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106 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From an Ebionite, April 11, 2006
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This review is from: The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity (Hardcover)
Dr. Tabor asked me to let him know what I thought of the book when I responded to an announcement he sent, so here we go. This is an excellent book with a few "maybe" spots. It presents a good historical background, in some ways reminiscent to Crossan and Reed _Excavating Jesus_, and very easy to read for most people. I will recommend the book, although I am not convinced fully about several of his arguments.

He does support some of my own ideas and teachings and so I am biased. One is that Yeshua was a real claimant for the Davidic throne. He makes it clear that Christianity has misrepresented the actual historical events and intentions of Yeshua, and follows a mythologized religion developed by Paul of Tarsus who never knew Yeshua in the flesh (or otherwise, IMO). The idea that Yeshua's movement was supported by a dynasty is not a secret to anyone familiar with the term desposyni (and I am not talking about "Grail" "DaVinci Code" "stuff"). There are many points to explore and consider in the book but I will mention only a few.

For me the most interesting argument is a double Davidic lineage, from Yosef and MIRYAM! I have been quick to point to the obvious failure of tracing a legitimate Davidic line through Yosef and God. Jeconiah (Y'konyah) disqualifies Yosef's entire branch of the family. I figured that the Lukan geneaology was another crap shoot attempt. In spite of my willingness to accept that Yeshua claimed legitimacy as a Davidic king, I could not remedy two bad geneaologies. But Dr. Tabor offers a solution to the problem via a good explanation of descent through Miryam.

He makes an extremely interesting case for Pantera (mentioned by Celsus and Toldot Yeshu) as the possible father of Yeshua. Since I did not get an autographed copy and had to buy the book ;-) I have to say that these two arguments alone, with the appropriate historical introductions to the life setting of Yeshua, were worth the price of the book.

But I have some problems accepting the argument concerning who was actually the father of Yeshua and his siblings. Dr. Tabor's argument and my concerns might be represented in the following:

1) a. Yosef hardly mentioned after birth narratives. b.Yosef dies and has no heir; by yibbum Clophas (Y's brother) becomes husband of Miryam to give Yeshua's brothers and sisters.

- a. Dr. Tabor mentions Christian ascetic dualism related to gnostic ideas about physical and spiritual (sarkic and pneumatic) incompatibilities. In other words (mine) Miryam, as a sacred virgin needed to shed possible hints that Yosef required sex from her as her husband. He is just a device to alay criticism that Miryam had a son illegitimately. He doesn't have to be dead. Admitting in some direct way that he was was the father of Yeshua's siblings, even though it was evidently too hard to suppress that he did have siblings, undermined the perpetual virgin myth. The gentiles were faced with a situation in which actual blood relatives of Yeshua did exist (the desposyni), yet there was a mother with a divine son but without a human father or human sexual intercourse. Thus we have the "cousin" and "step children" explanation from Christians. Yosef is hardly spoken of because Christian writers did not want more work to suppress connection to a father other than God.

b. Let us say Yosef dies. Yibbum is a means of allowing the dead father's family DNA (seed) to pass on with his name. That's all. The practice of yibbum was not popular, and the could be refused (Khalitza). I am not convinced that Clophas repeatedly impregnated Miryam on behalf of a dead Yosef. The halakha given in Mishna Yevamot is fairly complicated and I don't pretend expertise. They may have been adhered to in the days of Yeshua, perhaps not. But this also overlooks the fact that if Yosef was not the father of Yeshua, it is reasonable that his brother would know this or suspect this from street gossip (as Dr. Tabor says is typical in a small village elsewhere), then both would be further complicating things in taking a promiscuous woman (zona).

Dr. Tabor mentions that the name "Clophas" came from the root of the Hebrew word for "replacement" like the word caliph, a dynastic successor. While Dr. Tabor says it could refer to Clophas via nickname as Yosef's successor in Miryam, it could also be just his name or refer to his family also as a source of dynastic Yeshuine successors.

The simplest explanation is that Yosef was the father of Yeshua as well as the other Children. Yosef as the father would strengthen the succession of Nasi Ya`aqov by Shimon ben Kh'lofa. This would expand the dynasty as there were also many relatives in that dynasty. It might also explain why this dynasty was undermined and suppressed by the Christians, and replaced by Pauline type eunuchs, and finally moved control away from Palestine and Yeshuine Jews who knew better.

