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This review is from: Rabbi Jesus: an Intimate Biography: The Jewish Life and Teachings That Inspired Christia (Paperback)
I came to this book with delighted anticipation but was disappointed.
It's main theme is that Jesus was a mamzer ... an outcast, despised and rejected by Nazareth and other Jews. He felt so unloved that he ran away at the age of 12 (the incident in Luke where he's left behind at the Temple) and joined John the Baptist.
The trouble is that Jesus was not, by any standards, a mamzer ... even if he were illegitimate. A mamzer (who was outcast) was only the child of incest or adultery; neither of which is claimed by Chiltern. So the rest of the whole book is on a rocky foundation. That wouldn't matter at all if it were presented entirely as fiction but it's not; it's a blend of surmise and academic claims, many of which are simply not supportable.
In places Chiltern plays fast and loose with Biblical facts and in other places he holds fast to them as though they were indisputable. It's very haphazard and it clearly shows his own agenda - as laid out perfectly clearly (thank you for that!) in the foreword - that Chiltern's own vocation came through an experience of Jesus suffering on the cross.
There are fascinating insights ... in that the Greek in the Gospel of Luke does not say 'parents' but 'parent' when Jesus is left behind in the Temple in Jerusalem when he is about 12 ... so it's a fair surmise that Joseph might have been dead by then. And it is true that, as a Galilean, Jesus might well have been horrified by the opulence in Jerusalem but the claim that he would have been excluded from his home synagogue as a child simply doesn't hold water for me, at least.