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'The Jesus Dynasty' by James D Tabor

Updated on May 22, 2014

My Personal Copy

Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon

'The Jesus Dynasty' - Tabor's 'Unique' Book: A 'Biography' of Jesus the Christ

'The Jesus Dynasty' describes James Tabor's search for the historical Jesus ~ and it describes the Jesus whom he discovered.

Tabor is an academic, who has studied ~ and taught ~ theological matters for about three decades. He is an expert on his subject.

Although there is no real corroborative evidence for the existence of Jesus, outside of the Bible (except, perhaps, for a controversial comment in the histories of Josephus), Tabor believes that he did exist and that he was of the line of David.

Tabor takes his evidence from the Bible ~ not just from the simple stories of the gospels, but from clues within them, which point to certain, sometimes largely hidden, possible truths.

The word 'hidden' is important. The subtitle of this book is 'The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family and the Birth of Christianity'.

It is important to note that the 'dynasty' ~ the hidden 'royal family' ~ does not refer to any potential wife, or children, of Jesus. The theory has been considered in other writings, but not in this book.

Copyright Tricia Mason
Copyright Tricia Mason

Edit ~ 28 March 2011: This book is NOT about a new-formed dynasty with Mary Magdalene

There is something that I wish to clarify:

The 'dynasty', noted in the title of this book, has nothing to do with any hypotheses concerning Jesus marrying Mary Magdalen ~ or anyone else ~ and / or fathering children, in order to found a new dynasty ~ royal or otherwise.

It is about Jesus, his brothers, their parents and ancestors ~ back to King David.


This is what James Tabor writes in his preface:

"The Jesus Dynasty' has no connection to the recently popularized notions that Jesus married and fathered children through Mary Magdalene.

"While gripping fiction, this idea is long on speculation and short on evidence."

[James D Tabor. 2005]

Front Covers. Book available from Amazon
Front Covers. Book available from Amazon

James D Tabor

Photo used on inside back flap of my book ~ and for other promotional use
Photo used on inside back flap of my book ~ and for other promotional use

James D Tabor

According to his online biography, James Tabor has been teaching at university level for thirty years.

It gives his current status ~ one which he has held since 1989 ~ as 'Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina'.

He has also worked ~ from 1979 until 1985 ~ at the University of Notre Dame and ~ from 1985 until 1989 ~ the College of William and Mary.

The biography states that Tabor 'received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1981 in New Testament and Early Christian Literature.'

First Paragraph of the Preface

"It is a rare book that is forty years in the making. In some sense this is the case with The Jesus Dynasty. Over forty years ago, as a teenager, I made my first visit to the Holy Land with my parents and my sister. It was that experience that set me on my own lifelong 'quest for the historical Jesus'. This is the phrase scholars use to describe historical research over the past two hundred years related to Jesus and the origins of early Christianity." [James D Tabor, 2005]

Personal Comment.

James D Tabor's 'The Jesus Dynasty' is a great favourite of mine. I really enjoyed it.

I bought this book as soon as it was available and I read it very quickly. It was one that I found 'unputdownable' ~ as they say.

I had heard stories about Jesus for decades, of course ~ but all from biased people ~ either devout Christians, or uninterested folk, or biased atheists. The scholarly research of a historian, with a passion for theology, was what I wanted ~ and it is what I found.

Christianity has had a huge effect on society. As someone with a passion for history, it is a subject that I want to know about ~ and I want my information to be well researched and presented objectively.

My edition of the book is dated 2006, and has the subtitle: 'Stunning New Evidence About The Hidden History Of Jesus'.

Various Prices and Formats, Etc.

'The Jesus Dynasty' may be purchased from, or via, Amazon, and prices may vary according to edition, format, condition, etc. (Some 'used' copies are on sale for under 5 cents!)


You can 'look inside' the book at Amazon.


According to the cover of the audiobook on CD, that version is read by the author!


It is available in these formats:
Hardcover (hardback)
Abridged audiobook on CD


It may be purchased new or used (second hand).


