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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus and how we came to know of him., 2 Jan. 2002
By 
Carolyn A. Fahm (USA) - See all my reviews
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In this book Thomas Cahill analyses Jesus and how his life changed our perception and understanding of God. Jesus was of a particular time and place, so we learn of the world into which he was born. We then hear how his contemporaries, saw him, and, finally, how his message was delivered to us in the voices of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, the four evangelists,each with his own unique perception. Paul, who never met Jesus but whose conversion led to a lifetime of journeys to distant emerging Christian communities and whose own words we can hear in his letters, is the other voice interpreting Jesus to the young church and to us today.
Cahill uses the American idiom of today, which can at times be jarring, but the succeeds brilliantly in bringing us closer to understanding Jesus - who He was, what he taught us, and why it still has deep meaning for millions around the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The hills are alive, 22 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (Paperback)
Oh wait -- that's another matter.
Thomas Cahill's third outing on the hinges of history brings us to Jesus Christ, and appropriately so, for so much of the word 'hinges' on this person (and we'll define that word more closely in a moment) in many, often unknowing ways. Obvious hinges are the calendar which, even when modified to be BCE/CE rather than BC/AD cannot escape the fact that break is with this phenomenon.
Cahill has taken up the task not of showing who Jesus is, either as person (and that can be God-man, special prophet, political activist, or mythological figure) but rather to show some of the differences, a before-and-after, if you will, of what the world was and came to be due to the influence of this person, which obviously requires an examination of the influences on other persons, too.
Cahill uses ancient historians, modern scholarship, Biblical texts, and simple logic and reason to show influences and changes brought about by the Jesus Movement/Christianity. Packed with details written in an interesting manner, Cahill manages to interest, challenge and enlighten all at the same time.
Put together with the other two books (Gift of the Jews, which might serve as a prequel, and How the Irish Saved Civilisation, which carries Christianity further), this trilogy is a good introduction to the history of modern theology, philosophy, intellectual sensibilities, and how the world owes so much that is never quite realised to so few.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This isn't a religious tract . . ., 21 Feb. 2005
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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. . . although it doesn't miss by much. As part of his Hinges of History series, Cahill places the Jesus story in its historical setting. Whatever your view of Jesus' divinity, there's no gainsaying the importance of his followers in the stream of history. Not only the history of Europe, but given the migrations of his adherents, throughout the world. Although the book is filled with the message of love and peace, Cahill's opening statement about hills lists all battle sites. Not an auspicious beginning for a study of a "new word" supplanting the turmoil of the age. Like nearly all Christian historical writers, Cahill's description of the pagan world is bleak. Only by making the social environment of the era as desolate as possible does the arrival of the "good news" concept work. Cahill would have us believe the pre-Christian civilization offered no solace, had no love, no joy, people suffering empty lives with no hope. It's difficult to believe that the Mediterranean world was that much different from any other.
This being an historical treatise, Cahill must rely on his sources. These are naturally scant, since Jesus went unnoticed by contemporary commentators. Another agitator in a backwater Roman colony was of little import. Cahill must, perforce, turn to the Gospels for his relation of this vital historical character. He omits reference to the long history of critiques of these documents. Instead, he grants them high validity. This is surprising in light of the long duration between the events and their written recording. The time lapse is decades, not just weeks or a few years. He uncritically credits the accounts as being retrieved from the memories of those who supposedly witnessed the events. This is startling. Anyone who's ever played Gossip, passing a whispered message from person to person, knows how garbled the original statement becomes in but minutes. What quirks of memory can occur over decades? Of course, as Cahill stresses, it's the message in the Gospel that's important. True enough, but we're supposed to be dealing in history here, not evangelism.
Cahill examines each of the Gospels in turn, relating them with an easy wit. The chapter on Saul/Paul as a Jewish/Greek intellectual is the high point of the book. Cahill presents in modern language the various stilted texts Christians are subjected to. The effect is charming. Readers unfamiliar with Cahill's style may be jolted, but he's trying to convey a complex story without sinking into a prolix academic style. He deserves credit for his courage in doing this. He's clearly trying to widen his audience with the message. The message from the Gospels lacks unity, of course. Given the diversity of times and authors, with texts further modified by attentions from later contributors, his task is daunting but not insurmountable. Accepting these problems in pinpointing sources, Cahill is able to impart the theme of each Gospel clearly. He doesn't get bogged down in academic trivia. For Cahill, the value of the message far outweighs other considerations.
