Catalogue


Desire of the everlasting hills : the world before and after Jesus /
Thomas Cahill.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Nan A. Talese, c1999.
description
xii, 353 p. : col. ill., maps ; 22 cm.
ISBN
0385482515 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
personal subject
More Details
series author
imprint
New York : Nan A. Talese, c1999.
isbn
0385482515 (hardcover)
catalogue key
3394490
 
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Thomas Cahill is the author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews. He divides his time between New York City and Rome.
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Of the many enigmas of John's Gospel nothing is more mysterious than the story that does not belong there. It interrupts the flow of John's tightly stitched scheme of narration, and though, like many Johannine episodes, it gives a starring role to a woman, its supple Greek has all the characteristics of Luke's pen: At daybreak, Jesus appeared again in the Temple precincts; and when all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. Then did the scribes and Pharisees drag a woman forward who had been discovered in adultery and forced her to stand there in the midst of everyone. "Teacher," said they to him, "this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. Now, in the Torah Moses ordered us to stone such women. But you--what have you to say about it?" (They posed this question to trap him, so that they might have something to use against him.) But Jesus just bent down and started doodling in the dust with his finger. When they persisted in their questioning, he straightened up and said, "He among you who is sinless--let him cast the first stone at her." And he bent down again and continued sketching in the sand. When they heard this, they went away one by one, starting with the oldest, until the last one was gone; and he was left alone with the woman, who still stood where they had made her stand. So Jesus straightened up and said, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir," answered she. "Nor do I condemn you," said Jesus. "You are free to go. But from now on, avoid this sin." This entire passage sounds like the Synoptics and could easily be slipped into Luke's Gospel at 21:38, where it would make a perfect fit. It was, in fact, excised from Luke, after which it floated around the Christian churches without a proper home, until some scribe squeezed it into a manuscript of John, where he thought it might best belong. But why was it excised in the first place? Because the early Church did not forgive adultery (and other major sins) and did not wish to propagate the contradictory impression that the Lord forgave what the Church refused to forgive. The Great Church quickly became far more interested in discipline and order than Jesus had ever shown himself to be. This excision is our first recorded instance of ecclesiastical censorship--only for the best reasons, of course (which is how censors always justify themselves).The anarchic Johannine church had had good reason for its reluctance to attach itself to the Great Church, which it knew would clip its wings; and for all we know, it was a Johannine scribe who crammed the story of the aborted stoning into a copy of John's Gospel, thus saving it for posterity. The passage itself shows up the tyrannical mindlessness that tradition, custom, and authority can exercise within a society. The text of the Torah that the scribes and Pharisees cite to Jesus is Leviticus 20:10, which reads, "The man who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife will be put to death, he and the woman." Jesus, doodler in the dust and reader of hearts, knows the hard, unjust, and self-deceiving hearts he is dealing with. He does not bother to dispute the text with them, by which he could have asked the obvious question "How can you catch a woman in the act without managing to catch her male partner?" He goes straight to the heart of the matter: the bad conscience of each individual, the ultimate reason no one has the right to judge anyone else. How marvelous that in the midst of John's sometimes oppressive solemnities, the wry and smiling Jesus of the Synoptic gospels, the Jesus the apostles knew, the holy fool, still plays his holy game, winning his laughing victory over the stunned and stupid forces of evil. This is the same Jesus who tells us that hell is filled w
First Chapter
Of the many enigmas of John's Gospel nothing is more mysterious than the story that does not belong there. It interrupts the flow of John's tightly stitched scheme of narration, and though, like many Johannine episodes, it gives a starring role to a woman, its supple Greek has all the characteristics of Luke's pen:

At daybreak, Jesus appeared again in the Temple precincts; and when all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. Then did the scribes and Pharisees drag a woman forward who had been discovered in adultery and forced her to stand there in the midst of everyone.

"Teacher," said they to him, "this woman has been caught in the very act of adultery. Now, in the Torah Moses ordered us to stone such women. But you--what have you to say about it?" (They posed this question to trap him, so that they might have something to use against him.)

But Jesus just bent down and started doodling in the dust with his finger. When they persisted in their questioning, he straightened up and said, "He among you who is sinless--let him cast the first stone at her." And he bent down again and continued sketching in the sand.

When they heard this, they went away one by one, starting with the oldest, until the last one was gone; and he was left alone with the woman, who still stood where they had made her stand. So Jesus straightened up and said, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," answered she.

