In Desire of the Everlasting Hills, Thomas Cahill takes up his most daring and provocative subject yet: Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Western civilisation. Introducing us first to the people Jesus knew, Cahill describes the oppressive Roman political presence, the pervasive Greek cultural influence, and especially the widely varied ...
In Desire of the Everlasting Hills, Thomas Cahill takes up his most daring and provocative subject yet: Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Western civilisation. Introducing us first to the people Jesus knew, Cahill describes the oppressive Roman political presence, the pervasive Greek cultural influence, and especially the widely varied social and religious context of the Judaism in which Jesus moved and flourished. These backgrounds, essential to a complete understanding of Jesus, lead to the author's stunningly original interpretation of the New Testament that will delight readers and surprise scholars. And from this reading emerges a portrait of Jesus as a real person, sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, but kind, humorous and affectionate, shadowed by the inevitable climax of crucifixion. Mary emerges as not quite the 'perpetual virgin' of popular piety, but still a vivid presence and forceful influence on her son, while the much-maligned apostle Paul, carrier of Jesus' message and the most important figure in early Christianity, finds rehabilitation in Cahill's revealing, realistic portrait. This is a book for believers and non-believers alike, an interpretative history that invites readers into an ancient world to commune with some of the most influential people who ever lived.
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I was raised as a Christian and still love Jesus but had come to mocking what I call "the magic parts" (especially as the focus, by people who consider themselves Christian because they believe in the Resurrection but apparently reject everything Jesus said about non-violence, tolerance, and economic justice).
Thomas Cahill is a Catholic scholar with a loving humanistic sensibility who returns to primary sources in the original Aramaic to examine the historical Jesus. He does this in an accessible, interesting way, imbued with his own spiritual insight.
I read this in a couple of days, though I seldom have the attention span to do that with a scholarly book. But no sooner would I hit a few dull graphs than along would come some observation or important evidence that moved me deeply.
And he makes an amazingly good case for the Resurrection, so this is a great book for skeptics and doubting believers. No one has ever made it seem so credible.
I think this book would be of interest to anyone with spiritual or historical curiosity about Jesus.
Feb 3, 2008
I enjoy everything on the 1st century of the common era.
Jun 22, 2007
A pleasant read
Thomas Cahill's book on the world before and after Jesus is, as the title suggests, a pleasant read. If you are expecting a dry, scholarly work, you will be pleased with the way the book reads. It is scholarly - but in a relaxed and chatty way. Mr. Cahill does not try to sell the reader on any particular view of Christianity. He does offer some interesting views on the Pauline Epistles, and on that saint himself, which may give some cause to reflect. This volume is part of a series called "The Hinges of History" which Mr. Cahill is in the process of writing.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-10-25 Cahill, no stranger to sweeping historical narratives (The Gifts of the Jews; How the Irish Saved Civilization), triumphs again with this imaginatively written account of Jesus and the early Christian Church. Cahill begins in the manner of most Jesus books, with the Greco-Roman world of the three centuries before Jesus, but here Greece and Rome come to life in Cahill's depiction of their violent despotism. Cahill has an eye for the common person's experience of war, famine and religious upheaval, and it is with this vantage point that he shows readers why Jesus' message of peace and forgiveness was so very startling. Cahill is familiar with biblical scholarship of the origins of the Gospels and their various theological differences, but he is more interested in how ordinary folks might have received Jesus, whom he portrays as "no ivory-tower philosopher but a down-to-earth man" who "hugely enjoyed a good dinner with friends." Although this idea is by no means original, Cahill presents Jesus with infectious energy, and his take on Mary is certainly fresh. "With her keen sense of retributive justice," as evidenced in the Magnificat, Cahill writes, Mary was disappointed with Jesus' odd admonitions to turn the other cheek?she had been "counting on something with more testosterone in it." The best chapter of all is on Paul, whose theological contributions are beautifully recapitulated for the layperson (Cahill also rightly highlights "Paul's perceptiveness, even craftiness, in dealing with other human beings"). There are a few glosses in the book, including instances in which Cahill elevates pious legend to fact; for example, he asserts that the remains of Simon Peter's home "may still be seen at Capernaum, when in fact the home's history has by no means been stablished. Overall, however this is an engrossing portrait of Jesus through the eyes of His family and followers. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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