Cahill believes in the message. He stresses that Jesus sought justice, suggesting this was a novelty in the era. It's a novelty in any era, and others have pursued the same goal. Even that Roman Empire so maligned by Christians [and Cahill] tried various means to achieve it. In Rome, Consuls were given authority for but one year to prevent accumulation of power leading to injustice. It eluded them, it eluded Jesus, and it's eluded Christians as Cahill points out in his discussion of anti-Semetism through the ages. He spends some time on this particular form of Christian injustice. It's disappointing that he can move out of his declared time span in addressing this issue while ignoring many others equally significant. Christians have displaced or eradicated peoples throughout their history. The Incas are gone. The Maya likewise, their vast story of holy books torched by priests. Hearts and minds can be won at swords' point - the history of Christianity confirms it.
The question arises - who should buy and read this book? If you want a concise history of Jesus' era, this is a good start. If you don't want to wade through the King James, New English or Vulgate bibles but wish to understand what the fuss is about, this is a good review of the Gospels and their writers. If you wish to assess whether Jesus has a message for you, perhaps you'll gain some insight from Cahill's presentation. If you're not a Christian, Cahill, although he's firmly convinced, isn't likely to make you one. If you're already a Christian, Cahill may give you a fresh insight into the people who got Jesus' message out to the world. You decide. This copy was bought to complete the set. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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4.0 out of 5 stars The hills are alive, 22 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Oh wait -- that's another matter.
Thomas Cahill's third outing on the hinges of history brings us to Jesus Christ, and appropriately so, for so much of the word 'hinges' on this person (and we'll define that word more closely in a moment) in many, often unknowing ways. Obvious hinges are the calendar which, even when modified to be BCE/CE rather than BC/AD cannot escape the fact that break is with this phenomenon.
Cahill has taken up the task not of showing who Jesus is, either as person (and that can be God-man, special prophet, political activist, or mythological figure) but rather to show some of the differences, a before-and-after, if you will, of what the world was and came to be due to the influence of this person, which obviously requires an examination of the influences on other persons, too.
Cahill uses ancient historians, modern scholarship, Biblical texts, and simple logic and reason to show influences and changes brought about by the Jesus Movement/Christianity. Packed with details written in an interesting manner, Cahill manages to interest, challenge and enlighten all at the same time.
Put together with the other two books (Gift of the Jews, which might serve as a prequel, and How the Irish Saved Civilisation, which carries Christianity further), this trilogy is a good introduction to the history of modern theology, philosophy, intellectual sensibilities, and how the world owes so much that is never quite realised to so few.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Provocative, 2 Dec. 2003
By 
Peter Kenney (Birmingham, Alabama, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (Paperback)
Another entertaining and provocative book from Thomas Cahill. The author's method of showing the contrasting impressions of Jesus as presented in the Letters of Paul and each of the four gospels, helps us to understand why there are so many competing versions of Christianity today. The book will satisfy those who feel they want to better understand Jesus and the environment in which He lived.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The hills are alive..., 22 Dec. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Oh wait -- that's another matter.
Thomas Cahill's third outing on the hinges of history brings us to Jesus Christ, and appropriately so, for so much of the word 'hinges' on this person (and we'll define that word more closely in a moment) in many, often unknowing ways. Obvious hinges are the calendar which, even when modified to be BCE/CE rather than BC/AD cannot escape the fact that break is with this phenomenon.
Cahill has taken up the task not of showing who Jesus is, either as person (and that can be God-man, special prophet, political activist, or mythological figure) but rather to show some of the differences, a before-and-after, if you will, of what the world was and came to be due to the influence of this person, which obviously requires an examination of the influences on other persons, too.
Cahill uses ancient historians, modern scholarship, Biblical texts, and simple logic and reason to show influences and changes brought about by the Jesus Movement/Christianity. Packed with details written in an interesting manner, Cahill manages to interest, challenge and enlighten all at the same time.
Put together with the other two books (Gift of the Jews, which might serve as a prequel, and How the Irish Saved Civilisation, which carries Christianity further), this trilogy is a good introduction to the history of modern theology, philosophy, intellectual sensibilities, and how the world owes so much that is never quite realised to so few.
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4.0 out of 5 stars BC and AD, 6 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (Paperback)
This book does what it says and it is not a hard read. Cahill writes refers to many interesting facts with good insights.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Provocative, 11 Dec. 2003
By 
Peter Kenney (Birmingham, Alabama, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (Paperback)
DESIRE OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS is another entertaining and provocative book from Thomas Cahill.The author's method of showing the contrasting impressions of Jesus as presented in the letters of Paul and each of the four Gospels helps us to understand why there are now so many competing versions of Christianity. The book will satisfy those who feel they want to better understand Jesus and the environment in which He lived.
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