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Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (The Hinges of History #3)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,512 ratings  ·  152 reviews
From the bestselling author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews, his most compelling historical narrative yet.

How did an obscure rabbi from a backwater of the Roman Empire come to be the central figure in Western Civilization? Did his influence in fact change the world? These are the questions Thomas Cahill addresses in his subtle and engaging inv
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 13th 2001 by Anchor (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

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CV Rick
It's a pleasure to read Cahill's books. Firstly he writes on transitional histories, subjects about which he's both passionate and knowledgeable. Secondly he brings those eras to life with new (to me) information and brilliant texture for the settings and the subjects.

In Desire of the Everlasting Hills he brings the transitional event of Jesus of Nazareth to new light. In exploring the essential Jewishness of the place and of the people he shows that this man's teachings were a new doctrine and
This book started out so well! It got me all excited to see how he was going to develop the way Jesus changed the landscape of western civilization, and then as soon as he started getting into the text of the Bible, it's all this liberal theology. It was pretty depressing.

The first 65 pages are the real strength of the book. Cahill's prose is easy to read and engaging at the same time. You really get a sense that the world before Jesus was a brutal place where might makes right. It leaves you lo
I'm definitely a Thomas Cahill fan. He describes Jesus Christ and his teachings into the historical setting just prior to his birth and following his death. Gave me a better understanding of the scriptures and the early days of the first believers. Details the research on the authors of the Gospels and the impact Paul had on interpreting Christ to the early followers of the "Jesus Movement". Made me want to study more carefully the teachings of Paul.

I need to remember: "...those of us who have '
Thom Foolery
Aug 02, 2011 Thom Foolery rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Christians and non-Christians
[T]his book is part of a series on cultural impact. And the great question about Jesus must always be: Did he make a difference? Is our world--in the century that began with the Turkish genocide against the Armenians, reached its nadir with the "scientific" holocaust of six million Jews (and five million others), not to speak of the slaughter by their own governments of Russians and Chinese in the scores of millions, and now comes to its end with genocides in central Africa and "ethnic cleansing
The third Cahill book I read this summer. And like the previous book, the Gifts of the Jews, this ought to be required reading in high schools and colleges. For similar reasons as the previous book. Those these books have religion as an important component of the works, requiring them does not mean requiring belief in religion. However, our educational system falls short in ignoring the importance of religion, its importance, and what ideas that spring forth of it that sets the West apart from o ...more
May 31, 2009 Tifnie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tifnie by: Shawnah
I actually started taking notes while I was reading this book for 2 reasons. 1 - this wasn't my book and 2 - I wanted to remember some key points. There are so many points to cover - where do I start?

Desire of the Everlasting Hills isn't about The Fate of Human Societies like I originally thought, that book will appear later on my list, it's about Judism and Christianity. More importantly, it's about discrepancies among the disciples. What one disciple heard in a crowd of people, no one else hea
Really more like 3.5 stars. This was a good book overall, definitely learned something. I really had a tough time with some of the historical research methods of identifying writing and style. It was good because it helped me think about my preconceived notions that were based on no knowledge, but I was disappointed by ideas like the assertion that certain books attributed to Paul within the text itself could not have been written by him simply because of the academic consensus was that the idea ...more
So this one would’ve been good, had I not been a Christian. I guess. There was a lot of liberal theology in here and a lot of trying to say that parts of the Bible were written later than they claim to be. This always bothers me since we actually have a lot of very early manuscripts.

Overall not worth it. I already knew everything except this one thing: before Jesus there was no rooting for the underdog. Those who were weak like women, children, slaves, the poor, and defeated nations, these were
jason millett
Aug 26, 2007 jason millett rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind
I've read some of Cahill's other books, and this was beyond doubt my favorite. He is clearly a believer, but not one who is afraid to examine his beliefs in the light of scientific and historical evidence. What I really loved about it, though, was his knack for highlighting the real beauty of the Bible. Many people think the Bible is boring, and to be honest some parts are (Numbers, anyone?), but it also contains more truth and beauty than anything else in western literature, and Cahill knew exa ...more
On this Good Friday in 2014 it seems appropriate to consider the impact of Jesus on our history, culture and thought. Thomas Cahill in his continuing series on the Hinges of History takes up the question of Jesus and his impact on Western history and thought in The Desire of the Everlasting Hills, the third book in this projected 6-7 volume series. For Cahill, this series is a means to explore the stories of the “great gift givers who throughout history entrusted to our keeping one or another of ...more
Casey Carr
Excellent book, dense as these books tend to be bet a very good presentation of the story of Jesus. Mr Cahill does what many historians do which is give more credence to the historical and "factual" nature of religious texts, which simply cannot be known and is dubious at best, and he sets up a lot of false choices ("Either there was something about these experiences that left the minds of the recipients clouded as to time and circumstance, or the experiences themselves were of such a timeless n ...more
Jul 11, 2014 A. rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: essays
Review: Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, Heretics and Heroes

