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A Long Way from Tipperary: What a Former Monk Discovered in His Search for the Truth: A Memoir [Hardcover]

John Domini Crossan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins World; 1st Edition edition (1 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060699744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060699741
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,030,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

"[I]f people have had enough chicken soup for the soul, how about some Irish stew for the mind?" asks John Dominic Crossan, in the introduction to his meaty new memoir, A Long Way from Tipperary: What a Former Irish Monk Discovered in His Search for the Truth. Crossan burst into the public eye in 1991 with the publication of his best-selling The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. In this and subsequent books, Crossan's historical research has demonstrated the follies of both secularist denial and fundamentalist distortions of Jesus' significance. Tipperary is Crossan's memoir of the ways that his personal experience "from Ireland to America, from priest to professor, from monastery to university, and ... from celibacy to marriage" have influenced his evolving understanding of who Jesus was. Crossan's struggle has always been to find a way of understanding Jesus that engages "both reason and revelation, both history and faith, both mind and heart". Here is his description of his ideal readers:
They are ... dissatisfied, disappointed, or even disgusted with classical Christianity and their denominational tradition. They hold on with anger or leave with nostalgia, but are not happy with either decision. They do not want to invent or join a new age, but to reclaim and redeem an ancient one. They do not want to settle for a generic-brand religion, but to rediscover their own specific and particular roots. But they know now that those roots must be in a renewed Christianity whose validity does not reject every other religion's integrity, a renewed Christianity that has purged itself of rationalism, fundamentalism, and literalism, whether of book, tradition, community, or leader.
Those who recognise themselves in this passage will find hope and courage in Crossan's book. --Michael Joseph Gross


The world's foremost historical Jesus scholar presents an intimate, engaging memoir of his journey from a traditional Irish childhood to the pinnacle of biblical studies.

