James D. Tabor (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 384 pages, $27 (hardback)
This book represents a wholly alternative reading of the New Testament gospels, aimed at a popular audience. I use “alternative” in its root sense—namely, “other.” Some readers may say, “Finally, a laying bare of the real story that was concealed for centuries by the church and is now made available to us.” They might add, “And this one is written by a scholar with real credentials.” Yes, that’s so. But author James Tabor presents us with a thoroughly personal quest, not a dispassionate inquest.
“The Jesus Dynasty,” he writes, “is a new historical investigation of Jesus, his royal family, and the birth of Christianity. At the same time it is a reflection of my own personal quest, integrating the results of my own discoveries and insights over the course of my professional career.”
In other words, Tabor seems to have a personal stake in letting us in on his “discoveries and insights.” I wish I knew what that stake was, besides telling us that Christianity is all a mistake. Has he finally, after centuries of systematic doubt from Feuerbach, Freud, Voltaire, Bruno Bauer, Lüdermann, Spong, the Jesus Seminar and others, finally got the Jesus story straight?