The Hinges of History is a series including the above books plus Mysteries of the Middle Ages and a volume yet to be published. I am treating them together because, as one might expect, they share many strengths and weaknesses of the author, Thomas Cahill.
Heretics and Heroes was the first book I read, it being a gift, and, therefore, re
It gets an extra star for being readable, but one star in terms of its ostensible focus. The birth of Christianity is certainly an appropriate subject for a series that bills itself as the "Hinges of History", but, aside from a little bit of historical context-setting on the subject of Alexander and the Hellenization of the Jewish lands, this book is decidedly not "the world before and after Jesus". It's a completely uncritical take on the stories advanced in the four canonical Gospels and the b ...more
Thomas Cahill set out to answer the question of the actual significance of Christ on Western Civilization. He also wished to acquaint readers with the Jewishness of Jesus as well as the Jewishness of the synoptic gospels, an often significant oversight by anyone who wishes to understand the development of what is known today as Christianity. The subject matter (a mere two thousand years of history) is complex and its scope is truly epic. Thomas is to be commended for making it very accessible to ...more
Nov 10, 2013 Ed rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: theology
A disappointing book -- very engagingly written, but in the end it is merely another attempt by a modern writer to recreate Christianity in his own image and likeness.
Ryan Hathaway
Thomas Cahill is a fine author. His holistic approach to history/theology/mythology examines the transitions of human consciousness. In this third installment of his series, he focuses on the Jesus movement and what it has brought to the world.

I found this to be a worthwhile experience. Cahill balances the micro -- with an examination of the life and times of Jesus -- and the macro -- with his overall thesis on how a short moment in history changed the very trajectory of mankind forever.

Not only
Don Camp
I enjoyed the combination of poetic prose and scholarship of Cahill. His scholarship, in particular, is impressive. Regarding the content, Cahill provides a very readable and respectful version of modern scholarship's interpretation Jesus. Cahill also provides a good review of the impact Jesus and the movement that followed had upon world history, ending with a wonderful description of the Trastevere community in Rome. (The latter is a great model for all who want to develop a missional church t ...more
David Donnelly
Cahill's Hinges of History series of works chart the development of Christianity from its Mesopotamian roots through the renaissance with his latest volume. The point of view is decidedly literary and intellectual and will appeal most directly to the educated Catholic. Marketing of How the Irish Saved Civilization, etc. creates some dissonance when one encounters the material for the first time as it is not what one expects. After reading the entire corpus of work I have begun to appreciate Cahi ...more
Cahill's history writing doesn't make the cut among scholars, probably for the same reason that reading him is so enjoyable: he is a good storyteller in a discipline sorely lacking them. Nevertheless, this book left me wanting. After an interesting but cursory glance at the world and value systems that preceded Jesus, Cahill approaches this mysterious figure through the lenses of the principle gospel authors. It's a good read for anyone wanting an introduction to the gospels, but Cahill's messag ...more
Kerry Hennigan
One of the volumes of Thomas Cahill's series The Hinges of History, Desire of the Everlasting Hills tells the story of the Jewish world of the Middle East before the coming of Christianity and of a young Jew named Jesus whose philosophy gave rise to groups of followers who became the first members of a new world faith.

It is a violent world, a world of Roman overlords and the Jewish leaders who accommodate them. It is also a world or zealots and revolutionaries. Jesus was one of the latter, it ha
Cahill's writing style is as accessible and engaging and his scholarship is vast. I especially like his use of small margin notes with additional thought, translation, history, commentary. Here is a sample of his language related to Jesus's baptism scene, which has led me to think of it as a compelling view for adoptive christology:

