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"G. gives a sharp polemic edge to his
evaluation of such features of the biblical text, branding them distortions
and deceptions that cast serious doubt on the credibility of the accounts in
all respects. . . a keen eye for the ways religious and political motives
have shaped the story of Jesus' arrest and execution . . . Greenberg presses
important historical questions and rightly insists on fresh consideration
of the evidence, particularly in view of centuries of Christian hostility
toward Jewish people and religion that found inspiration in the Gospel
accounts of the passion."--Catholic Biblical Quarterly
“This study is a
judicious investigation seeking to shed light on some dark corners of the
crucifixion narratives in early Christian sources. The Judas Brief
should be required reading for both Christians and Jews, as both communities
have much to gain from reflecting on this crucial topic.”
— Robert R. Stieglitz, Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations, Rutgers
"vigorous defense of the
Palestinian Jews of Jesus’s time . . . This well-documented work . . .
presents some interesting history and is clearly written."
— LJXpress (online supplement to
The book is very
accessible in terms of the manner in which it reads and is well-argued,
reflecting a revisionary examination of the ancient literature. It deals
head-on with many of the problems that have troubled scholars for years,
including the difficult and inconsistent stories of Judas Iscariot, the
involvement of Jewish authorities in Jesus' death, and the increasing
tendency of the gospel authors to find ways to exonerate Pilate.
__ April deConick, Rice University
Read Chapter One
the Dock; Pilate in the Choir
Description from book jacket.
The Gospels charges that Jewish authorities sought to kill Jesus and
pressured Pontius Pilate to crucify him have fueled two millennia of
virulent anti-Semitism. The Judas Brief offers the first full-scale
historically based rebuttal to these Gospel accusations. Greenberg concludes
that the Jewish authorities did not seek to have Jesus put to death and
furthermore acted to save him and his followers and other innocent Jews from
a crushing military assault by Roman soldiers. The true villain in all of
this, says Greenberg, was Herod Antipas, the Roman ruler of Galilee.
Greenberg contends that the Jewish authorities sought
to prevent the planned massacre and opened up negotiations with Pilate and
Jesus (who was represented by his trusted disciple Judas.) Jesus agreed to
remain under house arrest with the High Priest in order to guarantee that
his followers caused no disturbances. Pilate agreed that if Jesus’ followers
remained quiet, he would allow Jesus to return to Galilee after the holidays
ended. But when Herod Antipas learned of this arrangement he demanded that
Pilate renege on his promise and execute Jesus or face charges of treason.
Pilate yielded to Herod’s threats.
Gary Greenberg is the author of four books on
biblical and ancient Near Eastern history. He is president of the Biblical
Archaeology Society of New York and has served as a consultant to National
Geographic Television’s Science of the Bible series. He is a criminal
defense attorney in New York City.