Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity

( 61 )


The Jesus Dynasty offers a startling new interpretation of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity that is grounded in careful analysis of the earliest Christian documents and recent archaeological discoveries, including the much-discussed "Jesus farnily tomb."

In The Jesus Dynasty, biblical scholar James. Tabor brings us closer than ever to the historical Jesus. He explains the crucial relationship between Jesus, a royal descendant of David, and his relative John the ...

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The Jesus Dynasty offers a startling new interpretation of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity that is grounded in careful analysis of the earliest Christian documents and recent archaeological discoveries, including the much-discussed "Jesus farnily tomb."

In The Jesus Dynasty, biblical scholar James. Tabor brings us closer than ever to the historical Jesus. He explains the crucial relationship between Jesus, a royal descendant of David, and his relative John the Baptizer, a priestly descendant of Aaron and Jesus' teacher. When John was killed, several of his followers-including Jesus' four brothers--joined with Jesus, who continued John's mission, preaching the same apocalyptic message. After Jesus confronted the Roman authorities in Jerusalem and was crucified, his brother James succeeded him as the leader of the Jesus dynasty.

James Tabor has studied the earliest surviving documents of Christianity for more than thirty years and has participated in important archaeological excavations in Israel. His reconstruction of the life of Jesus and his followers, and of the early years of Christianity, will, change our understanding of one of the most crucial moments in history.

About the Author:
James D. Tabor is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The result of 40 years of research into documents and archaeological sites in the Holy Land, James D. Tabor's fresh, provocative, and controversial examination of the evidence for the nature of the historical Jesus offers an alternative view that will fascinate anyone with interest in this perennial question.
Publishers Weekly
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.
Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
CD 0-7435-5203-2Think you know who Jesus was? Well, think again. Using archaeological evidence and textual analysis, Tabor (Religious Studies/Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) puts forth a very different history of the Jesus movement than is traditionally taught within Christian theology. Jesus, a descendant of David, was shaped by the events of his time. He became a disciple of the charismatic John the Baptizer and soon became John's partner in ministry, taking over the movement upon John's execution. He was convinced that Roman rule over Israel would soon end, allowing him to set up an earthly kingdom. His Council of Twelve acted as regional rulers over this kingdom. When Jesus was crucified, the Council set up a provisional government, led by James, the brother of Jesus and heir to the Davidic line. Beyond that, not only was Jesus made divine, but his teachings were corrupted, and the roles of John and James were dramatically diminished, says Tabor, who raises some good points and spurs meaningful thought for the reader. And his archaeological backup makes for exciting reading. However, his book has a number of flaws. While identified as a historian, Tabor often sounds like a conspiracy theorist, piecing together tiny shreds of evidence to create a revisionist history, while rarely pausing to address the counterarguments that arise at every turn. Tabor accepts his conclusions as truth without ever entertaining the notion that there are other arguments to be made. This arrogance can be an affront to the educated reader. The author writes for those with only a marginal knowledge of Christian history and theology, and for those already skeptical of Christianity. There are vastdiscrepancies between his own presumptions and the presumptions of the majority of Christians-a gulf he fails to address and for which some will make efforts to debunk his work. Tabor simply speaks past actual believers, who will be perplexed by his approach at best, insulted at worst. A provocative contribution, diminished by an overbearing approach. First printing of 100,000
From the Publisher
"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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641802720
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/4/2006
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

James Tabor

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

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Read an Excerpt

The Jesus Dynasty

The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
By James D. Tabor

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2007 James D. Tabor
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780743287241



It is a rare book that is forty years in the making. In some sense this is the case with The Jesus Dynasty. Over forty years ago, as a teenager, I made my first visit to the Holy Land with my parents and my sister. It was that experience that set me on my own lifelong "quest for the historical Jesus." This is the phrase scholars use to describe historical research over the past two hundred years related to Jesus and the origins of early Christianity.

What do we really know about Jesus and how do we know it? Forty years ago I had not even formulated the question with any sophistication. I knew nothing of archaeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient texts, or historical research. But I had begun to read the Bible, particularly the New Testament, and had become fascinated with the figure of Jesus. On that Holy Land trip this interest began to develop into a more intense desire to know what could be known about him and to somehow touch that past.

I vividly remember walking around the Old City of Jerusalem. The city was thick with tourists, all Christians, no Jews or Israelis. This was before the 1967Six Day War when the Old City of east Jerusalem was still ruled by Jordan. We were shown around by one of the hundreds of would-be resident guides who could be hired on the spot pressing upon anyone who looked like a tourist. We saw all the sites typically shown to Christian pilgrims -- the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Upper Room of the Last Supper, and the Dome of the Rock, where the ancient Jewish Temple once stood. On such a tour one enters dozens of churches, all built centuries after the time of Jesus but supposedly at the precise place where this or that event took place.

Over the three days we were there I began to experience a growing sense of disappointment. I was having difficulty connecting, even in my imagination, 20th-century Jerusalem with the city in the time of Jesus as described in the New Testament. Even if the names and places were the same, and correctly identified, what I saw before me were Turkish, Crusader, and Byzantine remains, with little if anything from the 1st century a.d. visible. Even the modern street level, I learned, was twelve to fifteen feet above that of Roman times. I had purchased a tourist guidebook entitled Walking Where Jesus Walked, and somehow, in my naiveté, I wanted to do just that.