There are two editions (both from Simon & Schuster):
April 4, 2006 (First Edition)
April 24, 2007


Audio Version - Read By the author!

Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon

'Jesus Dynasty' - Various Editions, Formats, Prices, Etc.

A Few Extracts From Some Amazon Reviews

There are currently (end of February, 2011) 152 customer reviews for this book on the Amazon website.

Of these, 95 readers gave it 5 stars out of 5; nineteen readers gave it 4 stars; seven people gave it 3 stars; twelve people gave it only 2 stars and nineteen people gave it just one star ~ so not all comments were complimentary! A high percentage of those who commented gave it full marks, though!

The average customer rating is four stars out of five.

Here are some extracts from just a few of the customer comments (star ratings are indicated by asterisks beside names):

***** Brian N. April 5, 2006: '.... Tabor's attempt at reconstructing the life of Jesus and his family. In many ways his attempt is quite daring and his ideas unique. The book will no doubt offend many who will not judge the book on its scholarship but will dogmatically reject what it says based on the beliefs which they bring to the book. On the whole, Tabor's attempt is believable .......... There is a certain amount of speculation in the work (and Tabor does say when he is engaging in speculation ....'

***** Gungopeas, February 5, 2011: 'Excellent, Truthful, Accurate' ... 'a must read for everyone who professes to be a Christian ...'

***** EZAS, November 18, 2010: 'Simply the best book I've ever read on Early Christianity.'

***** T. Holzel "Tholzel", May 21, 2010: 'What was most refreshing about Tabor's take on this epic myth is his ability to ground Jesus' life in his real world of having to scrabble for a living, just like everyone else. This is only possible if one assumes, as Tabor has, that there was nothing supernatural about Jesus. He was a charismatic ... and occasionally acerbic itinerant preacher, performing the usual "miracles" of the times. ..... Jesus fell under the influence of another preacher, John the Baptizer, and the two joined forces ...'

**** Tony Copple, December 18, 2010: '90% of the message of this book is excellent historical and archeological background to the New Testament. .... The 10% makes it a dangerous source for anyone not fully grounded and comfortable in their faith. In my view, the problem is identified by the author himself when he states that he is writing from the perspective of a historian, and reporting only what can be proved by evidence.'

**** shemayah phillips, April 11, 2006: 'This is an excellent book with a few "maybe" spots. It presents a good historical background ... and very easy to read for most people. I will recommend the book, although I am not convinced fully about several of his arguments.'

*** John E. Hart, February 13, 2010: 'James Tabor is an excellent author and is a master of offering fluent parallel construction. .... He has many convincing arguments, but also falls short on many others. .... you will enjoy reading this book, however, beware of the inconsistencies and be sure to properly filter fact from speculation (fiction).'

** Georges Melki, October 8, 2007: 'Tabor's book presents the Jesus story in the light of a new archaeological discovery, namely a grave which he supposes to be that of the "Jesus family". However, the theory that he expounds seems to be far-fetched and not very convincing. Furthermore, he builds his supposedly historical theories on points of view which are far from "historical" ..'

* Dr. Comyn deComines, April 23, 2010: 'Having read the book a couple of year's ago, the question has been churning in my mind. What is it? Heresy? Poor Scholarship? A complete rejection on the New Testament and the historic Christian faith? Sadly, it is all of the above.'

* W. T. Hoffman, October 24, 2010: 'Its astounding to think this writer holds a chair of theology at a large university, and even MORE bizarre, when you realize that instead of writing a book based on true scholarship, he built up a sensationalist tale spun out of his desire to write a best seller ...'

Not All Comments Are Complimentary!

James Tabor ~ Extracts From Some Academic Endorsements

'... James Tabor presents what may be the boldest reconstruction yet of the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.'

~ Professor Arthur J. Droge, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature, Director, Program in Religious Studies: The University of California at San Diego


' ... the most electrifying and fascinatingly detailed book on Jesus that I have ever read.'