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In 1944 I turned ten and never again spent a full year at home. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Courageous Seeker of the Truth 28 Jun 2002
A LONG WAY FROM TIPPERARY is aptly titled. Crossan left home for boarding school at the age of eleven in 1945. He sailed from Ireland for America in 1951 to study for the priesthood. He resigned from the priesthood after twenty years in order to get married. Crossan later lost his first wife to heart disease. On top of all of this he embarked on a lonely journey as a scholar which has made him at odds with mainstream academia for much of his career.
Crossan seems to have enjoyed his role as a maverick and above all else has proven himself to be resilient. I have enjoyed this book and at the same time have acquired a deeper appreciation of Crossan as a courageous seeker of the truth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Searching For Clues 27 Jun 2002
John Dominic Crossan has led an adventurous life which included twenty years spent as a Roman Catholic monk and thirty years reconstructing the historical Jesus.
The challenge for me in reading this book is searching for clues as to what factors in his background have influenced his studies and conclusions. His descriptions of his parents, boyhood teachers and youthful life in an Ireland recently freed from its colonial past are fairly interesting but too superficial. More intriguing are those parts of the book which deal with his profound anger directed at the church hierarchy and the chapter which describes the evolution of his early research on the sayings and parables of Jesus into a wider quest focusing on the life of Jesus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wounded Cynic 27 Jun 2002
I have great respect for the intellect of Crossan and never fail to be impressed by his many insights about the historical Jesus and the birth of Christianity. In this regard A LONG WAY FROM TIPPERARY does not disappoint but I cannot shake the impression that Crossan is at heart a wounded cynic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging 24 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A model of autobiography, sympathetic but unsentimental and full of dry humour. Not a literary feat but a reflection on a life as it evolved without apparent exaggeration or grandiosity. He answered the questions I would have liked to ask about his development both as a human being and as a scripture scholar.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
86 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enligtening and Truly Enjoyable Memoir - A MUST READ 7 Jun 2000
By Stephen M. St Clair - Published on Amazon.com
First, I will share my bias. I like, respect and enjoy both the person and the works of John Dominic Crossan; having discovered the former a couple of years ago by chance and good fortune, and the latter in 1993 by way of his seminal work: Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. It has been, therefore, with great anticipation that I have awaited this memoir and, as the old saw goes, it was definitely worth the wait. It was a one sitting read and this autobiography of one of the world's preeminent scholars on the Historical Jesus and early Christianity will be read again, recommended to all and assume a cherished place upon the bookshelf.
I laughed (often aloud), teared-up (some would say cried), and more than once re-read a sentence or a page to ensure I left nothing undigested as there is much here to savor (prose that borders on poetry); much here to ponder ("What is the character of your God?"); and much here to entertain (The consequences of literally interpreting every passage in the Bible... "If Jesus is the Lamb of God, did Mary have a little lamb?").
In reading this memoir no one can deny that Professor Crossan has had anything but a life well lived (thanks in no small measure to a wonderful lady named Sarah) and for the reader who puts down a schilling and opens this book he will, no doubt, have his spirit enobled, his heart warmed and his mind enlightened....and thoroughly enjoy himself throughout the process. What else could one ask from a book?
May the fates smile upon us and allow many many more years of (and thousands of more words from) John Dominic Crossan. He has, indeed, come a long way from Tipperary and I, for one, am thankful that his journey and mine have crossed paths; for in doing so my life has been profoundly enriched.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anything but dry 10 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Crossan writes an intellectual biography that walks through many twists and turns in his life. But unlike other theological books it has a dramatic aspect. He first places in context criticisms of his views of the historical Jesus, and asks, in essence: How did I get there? What brought me to this point in my career? In the process of reading his memoir we read about various influences in his life, both personal and academic, as well as his methodology. It is a glimpse into the person of Crossan even as he wants us to glimpse into the person of Jesus. Admittedly, his views are not as elaborately explained as they are in his other works, so don't read this book if that is your goal. But if you want a book on the life of ideas and the life of a unique theologian, this book will be anything but dry.
35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Johnny, We Hardly Know You 17 July 2000
By Erika Harnett - Published on Amazon.com
Crossan is far better a scholar (brilliantly incisive) than an autobiographer. The facts are here, but quite often the tone tends to be flat. To be sure, there are entertaining anecdotes and opportunities to make additions to one's own list of quotable Crossanisms (see what he says about guilt!), but Crossan is often quite guarded in revealing his emotions. Many of Crossan's readers, I think, are most interested in what the crisis was that led him to leave the priesthood, but the reader will find no anguish, no dark night of the soul here-(was the problem really just intellectual freedom?). The only anxiety expressed is about finding subsequent employment. Nor does one really know how Crossan's researches have affected his spirtuality- much of C's agenda in popularizing his scholarly work is to promote a revivified Christianity. Crossan has shown us a Jesus who is a radical egalitarian; who are the people who surround Crossan at his table, academics, yes, but who else? Rather than fulminating against fundamentalist types who are trying to promote God's vengeance on the wicked in his final chapter (already a cliche among writers on religion), Crossan might have told us how his work contributed to forming his personal views on social justice. An interview by a skillful journalist could pose the questions that Crossan doesn't ask or eludes answering in his autobiography. There needs to be one.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long Way from Tipperary: A Memoir 26 Oct 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
As a theologian, Crossan's contributions to the birth of Christianity have had a significant intellectual and spiritual impact on me. Indeed, more than an priest in recent times, what he has written and the way he has approached subject have brought me back to my core beliefs. I was, therefore, intrigued to read his memoir. The memoir was quite disjointed, a fact I found a disappointing indication that the various phases of his life have not become integrated for him, but, instead, a series of disjointed phases held together by his boundless exuberance, curiosity, and adventurousness. As a reader, one of the things I ask a memoirist to be is honest, and in explaining his reasons for leaving monastic life and the priesthood, reasons I will not discuss for fear of ruining the read for others, is I think brutally honest. Being American, but having being educated some 15 years later in one of the finest convent girl's schools in Ireland, I can assure the readers of the excellence of the education and the harshness of the life. The "private school" education in no way compares with that of life in England's public school's, or the US's private schools, but the educational opportunities are excellent. I was shocked to read that academics and theologians who oppose his views on the historical Jesus dismiss him as an Irish "peasant." This speaks to the kind of arrogance I experienced upon returning from Ireland in the middle of my junior year in high school and being told that, because I'd been educated in a "third world" country, I would have to take remedial courses. It turned out to be quite the opposite. Even in isolated areas of country, the Irish are an extrememly sophisiticated people who have always placed a great stock in education which is church based for majority of children. Crossan's to how faithful Catholics might respond to the encyclical Humanae Vitae, so unacceptable and threatening to the Bishop of Chicago, had an internal logic and honesty that, to my mind, the Church, as a whole, has come to lack. Crossan dares to address the problem of how can one be a "good Catholic" given the current state of the Church and presents his way he resolved to live with the conflict. There are exceedinlgy powerful passages in the memoir. One concerns the vow of obedience and the manner in which it came to interfer with his relationship with God and the work that had become his mission. The passages about the death of his wife demonstrate that Crossan is not a man to shy from the processes that make us human beings who find, at times, that it is terribly hard, if not impossible to feel the presence of God. Crossan is an academc, a thelogian, who has written his firrst "personal" book that is filled with wit, humor, irony, wisdom, honesty and, I am the better, stronger, wiser for reading it.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaving the priesthood... without leaving the religion 1 May 2001
By Jay3fer - Published on Amazon.com
It's too easy to write off Crossan as another "priest who left", but his candid biography makes that task even more difficult, demonstrating that he still and always takes his religion seriously even when his role in it is uncertain.
Crossan's memoir answers almost all the questions I'd have asked him if I could, and more. As another reviewer commented, the passages about the death of his first wife show sweetly (but not sickeningly!), that in leaving the priesthood, Crossan began the proceess of becoming more fully human.
For Crossan, reconstructing himself was part of the task of reconstructing Jesus, for it is in Jesus' full humanity that he finds the deepest roots of his faith. As a Jew, I can't connect with that belief on a theological level, but as a person of faith, I found Crossan's search, both for himself and for the Jesus he was never introduced to in seminary, to be moving in the most profound way.
Though his story might have been more sensationalistic if he'd "lost his faith" and gone on to condemn Christianity, Crossan has taken the nobler path and revitalized Christian thought in the process.
This memoir is an excellent springboard to his other, more theological works, creating a context for his beliefs and presenting a portrait of the kind of sympathetic teacher every religion needs.
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