We stayed in a small hotel on top of the Mount of Olives just to the east of the Old City. About midnight, restless, I got out of bed, Bible in hand, and decided to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the mountain. The steep path down is now paved, but I could see bedrock cut or worn along the way on both sides, indicating this was the narrow road from ancient times. I imagined Jesus riding the donkey down that very path into the Old City, hailed by the crowds as Messiah, a week before he was crucified. In those days, unlike today, you could enter the Garden of Gethsemane at any hour, day or night, as the gate was always open. Visitors were also allowed to walk among the centuries-old olive trees. I was the only one there that night, at that hour. My reading had convinced me that this was the spot where Jesus spent the last night of his life in prayer. For the first time on our tour, on that path and in the garden, I felt that I was able to reach back and connect with the past that I sought. I stayed there for the longest time, trying to imagine it all. I kept thinking to myself -- this is the place. It happened here. The "historian" in me was awakening and I think a bit of the "archaeologist" as well. In some way I had begun what would become a lifelong quest to discover and to understand the life of Jesus as he lived it.

There is something in all of us that thrills to this experience of touching the past. It could be an old letter, a genealogical record, a battlefield, a cemetery, or fragments of an ancient text. Today in Israel you can visit the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum and view the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date to around the time of Jesus. I think many visitors experience the same feeling I did the first time I saw the displays. There, under glass, just a few inches away, are the actual ancient documents written over two thousand years ago. I remember pausing for long minutes before each exhibit, trying to take in the reality of what I was viewing. There one is looking at the very parchment or papyrus from that long-ago time, with words in Hebrew and Aramaic that could have been read by Jesus or his followers.

Many other sites in Jerusalem have now been excavated. You can walk or sit on the very steps that led up to the Jewish Temple built in the time of Herod the Great. When I first visited Jerusalem in 1962 these steps were twenty-five feet below the present surface, completely lost to modern eyes. In various places the paving stones of the streets of the Roman city have been exposed. Twelve feet below the modern street level, in the Jewish Quarter, you can walk in the ruins of a wealthy mansion, one that likely belonged to the family of high priests who presided over the trial of Jesus. In the summer of 2004 the pool of Siloam, mentioned in the New Testament, was uncovered, after being forgotten and hidden from view for centuries. All over the country the past is being exposed to the present by the spade of the archaeologist and equally by the deciphering of ancient texts by the historian.

I have since been back to Israel and Jordan dozens of times as a researcher and scholar. Whether I am digging an archaeological site, researching in a library, or studying firsthand a given area or location, my focus remains the same -- to recreate a past that has important relevance to our present. The Jesus Dynasty 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.

The Jesus Dynasty presents the Jesus story in an entirely new light. It is history, not fiction. And yet it differs considerably, sometimes radically, from the standard portrait of Jesus informed by theological dogma. The Jesus Dynasty proposes an original version of Christianity, long lost and forgotten, but one that can be reliably traced back to the founder, Jesus himself. The impact and implications of this book are far-reaching and potentially revolutionary. There is a sense in which one might call it "the greatest story never told." It will thrill and excite many, upset and anger others, but also challenge its readers, of whatever persuasion, to honestly weigh evidence and consider new possibilities.

The Jesus Dynasty has no connection to the recently popularized notions that Jesus married and fathered children through Mary Magdalene. While gripping fiction, this idea is long on speculation and short on evidence. But as is so often the case, the truth is even stranger than fiction -- and every bit as intriguing.

In The Jesus Dynasty you will discover that Jesus was the firstborn son of a royal family -- a descendant of King David of ancient Israel. He really was proclaimed "King of the Jews," and was executed by the Romans for this claim. Rather than a church, or a new religion, as commonly understood, he established a royal dynasty drawn from his own brothers and immediate family. Rather than being the founder of a church, Jesus was claimant to a throne. According to the Hebrew Prophets, the Messiah, the scion of David, who would lead the nation of Israel in the last days, was to spring from this specific lineage. Recently released portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls have shed further light on the concrete nature of this expectation. This coveted royal bloodline, the family of David, with its radical revolutionary potential, was well known to the Herod family, the native rulers of Palestine at the time, but also to the Roman officials who ruled the country, including the emperors themselves. These "royals" were not only watched, but also at critical times even hunted down and executed.

Shortly before he died, Jesus set up a provisional government with twelve regional officials, one over each of the twelve tribes or districts of Israel, and he left his brother James at the head of this fledgling government. James became the uncontested leader of the early Christian movement. This significant fact of history has been largely forgotten, or as likely, hidden. Properly understood, it changes everything we thought we knew about Jesus, his mission, and his message. Everyone has heard of Peter, Paul, and John -- but the pivotal place of James, the beloved disciple and younger brother of Jesus, has been effectively blotted from Christian memory.

