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Desire of the Everlasting Hills; The World before and after Jesus
     

Desire of the Everlasting Hills; The World before and after Jesus

4.2 19
by Thomas Cahill, Brian F. O'Byrne (Read by)
 

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Read by Brian O'Byrne
Six Cassettes, Approx. 9 hours
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 civilization. Introducing us first to "the people Jesus knew," Thomas Cahill describes the oppressive Roman political presence, the

Overview

Read by Brian O'Byrne
Six Cassettes, Approx. 9 hours
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 civilization. Introducing us first to "the people Jesus knew," Thomas 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--much of it based on material from the ancient Greek brilliantly translated by the author himself--that will delight readers and surprise even biblical scholars. Thomas Cahill's most unusual skill may lie in his ability to bring to life people of a faraway world whose concerns seem at first to be utterly removed from the present day. We see Jesus as a real person, sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, but kind, humorous, and affectionate, shadowed by the inevitable climax of crucifixion, the cruelest form of execution ever devised by humankind. Mary, while not quite the "perpetual virgin" of popular piety, is a vivid presence and forceful influence on her son. And the apostle Paul, the carrier of Jesus' message and most important figure in the early Jesus movement (which became Christianity), finds rehabilitation in Cahill's realistic, revealing portrait of him. The third volume in the Hinges of History series, this unique presentation of Jesus and his times is for believers and nonbelievers alike (for Jews and Christians, it isintended by the author as an act of reconciliation). With the same lively narration and irresistible perceptions that characterize How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill invites readers into an ancient world to commune with some of the most influential people who ever lived.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
From the author of How the Irish Saved Civilization: a surprising look at Jesus of Nazareth. A BOMC main selection. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553502381
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/28/1999
Series:
The Hinges of History Series
Edition description:
Unabridged, 6 Cassettes, 9 hrs.
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.16(h) x 2.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

Of the many enigmas of John's Gospel nothing is more mysterious than the story that does not belong there. It interrupts the flow of John's tightly stitched scheme of narration, and though, like many Johannine episodes, it gives a starring role to a woman, its supple Greek has all the characteristics of Luke's pen:
At daybreak, Jesus appeared again in the Temple precincts; and when all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. Then did the scribes and Pharisees drag a woman forward who had been discovered in adultery and forced her to stand there in the midst of everyone.
"Teacher," said they to him, "this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. Now, in the Torah Moses ordered us to stone such women. But you--what have you to say about it?" (They posed this question to trap him, so that they might have something to use against him.)
But Jesus just bent down and started doodling in the dust with his finger. When they persisted in their questioning, he straightened up and said, "He among you who is sinless--let him cast the first stone at her." And he bent down again and continued sketching in the sand.
When they heard this, they went away one by one, starting with the oldest, until the last one was gone; and he was left alone with the woman, who still stood where they had made her stand. So Jesus straightened up and said, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," answered she.
"Nor do I condemn you," said Jesus. "You are free to go. But from now on, avoid this sin."
This entire passage sounds like the Synoptics and could easily beslipped into Luke's Gospel at 21:38, where it would make a perfect fit. It was, in fact, excised from Luke, after which it floated around the Christian churches without a proper home, until some scribe squeezed it into a manuscript of John, where he thought it might best belong. But why was it excised in the first place? Because the early Church did not forgive adultery (and other major sins) and did not wish to propagate the contradictory impression that the Lord forgave what the Church refused to forgive.  The Great Church quickly became far more interested in discipline and order than Jesus had ever shown himself to be.  This excision is our first recorded instance of ecclesiastical censorship--only for the best reasons, of course (which is how censors always justify themselves).The anarchic Johannine church had had good reason for its reluctance to attach itself to the Great Church, which it knew would clip its wings; and for all we know, it was a Johannine scribe who crammed the story of the aborted stoning into a copy of John's Gospel, thus saving it for posterity.
The passage itself shows up the tyrannical mindlessness that tradition, custom, and authority can exercise within a society. The text of the Torah that the scribes and Pharisees cite to Jesus is Leviticus 20:10, which reads, "The man who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife will be put to death, he and the woman." Jesus, doodler in the dust and reader of hearts, knows the hard, unjust, and self-deceiving hearts he is dealing with. He does not bother to dispute the text with them, by which he could have asked the obvious question "How can you catch a woman in the act without managing to catch her male partner?" He goes straight to the heart of the matter: the bad conscience of each individual, the ultimate reason no one has the right to judge anyone else.
How marvelous that in the midst of John's sometimes oppressive solemnities, the wry and smiling Jesus of the Synoptic gospels, the Jesus the apostles knew, the holy fool, still plays his holy game, winning his laughing victory over the stunned and stupid forces of evil.  This is the same Jesus who tells us that hell is filled with those who turned their backs on the poor and needy--the very people they were meant to help--but that, no matter what the Church may have taught in the many periods of its long, eventful history, no matter what a given society may deem "sexual transgression," hell is not filled with those who, for whatever reason, awoke in the wrong bed. Nor does he condemn us.
From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Thomas Cahill is the author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews. He divides his time between New York City and Rome.

