Young Jesus: Restoring the "Lost Years" of a Social Activist and Religious Dissident

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A revolutionary look at the early life of Christ. Drawing on new evidence from the historical and archeological record, as well as insightful close readings of both the canonical and the Gnostic Gospels, Dr. Jean-Pierre Isbouts paints a fascinating portrait of Jesus as a grass-roots reformer with a social agenda who’s as much dissident as messiah. Dr. Isbouts reveals an adolescent Jesus scarred by peasant rebellion, economic repression, and the wholesale displacement of the Galilean peasantry. Using modern ...

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Overview

A revolutionary look at the early life of Christ. Drawing on new evidence from the historical and archeological record, as well as insightful close readings of both the canonical and the Gnostic Gospels, Dr. Jean-Pierre Isbouts paints a fascinating portrait of Jesus as a grass-roots reformer with a social agenda who’s as much dissident as messiah. Dr. Isbouts reveals an adolescent Jesus scarred by peasant rebellion, economic repression, and the wholesale displacement of the Galilean peasantry. Using modern economic, forensic, and psychological models as well as information from Roman and Jewish documents, Isbouts shows how these horrifying conditions galvanized Christ’s mission as a social activist and religious rebel. Isbouts’s approach is sophisticated and secular, though respectful of faith, and results in a narrative of compelling interest for a wide range of readers—from scholars to skeptics to believers. A 16-page color insert with photos of historic sites, archaeological digs, and artwork enhances the text.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The Christian scriptures have virtually nothing to say about Jesus' life as a child. According to tradition, he, like his father, was a carpenter and is often pictured living a quiet life in a woodworker's shop. This, says Isbouts (The Biblical World), is a completely false image. Relying on ancient historians such as Josephus, archeological findings of the Ancient Near East, and scripture, Isbouts shows how, after living for centuries as subsistence farmers, families like Jesus' were pitched into poverty by the taxes levied by Herod and various Roman overlords. As a result, greedy oligarchs bought up foreclosed lands, turning former landholders into indentured servants. Isbouts believes that Jesus' ministry was a response to such injustices. The other key factor in Jesus' youth is his questionable paternity, as described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The rumor of illegitimacy, says Isbouts, would have made him a pariah in his small village. Isbouts argues that like so many famous geniuses, Jesus' stressful childhood paradoxically gave him "greater freedom to observe, cope, and re-create the world "around" him. While some will quibble with the specific interpretations Isbouts puts forth, the result is a vividly moving portrait of one of the best-known but least understood people of all time. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Isbouts (culture & media studies, Fielding Graduate Univ., Santa Barbara; The Biblical World) offers yet another attempt to fill in the biography of young Jesus of Nazareth in the years before his adult ministry. Unfortunately, he is unable to materialize any new sources for this purpose-unsurprising, since there aren't any additional known canonical sources from which a complete biography can be written. Isbouts turns to information about first-century Palestine in the hopes of transferring information about the social and political conditions of that time to the life of Jesus, and he also quotes from the canonical Gospels. His thesis is essentially this: whatever life was like under Roman occupation in Palestine, these harsh conditions must have colored the life of Jesus. While this is not totally off the mark, it is neither a new inference nor one whose accuracy can be assured. Readers can themselves easily turn to the writings of Josephus for a grim description of life in first-century Palestine, as Isbouts here does. Because it lacks new information, this book is not recommended, though a 16-page color insert featuring photos of historic sites, archaeological digs, and artwork enhances its worth.
—James A. Overbeck

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402757136
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword     v
Chronology     x
Introduction     1
The Betrothal of Mary and Joseph     25
Herod and the Birth of Jesus     45
Growing Up in Galilee     67
Revolt and Reprisals     88
Jesus and Joseph in Sepphoris     109
The Itinerant Worker and Healer     136
In the Footsteps of Jeremiah     157
A Dissident Named John     178
In the Kingdom of God     203
The Road to Jerusalem     225
Arrest and Execution     248
Epilogue     279
Notes     287
Bibliographical Sources     309
Index     316
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2008

    Wow!

    This book has a Interesting theory on how jesus became what he was, and Is to millions of people today. Based on archaeological evidence, this book shows that jesus life was far different than what has been previously thought. Using a secular approach, rather than a religious approach, the author shows a very human side of jesus. This does not weaken my faith all, but makes jesus very real to me. I think If you approach this book with an open mind you will enjoy the experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2008

    Misleading

    This book is a total bore!! I expected to read stories of a young Jesus not the entire governmental system of his day. Politics are confusing, this whole book is filled with nothing but page after page of info that means nothing to an average reader. Isbouts book is a joke! I had to put the book away because it made me angry trying to figure out where he was going with this thing. I want my money back! I was tricked into shelling out $27 for a book that should have warnings of how boring it is! Complete and uder joke! Do not buy this horrible misleading book! I was expecting to read how the young Jesus performed miracles and how people interacted with him, not how many bushels of barley he sowed or what his hut was made of or who he paid taxes to. This is the worst book I have ever had the dis-pleasure to own. Two thumbs down, Isbouts ripped me off!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2008

    The world of Jesus.

    This Is a book on the very real conditions in roman palestine at the time of jesus, and how It affected his growth. It also has a moving depiction of the last hours of Jesus life. Anyone looking for fairytales, you got the wrong book. If you are Interested In the real word of oppression then and now, then this will be a worthwhile read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

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