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Jesus, a Jewish Galilean: A New Reading of the Jesus Story Paperback – 1 Nov 2004

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Title mention in footnotes in Interpretation A Journal of Bible and Theology, 'James as the First Catholic Epistle' John Painter

Review International Review of Biblical Studies, vol 51, 2004/05

Freyne s work is more reader-friendly than most theological texts. Though demanding a concentration and seriousness from his reader, he has succeeded in producing a book available to the common reader . Irish Times, John F Deane, 12th February 2005

'From one of the world's leading experts on the New Testament comes a superb new study of Jesus and his cultural environment. Sean Freyne has masterfully recreated the historical context of Jesus' life and teachings and given us the most accurate understanding that historical scholarship an provide. Jews and Christians alike will be delighted by the respect this book demonstrates toward their very different understandings of Jesus and his early followers.' Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, USA and is the author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus--Susannah Heschel

'A recognized expert on Galilee, Sean Freyne here explains many of the sayings and actions of Jesus in relation to his Galilean context in a remarkably rich and persuasive way. Particularly sensitive to the under-appreciated significance of Israelite scripture for Jesus, Freyne explores Jesus' attitudes towards God's creation in the micro-ecologies of fertile Galilee, the status of the land as God's gift, his prophetic appropriation of Isaiah, his response to Herodian and Roman rule and his death. Freyne brings the Jesus tradition to life with an erudition, balance and flair that put him in the very top rank of writers on Jesus.' Philip F. Esler, Professor of Biblical Criticism, University of St Andrews--Philip F. Esler

"Sean Freyne sets out to demonstrate how profoundly the identity and agenda of Jesus were moulded by the Galilean location and how necessary it is to bear this in mind in reading the gospel story. One of the acknowledged leaders in the study of the region in late antiquity, Freyne brings to this task a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the sources both literary and archaeological, together with a critical but not hypercritical reading of the gospels, dictated by what he calls a criterion of contextual plausibility. He pays close attention not only to the political and social environment, urban culture and village culture, Jewish and non-Jewish populations, all struggling to flourish or at least survive under colonial rule, but also to the different ecologies of the region and how they come to be reflected in the record of what Jesus did and said. A point of special interest is Freyne's discussion of the ways in which the Jesus of the gospels appropriated and enacted, in the Galilean environment, foundational traditions and texts among which, he argues, correctly I believe, that the book of Isaiah held a unique place. This is a learned, stimulating, and eminently readable book which no one interested in either the history of Judaism in late antiquity, or Christian beginnings, or the gospel story about Jesus, can afford to miss." Joseph Blenkinsopp, John A. O'Brien Professor Emeritus, Judaism & Christianity in Antiquity, University of Notre Dame--Sanford Lakoff

'Sean Freyne has written a fresh and engaging study that brings a new perspective to the quest for the historical Jesus. His criterion of "contextual probability" offers a more credible deconstruction than the disembodied Jesus of the "criterion of dissimilarity." Freyne's work is informed by a lifetime of engagement with Galilee and a remarkable, up to date grasp of Old Testament scholarship, which is all too rare in studies of the historical Jesus.' John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale University Divinity School--Sanford Lakoff

"This book is a welcome contribution to historical Jesus scholarship from one of the deans of contemporary Galilee studies....the book engages other important scholarship and is valuable in identifying matters of sharp debate within the field....when he situates Jesus within the historical Galilee emerging from the intersection of social history and archaeology, he is at his best. This book deserves discussion both for its methodology and for its results. It is a stimulating contribution in every respect." - ?

'While he inevitably uses theological terms and techniques, including a wealth of reference and footnotes, Freyne's work is more reader-friendly than most theological texts'--Sanford Lakoff "The Irish Times "

'a new and fresh approach to the much discussed question of the relationship between Jesus and Galilee....The book combines Freyne's masterful command of all relevent areas in the study of Galilee with creative and new approaches to old questions, and a vividness of style that makes it a joy to read'--Sanford Lakoff "Theology "

'Sean Freyne has been studying Galilee for decades. In the six chapters of this book he brings his knowledge to bear on the study of Jesus. Archaeological, political, geographical and cultural insights enable him to provide a fascinating study of the importance of Jesus' Galilean ministry...Freyne is not afraid to make a stand when evidence points away from an accepted view...This book is to be recommended.' Clive Marsh, Theological Book Review, Vol 18, No.1, 2006--Sanford Lakoff "Theological Book Review "

'Besides a wealth of detailed information on Galilee...the book contains many interesting reflections in Jesus' own use of tradition.' Helen K. Bond, Vol 28.5, 2006--Sanford Lakoff "Journal for the Study of the New Testament "

"This methodology provides three gains for New Testament scholarship. By utilizing a theological background of Hebrew Scriptures and extracanonical Jewish literature, Freyne establishes a cultural context for both the mission of Jesus...and his wisdom sayings (in Q), a split that constantly divides New Testament scholars. Second, Freyne does for Jesus what others have done for Paul - that is, he provides a "new perspective" on Jesus....And, third, Freyne redefines what current scholarship calls a social context."--Sanford Lakoff "Journal of Religion "

"Freyne uses to the full his historic imagination and breathtaking capacity to recreate the social, economic, geographic and cultural setting of Jesus." David J. Bryan ANVIL Vol. 23 No. 4, 2006--Sanford Lakoff "Anvil "

About the Author

Sean Freyne is currently Director of the Programme for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, where he occupied the Chair of Theology until his retirement in 2002. He has lectured widely to general audiences, as well as contributing to various television treatments of the historical Jesus. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on ancient Galilee, the Gospels, and Early Christianity.


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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Place gives new meaning to the Historical Jesus 29 Aug. 2013
By David Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Freyne has been considered an expert on Galilee for some time. In this book he proposes the criterion of "historical plausibility" as a counter balance to the criterion of "dissimilarity". He quotes Gerd Theissen on the new possibilities this opens up: "...the criterion of plausible historical context requires only a demonstration of positive connections between the Jesus tradition and the Jewish context, i.e. between Jesus and the land, the groups, the traditions and the mentalities of the Judaism of that time."
Freyne details the traditions of creation, the Patriarchs (especially contrasting accounts in Genesis and Deuteronomy), Isaiah and Daniel and their influence on Jesus, a Jewish Galilean.
The book is populated with shrewd observations such as: p. 141 "...students of the historical Jesus have given too little attention to the importance of prayer in the unfolding of his ministry." On page 162 "Prayer was an important element in the piety of visionary circles as evidenced by Daniel and Enoch, and apparently, Jesus also belonged to a similar tradition."
The author shows a remarkable familiarity with current Old Testament scholarship, non canonical literature, and archaeology. All this contributes to an inspiring and informing experience for the reader.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A trust in the goodness of creation 9 Feb. 2005
By Richeire - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This work I found extremely interesting. In particular I enjoyed chapter two - Jesus and the Ecology of Galilee: Ecological Factors and Human Culture.

I found the use made of Halovr Monxes' discussion of place as a contested space very insightful.

The work reveals Dr. Freyne's great understanding of Jesus in the context of Galilee. It opened up for me such questions as why Jesus was attracted to the villages of Caesarea Philippi and to Mt Hermon: to the wellspring of the Great River.

The following line from page 149 touched me in a special way:

"His (Jesus) was a faith that was grounded in a trust in the goodness of creation as he had experienced it and reflected on its mysterious but hidden processes."

May the ebbs and flows of the scholarly quest for the historical Jesus be empowered by this fine work.
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