The Message and the Kingdom

Richard A. Horsley, Author, Neil Asher Silberman, With Putnam Publishing Group $27.5 (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-14194-2
How did early Christianity develop? What was the relationship of the earliest Christian community to its surroundings? What role did the messages of Jesus and Paul have in the spread of these earliest communities? Did Jesus and Paul preach an otherworldly message emphasizing a spiritual kingdom of God or a message that applied to people's lives in the Roman Empire? These and other questions are taken up by Horsley, who teaches religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Silberman, a historian and the author of The Hidden Scrolls. Using recent archeological evidence (e.g., the funeral urn bearing the name of Joseph Caiaphas, the high priest, at Jesus' trial) and social-scientific theory about the nature and evolution of social movements, the authors trace the development of earliest Christianity as a political and social movement. According to the authors, Jesus and Paul offered powerful messages to Galileans and Judeans of the first century who found themselves marginalized by the Roman Empire. The authors conclude that the persistent quest for the Kingdom of God--a message proclaimed by Jesus, Paul and the earliest Christians--should be understood ""both as a spiritual journey and an evolving political response to the mindless acts of violence, inequality, and injustice that characterized the kingdoms of men."" This history of early Christianity is a riveting page-turner that opens a new window on the origins of Christianity. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Religion
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