The Jesus Dynasty explores how and why Christians gradually lost the recognition that Jesus was part of a large family, the members of which exercised dynastic leadership among his followers. This critical, alternative, story, which survives even in our New Testament records and in bits and pieces of later Christian tradition, can be effectively recovered. A combination of recent archaeological discoveries and the surfacing of texts long forgotten has given us a new perspective from which to view the birth of Christianity. Understanding the origins of this largest global religion not only offers us insights about the past, it also opens up whole new ways of seeing Christianity in our own day. We now have a sharper and more historically reliable understanding of Jesus as he was in his own time and place.


JUNE 7, 2005

Copyright © 2006 by James D.Tabor


Excerpted from The Jesus Dynasty by James D. Tabor Copyright © 2007 by James D. Tabor. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Discovering the Jesus Dynasty 1
Introduction: A Tale of Two Tombs 6
Part 1 In the Beginning Was the Family
1 A Virgin Shall Conceive 37
2 A Son of David? 48
3 An Unnamed Father of Jesus? 59
4 Children of a Different Father 73
Part 2 Growing Up Jewish in Galilee
5 The Lost Years 85
6 A Kingdom of this World 95
7 The Religion of Jesus the Jew 109
Part 3 A Great Revival and a Gathering Storm
8 Hearing the Voice 125
9 A Crucial Missing Year 138
10 Ushering in the Kingdom 153
Part 4 Entering the Lion's Den
11 Herod Strikes 171
12 Last Days in Jerusalem 187
13 The King Is Dead 208
14 Dead but Twice Buried 223
Part 5 Waiting for the Son of Man
15 Go to James the Just 243
16 The Challenge of Paul 259
17 The Legacy of the Jesus Dynasty 272
18 The End of the Age 284
Conclusion: Recovering Lost Treasures 305
Timeline of Major Events and Figures 319
Notes 321
Acknowledgments 345
Index 347
Photo Credits 365
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Customer Reviews

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( 61 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    History or Speculation?

    James Tabor in The Jesus Dynasty uses his discovery of a 1st century Jewish tomb outside Jerusalem to give credence to his retelling of the story of the life and death of Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity. While careful not to claim that either of the tombs, or the James ossuary, contains the bones of Jesus¿ family, he is less careful about other facts. The most interesting of his speculations is his new twist to the old claim that Jesus¿ body was stolen out of the original tomb. The empty tomb is a well accepted historical fact and Tabor does not dispute this. He claims instead that Jesus¿ family removed the body to another tomb, perhaps even to one of the tombs recently discovered outside Jerusalem. But what about the Roman guards at the tomb? What about the Jewish leaders who needed the presence of a body to squelch the tales of a resurrected Jesus? How was the body hidden from Jesus¿ closest friends who began spreading stories that Jesus was appearing in a resurrected body? Why was there no rumor or tradition of another tomb? Tabor answers that there is a 3rd century story and a 6th Coptic text claiming that the gardener moved the body. 3rd century! We have evidence from much earlier. Even Tabor agrees that the Gospels were all from the 1st Century. But the best evidence comes from at most 25 years after Jesus¿ death and this evidence is accepted as historical by even the most critical scholars. Tabor himself points out the earliest account we have of what he calls the ¿sightings¿ of Jesus is Paul¿s first letter to the Corinthians that Tabor dates to 54 A.D (55 A.D. is more conservative). In this letter Paul is reminding the Corinthians of the gospel he had preached to them when in Corinth 4 years previously. He states that he is repeating what was passed on to him that ¿Christ died for our sins¿was buried, that he was raised on the third day¿and he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time¿Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me.¿ When was this ¿passed on¿ to Paul? Who passed it on to him? In his letter to the Galatians Paul tells of staying 15 days with Peter (Cephas) in Jerusalem and meeting during this time with James, the brother of Jesus. This trip was 3 years after Paul¿s conversion and has been dated to A.D. 38. . So instead of Tabor¿s claim that the resurrection stories come from the late 1st century gospels that ¿witness more to the development of theological beliefs than to what might have happened¿, we have Paul reporting what he heard from eyewitnesses at the most 8 years after the events. And the oral tradition embedded in his letter to the Corinthians (i.e. Christ died for our sins¿was buried, that he was raised of the third day¿and that he appeared¿.) is even earlier. Critical scholars (not evangelicals) point to among other things, stylized wording, non-Pauline words, sentence structure, the use of the Aramaic name Cephas, and hints of a possibility of Aramaic origin as evidence for early oral tradition dating from 32 to 38 A.D. Tabor¿s speculations about ¿the Jesus dynasty¿ are based on his ¿scientific view of reality¿ which denies even the possibility of a resurrection prior to and in spite of good historical evidence. Instead, he ignores the evidence and creates a whole new story of his own. This story has little to do with God and does nothing to answer the question of why the life and death of Jesus matters at all in the 21st century.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Tabor's conclusion damaged by his presuppositions

