Start reading The Birth of Christianity on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
The Birth of Christianity
 
 

The Birth of Christianity [Kindle Edition]

John Dominic Crossan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £3.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £3.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback --  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: At least 60% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Purchase any Kindle Book sold by Amazon.co.uk and receive £1 credit to try out our Digital Music Store. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)


Product Description

Review

"It is above all the journey that impresses. In this enterprise, methodology is all. Farewell to woolly generalisations. Apply cross-cultural anthropology, history, archaeology and literary criticism, in interactive and ordered fashion, to each crucial question. Begin not with text but with context; move to the establishment of the earliest possible layer of tradition; expose their point of conjunction. It is all carried through with rare precision.Throughout, the style is informal, conversational, relentless, questioning, pervasively expansive. This monumental enquiry remains an impressive example of how such work should be done and relentlessly probes questions that must continue to be engaged with comparable persistence. It is a mine of information, a model of clarity and a delight to read." The Expository Times "Those who have been enthused by Crossan's earlier writings, especially their culmination in his The Historical Jesus, will come to this closely related and equally magisterial volume with high expectations and not a little anticipation. They will not be disappointed for, once again, we have vintage Crossan, hugely confident, invariably engaging, massively learned and carried along by a sustained brilliance which allows a complicated argument to be unfoleded clearly as it is driven forward inexorably by a combination of daring imagination and total conviction. Convinced by Crossan or not, he forces us to re-examine our beginnings and to recognise the subjectivity inherent in every response. This book compels us to look again to see how far our own myth does justice to what gave it birth. It forces us back to see the nature of the God in whom we believe and to acknowledge that a Christianity which does not put at its centre a God of justice is not worthy of its name." Modern Believing "Crossan's work is dynamic and frequently persuasive. He writes compellingly, if luxuriantly, with a surprising degree of personal autobiography." Church Times ." . . full of

Review

"It is above all the journey that impresses. In this enterprise, methodology is all. Farewell to woolly generalisations. Apply cross-cultural anthropology, history, archaeology and literary criticism, in interactive and ordered fashion, to each crucial question. Begin not with text but with context; move to the establishment of the earliest possible layer of tradition; expose their point of conjunction. It is all carried through with rare precision.Throughout, the style is informal, conversational, relentless, questioning, pervasively expansive. This monumental enquiry remains an impressive example of how such work should be done and relentlessly probes questions that must continue to be engaged with comparable persistence. It is a mine of information, a model of clarity and a delight to read." --The Expository Times "Those who have been enthused by Crossan's earlier writings, especially their culmination in his The Historical Jesus, will come to this closely related and equally magist