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Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years ago and keep coming back to it. I'm not going to go into a HUGE amount of detail because I'm way too verbose sometimes. Suffice it to say that it presents a portraid of Jesus that I think atheists, believers, scholars, laymen. All can find things to agree with and generally accept the premise of the book. It's not "fundamentalist" in the modern sense, but there's an honest attempt to portray an accurate picture of the time period and the lives involved. Definitely a great read. An easy read though, provocative, intellectually stimulating, theologically challenging, and inspiring in turns.
Toros More than 1 year ago
Thomas Cahill's Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus is one of the finest books I have read in recent years. Cahill is a master at writing highly accessible prose, maintaining a careful balance between informal and formal language. His book reads nothing like a dry academic or scholarly religious study. On the contrary, it feels like he is seated with you, informally yet passionately discussing pertinent ideas and histories associated with, not just Christianity, but the world. He is a scholar who speaks like a friend. His subject is Jesus Christ. And he takes as his sources the inevitable sources every scholar must depend on for analyzing the figure of Jesus - the Gospels. But he approaches them in a very engaging and enlightening manner-by examining in turn each of the figures behind the Gospels, the presumed sources of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. What were they like? What do their styles of writing tell us about their possible ethnic or geographic origins? What do their stories tell us about their characters, how they perceived Jesus, and perhaps even how well they really knew him? While Cahill is not the only writer to offer an analysis of the Gospel writers and their sources, he does a far better job than most at making these individuals come alive. They become real people with real foibles, real prejudices, and real talents. Yet it is not just the subject matter and how he deals with it that makes Cahill's work so engaging. He regularly examines the language of the texts, interpreting them from the original Greek, postulating the spoken Aramaic that would likely have been the source of the Greek translations, and even offering his own keen modern translations of Gospel verses. Gone is the overly flowery language of traditional ecclesiastical or literary translations. Gone are the respectable terms the Church fathers would rather have us use in reading the words of Christ, when the original texts clearly indicate how Jesus sometimes used more earthy language. I would love to read an entire new translation of the Gospels, should Cahill take the time to produce one. He takes nothing for granted, examining even the meaning of such basic terms as "Christ" and "church" and "gospel". As a language learner and teacher, I loved that aspect of his work.
Xyanajane More than 1 year ago
Cahill's third book in the Hinges of History series, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, tackles one of the most controversial figures of Western Civilization-Jesus of Nazareth. He provides a colorful backdrop of the life and times that Jesus was born into and explores what influenced him and how he influenced life thereafter. Cahill provides indepth looks at both the Jesus that was promoted by Peter and his followers and the Jesus that captured Paul's imagination and became the focus of much of his adult life. How these two differing viewpoints played out in the tenets of the Christian faith and the development of its church are also examined. In reviewing the gospels in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Cahill gives the reader his take, based on his exhaustive research, of who the authors were and how they knew Jesus as well as provides clues from the writings about their status in, and relationships with, the Greek and Roman Cultures of their times. Although typically a quick reader, this is not one of those books I could skip through lightly and merrily but rather it had to be read slowly and carefully as I savored every tidbit of research that illustrated the point Cahill is making and paused to "test and reflect" how some of his assertions "fit" with what I knew before this book and believe. Don't miss Cahill's commentary on whether Jesus made a difference in Western Civilization and if so, what the effects of this oftentimes "elusive historical figure" (p. 9)have been and continue to be today.
GeorgeEllington More than 1 year ago
