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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Elusive Jesus, 7 April 2002
By A Customer
Crossman is obviously an accomplished scholar and a brilliant writer. However, I do not find his portrait of Jesus as a societal rebel very convincing. His description seems to be based on too many shaky assumptions. Crossan is more successful in showing just how elusive the historical Jesus can be for any New Testament critics bold enough to join the search. The book is definitely not intended to make the reader feel comfortable but I highly recommend it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wise man ? Prophet ? Something more ?, 2 Feb 2010
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Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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Open and free healing. A Jewish cynic. History remembered and prophecy historicised. Such has been the impact of John Dominic Crossan on the study of the historical Jesus that phrases like those - which more or less define his conclusions about the life of Jesus and what happened to him later - have passed into common currency among New Testament scholars and interested lay theologians. Books like this one (the popularised version of `Jesus: the Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant') give us that view of Jesus in relatively short order.

And what a view. It's impossible not to be - almost simultaneously - unsettled at how much of the New Testament he sweeps away (no Joseph of Arimathea, probably no encounter with Pilate); and inspired at the revolutionary assessment of the likely impact of his boundary-breaking choice of eating companions, category-defying approach to healing of social exclusion (`illness') and egalitarianism - the latter eclipsed by a later `writing-in' of leaders such as Paul, Peter and James. But for all the sweeping grandeur of some of its conclusions, this is also an often nuanced book: Crossan's espousal of Jesus as Cynic philosopher is well-known but, on the evidence of this book, slightly over-simplified in the popular imagination. There are similarities to the Cynic school in Jesus' approach, but also differences - he is rural, they urban; he organising a communal movement, they pursuing an individualist philosophy. A Cynic philosopher perhaps, but a very peasant, very Jewish one.

Lots to enjoy here, then and I did thoroughly enjoy the read, which is demanding without being abstruse, iconoclastic without being sensationalist. The problem the book leaves, though, is the gap between Crossan's Jesus - very credible because socially situated, albeit sometimes rather narrowly conceived in 19th-century Marxist `class' terms - and the Christ of faith. Such a large gap, though, that it looks pretty unbridgeable in the time and space available before he becomes that object of faith in Paul's letters and the gospels, even allowing for the possibility of skilled exegetes among Jesus followers that Crossan posits. Different understandings of his passion (as historical, as a narrative, as fulfilment of prophecy) would seem to demand competing - or perhaps complementary - Jesus groups, but Crossan never really explains how this variety of interpretations might have originated, given the Jesus he depicts. Crossan's intriguing - and valuable - account of myth-making about Jesus aside, there's definitely a sense that there must have been more to Jesus than the author allows, for him to have become so attractive to so many so quickly after his death. Not wholly convincing, then, but should definitely be read by anyone wanting to keep up with current debate on the historical Jesus.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best biography since Peter Brown's Augustine of Hippo, 9 April 1998
By A Customer
This was an exceptionally informative read. Crossan manages to raise some compelling questions without forcing his own interpretation on the reader. Yes, there is much here that will unnerve both the theologian and those of rigid faith, but nothing that isn't explored with reasoned and compassionate insight. As to the Kirkus review above, it falls prey to its own criticism - telling us more about the critic than the book itself. Read Crossan. He will open yours eyes.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brave, honest and beautifully perceptive book., 2 Aug 2012
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I have read so many interesting but unsatisfysing and some downright puzzling recontructions of the historical Jesus. At last I have found a book by someone who really understands how to read the documents and is able to explain lucidly how they come to include so many competitive pictures of who Jesus was, what he did and said, and what his life means to us today. It is quite simply the most perceptive book on this subject I have read (and I have read a lot of books about the historical Jesus).

I feel freed to believe that what happened in Galilee and Jerusalem two milenia ago was both much simpler than some would want us to accept but was also still of incalculable importance. I will not try to summarize the whole thesis of the book. Just read it (please).
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Jesus Revolutionary Biography
Jesus Revolutionary Biography by Crossan (Hardcover - 1994)
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