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2197 KB
  • Print Length: 688 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; 1 edition (6 July 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JBHVWC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #187,017 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating but Historically Unconvincing 3 Dec 2000
Format:Hardcover
In this book John Dominic Crossan continues with his "Jewish Cynic Jesus" thesis and attempts to extend the support for this thesis by digging behind the Synoptic Gospels and analysing the "Common Sayings Tradition" he discovers there. This latter "tradition" turns out to be, primarily, a mix of Gospel of Thomas and Q sayings although there are some interesting appendices to the rear of the book which include Synoptic and other references in addition. Thus, Crossan is once more taking a trajectory approach to Jesus and Christian origins.
This book is, of course, based upon his former tour de force, "The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Meditteranean Jewish Peasant". How the prospective reader of this book regards that book will largely determine their attitude here. Crossan has not had any Damascus experience since 1991 and he is still plugging away at the same ideas and with the same tools. He has added one or two theories to his armoury (for example, taking onboard Stephen Patterson's thesis that the Gospel of Thomas is largely independent of the Synoptic Gospels and early from Patterson's 1993 book "The Gospel of Thomas and Jesus") but he is still noticably "Crossan".
Simply put, Crossan's thesis here is that the best possible historical methodology we can come up with (i.e. his!) demonstrates to us that Jesus was a believer in "ethical eschatology" and that, thus, he promoted a "kingdom of God" which was temporally present and physically demonstrated by the actions of healing and communal eating among the poor, the outcasts and the marginal in Palestinian society.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial NT study 13 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a study of the issues in the methodology of NT study and of the use of extra canonical sources this is a mages trial study.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Birth of Christianity 8 April 2010
Format:Paperback
This is a subject in which I'm extremely interested. As well as this book, I also bought the author's book on the Reformation. I couldn't read the Reformation at all because the print size was so small. I normally read a book in a few hours but I couldn't do that with this one.This book is excellent as regards its subject matter but I'm not that happy with the print size and I've asked Amazon to clearly indicate where the print size of any book is smaller than normal.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  70 reviews
77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very impressive scholarly work, with some reservations 7 Sep 2003
By William Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One reviewer has remarked that Crossan brings up a lot of great ideas that you don't necessarily agree with and I agree with this. Being of the Jesus Seminar, many of the conclusions that Crossan draws are controversial and may lack familiarity; they are also sometimes quite unconventional and not always completely persuasive. However, Crossan is a brilliant scholar who has studied the Jesus question for decades and it shows. He goes further into the minutia of the study than the majority of his colleagues and for this his work deserves to be admired and studied. He brings an extraordinary wealth of information to the table when he discusses an issue and never fails to advance compelling ideas and conclusions. His methodology is thorough and comprehensive, much more so than many other scholars.
This work, a follow up to The Historical Jesus examines Christian beginnings in an archaeological and anthropological context with a careful discussion of the roles of oral tradition, literary developments, community tradition, and gender roles. A very interesting set of chapters concerns the ability and role of memory in oral tradition. He makes it plainly clear that absent an accurate, recorded history of even the simplest event, the original story cannot but evolve and change as it is re-remembered, re-told, re-imagined. As in other cases, these acknowledgments are extremely helpful but not as persuasive as they might appear to be. In ancient cultures where oral tradition was the only way of transmitting stories among illiterate peasants, memory was emphasized and specific memorization of even long texts and stories occurred regularly. Nevertheless, the result in this case stands: the stories and sayings of Jesus evolved as the first believers re-told, re-imagined, even invented, the stories. This is precisely why so much of the narrative of the gospels lack a corresponding context and seem to hang in the air in a sort of timeless universe.
Crossan also spends a decent amount of time evaluating the texts as we have them, including the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, and the Didache. He relates a great deal of information regarding the Common Sayings Tradition, that material that the Gospel of Thomas shares with the Q document. This section was extremely interesting. I find the Thomas document intriguing since its seeming independence of Q and the gospels and its archaic, sayings-only format indicate an early date, while it's esoteric Gnostic feel and it's "kingdom of God among you" motif indicate a later date. Although I disagree with Crossan on the apocalypticism of Jesus (I believe Jesus was apocalyptic), I still find his discussions regarding the sayings traditions very interesting and thought provoking.
The juxtaposition of traveling itinerants and their patron householders creates the primary context within which the message of early Christianity is preached. An evolving standard is evident from an evaluation of the earliest saying traditions such as Q and Mark compared to the Didache and other later writings. An idealistic, poverty and dependent faith had to be tempered in order to be workable in a world wherein Jesus had not returned in the time frame expected. Crossan provides an excellent discussion of this process. He also describes the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem and its leader, James, the brother of Jesus. He speculates on the Essene-like nature of the community incorporating ample evidence, but doesn't go further than that evidence warrants. He paints a compelling picture of earliest Christianity. It is vastly different from the one we have inherited.