    In The Jesus Dynasty, James Tabor reaches a conclusion that presents a major challenge to conservative, orthodox Christianity. His claim is that Christ was not divine but part of a movement to establish an earthly kingdom led by his own family based on their Davidic ancestry. This dynasty lasted for a time, in spite of Jesus' death, led by Jesus' brother James, and subsequently by other family members. While Tabor's writing style is excellent, his conclusions are problematic for several reasons. The primary problem is that Tabor's use of the evidence routinely begs the question at hand. His anti-supernatural bias shines through as time and time again, he rejects any aspect of the Bible that doesn't fit his preconceived conclusions, yet still believes that the New Testament offers valid history when the theological or supernatural is stripped away. At no point does he justify this methodology. He simply asserts it and assumes that the reader will follow suit. I think it's fair to ask: If Tabor doesn't want us to accept the theological/supernatural claims of the Bible, why should we accept any of it? Certainly the authors were TRYING to make a theological point, not just tell a story. He frequently writes that the theological/supernatural has been added later, but never supports this assertion. It simply has to be true for his conclusion to make sense. For example, he speculates at length about Jesus' earthly father. His rejection of the virgin birth is not based on the evidence, but because 'historians' aren't allowed to draw such conclusions. He believes that Mary had become pregnant by a Roman soldier, based on substantial speculation. His assumptions demonstrate more about modern presuppositions about sex than they do about the historical record, Jewish sexual ethics, and Mary's character. His rejection of Christ's resurrection is equally lacking in substance. Any scholar who actively denies Christ's resurrection has to supply a plausible theory for a handful of basic facts. In this case, Tabor attempts to deal with three questions: Did Christ die? Was his tomb found empty? Was he seen after his death? Tabor, to his credit, doesn't try to claim that Christ somehow survived the cross. Instead, he acknowledges that the crucifixion process necessarily claimed Jesus' life. At this point, he begins to argue that Christ was buried in a makeshift tomb, because of the untimeliness of his death and the chaos of Passover. Tabor argues that Christ was moved to a second tomb, and that the sightings of Jesus reported in the Gospels are later embellishments, particularly of Matthew, Luke and John. This approach doesn't work for two reasons. First, it requires more textual cherry-picking by Tabor. Later attempts to change the gospels surely would have failed, as the early church took too high of a view of scripture to permit such editing. Also, there is every reason to think that Paul's description of post-resurrection sightings in I Corinthians are very early. Second, it fails to explain the martyr's deaths of so many of the apostles. What else but an ACTUAL sighting of the risen Christ would cause several, let alone one, of the apostles to refuse to renounce their belief in Christ. Surely, commitment to an earthly dynasty could not engender such loyalty. Again, Tabor denies the resurrection not because of the evidence, but because of his unjustified presuppositions. Finally, in order to contradict the traditional view of Jesus, Tabor has to undermine the ministry of Paul as well. Time and time again, Tabor stresses the disharmony between Paul's teachings and that of the other apostles. He does this again by rigging his evidence and ignoring the historical context. First, Paul could not have gotten away with preaching a message that was radically different than the apostles. We see in Acts 17 that at least some of those who heard Paul's message did not simply embrace it uncritically, but scrutinized it against the s

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2006

    Fascinating must-read

    This book is a fascinating, sensitive and thought-provoking culmination-to-date of a life's work devoted to the research and study of the historical Jesus. Dr. Tabor places Jesus in a cultural context, providing an understanding of the world and the people in it that moved and shaped his teachings, and shines light on an early Christianity that seems to have become lost over the years. He also brings Jesus' family back to the forefront, turning our awareness to the important role they played in Jesus' life and in the continuation his teaching. Several assertions made by Dr. Tabor, some of which are no doubt controversial, will at the very least spur great conversation and debate. As with the seeking of all knowledge, the point is to read, learn and question more ¿ with an open mind. I, for one, have been so inspired. The Jesus Dynasty is a must-read for anyone who is interested in early Christian development, who is remotely curious about the man, Jesus, or who is moved in any way simply by the mention of his name -- regardless of faith, belief or persuasion.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2006

