the much larger war of words between "conservative" and "liberal" Christians and the scholars who argue their respective viewpoints. As a lapsed Catholic and former altar boy struggling for twenty years with my beliefs, I have only one thing to say about this allegedly "non-Christian" book: It completely renewed my faith. It took away all the miracles, all the divine interventions and all the dogma of worshipping someone just because our traditions say we should. Yet what remained was the portrait of a humble man whose brilliance and humanity was two thousand years ahead of his time. Armed with nothing more than intelligence, love and the radical but essential truth that we're all in it together, this completely human Jesus changed the world solely through his divine message alone. I take it on faith that THAT Jesus is someone whose message is worth living and dying for. Thank you Dr. Crossan for restoring my faith as never before and for elevating Jesus of Nazareth to a height far higher and far more noble than my tradition ever dared to.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By michael huff on October 24, 1997
Format: Paperback
Judaica scholar Jacob Nuesner says we create God--and Jesus--after our own image. I think he's right in respect to Crossan and "Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography." While I agree with Crossan's politics, I think he makes a mistake to so thoroughly secularize and 20th-Century-ize Jesus, as if he weren't a passionately religious 1st-Century Jew. I also think, however, that the passionate Judaism of Jesus would naturally translate into the kind of social activism and "radical egalitarianism" that Crossan describes in his book. Most valuable are Crossan's description of 1st-Century Mediterranean culture (and its phobia of body-, family-, culture-, and class-contamination), and his interpretation of the parables of Jesus (consistent, for a change, with Jesus's other more direct, less metaphorical, radical teachings). It's good to read this book along with "The Historical Figure of Jesus," by E.P. Sanders. In contrast to Crossan's strictly rationale, secular setting, Sanders describes a 1st-Century Mediterranean world where most people believe in religion and magic.
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70 of 84 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on December 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
The historical Jesus seems to have become the Holy Grail of New Testament scholarship. He is sought just as fervently and proves just as elusive. This book is actually Crossan's second quest for the historical Jesus. His first was "The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant." That book was long, meandering, and not terribly interesting. This second book is a distillation of the theories presented in the earlier book, and it has two virtues its predecessor lacked: brevity and lucidity. Crossan brings a prodigious level of scholarship to the task of finding the historical Jesus, and a reading of this book will give the student fresh insight into Jesus' nature, personality, and teachings. It will not, however, give an accurate picture of the historical Jesus. Crossan commits the same error that almost all previous questers after the historical Jesus have fallen into: He finds the Jesus he set out to look for. What, then, is an accurate picture of the historical Jesus? That is a question we must all answer for ourselves. This book, and others like it, can give us pieces of the puzzle, but the proper assembly of those pieces is up to us.
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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
"You can only amputate the sick to a certain degree; if you amputate too much, you will kill the patient" says Dale Allison, another Jesus scholar, reacting to scholars in the line of Crossan and Marcus Borg, who have stripped the historical Jesus of his apocalipticism and jewishness, thus ignoring tons of ancient evidence. That Jesus was, for example, an apocalyptic prophet and an observant Jew is supported in the earliest layers of tradition, such as the Q gospel (50s CE), Mark (60s) and Paul (50s). This is not a problem for Crossan, who says that the apocaliptic material (the belief that the world was about to end) was added to the gospels by the early church soon after Jesus died. Of more historical value (at least for him) are documents like the late Epistle of Barbanas (100s), the Didache (70s), the Secret gospel of Mark (the earliest copy dating from the middle ages), the Gospel of Thomas (150s) and - how odd - the reliefs made in stone in the 3rd or 4th century that depict Jesus as a greek philospher. How far can you press your hypothesis in one direction?
Key to Crossan's method is the concept of multiple attestation. If one complex (for example, the relationship between children and the Kingdom of God) appears indeppendently in more than one source, then that complex goes back to the historical Jesus. I would have no problem with this if Crossan were consistent about his own methods. Other multiple attested complexes and events, such as there being a group of twelve apostles, or the passion narrative, or the words of Jesus at the last supper, or the so-called nature miracles, he simply says "they are inventions". On the other hand, some sayings appearing in only one source ("I will destroy this house...", in the gospel of Thomas) he considers authentic.
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