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Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography
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Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,030 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Jesus is a magisterial distillation of Crossan's lifelongwork on the gospels & Jesus. It's the controversial, bestselling account of what we know about the life of Jesus. This book is considered a revolutionary biography.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 17th 1995 by HarperCollins Publishers (NYC) (first published February 17th 1994)
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Crossan is somewhat of a publicity hound, and he makes some pretty outrageous claims, almost entirely removing religion from Jesus' concerns in order to emphasize his program of social justice. I think it is absurd to deemphasize the role of God in Jesus' teachings, and it reflects Crossan's (semi-admitted) attempt to paint a Jesus that best serves his needs. However, I do think that Jesus' emphasis on social justice deserves a better look, and Crossan does so with powerful, symmetrical prose. C ...more
Nicolas Shump
For 3/4 of this book, Crossan strikes me as a typical lapsed believer who has to explain away everything that doesn't fit with his theory/reading of Jesus. Perhaps he gives reasons in some of his other writings, but Crossan has a zealous, if not obsessive disdain for anything supernatural. This is fine for an atheist or agnostic, but when he talks about Christianity or faith in the last chapters, I had to ask what type of God does he believe in?
His cross-cultural method is solid, but he does not
Crossan does a textual analysis of canonical gospels, non canonical gospels and other extrabiblical texts using fields of study such as medical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and biblical archaeology to create a reconstruction of the historical Jesus. What i appreciate most about this work, aside from this meticulous textual analysis, is his placing the happenings of scripture related to Jesus' birth, ministry, and death in their historical socio-cultural context. He constantly refers to J ...more
A shorter and more popularly written update of the author's "Historical Jesus - the Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant." Crossan displays impressing scholarship in placing Jesus firmly in the cultural environment of his time and place. The book is often illuminating, often controversial, and always thought-provoking. However I have qualms about this or any other attempt to discover the historical Jesus - to present a factual biography of him - how he lived, what he taught. There is just not ...more
I appreciated parts of this book--it's insistence that "kingdom" is a poor translation of the Greek "basileia," it's reference to Pliny for the note that the important thing about mustard seeds is that they'll take over your whole garden if you're not careful, it's reference to Livy for a story similar to the one of Salome asking for the head of John the Baptist. Mostly, however, it struck me as a cherry-picking to support the rather obsessive point that Jesus' real message was an egalitarian po ...more
Crossan has been accused of trying to make Jesus into an IRA militant. What he does is try to place a flesh and blood man in a dust and blood place. As the Christian religion becomes more and more gnostic, an Irish Catholic priest, a scholar with a very Irish temperament--well, what do you know?--wants to bring the 'Him' that was into a close embrace. Dostoevsky would approve, I think. Crossan points out that the Roman Empire in which Jesus lived and died was very much a society of patronage. Yo ...more
What if you took out all the magic or stuff that requires you to suspend disbelief that happens with Jesus? This book lays out what Jesus was really about minus all the hoop-la. Smart and makes you feel good about religion (or at least the ideas that often get obscured by crazy people who say they are religious).
Pete daPixie
Having recently read 'Excavating Jesus' by this same author, I'm really getting into John Dominic Crossan. Jesus:A Revolutionary Biography is the biography of a Revolutionary, that is lifted from the mists of history and is found buried under layers of exegesis.
As all the Christian layers are peeled away, Crossan paints a vivid portrait of this first century Galilean peasant, whose ministry of open commensality and social healing appears far more powerful and understandable than the N.T.'s mirac
Khenpo Gurudas
John Dominic Crossan presents an accessible, culturally relevant picture of Rav Yeshua ben Yusef (Jesus) as a social revolutionary, in this easier-to-read text, which seems to be a logical outcome of his "The Historical Jesus", which I never read completely, but used as a constant reference material in the early 1990s, during my doctoral studies.

Crossan doesn't impose upon the reader his personal view of whether or not it was a good thing for the particular cultural milieu that gave rise to the
John Dominic Crossan approached his exploration of Jesus through three lenses. First was the lens of cross-cultural anthropology – what were these cultures usually like? Second was 1st world Hebrew culture itself. And third was the early texts we have about Jesus. Well, the texts that Crossan decides are early and only the parts he's decided to include after he's eliminated 90-95% of their material. He uses his selection of evidence from these three spheres to make a case about who he thinks Jes ...more
karl and mandy brown
Onions are to cooks what history is to authors. Onions, like history, have many layers. Cooks fry onions in a buttery batter to add texture and flavor. Likewise, authors will paint pictures of historical events to improve the audience's reading experience. But, while the overall presentation may be improved, the original crispiness of the onion may be lost. I think this is the case with Jesus A Revolutionary Biography: the subject matter was very provocative and well presented, but it seemed lik ...more
Lee Harmon
Crossan is one of the premier Jesus scholars of today, and this book is quintessential Crossan. It’s a condensed, recently reprinted, more readable version of his 1994 masterpiece, The Historical Jesus.