2) I also have reservations about the argument concerning two messiahs and Dr. Tabor's candidates, however well argued.

Dr. Tabor repeatedly makes the point that we cannot know many of these things for certain, and so he honestly (and respectfully) proposes some astounding solutions (rather than sensationalist claims) instead of declarations.

A conservative fundamentalist will perhaps like this book as much as they would like ebionite.org. You've been warned. But for those more open-minded among them others, the book is well worth reading whether they agree or not. At any rate, they will be challenged to meet the arguments presented in the book with better solutions to the confusion of the gospels in light of reality. The four stars are a hair away from five.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 11, 2014 10:01:21 PM PST
rain cloud says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2014 4:38:52 AM PDT
Tom Goff says:
rain cloud - you are a malicious nutcase (and I am an atheist). Perhaps you might want to remember that Christ was Jewish before mouthing off about "some out-of-control jew" (and, no, I'm not jewish either).

Do you really believe all this superstitious crap about virgin births, rising from the dead and jesus as god? it's pretty obvious that it is all made up to convince superstitious gentile peasants in the ancient Romano-Greek world who had already believed such nonsense about other "gods" for a very long time.

Posted on Nov 30, 2015 6:19:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 30, 2015 6:21:18 PM PST
A customer says:
Shemayah Phillips -- Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful review. It's especially interesting to me, a follower of New Testament Christ, to read it from an Ebionite perspective.

To be 100% honest, I'm actually really curious about your positions. I visited "ebionite.org" and have questions about Ebionism. What resources would you direct me to in order to become more informed in the matter?

Tom Goff -- I do believe that Jesus mother was a virgin when she conceived him. I do believe that Jesus is God in a Trinitarian fashion, and that he was raised from the dead. What is difficult about saying that it was all made up to convince gentile peasants is that Jews founded it. Paul identified not only as a Jew, but a Pharisee. Given his thorough working knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures (see Romans 3, 11, and 15, for instance), that is hardly a difficult claim to accept. It seems to me a fairly indisputable fact that the Christian movement is in its very roots Jewish, from its earliest days understanding itself to be the fulfillment of the promises made by the God of the Hebrew Scriptures to the Jewish people. It is difficult to explain why a group of Jews would want to sell a mythical savior deity to unclean and uncircumcised Gentiles. Indeed, the earliest Christian conflicts concerned the relationship of the Mosaic Law to the non-Jewish converts to faith in Jesus Christ.

I estimate that efforts to appoint Paul as the founder of Christianity struggle to account for Paul's own emphasis on the example of Christ (Romans 15:7-9, 1 Cor. 11:1, 2 Timothy 2:8, as three brief examples). They also downplay the testimony of the other relevant New Testament era literature, especially, in my estimation, the gospels and the epistles associated with James, Peter, and John.

All of that to say, I would not say that Christianity is a straightforward kind of belief in the sense that there really isn't a particular reason to put the effort into believing it unless one is in some kind of need or desire. I certainly hope to avoid looking down on those with alternative views, and I also hope that my comment has not been offensive. It seems to me that the world would be a much brighter place if folks from all backgrounds were more willing to engage in friendly dialogue.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2015 2:43:24 AM PST
Tom Goff says:
I think that the issue is that there seems to be a difference between what the family of Jesus (and probably Jesus himself) believed and what Paul and the other authors of the New Testament gospels stated. And that Paul seems to have simply made up his ideas (rather like Mahommed who also claimed to have received a divine message).
Modern christianity celebrates the day sacred to the sun god (rather than the sabbath) and uses the solar halo to denote holiness. It also moves away from the idea of one god with ideas like the trinity not to mention other holy beings like the "mother of god" and "saints" all of whom are prayed to. Another disconnect is the use of statues and other graven images. These, like the ideas of sons of gods and virgin births, seem much more derivative of classical religious traditions than (and directly conflict with) Jewish religious traditions.
Personally, I believe that the christianity of Jesus and his contemporary followers was more likely to have been a Jewish messianic cult rather than the separate religion it appears to have become from Paul's time onwards. Didn't Matthew claim that Jesus said he came not to destroy the law/prophets but to fulfil them?
I don't really understand how anyone can believe in gods or virgin births (IVF and the like excepted of course) or whatever but people do seem to want to believe this stuff and seem completely untroubled by the lack of real evidence.
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