Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins

I am happy to announce that my new book - Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins - will be published by Baylor University Press next year! This is my most recent work on Christian origins - a topic I have devoted much of my scholarly career to - and this study focuses on the relationship between the Essenes and the historical Jesus, a subject I have been fascinated with since I began graduate work in religion. It also gives me an opportunity to assess and discuss various critical responses to my work over the years. 

Although it has now become something of a truism to say that the study of Christian origins should be framed within Second Temple Judaism (since Jesus and his first followers were Jews), there is no denying that Christian origins also represents a complex, multifaceted, dynamic process of social, cultural, and theological change. In this light, I think Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins breaks new ground in locating and situating the historical Jesus within the context(s) of his "halakhic" discussions while simultaneously exploring how that original cultural matrix developed over the course of the first century to become what is commonly known today as "Christianity."

Here is the publisher's description:

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves near Qumran in 1947 sparked near endless speculation about the possible connections between the Essenes—purportedly the inhabitants of the settlement—and the birth, nature, and growth of early Christianity. Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian Origins sheds new light on this old question by reexamining the complex relationships among Qumran, the historical Jesus, the Essenes, and Christian origins within first-century Palestinian Judaism. 

Author Simon J. Joseph’s careful examination of a number of distinctive passages in the Jesus tradition in light of Qumran-Essene texts focuses on major points of contact between the Qumran-Essene community and early Christianity in four areas of belief and practice: covenant identity, messianism, eschatology, and halakhah (legal interpretation), placing the weight of his argument for continuity and discontinuity on the halakhic topics of divorce, Sabbath, sacrifice, celibacy, and violence. 

Joseph focuses on the historical, cultural, chronological, and theological correspondences as convergence. This not only illuminates the historical Jesus’ teachings as distinctive, developing and extending earlier Jewish ethical and halakhic thought, it also clarifies the emergence of early Christianity in relationship to Palestinian Essenism. By bringing this holistic analysis of the evidence to bear, Joseph adds a powerful and insightful voice to the decades-long debate surrounding the Essenes and Christianity.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jesus and the Temple - JTS Review

"Joseph argues an intriguing and innovative thesis . . . Joseph's thesis is cogently argued throughout . . . Joseph has performed a helpful service to scholarship in making this innovative and thoughtful proposal. Many will benefit from critically engaging with this volume."

David W. Chapman, Journal of Theological Studies

Friday, August 4, 2017

Jesus and the Temple - JSNT Review

“Joseph demonstrates a remarkable knowledge of the scholarly material, and the erudition on display means that his study will undoubtedly serve as a core resource for all subsequent work on sacrificial imagery in the NT.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jesus and the Temple - JETS Review

"There is much to be commended in this book. Jesus and the Temple is a very readable and well-researched investigation into the circumstances of Jesus's death. The argument is easy to follow, and Joseph's analysis of both the primary and secondary literature is salutary. Even better, Joseph produces a consistent argument . . . an engaging read and one full of tantalizing possibilities. Joseph's arguments deserve to be taken seriously by anyone interested in the study of the historical Jesus and the question of why he died."