JESUS by John Dominic Crossan

JESUS

A Revolutionary Biography
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Revisionist ``biography'' of Jesus, by New Testament scholar Crossan (Biblical Studies/DePaul University; Raid on the Articulate, 1976). Crossan's study--a popularization and extension of his The Historical Jesus (1992--not reviewed)--proves again the oft-made observation that biographies of Jesus reveal more about their authors than about the subject. Here, we get a politically correct Christ stripped of all mythology, a revolutionary social leader who taught ``radical egalitarianism'' but performed no miracles, except that of awakening social consciousness (Crossan reads Jesus' casting out of demons as a blow against colonialism). This is, then, the Jesus of liberation theology, not of the Christian scholarly mainstream (up to now, Crossan has been best known for another unconventional and little-accepted theory, positing the existence of a ``cross gospel'' that predates the passion narratives of the canonical texts). As usual, Crossan's scholarship is good, with a command of cultural anthropology, Greco-Roman history, and textual analysis. Eyebrows will rise often, though, as he goes beyond facts into conjecture: Jesus ``did not and could not cure...disease'' despite his laying-on-of-hands; Jesus never met Pilate or Caiaphas; the Barabbas tale is fiction (a dismissal based largely on Crossan's subjective reading of Pilate's personality), as are the Last Supper, the Raising of Lazarus, the Virgin Birth, etc. Moreover, at his most extreme, Crossan suggests that Jesus' body, far from being resurrected, was probably buried in a shallow grave and eaten by dogs. Disappointing. The most reliable--read: cautious--guide to the historical Jesus remains John P. Meier's massive, on-going project, A Marginal Jew (1991- ).

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-061661-X
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1993




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