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Jesus: A Life in Class Conflict

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Of the three last words of Jesus on the cross offered by Mark/Matthew, Luke and John which is historical or does that not matter? Bringing a wealth of knowledge on the social, economic, and cultural conflicts of the time, Crossley and Myles uncover the emergence of a fervent and deadly serious religious organizer.

Seeing such portraits as romanticized and overly idealized, the interest here is on the social and economic forces that produced the Jesus movement. To mention just two detailed points: the presentation of the movement as “tough, muscular, hard, and manly” hardly fits Peter’s reaction to Caiaphas’s servant-girl. Crossley and Myles locate Jesus’s class position as that of a tektōn, an ancient Greek noun meaning craftsman or carpenter. Tensions flared up considerably when the movement marched on Jerusalem and Jesus was willingly martyred for the cause. The book conveys a sharp sense of the times and places, the issues and discussions, the difficulties and possibilities.Jesus: A Life in Class Conflict will henceforth provide an easy answer whenever friends and family request a recommendation for an accessible but reliable book about the historical Jesus. At a time when Marxists and people of faith continue to treat each other’s core texts with contempt or suspicion, Jesus: A Life in Class Conflict is a timely and welcome study. More generally, if the Jewish historian Josephus is the chief witness for the Galilean world of “excessive taxation, discontent, banditry, warfare and violent reprisals”, his own motives for painting this picture for the Romans should be more closely examined.

Written for a broad audience, it understands the Jesus movement and rise of Christianity without resorting to the usual Great Man view of history and instead pursues a history from below. We are a conservative evangelical church with a long history of faithful Bible teaching in the coastal town of Whitehaven in beautiful West Cumbria.The movement’s popular appeal was due in part to a desire to represent the values of ordinary rural workers, and its vision meant that the rich would have to give up their wealth, while the poor would be afforded a life of heavenly luxury.

What is important from the biblical point of view is not which hat he wore, but what the author wishes to convey by mentioning it, nor whether skeletons rose from their tombs at the death of Jesus (Matthew 27.Despite being written from a perspective that questions many of the traditions of the Christian faith, it is respectful in its approach, reasonable in most of its assessments, and simply enjoyable to read. For many young men of the time, there were only two realistic responses: banditry or hitching themselves to a prophetic itinerant movement. Tensions flared up considerably when the movement marched on Jerusalem, and Jesus was willingly martyred for the cause.

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