As he breaks the surface of the water, he sees the heavens torn open and God's Spirit "like a dove, descending..." Mark fails to tell us if anyone but Jesus saw and
Jul 07, 2011 Joan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who appreciate history and its influence on culture
This is, as one my friends says, ". . . my kind of book!" Cahill has the writing style to really enhance history and he has definitely done this in "Desire of the Everlasting Hills." It is a beautiful, lyrical discussion of the eras just before, during, and after the time Jesus walked the hills and countryside--including Jerusalem--of Israel.
Cahill starts with the era of Alexander the Great, his conquests and influence on the lands he conquers. To see the world being prepared--literally--for the
This is book #3 in the Hinges of History series. It's fairly interesting and thought-provoking at times. Cahill describes how the message of Christ changed civilization. He attributes to Christ (and to Christians) the gradual propagation of widespread principles of mercy, forgiveness, and second chances (opposed to the eye-for-an-eye system of retribution). He also attributes to Christianity the eventual spread of literacy and bringing an end to human sacrifice in some cultures. Cahill was a lit ...more
Tim Dorman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I liked this book, a lot. Some things I would, personally, look into more or word differently, but overall, I learned a lot and feel this is an amazing book (as so far I've enjoyed all Cahill's books in this series).

Examples of things you'll find:
1) A reference to Reynold Price's translation of Mary the Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses on Easter Sunday:
Entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right dressed in a white robe and they were much stunned.
But he said to them "Do
This book was a double treat for me. Not only am I a big Cahill fan, but it also tackles the topic I began with Jesus the Jew (see below). Delivering the same fantastic narrative he used in his two prior books, Cahill first gives us a wide shot of the Judea of the Intertestamental period, the different branches of Judaism that existed, and what each thought and preached. Into this mess he then places Jesus, seeking to locate him in history through analysis of the four gospels plus some historica ...more
Michael Mills
Oct 26, 2007 Michael Mills rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for an introduction to the Christian New Testament
I liked this book very much with regards to Cahill's wonderful summaries of most of the New Testament books. There are so many gems and one will consistenly say, "Ah ha! So that is what Paul was driving at in his letters to the Corinthians." Again, as in my review of Cahill's book on the ancient Israelites, those who hold a tight view of inerrancy might be troubled by some of Cahill's assertions (e.g., letters Paul might not have written, massaging of material in the Gospels to make rhetorical p ...more
Why is it that texts which present themselves as overviews, summations, or syntheses find it so difficult to cite specific supporting evidence instead of alluding to it?

Mr. Cahill's book might be better subtitled "The New Testament in Context." He provides some background material on the age, and then readings of each of the portrayals of Jesus. This is no mean feat. However, it is not what the book claims to explicate, which is the specific impact of Jesus on the world and why he was such a piv
Thomas Cahill is clearly a Christian and, specifically, a big fan of Paul. In Cahill's view, in my opinion, the events of the world hinge on Christianity, at least since the birth of Jesus. This book is all about Christianity and presented as though Christianity is the only true reality. I strongly disagree with Cahill's belief and he did not come close to challenging what I believe (not that that was, necessarily, his purpose). If I had to guess, I'd guess that Cahill is Catholic.
Joel Wentz
Cahill's 3rd entry into the "Hinges of History" series is quite good, though not nearly as strong as the "Gifts of the Jews". He is a fantastic storyteller, and this book is at its strongest when he sticks to telling stories. His account of Alexander the Great's conquest, and how this set the stage for Jesus' life, is sweeping and engaging. However, as the book continues, he trails more into theology, biblical criticism, and interpretation, and he has a tendency to make very broad, and at times ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 88 89 next »
  • The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died
  • Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
  • Paul: The Mind of the Apostle
  • Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity
  • Whose Bible Is It?: A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages
  • The Roman Way
  • Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
  • The Historical Figure of Jesus
  • The Last Apocalypse: Europe at the Year 1000 A.D.
  • What Jesus Meant
  • Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews, A History
  • In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture
  • How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now
  • The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus & the Truth of the Traditional Gospels
  • Jesus before Christianity
  • Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean
  • From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ
  • Backgrounds of Early Christianity
Born in New York City to Irish-American parents and raised in Queens and the Bronx, Cahill was educated by Jesuits and studied ancient Greek and Latin. He continued his study of Greek and Latin literature, as well as medieval philosophy, scripture and theology, at Fordham University, where he completed a B.A. in classical literature and philosophy in 1964, and a pontifical degree in philosophy in ...more
More about Thomas Cahill...

Other Books in the Series

The Hinges of History (6 books)
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization
  • The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels
  • Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
  • Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe
  • Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World
How the Irish Saved Civilization The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World

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