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Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography
Bruce Chilton

038549792X Retail Price: $15.95
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Format: Hardcover, 320pp.
ISBN: 0385497938
Publisher: Doubleday
Pub. Date:October 2000

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Interpretations of the life of Jesus have flourished for nearly two millennia—from the Gospels to scholarly investigations by theologians and historians, to fictional portraits by novelists like Nikos Kazantzakis and Norman Mailer. Despite this long history, a clear and coherent picture of Jesus as a man and a teacher has remained elusive. Now, Bruce Chilton puts the pieces of the puzzle together in an extraordinary biography that sweeps readers into first-century Palestine and re-creates the world as Jesus knew it.

Chilton draws on recent archaeological findings to paint a vivid portrait of the social customs, political forces, and religious beliefs and practices of the period. Examining new translations and interpretations of ancient texts against this fresh, historically accurate background, he offers a revolutionary look at Jesus' early life and the philosophical and psychological foundations of the ideas he promulgated as a young man. Chilton provides evidence that contradicts long-held beliefs about Jesus and the movement he led. He shows, for example, that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Galilee, not Nazareth or Bethlehem of Judea, and that the High Priest Caiaphas, not Pontius Pilate, played the central role in Jesus' execution. It is his description of Jesus' role as a rabbi, or "master," of Jewish oral traditions, a teacher of the Kabbalah, and a practitioner of a Galilean form of Judaism that emphasized direct communication with God, however, that casts an entirely new light on the origins of Christianity. By placing Jesus within the context of his times, Chilton uncovers truths lost to history and reveals a new Jesus for the new millennium.


"A dynamic book by a penetrating thinker. Bruce Chilton has added enormously to the contemporary development of Jesus scholarship by placing Jesus inside the Jewish tradition that illuminates both his words and his deeds. This volume will be a major contributor to the growing Jewish-Christian rapprochement that will be so essential to the development of both faith traditions."
—John Shelby Spong, William Belden Noble Lecturer, Harvard University, author of Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes

"Once again Professor Chilton shows his imaginative power in challenging the received wisdom about the historical Jesus. His new book, Rabbi Jesus, is sure to be a catalyst for much discussion and controversy in the years ahead. One can only be grateful for his fresh and innovative views on the teacher from Nazareth."
—John Meier, Professor of New Testament, University of Notre Dame, author of A Marginal Jew, Volumes I and II

"The most original approach to the life of Jesus since David Friedrich Strauss's The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, published in 1835. Chilton's biography offers the first authentically Christian Jesus--and therefore the most profoundly Judaic Jesus ever."
—Jacob Neusner, Distinguished Research Professor of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, and Research Professor of Religion and Theology, Bard College

"Bruce Chilton's Rabbi Jesus offers an imaginative yet very informed and plausible account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Chilton's masterful knowledge of Jewish Palestine and Jewish custom and his penetrating insight into the development and meaning of Jesus' teaching and experience of God form the backdrop of a compelling and stimulating narrative. Readers will find it hard to put this book down!"
—Craig A. Evans, Professor and Director, Graduate Program in Biblical Studies, Trinity Western University,British Columbia

"Rabbi Jesus is as close as any reader is likely to get to the historical Jesus. Drawing on his profound knowledge of the ancient literature and archaeology, Bruce Chilton uses this scholarship and an informed imagination to present a bold biography of Jesus. One can see and hear, smell and taste the texture of Jesus' everyday and dramatic life."
—Right Reverend Frederick Houk Borsch, Ph.D., Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles


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About the Author

Bruce Chilton is Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson and priest at the Free Church of St. John the Evangelist in Barrytown, New York. He is the author of many scholarly articles and books, including Jewish-Christian Debates and A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible.

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