In a time of social upheaval resulting from rapacious Roman taxation, Jesus's message to resist through communal cooperation was welcome to rural Galilean Jews who were expecting a return to their covenant with God. When Paul extended this message to similarly dispossessed urban Gentiles, the stage was set for a Jesus movement that would take hold in the empire and transform the world. Richard A. Horsley and Neil Asher Silberman put recent archaeological and textual research to good use in an original but reasonable interpretation of Jesus and Paul as religious and social reformers. The result is a picture of Christianity that makes sense Biblically as well as historically.
From Library Journal
Horsley (religion, Univ. of Massachusetts) and Silberman (The Hidden Scrolls, LJ 10/1/94) provide a thorough discussion of the movements of Jesus and the apostles, especially Paul, within the social, political, and cultural milieu of Palestine and the Mediterranean during the first centuries of this era. While acknowledging that the "quest for the Kingdom of God...should be evaluated as both a spiritual journey and an evolving political response," they feel that the divinity of Jesus and similar doctrine are the invention of the earliest church. In this scholarly, well-written book, the authors view everything through a political filter, even religious motivation. However, their focus on political and social problems of the population living under ruthless exploitation by Rome is a valid corrective. Indeed, we "can't understand the historic development of the early Christian movement without understanding the contemporary economic and political situation of the Jews." A very stimulating book; recommended for lay readers and scholars alike.?Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley
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