~ Chip Trammel, Graduate Student, Christian Origins and Ancient Judaism - Rice University, Houston, TX

Extract from 'Booklist' review

Extract from Booklist review ~ quoted on Amazon:

" ... Tabor, an academic and archaeologist, makes a solid case for the dynastic aspects of the Jesus movement and the importance of James the Just .. during the period when the early church was forming. .... This breaks new ground on the journey to find the historical Jesus, and it is certain to prompt much discussion ~ and not a little controversy."

Ilene Cooper

Holy Family in Art

'HolyFamily' by Juan Simon Gutierrez + 'Saint James the Just'
'HolyFamily' by Juan Simon Gutierrez + 'Saint James the Just' | Source

Ben Witherington on 'The Jesus Dynasty' ~ Thursday, April 13, 2006

Witherington states that 'Since this book ... may well be extremely influential ... it deserves a thorough and detailed critique.' That critique can be found here:

In this hub, I just provide a few extracts:

'This is far from fiction, though it involves no small amount of historical conjecture.

'I must say ... that it is a pleasure to read such a well-written book, and one which takes so seriously the interface between the NT, history, archaeology and the story of earliest Christianity.'

'In Tabor’s case his love for archaeology leads him to place archaeology and historical context as a primary source and NT texts as a secondary source for his proposals. This is exactly the opposite of what should be attempted. The historical context and archaeology are important to an enterprise like studying the historical Jesus to the extent that they clarify, illuminate, or clearly refute what the NT says.'

'One must deal in depth with the primary source of information we do have about Jesus and his first followers, namely the NT texts themselves.'

'.... this study is long on archaeological and historical context but weak on exegesis ..'

The Life of Jesus in Art

 Adoration of the shepherds~Guido Reni/Infant Jesus and John the Baptist~Museo del Prado~Bartolom Esteban Murillo/Christus Ravenna Mosaic~Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo/Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish~Raffaello Sanzio/The Sermon On the Moun
Adoration of the shepherds~Guido Reni/Infant Jesus and John the Baptist~Museo del Prado~Bartolom Esteban Murillo/Christus Ravenna Mosaic~Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo/Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish~Raffaello Sanzio/The Sermon On the Moun | Source

Extracts from Tabor's 'The Jesus Dynasty', concerning the family of Jesus:

“The later Christian dogma that Mary was a perpetual virgin, that she never had children other than Jesus and never had sexual relations with any man ..... No one in the early church even imagined such an idea, since the family of Jesus played such a visible and pivotal role in his life and that of his early followers."

“That Jesus has four brothers and at least two sisters is a ‘given’ in 'Mark', our earliest gospel record. He names the brothers rather matter-of-factly: James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.”

Jesus in Art - From the Crucifixion

Christ Crucified~Diego Velzquez/Pieta~Michelangelo(I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under ... the GNU Free Documentation License)/Christ After Death~photograph of the central part of a mosaic in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Christ Crucified~Diego Velzquez/Pieta~Michelangelo(I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under ... the GNU Free Documentation License)/Christ After Death~photograph of the central part of a mosaic in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre | Source

'The Jesus Dynasty' - Recommended?

Controversial? ~ Probably.

Correct? ~ Possibly.

An interesting theory? ~ Definitely!

Worth reading? ~ Yes!

Whatever your religion, or lack thereof, this will be a fascinating read!

What Is 'The Jesus Dynasty'?

James Tabor Talks About 'The Jesus Dynasty'

'Restoring Abrahamic Faith'

Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon

More Books by James D Tabor

'Things Unutterable: Paul's Ascent to Paradise in Its Graeco-Roman, Judaic and Early Christian Contexts' ~ by James D. Tabor

Paperback ~ Published by: University Press of America; 1st edition, October 1, 1986

Basically, this is Tabor's doctoral thesis, written for the University of Chicago, in 1981
It currently has two Amazon reviews; a five star and a three star ~ out of five

***** Prof. Droge from Journal of Religion, March 2, 2010: ' ...a broad historical investigation of Paul's religion set in the wider world of late antiquity. ...... The importance of this book belies its slender size.'