    An Unreliable Indictment of Traditional Christianity

    I must admit that The Jesus Dynasty is not the type of book I would normally read and I therefore approached it with great interest. Though much of it is written as a sort of adventurous novel, there is nevertheless much relevant historical information spread throughout the book. I learned much from Tabor¿s extensive Biblical and historical knowledge, yet despite this knowledge I feel that Tabor has, in several key points, provided speculative arguments without providing adequate evidence for his case. Nevertheless, I should have expected as much, for in his Preface, Tabor states that his book, ¿differs considerably, sometimes radically, from the standard portrait of Jesus informed by theological dogma. The Jesus Dynasty proposes an original version of Christianity, long lost and forgotten, but one that can be reliably traced back to the founder, Jesus himself (4).¿ Tabor has certainly presented an original version of Christianity, yet I don¿t believe it can be reliably traced back to Jesus as he claims. While the whole book piqued my interest, I was primarily fascinated by his conclusions regarding Jesus¿ resurrection. Tabor begins his book with a thrilling retelling of the discovery of an ancient tomb that is dated back to the time of Jesus and includes ossuaries that contain the remains of people with such names as Mary, Joseph, Jude son of Jesus, Matthew, and James son of Joseph brother of Jesus. Tabor asks, ¿Was it possible that we had unknowingly stumbled upon the Jesus family tomb (20)?¿ He notes that the names Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were especially common during that period, but nevertheless points out that the discovery of the bones of Christ would be disastrous to Christianity. However, Tabor never reaches a conclusion regarding the tomb that has been found. I believe he simply begins with this account to insert doubt into the reader¿s mind regarding traditional Christianity and provide incentive to consider his forthcoming claims by demonstrating that there is much more to Christianity than has traditionally been told. In Tabor¿s chapter regarding the resurrection (¿Dead but Twice Buried¿), he dismisses the so-called swoon theory outright by stating that Jesus was indisputably dead after his crucifixion and even admits that Jesus¿ tomb was found empty shortly after his death. He then however moves on to point out that Mark, the oldest of the gospels, does not include any appearances of the resurrected Jesus and ends enigmatically with the fear of the women after finding the empty tomb and being told by an angel that Jesus had risen. While it is probably true that Mark¿s gospel does end this way, Tabor fails to see the positive evidence for the resurrection in the Gospel of Mark. First of all, the fact that Mark¿s account (being the earliest of the four canonical gospels) is simple and lacks legendary development, attests to its authenticity. If it had been written latter, as the gospel of Peter was, it would probably be colored by theological motifs (as found in the gospel of Peter). Also, the fact that the empty tomb was first discovered by women is quite remarkable, given that at the time the testimony of women was viewed as so unreliable they were not even allowed to testify in a Jewish court of law. Surely if Mark¿s account was fabricated, the author would have written than men were the first to discover the empty tomb and hear that Jesus had been risen. Yet Tabor concludes, ¿If the tomb was empty the historical conclusion is simple ¿ Jesus¿ body was moved by someone and likely reburied in another location (234).¿ Any other conclusion, Tabor believes, is based upon writings written decades after the fact and influenced more by theology than reality. Thus he believes the most logical explanation to be that Jesus¿ mother Mary, his sister Salome, and some other women came and moved the body (probably to the Mount of Olives where Mary and Martha lived). He evidences this assertion b

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    A real page turner

    Having purchased Prof. Tabors book, ¿the Jesus Dynasty¿ I was expecting another dry history book like so many that I have read and that the book would put me to sleep after a few minute of reading it. Instead I found I did not want to put it down, it was a captivating read, a real page turner. Prof. Tabor has successfully done what many others before failed to do. He made History interesting. He made real the possibility of the Royal/Holy family existence with the discovery of a Tomb with ossuaries bearing the very names of the people in Jesus¿ life. This is a must read for anyone interested in the life of Jesus and his family. James von Braun/ Historian.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2006

    Very interesting and eye-opening

    I recently developed an interest in historical theology. With this interest I was delighted to happen upon this book. I have listened to the abidged audio version and I liked it to much, I am purchasing the actual book for reference. Dr. Tabor is incredibly knowledgeable and this writing is absolutely amazing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    A Masterpiece

    The Jesus Dynasty has completely changed my perception of religion and the life of Jesus. Raised Pentecostal, for 35 years I¿ve been waiting for the great return and all the joys and fears that come with it. Like many, I¿ve been on a search for either validation of this believe system, or proof of fallacy. Tired of being pulled from one doctrine to another and literally trying to sort out the truth in the midst of a whirlwind of religious beliefs¿I more than welcomed Dr Tabor¿s book. Taking an objective, and historical look at the bible, without the dogma, cleared up every bit of confusion in my mind. I can not thank Dr Tabor enough for all his contributions to this study. I would suggest this book to anyone who wants to set dogma aside and learn the reality about the Bible and the life of Jesus. This book is not only historically accurate, but it is easy reading, engaging, thought provoking, and entertaining¿which is high praise coming from a reader with ADD. I couldn¿t put the book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2006