Thomas Cahill's Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus is one of the finest books I have read in recent years. Cahill is a master at writing highly accessible prose, maintaining a careful balance between informal and formal language. His book reads nothing like a dry academic or scholarly religious study. On the contrary, it feels like he is seated with you, informally yet passionately discussing pertinent ideas and histories associated with, not just Christianity, but the world. He is a scholar who speaks like a friend. His subject is Jesus Christ. And he takes as his sources the inevitable sources every scholar must depend on for analyzing the figure of Jesus - the Gospels. But he approaches them in a very engaging and enlightening manner-by examining in turn each of the figures behind the Gospels, the presumed sources of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. What were they like? What do their styles of writing tell us about their possible ethnic or geographic origins? What do their stories tell us about their characters, how they perceived Jesus, and perhaps even how well they really knew him? While Cahill is not the only writer to offer an analysis of the Gospel writers and their sources, he does a far better job than most at making these individuals come alive. They become real people with real foibles, real prejudices, and real talents. Yet it is not just the subject matter and how he deals with it that makes Cahill's work so engaging. He regularly examines the language of the texts, interpreting them from the original Greek, postulating the spoken Aramaic that would likely have been the source of the Greek translations, and even offering his own keen modern translations of Gospel verses. Gone is the overly flowery language of traditional ecclesiastical or literary translations. Gone are the respectable terms the Church fathers would rather have us use in reading the words of Christ, when the original texts clearly indicate how Jesus sometimes used more earthy language. I would love to read an entire new translation of the Gospels, should Cahill take the time to produce one. He takes nothing for granted, examining even the meaning of such basic terms as "Christ" and "church" and "gospel". As a language learner and teacher, I loved that aspect of his work. Suffice it to say, I am eager to read more from Thomas Cahill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Erudite, accurate, humorous, and astonishing in scope, Mr. Cahill's work provides us with an incredible interpretation of the life of Jesus and the subsequent overwhelming historical impact of His life. By describing the historical events leading up to ~6 BC, he casts new light on Jesus, enabling us to better understand and enjoy an unbiased history. Of particular interest to Christians will be the chapter on Paul, and Paul's remarkable, saintly and God-inspired influence. The way that Cahill describes Paul's ministry will astonish you; the author describes Paul's pain and suffering in a way that makes you simultaneously shudder and rejoice at how the power of God led this man to bring us Jesus' teachings. Christians should rejoice at being reminded that we are ALL parts of the same 'body' of God. As Paul wrote, all are equal in the eyes of God: master or slave, Jew or Gentile, man AND woman. Another fascinating point is that Jesus is the first anti-tragic hero, the first powerful historical figure who did not -- ultimately -- fall from grace [sic]. Cahill eloquently reminds us of the central -- albeit radical -- message of Jesus, namely that we love one another. But the work is not a sermon, nor is it meant for inspiration as much as it is for its historical accuracy and unique perspective. It is this accuracy and uniqueness, however, that actually inspired me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
His most heralded book is probably, How the Irish Saved Civilazation, certainly a wonderful book. But, The Gift of the Jews and now this masterpiece is Cahill at his best. This book can be enjoyed by all, from those with little education to the scholarly. You will learn the world of the intertestamental period prior to Jesus' birth and the Greco-Roman world during his life time. Cahill writes from the point of view as both a historian and a believer with a discerning eye for the facts. A creative, imaginitive and ingenious book. I rarely read a book twice. I am now reading this one for a second time. Don't miss out on this wonderful book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think Cahill has done an exceptional job in viewing Jesus Christ through different lenses. This book, with extensive research on not merely Christ's life, but also on the times before His birth and after His death, makes irresistable reading. I must confess that, owing to inevitable time constraints, I dwelt on this book for over 2 months; and all through this time, never once felt like reneging.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was picked up by me at a YMCA donation canister, aka. 'free'. Now it resides on my night table and I just read and reread portions and share it with my family and friends. It may become my favorite book gift for others. Well written, 'it flows', and provides tremendous insights to the world and middle east before Jesus and how his arrival and life was experienced by all types of people of that era. A great read, a keeper for a lifetime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book, both written and thought out far better than most of the books I've read on the subject. The scholarship and research is impecable, solid, and detailed. All views are taken into account but only the best and most solid ones are further explained and delved into. By far, this is superior to nearly all the books on the subject. