Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

I just finished the book by that title by John Dominic Crossan. I've been rotating back and forth a lot between 'evangelical' and 'liberal' writings lately, and enjoying it. I like trying to be nonpartisan while I read, and learning what I can. I have to say that this was a great book, and has me thinking about the historical Jesus again--that is, the question of whether the Christ of my faith has anything to do with the Jesus of history.

In basic outline, the answer is "who the hell knows?" Albert Schweitzer used suggested something along the lines of, the more you study about Jesus, the more he fades into the mist of history. That's how I'm feeling right now. The Christ of faith and charismatic Christian experience is, perhaps, more concrete than the historical Jesus. In reading this book, I've come to realize that I'm actually pretty much fine with that.


Anonymous said…
I remember, at the age of about 17, asking my pastor for a list of historical references to the existence of this jesus he talked about so much. I got a bunch of "uh, see..." and a blank stare.
Kyle said…
JD Crossan writes well, but he certainly opens himself to Schweitzer's charge, that those who look into the pool of history often see themselves. Kind of funny, Crossan's Jesus being a Marxist and all. Just sayin.' Anyway, he's a theologian doing history, which can be weird. Never mind the whole "eaten by dogs" thing. If you're still looking for more to read on the topic, EP Sanders' Historical Figure of Jesus is a little more solid on historical method, and incidentally, not so radical...!
Unknown said…
Re: Crossan and Schweitzer's charge--I agree with you, though I think that it's unfair to pretend that we all aren't susceptible to that accusation.

I've actually read Sanders--back at Asbury--and Ben Witherington on the Historical Jesus issue. I have to say that I'm generally unconvinced that they're better on historical method than Crossan: I think he dots his i's and crosses his t's pretty well for the most part--particularly in his less popular/more scholarly work. The whole issue, I think, is that when you try to formulate a coherent ancient history--even relatively well documented history like the basic outline of Jesus' ministry--you really have very little to go on, and so speculation/assumption about what was plausible shapes your whole endeavour. I'd say that's true of any attempt to make a scientific "history" of Jesus, whether written from the perspective of faith or not.

That said, Crossan is undoubtedly sensationalist, with the "eaten by dogs" preoccupation.
Unknown said…
Hi Wes,

That sounds like something you'd do.


PS--I believe that the new facebook account is a sign that it's only a matter of time before you start a blog.
Anonymous said…
Dear Tim,

I don't believe in signs, nor your predictions. I swore off writing anything significant in a blog long before your addiction.

Unknown said…
I swore it off too, but then myspace hit, and now I can't stop. I can't resist the gravitational pull of the blogosphere.
Anonymous said…
People should read this.
Unknown said…
"Historical J....."!?!

The persons using that contra-historical oxymoron (demonstrated by the eminent late Oxford historian, James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue) exposes dependancy upon 4th-century, gentile, Hellenist sources.

While scholars debate the provenance of the original accounts upon which the earliest extant (4th century, even fragments are post-135 C.E.), Roman gentile, Hellenist-redacted versions were based, there is not one fragment, not even one letter of the NT that derives DIRECTLY from the 1st-century Pharisee Jews who followed the Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua.
Historians like Parkes, et al., have demonstrated incontestably that 4th-century Roman Christianity was the 180° polar antithesis of 1st-century Judaism of ALL Pharisee Ribis. The earliest (post-135 C.E.) true Christians were viciously antinomian (ANTI-Torah), claiming to supersede and displace Torah, Judaism and ("spiritual) Israel and Jews. In soberest terms, ORIGINAL Christianity was anti-Torah from the start while DSS (viz., 4Q MMT) and ALL other Judaic documentation PROVE that ALL 1st-century Pharisees were PRO-Torah.

There is a mountain of historical Judaic information Christians have refused to deal with, at: (see, especially, their History Museum pages beginning with "30-99 C.E.").
Original Christianity = ANTI-Torah. Ribi Yehoshua and his Netzarim, like all other Pharisees, were PRO-Torah. Intractable contradiction.

Building a Roman image from Hellenist hearsay accounts, decades after the death of the 1st-century Pharisee Ribi, and after a forcible ouster, by Hellenist Roman gentiles, of his original Jewish followers (135 C.E., documented by Eusebius), based on writings of a Hellenist Jew excised as an apostate by the original Jewish followers (documented by Eusebius) is circular reasoning through gentile-Roman Hellenist lenses.

What the historical Pharisee Ribi taught is found not in the hearsay accounts of post-135 C.E. Hellenist Romans but, rather, in the Judaic descriptions of Pharisees and Pharisee Ribis of the period... in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT (see Prof. Elisha Qimron), inter alia.

To all Christians: The question is, now that you've been informed, will you follow the authentic historical Pharisee Ribi? Or continue following the post-135 C.E. Roman-redacted antithesis—an idol?