Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus

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9780553456615: Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus
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Performance by Brian O'Byrne
Eight CDs, 9 hours

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 Civilization and 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.

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Review:

Desire of the Everlasting Hills is another present from the pen of Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews. In this third volume of the bestselling Hinges of History series, he knits together history, politics, sociology, and faith with contemporary insights that yield remarkable results.

After painting with broad brush strokes an entertaining picture of the Greek, Jewish, and Roman world, Cahill focuses on Jesus. With illuminating deductions and clever speculation, Jesus is seen though the eyes of his biographers in their Gospel accounts. Each of these authors' lives is reconstructed in such a way that the richness of their writing and their subject matter is wonderfully enhanced.

The section on Paul, detailing how his life and letters shaped the early church, should be required reading for every student of the Bible. From his beginnings in the cosmopolitan city known as Tarsus through his calling, like the patriarchs and prophets before him, he becomes "the perfect vehicle for this moment in the development of the Jesus Movement." His mix of Greek reasoning with rabbinical training casts the stories of the early church into a thoughtful theology. He is seen here as the earliest egalitarian who not only impacted the early church but all of western civilization.

Cahill challenges many traditional religious ideas while also taking on some of the more radical contemporary interpreters of biblical literature. As with the other volumes in this series, the marginal notes are filled with a wealth of interesting information. Combining his own fresh translation of many New Testament highlights with respect and humor, Thomas Cahill's book is for the believer and nonbeliever alike. --Tracy Danz

From the Back Cover:

"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

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