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know about Christianity's very beginnings or has any doubts about them. Only a true Irishman can write with wit and humor like this while retaining the scholarship and integrity it possesses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another entertaining and provocative book from Thomas Cahill. The author's method of showing the contrasting impressions of Jesus as presented in the Letters of Paul and each of the four Gospels, helps us to understand why there are so many competing versions of Christianity. The book will satisfy those who feel they want to better understand Jesus and the environment in which He lived. Much of the success of the book depends on Cahill's ability to fill in the blanks with an authorative voice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thomas Cahill is a brilliant writer who has brought new vitality to history in three books. Desire of Everlasting Hills is the third book in the Hinges of History series. The reader needs to understand this: every author writes from certain suppositions. There is no such thing as an unbiased historian. So read Thomas Cahill's books with both eyes open. Cahill takes some definitive liberties in his exegesis of Scripture and more liberty in 'filling in the blanks' of questionable biblical passages and historical events. He adds dialogue and intentions to the characters without consulting reliable sources. Cahill does communicate some very key insights that are enjoyable and eye opening. The background of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus is interesting. But he is not a Christian, so he writes as a spiritual believer in that he practices the 'essence' of Jesus. Cahill claims that he is using the most current scholarship, but after careful research one can see he lacks good modern Christian scholarship as a resource for writing. Thomas Cahill deserves credit for his leaps in making history enjoyable; a little more acurracy and balance to the process would make it even better. Happy reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the finer books on the market exploring the impact of Jesus on the world. From time to time the nearly poetic beauty of the writings is jerked apart by sentences that should have been edited out. For example, referring to Galilee as the 'Bumblefu--' of its day. I don't even know what that crude term is in reference to, but it certainly grates against the grain of most of this fine book. For the most part, Cahill's reasoning is well thought out, though he occasionally makes statements of consensus that are highly controversial. When he mentions Paul's salutation to Mark and Luke and states that there is little doubt that they are the two evangelists, he goes a bit too far. I can find just as many scholars who will claim that Mark and John Mark were two separate people, perhaps three if you count the naked boy in The Garden of Gesthemane, and that all or none of them were responsible for the book of Mark. Still, this is only nitpicking and most of the arguments are sounder than this sort of blanket statement. Cahill's defense of the shroud of Turin may or may not convince you, but it will make you think. The basic thesis is that Jesus not only made a difference in how we live in the world today, but probably made more difference, for the good, than anyone else. It is hard to argue with that thought after reading this book. Organized religion comes in for some hard knocks here, and Cahill seems to be saying that most of it has little relationship to the teachings of Jesus. Hard to argue with that one, whether we are talking about the large organized Roman, Greek, Russian or Protestant churches or some poor tent meeting in a rural location. But Cahill goes on to discuss both historical and current humans who have decided to act like Jesus in their daily lives. Kind of humbling. All in all, very well written and thought out with only a few small stumbles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
From begining to end this book operates from premises that will disturb the true Christian. The author obviously does not believe the scriptures are in any way inspired. For him they are merely the developing ideas of some of the followers of Jesus. He asserts none of the disciples would have accepted Jesus as God until John's gospel was written and this was the result of the progression of what they wanted to present - if He was God people would have to listen to His good teaching. Of this teaching the author seems to be only familiar with selected parts of the sermon on the mount. If you dig into the end notes he does admit that a case can be made for saying that Paul believed Christ to be God, but he has chosen to take an alternative view. According to him the Christian life is being nice and kind to everybody and he ends up, predictably, with a nice ecumenical call for all religions to work together to make the world a nice place. People who like the idea of the cosmic christ showing us how to play nice will enjoy this book but beware you might actually get interested enough in this Jesus stuff to pick up a Bible and read it for yourself instead of accepting Mr. Cahill's version. What a shock that would be. This did give some interesting insights into history but I found the point of view so contrary to orthodox Christianity I found it difficult to get through.