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Customer Review

309 of 341 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the Da Vinci Code, April 5, 2006
This review is from: The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity (Hardcover)
In response to the person who accused this book of being `flash over substance' and basically a Da Vinci Code rip off, I would say that they probably didn't read the book (Actually, I know that they didn't since the review is dated about a month before the book's release). The Jesus Dynasty is completely unrelated to Dan Brown's book, advocating an entirely different thesis. Tabor states this plainly in his preface and goes on to say of the Da Vinci Code, "while gripping fiction, this idea is long on speculation and short on evidence." The theories that Tabor proposes in The Jesus Dynasty are based entirely on an historical-critical examination of the surviving evidence of Jesus, his family, and early followers and what Tabor sees as the most likely interpretation of that evidence. Tabor brings to this endeavor 40 years of study on the topic at hand and is more than qualified to write this book. One reviewer asserted that `If not for "Da Vinci Code," this tripe would never have even been written.', but I can say as someone who has known Dr. Tabor personally for 8 years that the ideas presented in this book long predate and are not at all dependent on the Da Vinci Code or the pseudo-history of Baigent et al.

The Jesus Dynasty is Tabor's attempt at reconstructing the life of Jesus and his family. In many ways his attempt is quite daring and his ideas unique. The book will no doubt offend many who will not judge the book on its scholarship but will dogmatically reject what it says based on the beliefs which they bring to the book. On the whole, Tabor's attempt is believable, putting Jesus and his followers squarely in the historical context of first century Judaism. Some of the book's claims will certainly be a surprise to many readers. Just one example brought to light in the book is that many Jews of the time were expecting two messiahs. This idea is well attested in the records from the time and yet unknown to most people today. This idea can be found in the Hebrew Bible itself, in the book of Zechariah, as well as pseudopigraphic works from the Second Temple period. The writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls clearly expected this (see for example in the Community Rule). Later Rabbinic sources speak of two messiahs as well (see b. Sukkah 52a in the Talmud, Midrash Tanhuma (ed. Buber) Vayiggash 3, Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah 14:1, Midrash Tehillim 60.3, Targum to Song of Songs 4:5 and 7:4, and Targum Psuedo-Jonathan to Exodus 40:11 to name a few). Tabor takes this widespread belief into account in assessing the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.

There is a certain amount of speculation in the work (and Tabor does say when he is engaging in speculation), but that will always be true of something for which the evidence is so fragmentary and dating later than the events they describe. Tabor provides evidence to back up his theories but he also points out several times that about some things we may never be certain as the evidence is just too limited. One aspect in which I was somewhat disappointed was that he does not go into detail about some of the evidence he has (having studied many of these topics with Tabor himself and having been on some of the archaeological digs which he mentions in the book with him, I know that he has more evidence regarding these things and can go into more detail about them). My guess is that to keep the book at a less intimidating size (as it is it is over 300 pages) he refrains from going into more detail about the evidence he has. This would be my one criticism; I would like to see a fuller treatment of the evidence in some of these places (one example that stands out in my mind is Tabor's reconstruction of the chronology of the week leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, namely on which days everything took place).

Perhaps the most compelling part of the book for me was the history of the Jesus movement following his crucifixion, namely the story of James his brother. I found the evidence put forth regarding James (his leadership of the movement which was later lost/ covered up by a largely Pauline influenced church) to be quite convincing. That James was the leading figure, taking up the mantle of Jesus himself is clear when one looks at the evidence. Moreover, the New Testament's reticence on the subject is very suspicious.

Overall this is a very worthwhile read, giving a portrait of Jesus that, while important, is unfamiliar to most people in the world today.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2008 5:54:12 AM PST
The reason that this portrait of Jesus is unfamiliar to most people is that it is based on a highly selective use of the available evidence. As a matter of fact, the evidence used is but a tiny fraction of what is available and all of what was used supports the author's self admitted highly speculative "historical" reconstruction. A fine and eminently readable historical novel is how I would characterize this book. In contrast, Dan Brown's book was only a fine and readable novel.

Posted on Jun 20, 2009 3:08:34 PM PDT
sahansdal says:
Tabor is a good researcher. Interesting book. Read Eisenman's two main works, James, the Brother of Jesus and The New Testament Code to get more details on James and what Paul's role was in sandbagging him. I predict Paul will be totally discredited in a decade or less, and James will be seen as Jesus Christ's equal. I say so and prove both with Jesus' own words in my own book, Saviors, due out from Xlibris in the fall.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2010 12:09:58 PM PST
K. Snapp says:
Mr. Downey, would you care to cite the books containing the supposedly voluminous omitted evidence? Or give a citation to a critical review of the book that makes the kind of judgment you make and backs it up? From what I know of the sources relating to James and the early church, I would have expected a charge of unwarranted speculation from limited evidence, but your accusation that the author used only "a tiny fraction of what is available" is surprising.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2010 1:39:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2010 7:15:36 PM PDT
@ Carolyn I Wahler: I've actually read all 1000+ pages of Eisenman's "James..." and believe me, there is a reason it is not regarded as the definitive book on the subject of James the Just. Eisenman is a 2nd-tier thinker and it comes across in the nonsensical rambling and speculation that makes up the majority of the book. I somehow doubt your work on Paul the Apostle and James the Just would be clearer or somehow move the discourse along any further, especially given your stated goals.

@Downey & @ Snapp: Tabor is selective about his sources and with good reason; to paraphrase the gospel of John, there would not be enough time in anyone's life to examine everything ever written about Jesus! Tabor does an excellent job with the sources that he does choose to examine, however. "The Jesus Dynasty" is a well-written, thought-provoking book and I highly recommend it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2010 9:12:18 PM PDT
Carolyn, I looked for your book but can't find it. Did you mean Fall 2009? or ???

Posted on Sep 5, 2010 7:56:57 AM PDT
W. Thompson says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Oct 30, 2010 10:41:49 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 6, 2011 3:46:32 PM PDT]

Posted on Dec 10, 2012 12:16:33 PM PST
I have been a pre-release reviewer for a book or two. This is the most likely scenario for a review published prior to actual release date.

Posted on Dec 10, 2012 12:21:39 PM PST
I have been a pre-release reviewer for a book or two. This is the most likely scenario for a review published prior to actual release date.

Furthermore, Tabor just reiterates old anti-Jesus as God the Son stuff fm the 2nd century forward. There is nothing new or novel in this book.

Christians will find it deeply offensive for it completely denies the deity of Jesus, making Jesus just another failed wannabe King of the Jews. Jesus is more a threat to the politicians of the day than He is a threat to the religious authorities. This is 180 out fm what the Gospels have to say.

Only Tabor's treatment of the politics of the day and of the plight of the landless makes the grade. The rest is fiction.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2013 8:40:04 AM PST
Zaubyrie says:
In fairness, Robert Eisenman is considered by most Biblical scholars to be very erudite and highly idiosyncratic. I very, very much doubt that any would call him a "2nd-Tier Thinker"

"Eisenman is a 2nd-tier thinker and it comes across in the nonsensical rambling and speculation that makes up the majority of the book. "
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