The final sections are the most intriguing, those that deal with the common meal tradition and the development of the passion/resurrection story itself. The common meal tradition is presented as a vitally important and fundamental aspect of the early history. Sharing meals, providing meals, feasting all are representative symbols of the kingdom of God: the kingdom is bounty, it is full, it is community and participative. And then came the story. Evaluating the early canonical texts and incorporating his extrapolation of The Cross Gospel from the Gospel of Peter, Crossan describes the development of the passion story. Since I haven't read his previous work, I am not in a position to opine about Crossan's early dating of the so-called Cross Gospel, nor its existence; I remain very skeptical. His argument has many valid points and contains persuasive elements. I find myself wanting to know more, and had hoped this book would give me much greater detail in regards to the development of the story, but it fell short of my expectations. After all, the story is what became orthodox Christianity. Crossan's explanation of the role of women in lamentation and the role of men in exegesis and how the interaction of those two elements created the stories that we have is fascinating. It is no wonder the women are so prominent in the resurrection and appearance events if they aren't in later writings.
As I said, Crossan is not always totally convincing. I remain a skeptic on many of his arguments, but am persuaded on others. On the whole, this book is highly engaging, very thoroughly researched and tautly written. It's not an easy book to digest, and is not for the beginner in this subject. Even if I found myself disagreeing with Crossan, I was never unchallenged and always intrigued. This work is highly learned and very stimulating.
83 of 93 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for the theologian, scholar... 31 Jan 2002
By Charles W. Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book with great expectations. The title and the author's credentials and reviews led me to believe I was ready, indeed eager to tackle it. I am a lay-reader, with a keen interest in the historical Jesus and the historicity of Christianity, especially as research reflects and illuminates my faith.
While I commend Crossan for his scholarship, I feel strongly that he needs to edit and refine his material for the lay-reader. Much of these book is a dialogue between the author and his scholarly colleagues in theological circles, especially the Jesus Seminar. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with such a dialogue, but the book shouldn't be marketed for the general public, except possibly as a reference source.
The author needs to compare his writing and editorial style to recent books by Dr. Marcus Borg.
Terms, historical personalities and theological works need to be clearly defined, with plenty of transition review between sections and chapters.
Crossan deserves a wide audience, especially among lay-persons.
This book is simply too advanced, and belongs primarily theology collections.
60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous handbook to discover the nature of your God 13 Jan 1999
By llongcha@webspan.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Dominic Crossan, the leading contemporary scholar on the Historical Jesus, brings the disciplines of anthropology, history and archeology to bear in reconstructing life in the decades of the 30's and 40's AD. One intriguing thesis of the book is that the Christianity of the disciples may have been quite different from that handed down to us by Paul.
Exploring that thesis, Crossan stimulates the reader to rethink one's ideas on history and Christianity. Along the way, he challenges modern intellect by bringing into play current images and words like reconstruction and interactivity. Crosssan compares the process of reconstructing history with looking down a well at your reflection. When you see your reflection, you cannot know the character of the water in the well, you must disturb it to do so. Disturbing the surface of the water distorts ones reflection. So the process of historical reconstruction goes on, using current science and knowledge to reconstruct the past and drawing from ancient interaction, lessons that increase our understanding of the human condition. As a Real Estate professional, I especially identified with Crossans description of the convergence of the Roman culture that treated land as an exploitable commodity with first century Judaism that looked at land as a Gift from God. As a recent visitor to Israel, I witnessed to current manifestations of the same forces. Crossan's description of Roman commercialism and it's effect on Jewish peasants in the area of the Galilee in the early first century was, for me, a fascinating and illuminating experience.
From a firm, multi-discipline foundation, Crossan examines the Q Gospel, The Gospel of Thomas and the synoptic Gospels. He concludes that pre Paulian Christianity was more "Jewish." He emphatically denies that the God of the Old Testament was a God of anger and vengeance while the God of the New Testament was a god of love and mercy. Rather the first Christians experienced Yahweh as a God of justice and compassion. This complex, erudite exercise in reconstruction left me with more questions than answers, but with a commitment to learn more.
When you look down your well of faith and see there a perfect reflection of yourself, it is time to stir the water. The Birth of Christianity is a marvelous handbook to help discover what lies below the surface; the nature of your God and the depth of your commitment.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading for Crossan's excellent work on the Meal Tradition and the Jewishness of early Christianity 10 Aug 2005
By KDH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the Birth of Christianity John Dominic Crossan's topic is the development of early Christianity. Crossan primarily focuses here on the twenty to thirty years between the beginning of Jesus' public ministry and the early to middle part of Paul's public ministry. The thesis of Crossan's massive work is that early Christianity was a Jewish sect which developed through two great traditions - one based upon Jesus' sayings, the other based upon Jesus' vindication over death.