    Yet another rewrite of history

    The fact that Dr. Tabor is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at U. of N. C. Charlotte doubtlessly gives credibility to his newest work ¿The Jesus Dynasty¿. Considering his position, I too expected a well researched, documented, scholarly tome. Dr. Tabor claims this book is ¿the greatest story never told,¿ which we are rather breathlessly told will ¿excite many, upset and anger others, but also challenge its readers¿to honestly weigh evidence¿¿ From this dramatic preface, I expected that Dr. Tabor had uncovered some heretofore undiscovered new ¿facts¿ about Christ and his family and that he had some new insights of Jesus and his teachings, within the framework of first century Palestine. Reading the preface and introduction I couldn¿t help but get the feeling that rather than reading a non-fiction work, I was reading a novel. Tabor leads the reader into a mysterious world of ancient archeology, replete with conspiracies and cover-ups. While not disqualifying, on page 11 we discover that Tabor, who tells us to ¿honestly weigh the evidence,¿ is presenting biased information. He refers to the ¿Shroud of Turin¿ as a medieval forgery. While the lab did in fact date the tested fragment to the 1300¿s, current scholarship has discredited this dating, leaving the age of the shroud unresolved. If Tabor cherry picks facts, how am I to trust the rest of his writing? What does this say about Tabor¿s opinion of his readership? The rest of the introduction deals with discovered burial artifacts that substantiate the Jewish traditions depicted in the New Testament (burial methods, names, places). Yet Tabor somehow manages to interject a ¿conspiracy element¿ into these discoveries ¿Was there some type of cover-up due to the shocking contents of the tomb?¿ In spite of admitting that Jesus, Joseph and Mary were extremely common names in the 1st century, Tabor makes the quantum leap that one of the ossuaries perhaps contained the bones of Jesus Christ himself! And since one of these ossuaries disappeared from a vast warehouse, surely a cover up has occurred! The ensuing chapters present a similar scholarship of the New Testament, one that is ¿discovered¿ through Tabors own translations of scripture, the use of the ¿Q¿ source and various Dead Sea documentation. The problem with this ¿Q¿ is that there isn¿t a single fragmentary bit of evidence for its existence. Yet Tabor uses this ¿document¿ as well as The Gospel of Thomas, which we are told, ¿is clearly the most precious Christian document discovered in the last two thousand years¿ to show how the Gospel accounts have been ¿edited.¿ Tabors credibility as a scholar is further strained by his interpretation of why Christ was crucified, which Christ somehow orchestrated, as Tabor said much to my amusement ¿His life seemed to be unfolding according to some scriptural plan.¿ As Tabor describes Christ¿s trial, his offense is claiming to be the heir to the Davidic throne the King of the Jews. Any Jewish scholar will tell us that Jesus¿ real crime was saying ¿I Am,¿ which is clearly a claim to be God. By claiming to be God, Christ had committed an unpardonable crime. Considering that Tabor seeks to place Jesus into a Jewish context, it is rather curious that Tabor would make such an elementary error. Or was it an error? On page 233 we finally discover that Tabors true thesis: that God cannot intervene in the world. Now if Tabor assumes that God cannot intervene, well and good, but in a scholarly work one should clearly state ones thesis up front, namely that ¿Women do not get pregnant without a male¿ever¿ and that ¿Dead bodies don¿t rise¿as Jesus surely was¿¿ Why not clearly state his biases and assumptions up-front, that the Gospel as presented is false or ¿theologized¿ and that Tabor will prove it. Perhaps Tabor buries these assumptions so far into the book hoping that we will ignore the weakest part of his ¿reconstruction,¿ namely that

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2006

    Well written, yet misguided effort

    Let me start by saying that I believe The Jesus Dynasty I a book that should be read by more people within the Christian church today. Coming from a Southern Baptist Youth Pastor, that might seem like an odd statement however I don¿t think enough people in the church are challenged today. Do I think Tabor is accurate? By no means (for reasons I will mention later). Do I feel he achieves his goal of presented an untainted history of Christian teaching? Not at all (again, later). But, what Tabor does do is stick to his point. Unlike other books that deny the historical claims of the Christian faith, Tabor¿s effort is done in a very easy to read style one which obviously did not aim to confuse. I would say that is probably the books largest strength, and what makes it an ideal book for Christians to read in order to challenge their faith Tabor attacks Christianity, but does not rely on confusion or diversion to do so. He is very honest in the argument he presents. With that said, honesty does not make an argument valid nor does it vindicate a thesis. Tabor indicates many times in his book that he wishes ¿¿present the human side of the Jesus story, set in its real historical context and free of any theological agenda (p.308).¿ Tabor¿s desire is very admirable, but he fails to accomplish his task. Tabor¿s main problem is that he assumes having ¿no theological agenda¿ actually means having ¿an antisupernatural bias.¿ In fact, Tabor all but says it is his job to have such a bias, ¿Historians are bound by their discipline to work within the parameters of a scientific view. Women do not get pregnant without a male ¿ ever¿.¿ Therefore Tabor concludes that Jesus was conceived naturally (234). I clearly understand Tabor¿s reasoning, and in other cases I may well have used the same line of thought but not indicate that a miracle could not have happened, but to start building a case that it did not. Regarding both the virgin birth and the resurrection, Tabor supplies no argument to counter the Christian beyond a very politely stated version of ¿miracles do not happen.¿ Tabor would have done better, and been more truthful to his desire for objectivity, had he started with his disbelief in miracles from a scientific stand point, and then built arguments against the resurrection and Immaculate Conception on top of that. One can assume that the reason he did not do that is either that a) he did not think about the fact that ¿Jesus did not rise from the dead¿ is an equally theological claim as ¿Jesus did rise from the dead¿ or b) he had no alternative explanation for the resurrection to present, so he settled for his bias. No matter which on of these is the reason, the fact that Tabor does not combat the resurrection should not be overlooked. The whole of orthodox Christian faith hinges on this doctrine. Even in Tabor could successfully make his case about James really leading the disciples, or someone else having written the gospels, the fact remains that the resurrection would undercut his whole structure of argument. Dr. Tabor has gone to great lengths to attempt to prove that the biblical authors injected theological overtones into Jesus¿ ministry however, if the resurrection is true, all his words are in vain. On pages 234-237, Tabor discusses the empty tomb. He does not supply an alternative to the resurrection. What he instead does, is explain that dead men cannot come back to life, and the tomb was empty, so somehow the body of Jesus was moved. He then admits that the answer to the question ¿What happened to Jesus¿ body?¿ is simply ¿we do not know and anything one might suggest is speculative (234).¿ What Tabor then suggests is that Mary perhaps came to the Tomb very early, and carried Jesus away to another tomb, and eventually buried him in what Tabor calls the Jesus Family Tomb. This hypothesis is based upon the fact that there is a tomb in which many of the names related to Jesus happen to be found. What Tabor does not

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Easy, informative read.

