James Crossley and Robert J. Myles

Aug 2, 2023

Jesus

A Life in Class Conflict

Zero Books 2023

Alongside their collective acumen in traditional historical-critical and social-scientific approaches to the New Testament, James Crossley and Robert J. Myles bring a worthwhile dose of historical materialist criticism to historical Jesus scholarship in Jesus: A Life in Class Conflict (Zero Books, 2023). And while the Jesus they reconstruct from the various sources available for analysis may not evolve him into a Marxist or a modern socialist, Crossley and Myles regard the evidence for deprivation among the Judean/Galilean peasantry too significant to ignore, such that “revolutionary millenarianism” takes hold among these lower classes who yearned for a great reversal of material conditions and fortunes under a soon-to-be-revealed theocratic reign installing the “Jesus party” (that they occasionally, in a nod to the traditions of Marxist scholarship, refer to as a politburo) atop the forthcoming kingdom of God. This pair of scholars joined the New Books Network recently to discuss their “historical materialist Jesus” and their fresh contributions—from Jesus’s “mission to the rich” to his “preferential option for death”—to the ongoing quest to sift reliable historical data about the earliest Jesus movement from the outwardly theological gospels that remain our best sources for his life.

James Crossley (Ph.D., University of Nottingham, 2002) is Professor of Religion, Politics and Culture at MF Oslo and the Academic Director of the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM). He has published widely on Christian origins and religion in English political history, including Spectres of John Ball: The Peasants’ Revolt in English Political History, 1381–2020 (Equinox, 2022).

Robert J. Myles (Ph.D., University of Auckland, 2013) is Senior Lecturer in New Testament at the University of Divinity in Australia. Originally from Aotearoa New Zealand, he is currently Executive Editor of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. Among his publications are The Homeless Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014) and the edited volume Class Struggle in the New Testament (Lexington/Fortress Academic, 2019).

Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. He recently authored The Shepherd of Hermas as Scriptura Non Grata: From Popularity in Early Christianity to Exclusion from the New Testament Canon (Lexington Books, 2023). For more about Rob and his work, please see his website at https://www.robheaton.com.

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Rob Heaton

Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. His research focuses on the New Testament canon and other early Christian literature, especially subcanonical books like The Shepherd of Hermas and the Apostolic Fathers. For more about Rob and his work, or to offer feedback related to his podcast episodes, please see his website at https://www.robheaton.com.
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