Crossan calls the tradition of Jesus' sayings the "Life Tradition." Much of Crossan's exploration of this tradition is based upon his understanding of Jesus as an ethical eschatological prophet rather than an apocalyptic eschatological prophet.

The second tradition Crossan labels the "Death Tradition." Crossan's assertion here is that the stories of Jesus' passion - and particularity those of his resurrection - were developed by the early Jerusalem Christian community. Perhaps after being inspired by visions of a spiritual Christ, members of this community became fascinated with the idea of the vindication of the righteous. Crossan explains that this idea is strongly Biblical and is also a part of other ancient stories. From this community the story of Christ's passion and resurrection was developed. Crossan describes this process as prophecy historized, rather than history remembered. He argues that if Christ's passion and resurrection as portrayed in the Gospels is historical one would expect to have more early records of it.

Much of Crossan's work, particularly his investigation of the Death Tradition relies upon Crossan's "Cross Gospel". This Cross Gospel according to Crossan is an early pre-Markan tradition which is imbedded in the Gospel of Peter. Although it cannot be proven, Crossan is sure of its existence. According to Crossan this Cross Gospel (or at least something very much like it) is the product of the Jerusalem community's act of historizing prophecy. Although the Gospel of Peter is likely partly dependent upon the Gospels, Mark (who Crossan recognizes as the earliest Evangelist) is dependent upon the Cross Gospel for his passion and empty tomb / resurrection narratives. The additional details in Marks narrative (such as the women's discovery of the empty tomb) were created by Mark.

Aside from these two major traditions, Crossan also explores several other crucial parts of Christianity's development. In the first half of his book Crossan examines the fallibility of memory, the tension between wandering prophets and house churches, and the common meal tradition. Crossan's work here is excellent. Through vigorous research he has shed new light on old traditions. Crossan accurately demonstrates that memory is often wrong (at least in modern times) and that the early Christian community was diverse and sometimes marked with disagreements. He also effectively argues that the common meal tradition was either hosted by a single family or was an ancient 'pot luck'. Either way this meal was often the best meal of a poor Christian's week, so it is no wonder why Paul was irate when rich Christians ate the entire meal before poorer ones could arrive from work.

Although it is common to save the best for last, in this case I have saved the worst for last. Although Crossan has dedicated most of his life work to the historical Jesus the conclusions he reaches from his examination of the Death Tradition are not convincing. Many times he asserts that Mark created stories but Crossan does not explain WHY he believes this. As well, some of Crossan's arguments are simply not convincing. That Matthew is dependent upon the Cross Gospel for the idea that the dead will raise with Jesus (which is according to Crossan the reason for people rising from their graves in Matthew) is a stretch that I cannot justify after examining both texts. As well, Crossan argues that the Gospel of Thomas is also early. He bases this early dating upon Thomas' lack of apocalyptic sayings. Because Jesus was not an apocalyptic prophet it makes sense that his sayings would not be apocalyptic either, says Crossan. I would agree with him on this point IF he could convince me that Jesus was not apocalyptic as well. Perhaps the Gospel of Thomas was written by a later community which was discouraged by Jesus' slow return and so jettisoned his apocalyptic teachings? Finally, I am not convinced that Crossan's Cross Gospel ever existed. I think what we see in the Gospel of Peter is not a product of the 40's AD but of the early second century. Crossan's argument against the main reason why the Gospel of Peter is usually dated late - that it is anti-Jewish and therefore a product of the later anti-Jewish community - is anemic. Crossan himself admits that the Gospel of Peter itself is obviously later than canonical gospels but that its Cross Gospel - meaning its passion and resurrection narrative - is not. This too is unconvincing. For one, Peter's resurrection narrative shows signs of later theology. It describes Christ's as being raised in a physical body. Over time this idea of Christ being raised in a physical body developed and became more and more explicit in the Christian teaching. In Paul's genuine early letters (eg 1 Cor.) the way Jesus is described is vague. Many have argued that according to Paul Jesus was raised in a spiritual body. In Mark's telling Jesus is slightly physical. In Matthew Jesus is much more physical. In John the risen Jesus is described as being even more physical. Finally, in the Gospel of Peter Jesus is described as being *physically* touched by two others as he rises into heaven.