    This is an easy book to read, it keeps your attention as it presents an alternative version of Christ's life than what we traditionally find. It is backed up with a lot of archeological and historical assumptions, although there are a few logic holes, it is a very believable book, shedding quite a bit of light on life in the time of Jesus; as well as how the history has changed throughout the ages to support different political and theological positions.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I really liked it

    I says how very human yet spiritual Jesus was and is. I needed to see all the things they have found that show how he was really a teacher and believed in what he was doing. Made all his family very real.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2006

    Tabor's problematic historical review

    As a student of the Life of Christ I read with great interest Dr. Tabor¿s book. He does make some good points and suggests possibilities in areas where historical evidence might be lacking. The Jesus Dynasty reads like a novel with twists and turns. Declaring that he presents history, where 2000 years of scholarship hasn¿t quite got it right is daring but he errs in areas that Bible scholars both liberal and conservative are currently in agreement. I thought of The Da Vinci Code as I read this because he mixes historical fact with wild conjecture. For example, take the resurrection of Christ. Tabor¿s statements regarding Jesus¿ purported resurrection from the dead will only impress those lacking knowledge of textual criticism. For instance, he comments on the tomb where Jesus was buried not being Joseph of Arimathea¿s because of an editorial gloss found in Matthew 27:60. Most commentaries and translations contradict him. But even if he were right, it still seems odd that Joseph of Arimathea would ask for the body of Jesus and place it in a convenient tomb that was not his own. What possible reason would Joseph be included in the Gospel story if he had no participation in the events? He then launches into the tired discussion of the alleged contradictory resurrection accounts. Many books answer these very questions. If the resurrection accounts were entirely parallel Tabor would accuse them of collusion. Instead, they tell the same story emphasizing different details, or in some cases they are discussing different tomb visits. For example Tabor mentions each Gospel account records a different number of women going to the tomb Sunday morning. If there were three women there then there had to be one. There is no logical inconsistency there unless each author specifically stated there was one woman and no others. Each Gospel writer emphasizes different things in the story he tells without contradiction. Just because the event is not recorded the way Tabor would have done it isn¿t sufficient as a legitimate argument. Each writer chose to focus on one or several of the women who visited the tomb that day. On page 228 Tabor mentions the women at the tomb but doesn¿t mention the astounding fact that women were reported as the first witnesses. In First Century Palestine women were not regarded as good witnesses and this certainly would not have been included in all four Gospels if it wasn¿t true. If Christ¿s resurrection were fiction, it would be odd that the writers would use women as support. This would have been less persuasive to a first century audience as evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. Tabor struggles to explain why the disciples tried to fabricate this new religion when their leader died and he offers no good reasons why the disciple¿s risked their lives for what they say they had witnessed. The unprejudiced interpretation is that the disciples died for what they say they saw, the risen Christ. Otherwise they would be dying for what they knew was a lie. Tabor is also confused by insisting that the bodily resurrection of Jesus was a late addition to the Gospels. I Corinthians 15 contains a creedal statement even recognized by liberal scholars like Rudolf Bultmann yet Tabor ignores Paul¿s statements and instead makes it appear that they don¿t fit with the Gospel accounts at all. Actually Paul¿s statement of this creed points to an oral tradition that was very popular at this time. People would memorize large portions of teachings and beliefs passing them on this way. Paul was simply restating what had been the accepted belief of Jesus followers at that time and this is all less than 20 years after the events happened. This creed equates with the Gospels very well. Paul even emphasizes in I Corinthians 15 that if Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is worthless. Why would he say Jesus rose on the third day if in fact this was untrue and contradictory to his

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2006

    Fascinating history

    A fascinating account of early Christianity. I would also recommend the author's audio CD's about the Noahide Movement.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2006

    Extremely Thought Provoking!

    After reading this book, I have a better understanding of Jesus & his family as well as a new appreciation of archaeologists & many others' passion in their quest for historical Jesus. I highly recommend this book !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2006

    A very well-researched book...

    I had the good fortune of having met Dr. Tabor in person, when he was doing a presentation in San Antonio on what is now known as the cave of John the Baptist. In his talk, he alluded to several things that he brings out in full in his book i.e. the brothers of Jesus and the Jesus dynasty. He certainly captures your interest immediately in his first two chapters dicussing tombs that could very well be of Jesus' family. The strength of his book is his ability to tie archaelogical finds to the Jesus story in new and more historical ways. His main theme about Jesus' mission is not new, though. A new author, Frank Applin, brought together many of these theories in his book, 'How Far Have We Strayed?' Even though Mr. Applin is not a scholar, he lets the scholars speak for themselves through quotations from their books scholars like, Dr. Schonfield, Professor S.G.F. Branden, and many, many others. Dr. Tabor's view of Jesus' mission seems to follow fairly closely to Dr. Branden's view (which in turn have been written about by Joel Carmichael and lately by Paula Fredrikson). Dr. Tabor's book is definitely worth reading, though, because some of these old theories are probably much closer to the historical Jesus than that of Crossan or others. And, Dr. Tabor has many recent archaelogical finds to support his theories that the earlier scholars didn't have.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2006

