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The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (February 26, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060616296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060616298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This monumental work by a leading biblical scholar combines history, literary analysis, and social anthropology into a comprehensive picture of the historical Jesus. Crossan clearly addresses textual problems of the tradition, its chronology, and its attestation in a well-documented and succinct manner. The Jesus who emerges from the inclusive (rather than the exclusive) strain of Judaism resembles a magician more than a prophet, a messianic claimant, a bandit leader, or a nonviolent protestor. He preaches "a religious and economic egalitarianism" through "miracle and parable, healing and eating . . . calculated to force individuals into unmediated physical and spiritual contact with God . . . and one another." Essential for all academic and large public libraries.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Adds color to the interpretation of faith." -- -- Martin Marty, author of A Cry of Absence

"Crossan's Jesus isn't gentle, meek, or mild. Crossan's Jesus is an illiterate peasant, both healer and social revolutionary--a Jesus without the Lord's Prayer, the Last Supper, the Virgin Birth, or the Sermon on the Mount." -- Associated Press

"Elegant . . .masterful. There is nothing like [Crossan's book] for thoroughness, readability, fairness, and clarity." -- -- Harvey Cox, author of The Secular City andMany Mansions

"Every couple of years someone tries to prove that Jesus was a Zealot who carried a dagger, or that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and the French monarchy are their descendents, or that Jesus was a member of a mushroom-munching cult. Crossan in is neither of those camps. It may not be an orthodox portrait, but he's not doing it for sensation or headlines. He is a very honest literary critic and he has worked very quietly for a lot of years. What he's doing adds color to the interpretation of faith rather than being a displacement of it." -- Martin Marty, University of Chicago

"Lively and idiosyncratic in the great tradition of the historical Jesus genre begun by Schweitzer." -- -- The Christian Science Monitor

"Lively and idiosyncratic in the great tradition of the historical Jesus genre begun by Schweitzer.... Crossan leads the reader on a meandering bumpy ride through the back streets of Judea as he searches for a rabble-rousing peasant named Jesus and his ragtag followers." -- Christian Science Monitor

"The most important scholarly book about Jesus in decades." -- -- Marcus Borg, author of Jesus: A New Vision

"[Crossan] argues that Jesus. . .became a wisdom teacher using Zen-like aphorisms and puzzling parables to challenge social conventions." -- -- The New York Times

"[Crossan] argues that Jesus...became a wisdom teacher using Zen-like aphorisms and puzzling parables to challenge social conventions." -- New York Times

"Adds color to the interpretation of faith." -- Martin Marty, author of A Cry of Absence

"The most important scholarly book about Jesus in decades." -- Marcus Borg, author of Jesus: A New Vision


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

This book is a challenging read.
Tom NorCal
The Historical Jesus is an excellent treatment of the times in which Jesus actually lived.
Larry Hines
This may make sense for naturalists or deists even, but not for theists.
K. Ross

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 108 people found the following review helpful By John Dewey Remy on September 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant is but one of a long list of controversial works that J. D. Crossan has produced. To be honest, I struggled through the first half of this 500+ page study--Jesus is barely mentioned until chapter 11. Instead, Crossan spends the first ten chapters carefully laying the groundwork for his research. By the time I reached page 225, I had covered social relationships unique to the Mediterranean region, a variety of peasant responses to political and religious oppression (especially in Palestine during the first century C.E.), Jesus' philosophical and religious contemporaries (especially from the poorest in society). Crossan approaches his study of Jesus armed with anthropological, sociological, historical and literary tools, and focuses especially on where all of his tools converge.

Especially noteworthy is his approach to the documentary evidence of Jesus' words and deeds. He draws upon 200+ years of New Testament exegesis and Christian Biblical studies to create "An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Chronological Stratification and Independent Attestation." I was probably more excited by this Appendix than by most of the book. The first stratum (30-60 C.E.) contains: several Pauline epistles; non-canonical gospels and fragments, including the Gospel of Thomas, and the Gospel of the Hebrews; and finally sources now embedded in the canonical Gospels, including the Sayings Gospel Q, the Miracles Collection and the Cross Gospel. The Gospel of Mark, which I had always considered one of the oldest sources, falls into the second stratum (60-80 C.E.), and Matthew, Luke, and John fall in the third stratum (80-120 C.E.) (along with many other documents/fragments in these strata).
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Atheen M. Wilson on August 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a very thorough textual analysis of primary documentation for the life of Jesus. It is also not a book for everyone. I would specify three possible types of reader, one of which should not read the book, another that doesn't need to, and those that will thoroughly enjoy the work.

The first is that reader for whom the New Testament (NT) is the be all and end all on Jesus and his message. This person will see any confusion in the sources of the NT as being purely a problem of their own lack of understanding; if the texts say something that is internally inconsistant, it must be that only God or his elect are able to understand and lesser individuals are to accept on belief alone even if it doesn't make sense. For this person, the book will only serve to anger you. That will raise your blood pressure, and you don't need that. I would advise you not to read the book for your own health and safety.

The second type of reader is that for whom the story of Jesus as you learned it in Sunday school is your primary religious referent, and you rarely ever delve much into the actual NT. In short, you believe because you like the story as presented to you and the precepts it teaches as you were taught them, and you don't care if it's true or not. My advice for this reader is that you don't really need to read the book, but if you do, it won't upset you in the slightest. You might actually enjoy learning some new things you didn't know before about the history of the period.

The final category of reader is one who is passionately fond of history and enjoys a good textual criticism done by people who know how to do it well: ie.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I do not claim to understand all of the subtleties of Crossan's scholarly methods, but it is his insistence on peeling away layers and centuries of mythology to seek the truth beneath that taught me that one does not have to check one's brain at the church door. That in itself was a revelation to me. Regardless of whether history vindicates Crossan or not, this book represents a path of inquiry that should be pursued further. The superstitions of the Middle Ages don't work anymore. I began the book as a curious atheist and finished it as a prayerful Christian.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Villines VINE VOICE on June 10, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Crossan's work is a complex and thorough approach to the Jesus material in the New Testament, as well as to the socio-political period in which Jesus lived. In his preface, Crossan clearly outlines the assumptions that undergird his understanding of both; and I would caution any reader to keep those assumptions in mind. Taking that caveat into account, however, this is a brilliant magnum opus by an outstanding scholar; but one that will take considerable effort for someone not already familiar with the field to understand.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Travis Benson on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is possibly the greatest and most profound book concerning the historical figure of Jesus written since Schweitzer's historical Jesus. Crossan sloshes through some very complex ideas and is not exactly an "easy read" but he is well worth while. Crossan both shirks the the extreme inclusivism of the more theological Christian interpreters who wish to veiw everything in the New Testament as absolute history, and he disregards the hyper-critical scholars who wish to relegate the story of Jesus to the status of a fable. He honestly and carefully determines exactly what he concludes Jesus was like based solely upon what he can reliably prove is historical. His lines and rules are clear and very rational. He presses his own views based only on extensive and careful study. His book is masterful and should be an essential reading for any Christian or anyone who simply wants to understand the historical figure of Jesus better.
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