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The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of…

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the… (2006)

by James D. Tabor

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Large paperback, good condition. A new theory about the mission of Jesus. Professor Tabor argues that far from setting himself up as a world messiah, Jesus was driven by a different agenda––to establish himself and his family as the rightful rulers of Israel. ( )
  Indra_Sinha | Dec 15, 2016 |
did not like
  loubigfish | Feb 11, 2012 |
Since the phenomenal success of "The DaVinci Code," with its provocative storyline about clues to a fantastic secret about Jesus Christ with clues buried in plain sight, others have rushed to tap into this interest. From the box office hits in the "National Treasure" series to other novels, people have tried to capture the blending of treasure hunt and history so prominent in Dan Brown's novel.

Particularly interesting have been the attempts of scholars to tie into these new-found (or at least newly profitable) historical interests. Numerous books about religious truths covered up over the centuries, but with clues in plain sight, have appeared in the last ten years -- several of them tied to the Knights Templar, the Renaissance, long-ignored stories about this historical Jesus, and other facets of Brown's novel. None has been more brazen in its theory, though, as James Tabor's "The Jesus Dynasty," which argues that the archeological and literary evidence suggests that Jesus of Nazareth was trying to establish an earthly Jewish kingdom.

Tabor, a professor of religious studies, ties into the revelation of the so-called "Jesus' family tomb," which is an ancient tomb in Jerusalem recently discovered to have several ossuaries (stone boxes for storing the bones of the deceased) inscribed with names such as James, Mary, and most astoundingly, Jesus son of Joseph. Leaving aside the issue of how a Jesus' ossuary would affect a faith which professes an unburied, resurrected Jesus, Tabor addresses a key historical problem with associating this tomb with Jesus of Nazareth -- why would such a family burial site be in Jerusalem? The literary evidence shows that neither Jesus nor his family lived in Jerusalem, at least until after his crucifixion.

Contemporary family tombs were usually located in ancestral places; as such, the burial location of Jesus' family (assuming they were buried together in a family tomb) should be somewhere in Nazareth or perhaps Bethlehem. Tabor's solution is as elegant as it is provocative -- Jesus' family believed itself to be the restoration of the Jewish monarchy, led first by Jesus and then by his younger brothers, James and Simon; as such, they would choose to be buried in the royal city of Jerusalem.

The book is designed to support this thesis. Drawing heavily from the gospel narratives, Tabor culls various clues that suggest Jesus believed himself a new king, especially after the death of John the Baptist. Many of the clues Tabor points to have long been recognized by serious students of the New Testament texts, though Tabor relates them in new ways. Like many seekers of the historical Jesus, Tabor believes that the Gospel writers, in their attempt to bring meaning to the story of Jesus of Nazareth, mischaracterized many of the historical facts, even as they preserved them. The scholar's job is then to discern the real meaning of these facts and present them anew in their proper context.

The problem with this endeavor, though, is deciding which facts are historical facts and which are interpretations, a challenge highlighted over a century ago by Albert Schweitzer in his critique of "The Quest for the Historical Jesus." Tabor gives little insight into how he separates the proverbial wheat from the chaff in this book. Given that it is meant to be a popular history, this slighting of methodology is to be expected (unfortunately), but Tabor offers little justification for many of his decisions, including his odd reliance on the Gospel of John, frequently believed in such circles to be the least historical of the four canonical gospels.

Some of Tabor's insights are intriguing, offering new approaches to age-old interpretation problems, such as his presentation of the differing genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, and his inclusion of some of Jesus' biological brothers in the twelve named disciples. And Tabor is to be commended for his bold stance that Jesus' apocalyptic worldview and consistent references to the throne of David might not be metaphorical. Still, for all of the fun that the book is to read -- and it is fun, particularly for someone versed in this material, to see Tabor push his argument into uncharted territory -- it is also immensely frustrating, because Tabor seems to cherry-pick his facts to suit his argument, virtually ignoring a wealth of other data that likely contradicts it. These reservations exist even before one considers the sharp criticisms that have faced the archaeology behind the "Jesus' family tomb" since this book's publication, leading most to believe it's a fraud.

It would be wrong to label Tabor's book a fraud, even for its disappointments and shortcomings. There is real scholarship behind it and in it, despite its rather over-the-top thesis. It merits consideration by those intrigued by the latest quest for the historical Jesus, alongside other recent books and articles. But others would do well to leave it alone. ( )
  ALincolnNut | Jan 10, 2011 |
This is the best known modern historian of Jewish Christianity. He talks about the family of Jesus. ( )
  KeithAkers | Jun 5, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743287231, Hardcover)

The Jesus Dynasty offers a startling new interpretation of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity that is grounded in careful analysis of the earliest Christian documents and recent archaeological discoveries, including the much-discussed "Jesus family tomb."

In The Jesus Dynasty, biblical scholar James Tabor brings us closer than ever to the historical Jesus. He explains the crucial relationship between Jesus, a royal descendant of David, and his relative John the Baptizer, a priestly descendant of Aaron and Jesus' teacher. When John was killed, several of his followers -- including Jesus' four brothers -- joined with Jesus, who continued John's mission, preaching the same apocalyptic message. After Jesus confronted the Roman authorities in Jerusalem and was crucified, his brother James succeeded him as the leader of the Jesus dynasty.

James Tabor has studied the earliest surviving documents of Christianity for more than thirty years and has participated in important archaeological excavations in Israel. His reconstruction of the life of Jesus and his followers, and of the early years of Christianity, will change our understanding of one of the most crucial moments in history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:32 -0400)

Based on a careful analysis of the earliest Christian documents and recent archaeological discoveries, The Jesus Dynasty offers a bold new interpretation of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity. Biblical scholar Tabor brings us closer than ever to the historical Jesus. He sheds new light on Jesus' relationship with John the Baptizer, the role played by his brother James, and how Paul's ministry transformed Jesus' message into what would become Christianity. Tabor has studied the earliest surviving documents of Christianity for more than thirty years. He reconstructs for us the movement that sought the spiritual, social, and political redemption of the Jews, a movement led by one family. This book offers an alternative version of Christian origins, one that takes us closer than ever to Jesus and his family and followers.--From publisher description.… (more)

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