"Nor do I condemn you," said Jesus. "You are free to go. But from now on, avoid this sin."
This entire passage sounds like the Synoptics and could easily be slipped into Luke's Gospel at 21:38, where it would make a perfect fit. It was, in fact, excised from Luke, after which it floated around the Christian churches without a proper home, until some scribe squeezed it into a manuscript of John, where he thought it might best belong. But why was it excised in the first place? Because the early Church did not forgive adultery (and other major sins) and did not wish to propagate the contradictory impression that the Lord forgave what the Church refused to forgive.  The Great Church quickly became far more interested in discipline and order than Jesus had ever shown himself to be.  This excision is our first recorded instance of ecclesiastical censorship--only for the best reasons, of course (which is how censors always justify themselves).The anarchic Johannine church had had good reason for its reluctance to attach itself to the Great Church, which it knew would clip its wings; and for all we know, it was a Johannine scribe who crammed the story of the aborted stoning into a copy of John's Gospel, thus saving it for posterity.

The passage itself shows up the tyrannical mindlessness that tradition, custom, and authority can exercise within a society. The text of the Torah that the scribes and Pharisees cite to Jesus is Leviticus 20:10, which reads, "The man who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife will be put to death, he and the woman." Jesus, doodler in the dust and reader of hearts, knows the hard, unjust, and self-deceiving hearts he is dealing with. He does not bother to dispute the text with them, by which he could have asked the obvious question "How can you catch a woman in the act without managing to catch her male partner?" He goes straight to the heart of the matter: the bad conscience of each individual, the ultimate reason no one has the right to judge anyone else.

