As of yesterday, my co-author James Crossley and I submitted the final author-approved manuscript of Jesus: A Life in Class Conflict to our publisher Zer0 Books.
To my knowledge, this book will be the first major contemporary biography on Jesus from a historical materialist perspective and written by respected experts in the field. Written for a broad audience, it understands the Jesus movement and rise of Christianity without resorting to the usual Great Man view of history and instead pursues a history from below. In doing so, it distils the main findings of historical Jesus research in a way that will be of interest and relevance to a wide variety of readers on the Left and in the academy.
There are more updates to come in the lead up to the book’s release next year. In the meantime, I include the book’s cover art (above), blurb, and Table of Contents to pique your interest:
What made the Jesus movement tick? This thrilling historical materialist take on the historical Jesus situates the life of Jesus of Nazareth in the turbulent troubles of first-century Palestine. Bringing a wealth of knowledge on the social, economic, and cultural conflicts of the time, Crossley and Myles uncover the emergence of a fervent and deadly serious religious organizer. His social and religious movement offered a radical end-time edict of divine reversal and judgment, as well as promising a new world order ruled in the interests of the peasantry. The popular appeal of the movement was due in part to a desire to represent the values of ordinary rural workers. The movement’s vision meant the rich would have to give up their wealth, but the poor would be afforded a life of heavenly luxury. Tensions flared up considerably when the movement marched on Jerusalem, and Jesus was willingly martyred for the cause. Crossley and Myles offer a vivid portrait of the man and his movement and uncover the material conditions that converged to make it happen.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 Introduction: A Life in Class Conflict
The Quest of the Historical Materialist Jesus
Millenarianism and Banditry
What is the “Historical Jesus” and How Do We Know?
Chapter 2 Growing Up in a Gentrifying Galilee
Jesus from Nazareth
What’s in a Name?
Growing up in Nazareth
A World Turning Upside Down
Chapter 3 Ideological Training with John the Baptist
John as Religious Organizer and Wilderness Man
John, Elijah, and the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord
Baptism of Repentance
Fruits of Repentance
The Death of John the Baptist
Chapter 4 Becoming a Religious Organizer
Building the Vanguard
Fishing for (not so Great) Men
Tax the Rich!
Discipleship of Equals? The Vanguard Jesus Party
Crowds and Peasant Unrest
Healings, Exorcisms, and Miracles
Chapter 5 Revolutionary Millenarianism
Apokalypsis: for the Oppressed Masses, the Displaced Elites, or Both?
A Regime Change from the Heavens: The Dictatorship of the Peasantry
The Damned Rich!
Ideological Re-education: Wealthy “Sinners”
A New King of Kings and Lord of Lords?
Agrarian Realism: Is There No Alternative?
Chapter 6 Family Troubles
Rejection in Galilee
Homelessness, Itinerancy, and the Jesus Movement
The Jesus Party as Family
Men of Contradiction
Chapter 7 Discipline and Community
Was Jesus a Violent Subversive?
Divorce and Decadency
Pure and Impure Living
Purity and the Good Samaritan
Pure and Impure Support
Chapter 8 A Preferential Option for Death
The Martyrs Are Immortal!
With the Blood of Martyrs
Dying to Be Great Men
Chapter 9 Passover in Jerusalem
Unrest in the Temple
A Crowded Temple
Predictions of the Temple’s Destruction
Jesus’ Last Passover Meal
Defection of a Comrade
Chapter 10 A Ransom for the Many
Trial and Punishment
The Crowd’s Preferential Option for Jesus’ Death
Total Humiliation: The Shame of Crucifixion
Reversing Burial: Tombs for the Poor, Pits for the Rich?
Post-mortem Visions of a Millenarian Martyr
Chapter 11 What Happened Next?
The Failed Revolution of the Jesus Movement
Spread of Christianity
God of Empire