Jesus, a Revolutionary Biography

John Dominic Crossan, HarperSanFrancisco, 1994

Reviewed by Lloyd Geering, SOF NZ Newsletter #8, August 1994

This is no simple life-story of Jesus for it is now acknowledged by scholars that we do not have the historical material to write such a book. Crossan is a Roman Catholic scholar, who is Professor Biblical Studies at DePaul University in Chicago. He has spent "25 years of scholarly research on what actually happened in Galilee and Jerusalem during the early first century" and in 1991 published his findings in The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, of which this book is a more popular version. He concludes that the stories of Jesus' birth are legends created to link him with Jewish prophecy, that the Resurrection of Jesus is a myth, meant to show how his teaching and example endured in the lives of his followers, and that Jesus himself was more radical and threatening than any political revolutionary of his time or since because he espoused absolute equality in a society segregated by class and gender. It is a most exciting book to study and digest.

When it says that "the popular version of Moses' birth served Matthew as the model for the birth of Jesus" he is describing the process which Spong refers to as midrash. There are thus are certain similarities between this book and those of Spong. This is certainly no less radical in its conclusions.