Overall the Birth of Christianity is worth reading even if it is not entirely convincing. Crossan is a brilliant man and his genius shines through much of his work. His studies here on the Meal Traditon and the Jewishness of early Christianity are excellent. However, in other parts of his book Crossan reaches his conclusions by making stretches that even a gymnast would cringe at. Crossan is a brilliant man and his genius shines through much of his work. As always: read with discretion.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating but Historically Unconvincing 3 Dec 2000
By peculiar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book John Dominic Crossan continues with his"Jewish Cynic Jesus" thesis and attempts to extend thesupport for this thesis by digging behind the Synoptic Gospels andanalysing the "Common Sayings Tradition" he discoversthere. This latter "tradition" turns out to be, primarily, amix of Gospel of Thomas and Q sayings although there are someinteresting appendices to the rear of the book which include Synopticand other references in addition. Thus, Crossan is once more taking atrajectory approach to Jesus and Christian origins.
This book is, ofcourse, based upon his former tour de force, "The HistoricalJesus: The Life of a Meditteranean Jewish Peasant". How theprospective reader of this book regards that book will largelydetermine their attitude here. Crossan has not had any Damascusexperience since 1991 and he is still plugging away at the same ideasand with the same tools. He has added one or two theories to hisarmoury (for example, taking onboard Stephen Patterson's thesis thatthe Gospel of Thomas is largely independent of the Synoptic Gospelsand early from Patterson's 1993 book "The Gospel of Thomas andJesus") but he is still noticably "Crossan".
Simplyput, Crossan's thesis here is that the best possible historicalmethodology we can come up with (i.e. his!) demonstrates to us thatJesus was a believer in "ethical eschatology" and that,thus, he promoted a "kingdom of God" which was temporallypresent and physically demonstrated by the actions of healing andcoummunal eating among the poor, the outcasts and the marginal inPalestinian society. In historical context, this made Jesus and hisfollowers a counter-cultural movement (might one cynically suggestthat it also made it a "politically correct" movement?). ForCrossan, Jesus did not believe in or promote apocalyptic endings tothe world nor did he regard himself as an apocalyptic "Son ofMan" or, it seems, anything special in particulareither. Further, Jesus was of the peasant "artisan" class,something which didn't make him analogous to a present day middleclass carpenter, but, rather, made him a landless peasant, in manyrespects the lowest of the low. Crossan utilizes as manysocial-scientific tools as he can access to attempt to demonstratethese points.
All this theorizing about Jesus takes place within aclearly delineated theological context: Crossan calls this thedifference between sarcophobic and sarcophilic Christianity, thatwhich finds Jesus in flesh something to be mitigated and that whichfinds it something to be embraced. This pans out to Crossan's thesisthat "the divine meaning of life is incarnated in a certain humanway of living". It gives him leeway to be less than enthusiasticwhen it comes to traditional Christian beliefs like the bodilyresurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion by transferring thisphenomenon to embodied belief in the historical Jesus bybelievers. Readers will pay their money and take their choice on thatone. The point to note is Crossan's theological engagement.
Like somany of Crossan's books, I found this one engaging and interestingwithout being convincing. Crossan, for me, is one of those writers whobrings ideas to mind even though you find yourself disagreeing withhim the majority of the time. My own belief is that he makes thefundamental wrong turn when he seeks to avoid what he calls"apocalyptic eschatology" - I think for his own personal,ethical reasons. Readers should remember that our ethics and Jesus'own beliefs and motivations are allowed to be different and that theethicality of "apocalypticism" is a different question fromthat of asking whether Jesus, like John the Baptist before him and theearly Christians after him, held to it himself. Crossan confusesthese, I believe, and this choice will always skew his results.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category