Crossan is one of those scholars whose thinking and working through of ancient texts constantly stretches and moves the reader to new levels of understanding, especially when the reader is open to viewpoints that may seem completely out of left field (I emphasize “seem” here, the reader would do well to ignore their internal proof-texter).
In his latest; How to Read the Bible and Still be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis to Revelation Crossan joins the chorus of those he helped teach to sing in calling for a rethinking of how we view violent action in the bible. In a time when religion is at its worst and most violent in many parts of the world, there remains a glimmer of hope for those serious enough to take Jesus’ words “love your enemies” to heart.
Crossan’s treatment of the text is nothing short of spectacular, even when I didn’t agree with his assertions. With skill, wit, and all the finesse of the intellectual giant that he is, Crossan manages to successfully navigate those troublesome texts (even ones you might not think are so troublesome) and, at least in a small way, begins the redemptive process of the text-its own salvific moment if you will.
Making use of Roman and Jewish (whether homeland or Diaspora) societal context, I found Crossan able to explain many a troublesome passage with the ease of a grandfather telling a story rather than a professor giving a lecture. That is a feat in and of itself in these days of verbose scholarship. For anyone interested in a more serious and, in my opinion, faithful rendering of the so-called “violence” texts, this book needs to be among a short list of go-to material.