Crossan’s research is controversial, more focused on the real life of a first-century sage (Jesus) than in the messianic God-man Christianity turned him into. I believe Crossan’s most irritating position (to conservative Christians) is his insistence that Jesus never rose from the tomb … because h
Because it’s Easter I have decided to review this book for my FB friends. This book does a good job of using cross cultural anthropology. What was the social economic status of Jesus? Could Jesus read or write? What is the life expectancy in Judea in ancient times? How much money is 30 Shekels of silver? What do Roman’s do with a body after a standard crucifixion? The average skeletal remains of Jewish men in ancient times were 5’4”; was Jesus 5’4”? “Forgive our debts, and give us our daily brea ...more
Eddie Tafoya
This is one of the most insightful books on the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
It is not for the "Jesus-died-for-your-sins" crowd, but for those who are genuinely interested in his life. If you are into magical thinking, this may not be the book for you.
I'm not totally sure what to make of this book... it attempts to discern all that can be known about Jesus from a historical and anthropological background. Some of Crossan's findings are difficult to read, from a Christian perspective. Nonetheless, the book was challenging and put forth some interesting explanations of the reasons Jesus did the things he is recorded to have done and what that would have meant to a first generation world. Although I disagree with the book that Jesus was not the ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 28, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Christians
Recommended to Erik by: Michael Miley
Shelves: religion
Crossan is comfortably rational and excitingly opinionated. While many of his theses are debatable, the picture he presents of Jesus in this popular book is both plausible and relevant. I would like to think he is correct about his dating of the texts, about the lack of supernaturalism in the early community and about the social mission of Jesus, but my very modern prejudices in favor with these opinions give me pause.

What Crossan has done, it seems, is to have constructed a story about Jesus an
J.T. Oldfield
From my review:

I’ve heard some people say that this book is indeed revolutionary, and some say it’s not. But nobody can say that Crossan doesn’t present anything new. He roots around in texts, scholarship, and archaeology to present a persuasive account of who this Jesus of Nazareth guy really was. Did he live? Yes. Was some sort of preacher or healer? Yes. Did he get his disruptive-ass crucified? Yes. Other than that… Let’s just say that Crossan and Thomas Jefferson would’ve gotten along smashi
Mary Gail O'Dea
Another exciting biography of the historical Jesus by theologian John Dominic Crosson, professor Emeritus of biblical studies at De Paul. Using scripture, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and history contemporaneous -- or almost -- with Jesus (e.g. Flavius Josephus), Crosson describes an incredible figure. Perhaps this would disappoint some who need the Resurrection to be concrete and who eschew scripture as metaphor. For me, however, the historical Jesus is far more exciting, demanding, chal ...more
Shane Wagoner
The expertise of John Dominic Crossan's "The Historical Jesus" is condensed into an easy to read trade book. Unfortunately, the more blunt Crossan's scholarship get, the more apparent the fundamental flaw with his thesis is. He does a satisfactory job of explaining Jesus's death within his framework but it's clear he's stretching. Not to mention the fundamental problem remains! As Bart D. Ehrman said so well, "How many Cynic Philosophers were crucified?" Jesus and his community's persecution is ...more
Zach Callaway
Crossan's reconstruction of the "Historical Jesus" is incredibly fascinating and forces a lot of questions about the nature of the Gospel accounts. I did occasionally feel like his beliefs and background forced him to go beyond the scope of a historian (especially towards the end), but for the most part this book does an amazing job of recreating the ancient Greco-Roman world and putting Biblical accounts into context. It's the book that introduced me to the academic study of religion.
this was a really interesting book, and though i disagreed with his interpretation, it was insightful and thought provoking. my biggest issue is that i felt he tried to intimidate his readers by assaulting them with a use of sources that they could not possibly compete with - his use of sources was selective, intentionally ambiguous and occasionally not presented a contextually accurate/fair manner.
Chad Gibbons
This is a condensed version of Crossan's life's work in New Testament studies. This book would be helpful for anyone trying trying to understand where Crossan is coming.

Crossan's a bit of a loose cannon, but he's very influential. About 75% of the things he writes here are pretty far out there, but there is no doubt he's a talented scholar.
Bound to disturb some people and stimulate others..." (from Library Journal) "This Jesus is a Jewish peasant, with a direct sense of God's immediacy, who shatters all social restraints." (from New York Times Book Review)

From Mom's bookshelf
Just started it, so far so good. The preface said it is a less academic of his "Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant" so I might pick that one up instead, but I am going to see if this one really draws me in.
Feb 25, 2008 Molly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Molly by: My sister
If you are interested in Theology this book is for you. It is not for the faint hearted fundamentalist, but it will open your mind to the possibilities of Christianity. Don't worry, I haven't lost my mind.
Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, reinterprets parts of Jesus' message based on a reconstruction of the historical and social context in which Jesus was situated.
John Ellison
A good survey by one of the founders of the "Jesus Seminar" on the historical and cultural milieu surrounding Jesus and his times.
Leslie Johnson
A whole new way of looking Jesus and where Christianity has taken him vs. the historical figure.
Aug 08, 2007 Jenny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: you
the verdict? he's not god! oh, and he didn't resurrect. his body was eaten by crows and dogs.
Cj Guth
This is a surprisingly entertaining book that is beautifully and passionately written. As far as subtle, scholarly research into the New Testament and the Historical Jesus, it's pretty well worthless. Crossan is known for his, shall we say, idiosyncratic views, and here he merely asserts them without much detailed argument (e.g. the view that the Gospel of Thomas has some--any!--historical value independent of the Synoptics, that Jesus wasn't Apocalyptic in the Jewish sense of that word, etc.). ...more
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John Dominic Crossan is generally regarded as the leading historical Jesus scholar in the world. He is the author of several bestselling books, including The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, The Birth of Christianity, and Who Killed Jesus? He lives in Clermont, Florida.
John Dominic Crossan was born in Nenagh County in Tipperary, Ireland, in 1934. He was educated in Ireland and
More about John Dominic Crossan...

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