How marvelous that in the midst of John's sometimes oppressive solemnities, the wry and smiling Jesus of the Synoptic gospels, the Jesus the apostles knew, the holy fool, still plays his holy game, winning his laughing victory over the stunned and stupid forces of evil.  This is the same Jesus who tells us that hell is filled with those who turned their backs on the poor and needy--the very people they were meant to help--but that, no matter what the Church may have taught in the many periods of its long, eventful history, no matter what a given society may deem "sexual transgression," hell is not filled with those who, for whatever reason, awoke in the wrong bed. Nor does he condemn us.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1999-07:
From the author of How the Irish Saved Civilization: a surprising look at Jesus of Nazareth. A BOMC main selection. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1999-10-25:
Cahill, no stranger to sweeping historical narratives (The Gifts of the Jews; How the Irish Saved Civilization), triumphs again with this imaginatively written account of Jesus and the early Christian Church. Cahill begins in the manner of most Jesus books, with the Greco-Roman world of the three centuries before Jesus, but here Greece and Rome come to life in Cahill's depiction of their violent despotism. Cahill has an eye for the common person's experience of war, famine and religious upheaval, and it is with this vantage point that he shows readers why Jesus' message of peace and forgiveness was so very startling. Cahill is familiar with biblical scholarship of the origins of the Gospels and their various theological differences, but he is more interested in how ordinary folks might have received Jesus, whom he portrays as "no ivory-tower philosopher but a down-to-earth man" who "hugely enjoyed a good dinner with friends." Although this idea is by no means original, Cahill presents Jesus with infectious energy, and his take on Mary is certainly fresh. "With her keen sense of retributive justice," as evidenced in the Magnificat, Cahill writes, Mary was disappointed with Jesus' odd admonitions to turn the other cheekÄshe had been "counting on something with more testosterone in it." The best chapter of all is on Paul, whose theological contributions are beautifully recapitulated for the layperson (Cahill also rightly highlights "Paul's perceptiveness, even craftiness, in dealing with other human beings"). There are a few glosses in the book, including instances in which Cahill elevates pious legend to fact; for example, he asserts that the remains of Simon Peter's home "may still be seen at Capernaum, when in fact the home's history has by no means been stablished. Overall, however this is an engrossing portrait of Jesus through the eyes of His family and followers. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2000-04:
Desire of the Everlasting Hills is the story of Jesus and his earliest followers. Relying on scholars including John Meier (A Marginal Jew, 1991-1994) and Raymond Brown (An Introduction to the New Testament, CH Mar'98), Cahill presents Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet who invited his hearers to accept the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus gathered a group of male and female disciples and preached a message of love, compassion, and hope. Cahill argues that the disciples believed they had encountered the risen Jesus but that they did not believe that Jesus was God. This concept, Cahill says, was a later innovation by the final redactor of John's gospel. Some readers will likely fault Cahill's belief that much of the gospel material, including miracle stories, ultimately came from eyewitness sources. More conservative readers will argue that Cahill has not taken seriously the evidence that Jesus thought he was one with the Father and that his mission was to die for the sins of his people. Most, however, will find Cahill's book enjoyable and will agree with his moving examples of what it means to follow Jesus today. General readers. D. Ingolfsland; Bryan College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"With grace, skill, and erudition, Cahill summarizes obtuse semantic and historical arguments, highlights the findings most relevant to lay readers and draws disparate materials together in his portraits of Jesus, his mother, Mary, and the apostle Paul." -- Washington Post " Desire of the Everlasting Hillsimparts gratifying dimension to the beginnings of what later became known as Christianity. Most important, it makes of Jesus a still-living literary presence." -- New York Times "Each of his books also offers moments of genuine insight into the workings of culture, literature, and the human heart....For a book about Jesus and the early Christians, Desire of the Everlasting Hillsis itself a gift." -- Commonweal "Cahill's ability to bring life to people of a faraway world ensures that this book will be an interpretive history accessible to believers and non-believers alike." -- Los Angeles Times Praise for The Gifts of the Jews: "Captivating...persuasive as well as entertaining...Mr. Cahill's book is a gift." --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times "He exalts his ancient subjects; their hearts, minds and experiences resonate in his compelling contemporary narrative." -- Chicago Tribune "A very good read, a dramatically effective, often compelling retelling of the Hebrew Bible." -- Chicago Sun-Times "Thomas Cahill looks at history with the rigor of a scholar but explains it simply, with the skill of a gifted teacher...He conveys with a fresh lens a legacy 'so much a part of us' that we scarcely recognize it." -- Jewish Bulletin Praise for How the Irish Saved Civilization: "Charming and poetic...an entirely engaging, delectable voyage into the distant past, a small treasure." --Richard Bernstein, The New York Times "Cahill's lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history." -- Boston Globe "When Cahill shows the splendid results of St. Patrick's mission in Ireland--among them the transmission of classical literature and the evangelization of Europe--he isn't exaggerating. He's rejoicing." -- The New Yorker "Everything he writes turns to gold." -- Il Mondo
