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101 Myths of the Bible

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The Judas Brief: Who really killed Jesus?
by Gary Greenberg

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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 University

"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 Library Journal.)

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
Jews in 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.


Table of Contents

1. Jews in the Dock; Pilate in the Choir
2. The Gospels: Fact, Fiction or Speculation
3. Early Non-Gospel Passion Accounts
4. Religious Outlaws in Roman Israel
5. Pilate Outside of the Gospels
6. Was Pilate that Bad?
7. What Do We Really Know About Judas?
8. Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and Priests
9. Jesus in Jerusalem
10. The Arrest
11. The Jewish Proceedings
12. The Roman Proceedings: A Gospel Overview
13. The Roman Proceedings: A Critical Review
14. What Really Happened?

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