The Jesus Dynasty

Written by Brian Nicholas  •  June 2008 PDF Print E-mail

In response to the person who accused this book of being 'flash over substance' and basically a Da Vinci Code rip off, I would say that they probably didn't read the book). The Jesus Dynasty is completely unrelated to Dan Brown's book, advocating an entirely different thesis. Tabor states this plainly in his preface and goes on to say of the Da Vinci Code, "while gripping fiction, this idea is long on speculation and short on evidence." The theories that Tabor proposes in The Jesus Dynasty are based entirely on an historical-critical examination of the surviving evidence of Jesus, his family, and early followers and what Tabor sees as the most likely interpretation of that evidence.

 The Jesus Dynasty is Tabor's attempt at reconstructing the life of Jesus and his family. In many ways his attempt is quite daring and his ideas unique. The book will no doubt offend many who will not judge the book on its scholarship but will dogmatically reject what it says based on the beliefs which they bring to the book.

On the whole, Tabor's attempt is believable, putting Jesus and his followers squarely in the historical context of first century Judaism. Some of the book's claims will certainly be a surprise to many readers. Just one example brought to light in the book is that many Jews of the time were expecting two messiahs.

This idea is well attested in the records from the time and yet unknown to most people today. Tabor takes this widespread belief into account in assessing the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.

There is a certain amount of speculation in the work (and Tabor does say when he is engaging in speculation), but that will always be true of something for which the evidence is so fragmentary and dating later than the events they describe.

Tabor provides evidence to back up his theories but he also points out several times that about some things we may never be certain as the evidence is just too limited. One aspect in which I was somewhat disappointed was that he does not go into detail about some of the evidence he has (having studied many of these topics with Tabor himself and having been on some of the archaeological digs which he mentions in the book with him, I know that he has more evidence regarding these things and can go into more detail about them).

My guess is that to keep the book at a less intimidating size (as it is it is over 300 pages) he refrains from going into more detail about the evidence he has. This would be my one criticism; I would like to see a fuller treatment of the evidence in some of these places (one example that stands out in my mind is Tabor's reconstruction of the chronology of the week leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, namely on which days everything took place).

Overall this is a very worthwhile read, giving a portrait of Jesus that, while important, is unfamiliar to most people in the world today.

Author: James D. Tabor
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 24, 2007)
Pages: 400 pages, Paperback
Price: $16.00
ISBN-10: 074328724X 
ISBN-13: 978-0743287241
Other Editions: Hardcover, Audio CD, Kindle Edition

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