"With grace, skill, and erudition, Cahill summarizes obtuse semantic and historical arguments, highlights the findings most relevant to lay readers and draws disparate materials together in his portraits of Jesus, his mother, Mary, and the apostle Paul." --Washington Post "Desire of the Everlasting Hills imparts gratifying dimension to the beginnings of what later became known as Christianity. Most important, it makes of Jesus a still-living literary presence." --New York Times "Each of his books also offers moments of genuine insight into the workings of culture, literature, and the human heart....For a book about Jesus and the early Christians, Desire of the Everlasting Hills is itself a gift." --Commonweal "Cahill's ability to bring life to people of a faraway world ensures that this book will be an interpretive history accessible to believers and non-believers alike." --Los Angeles Times Praise for The Gifts of the Jews: "Captivating...persuasive as well as entertaining...Mr. Cahill's book is a gift." --Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times "He exalts his ancient subjects; their hearts, minds and experiences resonate in his compelling contemporary narrative." --Chicago Tribune "A very good read, a dramatically effective, often compelling retelling of the Hebrew Bible." --Chicago Sun-Times "Thomas Cahill looks at history with the rigor of a scholar but explains it simply, with the skill of a gifted teacher...He conveys with a fresh lens a legacy 'so much a part of us' that we scarcely recognize it." --Jewish Bulletin Praise for How the Irish Saved Civilization: "Charming and poetic...an entirely engaging, delectable voyage into the distant past, a small treasure." --Richard Bernstein, The New York Times "Cahill's lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history." --Boston Globe "When Cahill shows the splendid results of St. Patrick's mission in Ireland--among them the transmission of classical literature and the evangelization of Europe--he isn't exaggerating. He's rejoicing." --The New Yorker "Everything he writes turns to gold." --Il Mondo
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, July 1999
Booklist, October 1999
Kirkus Reviews, October 1999
Publishers Weekly, October 1999
Library Journal, November 1999
New York Times Book Review, November 1999
Wall Street Journal, November 1999
Globe & Mail, December 1999
Washington Post, December 1999
Choice, April 2000
School Library Journal, June 2000
Globe & Mail, April 2001
New York Times Book Review, April 2001
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
"Cahill is insightful, wry, and highly entertaining as he explores the cultural influences, social expectations, and tricky politics of the day. He examines the New Testament in this light, yet remains respectful. His goal, he states early, is to ascertain whether Jesus made a difference. His conclusion is unequivocal." --Christian Science Monitor InDesire of the Everlasting Hills, Thomas Cahill takes up his most daring and provocative subject yet: Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Western civilization. Introducing us first to "the people Jesus knew," Thomas Cahill describes the oppressive Roman political presence, the pervasive Greek cultural influence, and especially the widely varied social and religious context of the Judaism in which Jesus moved and flourished. These backgrounds, essential to a complete understanding of Jesus, lead to the author's stunningly original interpretation of the New Testament--much of it based on material from the ancient Greek brilliantly translated by the author himself--that will delight readers and surprise even biblical scholars. Thomas Cahill's most unusual skill may lie in his ability to bring to life people of a faraway world whose concerns seem at first to be utterly removed from the present day. We see Jesus as a real person, sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, but kind, humorous, and affectionate, shadowed by the inevitable climax of crucifixion, the cruelest form of execution ever devised by humankind. Mary, while not quite the "perpetual virgin" of popular piety, is a vivid presence and forceful influence on her son. And the apostle Paul, the carrier of Jesus' message and most important figure in the early Jesus movement (which became Christianity), finds rehabilitation in Cahill's realistic, revealing portrait of him. The third volume in the Hinges of History series, this unique presentation of Jesus and his times is for believers and nonbelievers alike (for Jews and Christians, it is intended by the author as an act of reconciliation). With the same lively narration and irresistible perceptions that characterizeHow the Irish Saved CivilizationandThe Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill invites readers into an ancient world to commune with some of the most influential people who ever lived.
Main Description
"Cahill is insightful, wry, and highly entertaining as he explores the cultural influences, social expectations, and tricky politics of the day. He examines the New Testament in this light, yet remains respectful. His goal, he states early, is to ascertain whether Jesus made a difference. His conclusion is unequivocal." -- Christian Science Monitor In Desire of the Everlasting Hills, Thomas Cahill takes up his most daring and provocative subject yet: Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Western civilization. Introducing us first to "the people Jesus knew," Thomas Cahill describes the oppressive Roman political presence, the pervasive Greek cultural influence, and especially the widely varied social and religious context of the Judaism in which Jesus moved and flourished. These backgrounds, essential to a complete understanding of Jesus, lead to the author's stunningly original interpretation of the New Testament--much of it based on material from the ancient Greek brilliantly translated by the author himself--that will delight readers and surprise even biblical scholars. Thomas Cahill's most unusual skill may lie in his ability to bring to life people of a faraway world whose concerns seem at first to be utterly removed from the present day. We see Jesus as a real person, sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, but kind, humorous, and affectionate, shadowed by the inevitable climax of crucifixion, the cruelest form of execution ever devised by humankind. Mary, while not quite the "perpetual virgin" of popular piety, is a vivid presence and forceful influence on her son. And the apostle Paul, the carrier of Jesus' message and most important figure in the early Jesus movement (which became Christianity), finds rehabilitation in Cahill's realistic, revealing portrait of him. The third volume in the Hinges of History series, this unique presentation of Jesus and his times is for believers and nonbelievers alike (for Jews and Christians, it is intended by the author as an act of reconciliation). With the same lively narration and irresistible perceptions that characterize How the Irish Saved Civilizationand The Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill invites readers into an ancient world to commune with some of the most influential people who ever lived.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What Do the Everlasting Hills Desire?p. 1
Greeks, Jews, and Romans
The People Jesus Knewp. 11
The Waiting Game
The Last of the Prophets
The Jesus the Apostles Knewp. 67
His Mother's Son
The Cosmic Christ
Paul's Jesusp. 103
Encountering Evil
The Gentile Messiah
Luke's Jesusp. 171
A Miracle for me
Drunk in the Morning Light
The People of the Wayp. 215
Where is Jesus?
The Word Made Flesh
The Jesus the Beloved Disciple Knewp. 253
The Bread of the Poor
Yesterday, Today, and Forever
The World after Jesusp. 299
Tomorrow
Notes and Sourcesp. 321
The Books of the New Testamentp. 334
Chronologyp. 336
Acknowledgmentsp. 339
Index of Biblical Citationsp. 342
General Indexp. 346
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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