A Long Way from Tipperary: What a Former Monk Discovered in His Search for the Truth

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9780060699741: A Long Way from Tipperary: What a Former Monk Discovered in His Search for the Truth

I have spent thirty years reconstructing the historical Jesus. I have done so self-consciously and self-critically and have tried to do the same on reconstructing myself. But what justifies this memoir is how my own personal experience, from Ireland to America, from priest to professor, from monastery to university, and ... from celibacy to marriage, may have influenced that reconstruction. Where has it helped me see what others have not, and where has it made invisible to me what others find obvious?-from A Long Way from Tipperary

From his upbringing in Ireland to front-page coverage in the New York Times and mention in cover stories in Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, John Dominic Crossan-who has courageously pioneered the contemporary quest for the historical Jesus-has dared to go his own way. In this candid and engaging memoir, the world's foremost Jesus scholar reveals what he has discovered over a lifetime of open-eyed, fearless exploration of God, Jesus, Christianity, and himself. Crossan shares his provocative thinking on such issues as how one can be a Christian without going to church; whether God is vengeful, or just, or both; and why Jesus is more like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. than like the Pope or Jerry Falwell.

Raised in the traditional Irish Catholic Church, Crossan inherited a faith that was "accepted fully and internalized completely but undiscussed, uninvestigated, and uncriticized." A dauntless spirit whose imagination was ignited not by piety but by the lure and challenge of adventure, he became a monk to travel and explore the world, unaware that his most thrilling quests would be scholarly and spiritual. "God had going the best adventure around," Crossan confesses.

Because he could never subject his theological convictions and historical findings to the restrictions of the Church, Crossan chose to leave the monastery and priesthood. Speaking of this time in his life, Crossan writes, "Not even a vow of obedience could make me sing a song I did not hear." But he never abandoned the Roman Catholic community or tradition and never lost his faith. He has devoted his life and career to a reexamination of what he calls "necessary open-heart surgery on Christianity itself."

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Review:

"If people have had enough chicken soup for the soul, how about some Irish stew for the mind?" asks John Dominic Crossan in the introduction to his meaty new memoir, A Long Way from Tipperary: What a Former Irish Monk Discovered in His Search for the Truth. Crossan burst into the public eye in 1991 with the publication of his bestselling The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. In this and subsequent books, Crossan's historical research has demonstrated the follies of both secularist denial and fundamentalist distortions of Jesus' significance. Tipperary is Crossan's memoir of the ways in which his personal experience "from Ireland to America, from priest to professor, from monastery to university, and ... from celibacy to marriage" have influenced his evolving understanding of who Jesus was. Crossan's struggle has always been to find a way of understanding Jesus that engages "both reason and revelation, both history and faith, both mind and heart." Here is his description of his ideal readers:

They are ... dissatisfied, disappointed, or even disgusted with classical Christianity and their denominational tradition. They hold on with anger or leave with nostalgia, but are not happy with either decision. They do not want to invent or join a new age, but to reclaim and redeem an ancient one. They do not want to settle for a generic-brand religion, but to rediscover their own specific and particular roots. But they know now that those roots must be in a renewed Christianity whose validity does not reject every other religion's integrity, a renewed Christianity that has purged itself of rationalism, fundamentalism, and literalism, whether of book, tradition, community, or leader.
Those who recognize themselves in this passage will find hope and courage in Crossan's book. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

John D. Crossan is generally acknowledged to be the premier historical Jesus scholar in the world. His books include The Historical Jesus, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, and Who Killed Jesus? He recently appeared in the PBS special "From Jesus to Christ."

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