Bible Review 16:5, October 2000

The Bad Boy of Historical Jesus Studies

By Hershel Shanks

A Long Way from Tipperary: What a Former Irish Monk Discovered in His Search for the Truth
A Memoir

John Dominic Crossan (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000) 216 pp., $23.00 (hardback)

Dom Crossan is a nice guy—I know him—but he has some controversial things to say about Jesus and the New Testament stories about him. A prominent scholar in so-called historical Jesus studies—the effort to find the human Jesus as he lived at the turn of the era—Crossan believes Jesus was a kind of Jewish Cynic, a follower of an eastern variety of an important Greek philosophy. Cynics are often remembered for having had threadbare wardrobes and bare feet, but they were also sharply critical of misplaced values and human folly. This fits nicely with Crossan’s portrait of the historical Jesus as a radical Jewish peasant living under oppressive Roman rule who practiced nonviolence and was prepared for the martyrdom that would necessarily follow from his protests.

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