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The Jesus Dynasty


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James D. Tabor is chair of the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He holds a PhD in biblical studies and is an expert on Christian origins. He is the author of several books, among them The Jesus Dynasty. Visit him online at


Tabor, chair of religious studies at UNC-Charlotte, offers a bold and sometimes speculative interpretation of the historical Jesus and his family, beginning with his paternity. Evaluating several possibilities, Tabor concludes that the most historically plausible claim is that Jesus' father was neither God nor Joseph, but another man, possibly a Roman soldier named Pantera. He also argues that Joseph likely died when Jesus was young, leaving Jesus head of a household that included his six half-siblings. Like many scholars, Tabor emphasizes that we must understand Jesus in the context of first-century Judaism. After Jesus' death, his brother James took over the titular family dynasty. James championed a version of the faith quite different from Paul's, and, although James was more faithful to Jesus' original teachings, Paul's Christianity won. Tabor not only challenges Christian dogma, he also makes some assumptions with which not all scholars will agree: he places a great deal of emphasis on the hypothetical text Q, calling it "our most authentic early Christian document." This book is accessible and sure to be highly controversial, attracting the attention of reporters, spiritual seekers, historians and fans of The Da Vinci Code. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Tabor (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte; Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America) here aims to provide as accurate a biography of the human Jesus as possible. Recent archaeological discoveries, the rereading of Old and New Testament texts in light of these discoveries, and the use of additional intertestamental and noncanonical literature form the nuclei of Tabor's methodological search for the life of Jesus. The book is divided into five parts-"In the Beginning was the Family," "Growing Up Jewish in Galilee," "A Great Revival and a Gathering Storm," "Entering the Lion's Den," and "Waiting for the Son of Man"-that seek to explain who Jesus of Nazareth really was and the significance of his preaching. Yet Tabor's methodology exhibits serious weaknesses. Some of his interpretations (e.g., that Mary married Joseph's brother after he died in accordance with ancient tradition; that Jesus had a human father) go far beyond the evidence. It is this willingness to overreach and misuse theological sources that make Jesus Dynasty an ultimately irresponsible endeavor. Not recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/05.]-Charlie Murray, Boston Univ. School of Theology Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Many scholars have undertaken studies of Jesus and his legacy; none has dared advance the boldly provocative theses of The Jesus Dynasty." -- Bart Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus
"Provocative. . . . Takes the search for the historical Jesus to a bold . . . new level." -- Jay Tolson, U.S. News & World Report
"James Tabor stands out among his generation of biblical scholars for his thorough familiarity with the full range of textual evidence from the first centuries, his extensive experience with archaeological excavations, and his imagination and creativity. Tabor has a remarkable ability to discern the contours of vital religious movements from the scattered bits and pieces of evidence that survive from antiquity. Anyone who takes the career of Jesus seriously will have to reckon with his bold, new synthesis."
-- Professor Eugene V. Gallagher, Rosemary Park Professor of Religious Studies, Connecticut College

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