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Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts
John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed
From The Publisher:
Can the stones of ancient Palestine speak to us about the real Jesus and his message? Are there ways to discover the historical Jesus by sifting through the layers of the Gospels and other early texts? In Excavating Jesus Bible expert John Dominic Crossan and Galilean field archaeologist Jonathan L. Reed take an exhilarating look at Jesus and his world from their two different perspectives. While the phenomenal advances in our historical and textual understanding of the origins of Christianity are well known, the equally significant archaeological discoveries are much less familiar. Drawing on evidence from the ten most significant textual discoveries of biblical studies and the ten most significant archaeological digs in the cities and villages of ancient Palestine, Crossan and Reed provide a fuller portrait of Jesus, his teachings, and his followers. Together they bring to life the struggle between Roman power and the people's passionate belief in a just God.
Join Crossan and Reed as they explore sites such as the house of the apostle Peter at Capernaum, a first-century fishing boat from the Sea of Galilee, and the skeleton of a crucified man -- plus textual discoveries such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Thomas. The authors reveal a world where life could end instantly and violently on the whim of a king, a governor, or an ordinary Roman soldier. They show us a people willing to fight, and even die, for the right to live according to their beliefs.
Excavating Jesus includes a full-color insert featuring twelve drawings by Balage Balogh, the best archaeological artist in Israel today, and black-and-white illustrations throughout. These historically accurate recreations of first-century sites reflect the most recent archaeological discoveries, telling us more about the world Jesus, his followers, and his enemies inhabited than we have ever known before. This fresh examination of the world of the Gospels offers readers a unique and fascinating opportunity to examine the evidence and decide for themselves what they believe about the nature of Jesus and his message.
In his monumental The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, Crossan brilliantly challenged conventional historical Jesus scholarship. Using social-scientific and literary critical methods, he uncovered the layers of the Jesus traditions in the Gospels, excavating not an eschatological prophet preaching a future divine kingdom, but an itinerant Galilean peasant preaching a kingdom based on "commensality," or the just distribution of food. Many critics disagreed violently with Crossan, contending that his book was full of outlandish assertions. Now Crossan partners with archeologist Reed to demonstrate the material basis of his earlier textual arguments. With exceptional skill, the authors weave a spellbinding tale of the ways that recent archaeological finds support the rich textual layers of the Gospel stories. For example, Crossan and Reed show the radical nature of Jesus' kingdom of itinerancy and commensality by using the archeology of Herod's palace to demonstrate that his meals, far from the all-encompassing feasts associated with earlier temples, had become elite affairs. Jesus' invitations to the marginalized and outcast to sit at the table flew in the face of this social and political structure. Like any other book that uses archeology to support its claims about biblical texts, this one will be criticized for using material remains to read the Bible in a particular way. However, Crossan and Reed's book provides a fascinating, beautifully illustrated and elegantly written account of the life and times of Jesus, providing readers with one of the richest glimpses into Jesus and his world now available.
—Publisher's Weekly, Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc
"An original, nuanced synthesis of archaeological finds and textual exegesis, one that is rich in insights and in provocative interpretations."
—Michael Coogan, Professor of Religious Studies, Stonehill College, editor, The New Oxford History of the Biblical World
"Linking ground and gospel, archaeology and exegesis, Excavating Jesus offers a unique glimpse into the world of Jesus."
—Eric Meyers, Professor of Religion, Duke University
"This is a fascinating and exhilarating study, which breathes new life into the quest for the historical Jesus."
—Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God
"Comprehensive, expertly integrated, and powerfully illuminating...in keeping with the best of current archaeological theory and method."
—William G. Deever, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Arizona
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About the Authors
John D. Crossan is generally acknowledged to be one of the premier historical Jesus scholar in the world. His books include The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, and Who Killed Jesus? He recently appeared in the PBS special "From Jesus to Christ."
Jonathan L. Reed is a professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the University of La Verne, in California. The author of Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus, he is a leading authority on first-century Palestine archaeology, has ben involved in several major digs, and is now the lead archaeologist at Sepphoris.
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