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Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus Paperback – April 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 1 edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563384027
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563384028
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,330,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Byron McCane's study of death and burial in ancient Palestine in the Roman and Byzantine periods successfully bridges the gap between material culture and early Jewish and Christian literature. By drawing upon the ancillary fields of anthropology and sociology, McCane demonstrates how death rituals defined the social boundaries of each of those communities; and from their common burial practices in the Roman period he infers that it was only in the Byzantine period that important differences began to surface between early Judaism and Christianity. This Superbly written work offers a surprisingly intimate engagement with a variety of ancient sources that is sure to turn heads in a new and exciting direction."Eric M. MeyersBernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Judaic Studies and ArchaeologyDuke University (Eric M. Meyers)

"In Roll Back the Stone, Byron R. McCane has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the place of death rituals in the lives of Jews and Christians in early Roman Palestine. Judiciously combining both textual and archaeological data, McCane has provided a highly nuanced and informative window through which a reader can see many clear images of the funeral practices of these ancient folks. Along the way, he has contributed to our understanding of the burial traditions about Jesus contained in the Gospels and, as a bonus, has made some sane suggestions for understanding the recent (sometimes sensational) discussions concerning the so-called "James Ossuary." A good subtitle for this volume could well be: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Death Rituals of Jews and Christians During the Early Roman Period in Palestine but Didn't Know Who to Ask." Now you Know!"—John Laughlin, Professor, Chair, Dept. of Religion, Averett University. (John Laughlin)

"Byron McCane weds theory, archaeology, and texts together in an appropriately wide-ranging study of death and burial. The theory focuses on social structure and especially kinship issues; the archaeology concentrates on early Roman Jewish burial techniques both in Jerusalem and Galilee; the texts include Q, the passion narratives in the gospels, and the Mishhah. McCane's nuanced analyses of ossuaries, grave rituals, and burials in shame support important conclusions, especially on the death and burial of Jesus."—Peter Richardson, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto (Peter Richardson)

"Here is a book that focuses on a very particular but still intriguing subject—Jewish and early Christian burial customs. McCane notes that the rituals associated with death and burial carry important cultural values for a society, both ancient and modern."—Donald Senior C.P., The Bible Today, July/August 2003 (Donald Senior C.P.)

"McCane's analysis, rooted in sociological and anthropological theory , is informed and judicious.—H.O. Forshey, Miami University, for CHOICE (H.O. Forshey)

“…McCane shares quite a bit of interesting funeral ritual information about what people did, how they felt, and what social significance final rites conveyed in early Roman Palestine. He writes in an engaging fashion, and his background as a teacher and archeologist serve him well in pulling together a lot of relevant data from a variety of sources. Eric Meyers, noted archaeologist from Duke University…describes this as a ‘superbly written work…sure to turn heads in a new and exciting direction.’ I agree.” –Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, Vol. 55, No. 4, December 2003 (Richard Ruble Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith)

“McCane deftly combines archaeological descriptions with anthropological theory…McCane has produced a useful and provocative account of burial in the Second Temple period that takes us beyond mere description of archaeological data to the social logic behind death rituals.” –Toronto Journal of Theology, Fall 2003 (Toronto Journal Of Theology)

“This fascinating study seeks to associate Jewish burial customs during the Roman period with the contemporary social structures and values of which they are a reflection.…this is a splendid book.” –Theological Studies, 65.4, 12/04 (Theological Studies)

"Byron McCane's study of death and burial in ancient Palestine in the Roman and Byzantine periods successfully bridges the gap between material culture and early Jewish and Christian literature. By drawing upon the ancillary fields of anthropology and sociology, McCane demonstrates how death rituals defined the social boundaries of each of those communities; and from their common burial practices in the Roman period he infers that it was only in the Byzantine period that important differences began to surface between early Judaism and Christianity. This Superbly written work offers a surprisingly intimate engagement with a variety of ancient sources that is sure to turn heads in a new and exciting direction."Eric M. MeyersBernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Judaic Studies and ArchaeologyDuke University (Sanford Lakoff)

"In Roll Back the Stone, Byron R. McCane has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the place of death rituals in the lives of Jews and Christians in early Roman Palestine. Judiciously combining both textual and archaeological data, McCane has provided a highly nuanced and informative window through which a reader can see many clear images of the funeral practices of these ancient folks. Along the way, he has contributed to our understanding of the burial traditions about Jesus contained in the Gospels and, as a bonus, has made some sane suggestions for understanding the recent (sometimes sensational) discussions concerning the so-called "James Ossuary." A good subtitle for this volume could well be: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Death Rituals of Jews and Christians During the Early Roman Period in Palestine but Didn't Know Who to Ask." Now you Know!"—John Laughlin, Professor, Chair, Dept. of Religion, Averett University. (Sanford Lakoff)

"Byron McCane weds theory, archaeology, and texts together in an appropriately wide-ranging study of death and burial. The theory focuses on social structure and especially kinship issues; the archaeology concentrates on early Roman Jewish burial techniques both in Jerusalem and Galilee; the texts include Q, the passion narratives in the gospels, and the Mishhah. McCane's nuanced analyses of ossuaries, grave rituals, and burials in shame support important conclusions, especially on the death and burial of Jesus."—Peter Richardson, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto (Sanford Lakoff)

"Here is a book that focuses on a very particular but still intriguing subject—Jewish and early Christian burial customs. McCane notes that the rituals associated with death and burial carry important cultural values for a society, both ancient and modern."—Donald Senior C.P., The Bible Today, July/August 2003 (Sanford Lakoff)

"McCane's analysis, rooted in sociological and anthropological theory , is informed and judicious.—H.O. Forshey, Miami University, for CHOICE (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Byron R. McCane is Professor of Religion and department chair at Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is Academic Director of the Sepphoris Excavations in Northern Israel.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Max Blackston on May 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a "find" (I found it serendipitously in an off-price book store, which of course vastly increased my enjoyment of it). It is very scholarly - the author is a Professor of religion at Wofford College SC, and Academic Director of the Sepphoris Acropolis Excavations - and its five chapters are all fairly self-contained, so you can read some, then put it down for a while.

The first chapter provides convincing answers to two interesting questions: why did Palestinian Jews start to use ossuaries for secondary burial only in the 1st century BCE, and why are cooking pots often found in burial caves from this period ? His answer to the first question is that the ossuary was the product of the impact of the Hellenistic emphasis on individual identity - in death as well as in life - on Jewish traditional practice of secondary burial. For centuries the Israelite secondary burial practice was reflected in the term "to be gathered to one's fathers", that is to have one's bones collected and placed in a communal repositary with those of other family members'. As Hellenistic values gradually permeated into Jewish rituals, the loss of individuality inherent in the ancient practice was solved by preserving the individual's corporeal remains intact in an ossuary. As for the cooking pots, they were apparently left behind following the widespread folk practice - officially strongly condemned by the religious authorities - of "sharing" a meal, and therefore communing with the dead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Roll Back The Stone: Death And Burial In The World Of Jesus by Byron R. McCane (Academic Director of the Sepphoris Excavations in Northern Israel, and Chair of Religion & Philosophy at Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina) is a scholarly, in-depth study of death and burial practices in ancient Palestine during the Roman and Byzantine periods. From scrutinizing traditional Jewish death rituals; to a specific study of Jesus Christ's burial; to relocations of the dead in early Byzantine Palestine; and much, much more, Roll Back the Stone is a highly scholarly and strongly recommended contribution to both academic Biblical Archaeology collections and New Testament Studies supplemental reading lists for laymen.
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