Cahillís new release: engaging, challenging and encouraging

"Desire Of The Everlasting Hills: The World Before And After Jesus," Thomas Cahill, Nan A. Talese Publishers, 1999, 353 pages.


In his latest book, "Desire Of The Everlasting Hills," Thomas Cahill explores the life of the man he calls "the central figure of Western civilization:" Jesus of Nazareth. Although the life of Jesus is the focal point of the book, Cahill takes a unique approach to the story. The author looks at the world "before and after" the life of Jesus. He does this through an examination of the known Western world, a world dominated by the Roman Empire and prevailing Greek traditions. These are the influences that combined with the existing Jewish faith to create the environment in which Jesus and his teachings developed. It is here that Cahill introduces us to a Jesus whom he calls a "real person, sharp witted and sharp tongued, but kind, humorous, and affectionate." This portrayal of Jesus as a real person is a cornerstone of the bookís thesis. Examining the people and apostles that Jesus knew, Cahill brings to life in very human terms the realities that shaped the man on whom the Christian faith is based.



Although Cahill recognizes the importance of all of the authors of the narratives of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Acts of the Apostles), it is the apostle Paul who receives the most attention. In the poignant chapter "The Cosmic Christ: Paulís Jesus," Cahill writes of Paulís eternal impact on Christianity: "This driven man (driven by his zeal for the Gospel).Ö is remembered today not so much for the effectiveness of his preaching, the warmth of his sympathy, or even the extent of his labors as for the words he left behind in his surviving letters, which are still read each Sunday in churches throughout the world." According to Cahill, it is this "relentlessness" that made Paul "the perfect vehicle for this moment in the development of the Jesus Movement."




Cahillís writing is always engaging and challenging, encouraging the reader to step outside the boundaries of their conventional beliefs about the subject at hand. The book is the third volume in his "Hinges Of History" series and follows his previous best-sellers "How The Irish Saved Civilization" and "The Gift Of The Jews." Eight pages of color illustrations depict the different treatments of the image of Jesus, Peter and Paul through the ages. The book has a comprehensive index and contains Cahillís enlightening "sidebar" style footnotes throughout the text.

Thomas Cahill is an informative and entertaining writer whose work inspires both serious discussion and contemplative thought. This book is recommended for all readers, especially those who wish to gain a better understanding of the world of Jesus Christ, the influence of that world on his philosophy and teachings, and the genesis of Christianity after Jesusí crucifixion.

For more information, visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call 732-8878.


[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]


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