    The quest OF the historical Jesus

    For one who is or was a faithful, traditional Christian-- or otherwise-- The Jesus Dynasty is engaging reading. As a Unitarian, I came to this title predisposed to viewing Jesus as an extraordinary human being, but not divine. However, I was unprepared for the emotional impact of Tabor's book. Combining careful historical reading, archaeological fieldwork, and putting his feet on the ground along Jesus' and John's footpaths, Tabor writes almost like a war correspondent who travelled with the movement. The situation with the Romans in Judea is context most of us did not grow up understanding well. We Americans speak of having a 'Judeo-Christian' culture, but in multi-layered ways ready to afflict the conscience, this book suggested to me that we should call our roots 'Judeo-Greco-Roman'. Although Tabor is an academic, he would probably not be in his field without considerable sympathy for the religious quest. The power of Jesus' quest is vividly rendered in this very readable and relevant book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2006

    Couldn't put it down

    I keep a healthy skepticism when I approach books about historical Christ. I found this book to be carefully researched. The author did not insert any dogmatic views, as this is truly a refreshing look at what happened 2,000 years ago. THOSE THAT RATE THIS BOOK 1-STAR, I wonder if they even read the book. Agree or disagree with the content, you can tell that the author's research was conducted carefully and thoroughly. Anybody with an open mind will appreciate this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2006

    Best read about Jesus' history for years.

    This book opens doors that were always cruelly slammed in my face as an interested school pupil in the '80's. I enjoyed Dan Brown's thriller, but took as it was, a good fantasy novel that got people talking about Jesus again. James Tabor on the other hand has written a fantastic book that doesn't set out to imply or impose his own faith, or personel opinion about the life & death of the most influential individual in history, Jesus. The true events may never be there for all too see, or allowed, despite the facts that may be uncovered by hard-working people in Dr. Tabor's field. I think that 'The Jesus Dynasty', if read with open minds & hearts, could take Jews, Muslims & Christians on a rational journey into not only the life of Jesus, but more importantly the effect himself & his family had on the history of the world for all time. This book is well written & presented by it's author, who presents his own findings to the reader with care & respect. As a 12 year old boy in the UK, I was shouted & laughed at for asking questions about the Gospels, but Dr. Tabor has found that young boy within this 36 year old man & helped him to understand the enviroment that Jesus' family & followers lived in. Thank you Dr.James Tabor for the best book in years.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2006

    Using 4th & 5th Century Sources to Examine the 1st Century

    Tabor's book gets its name from information in a lost work by Hegesippus which was quoted breifly in Eusebius' 4th century CE 'Ecclesiastical History.' In a blatant display of chicanery, the name is supposed to make you think of the climax of the 'DaVinci Code' regarding Jesus and Mary Magdelene's offspring. The book does not deal with this subject. Tabor also bases several of his theories on the 5th century CE 'Toledoth Jesu,' an anti-Christian polemic, and even repeats the myth of Pantera, which is based on an erroneous reading of 'Parthenos,' the Greek word for virgin. Dr. Tabor's biography on the flyleaf of this book is filled with lofty titles, none of which can be backed up with any documentation. For instance, to actually be an 'expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls' one should have published several scholarly articles on the subject. Tabor has published none. In fact, this book is the only one Tabor has ever written without a co-author. This book is more of a manifesto than a true scholarly work. I'm sure future students of his classes will be forced to buy copies of this. Leave them all the copies they will need.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2006

    Lacks Credibility

    The bulk of Tabor's research is based on old Christian documents and the New Testament that were created by the Catholic Church. He is way off center in his so-called archeological digs and finding ossuaries with the names of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the brothers and sisters. His book is filled with suppositions that are just that and not based on any real facts. Before Palestine was given to the Jews after WWII, who do you think was in charge of the archaeological digs? The Catholic archaeologists! If Tabor had done his research thoroughly he would have learned that the Catholic Church has controlled the minds of Christians ever since Constantine created the New Testament and that the N.T. has been changed and altered so many times that it is impossible to base anything as fact on it. Jesus didn't come from Nazareth because it wasn't there at his birth or during his time. He belonged to a group called the Nazoreans. To allege that tombs were found that housed the family of Jesus is ludicrous. He cites the works of Jospehus, a Jew turned traitor to the side of the Romans. If he had consciously read the works of Josephus, he would have learned that Josephus led a military campaign across the providence of Galilee in the 60s A.D. and never once mentioned Nazareth. James, the brother of Jesus was thrown off a parapet to his death in the 60s A.D. during the Jewish Wars. The Romans massacred, according to Josephus, thousands of Jews with women and children carried off into capitivity. Jerusalem was virtually destroyed. And yet, Tabor wants us to believe the family of Jesus were buried there? If one were to reason it, one would know that the family had fled long before to escape to other countries so as not to be killed. To use the word 'Dynasty' is also misleading. Where is the actual proof? The Gospel of Judas recently revealed to the public tells us that Jesus asked Judas to betray him because Jesus chose that form of iniation to overcome his humanity. Judas was a hero to sacrifice himself for his beloved teacher. It's time for minds to open to other potentials and possibilities and not to rely totally on the current New Testament. Queen Elizabeth I during her lifetime read over 145 editions of the Bible! There have been hundreds of editions and versions with each one being altered and changed.

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