*** Michael W. Callahan, June 5, 2010: 'I did not receive a paperback ... I received papers.'

Journal of Religion on 'Things Unutterable':
'The prestigious Journal of Religion named it one of the ten best scholarly studies on Paul of the 1980s.'


Tabor is about to publish a new book on Saint Paul.


'A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom Among Christians and Jews in Antiquity' ~ by Arthur J. Droge and James D. Tabor

Hardcover ~ Published by: HarperSanFrancisco; 1st edition, November 1991

From Library Journal as quoted on Amazon:
'Focusing primarily on the period from the death of Socrates to Augustine of Hippo, the authors investigate the Greek legacy: the six cases of voluntary death in the Hebrew Bible and later references to these; Josephus, Philo, and early Rabbinic ideas; early Christian ideas of martyrdom and the teachings of Greek Fathers of the Church and Tertullian.'


'Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America' ~ by James D. Tabor and Eugene V. Gallagher

Paperback ~ Published by: University of California Press, April 19, 1997

From Publishers Weekly ~ as quoted on Amazon:
'Tabor ... was a consultant to lawyers mediating directly with David Koresh during the 51-day siege in Waco, Texas, in 1993 that left four federal agents dead and engulfed the Branch Davidian compound in flames, killing 74 members, including 21 children.'

From Library Journal ~ as quoted on Amazon:
'This is a sober and sobering examination of the 1993 Branch Davidian crisis ... Tabor .. was there ... helping to contextualize Koresh's actions, reactions, and decisions in light of his belief system.'


'Disciple Short Term Studies' is a series, which includes:

'Invitation to the Old Testament - Participant Book: A Short-Term Disciple Bible Study'
~ by Celia Brewer Sinclair and James D Tabor ~ Abingdon Press, August 2005

'Invitation to the Old Testament - Planning Kit' ~ by Celia Brewer Sinclair and James D Tabor ~ Publisher: Abingdon Press; Vhs edition, August 2005

"Explore the Old Testament’s story of God and God's calling of the people of Israel through the many "voices" of the biblical text."
[Quote from Amazon 'product description']

There are paperback books, with eight study sessions, but, according to the one customer review (which gives it one star out of five) although they found this potentially a very good course, it was linked to a separate video, which they found too costly.

There is now a DVD available.


'Restoring Abrahamic Faith' ~ by James D. Tabor
Paperback ~ Published by: Genesis 2000; 3rd edition, August 1, 2008

Quote from the preface…

'I began thinking seriously about the contents of this book back in the late 1960s. I had graduated from college with majors in Greek and Bible, fired by a passion for discovering the historical Jesus. ....

'As a Christian I had grown up with a strong emphasis on the New Testament. The “Old Testament,” as we called it, was looked on as mere “background” .....

'I presented the results of my forty years of academic work on the historical Jesus in ... 'The Jesus Dynasty' ... This ... is a personal manifesto of my own biblical faith ...'

Pentecost, June 15, 2008, Mevaseret Zion, Israel


'The Secret Legacy of Jesus' ~ by Jeffrey J. Bütz
Foreword by James D Tabor
Published by: Inner Traditions ~ December 21, 2009

There are currently ten Amazon customer reviews. Seven give it 5 stars out of 5; 2 give it 3 stars, one gives it 2 stars.


Plus a new book about Paul: -

On his yet-to-be-published book about St Paul, James Tabor writes in his blog:

'What I think I can safely say is that the book will be worth the wait! I don’t know of another book on Paul by a scholar in the field that is like this one, either in ideas, approach, or style.

What I hope I have produced is a readable and accessible book on Paul, but one that offers an analysis of his mission and message .... Mine is neither a Paul-bashing nor a Paul-applauding book. ... I try as best I can to let Paul speak for himself, based on the seven “authentic” letters ..... '

[James Tabor, August 22nd, 2010]


Journal of Religion on 'Things Unutterable' # quote from:

Pentecost, June 15, 2008, Mevaseret Zion, Israel

Full item has been quoted here:

See also:


'The Secret Legacy of Jesus', by Jeffrey J. Bütz, has a Foreword by James D Tabor (Including Kindle)

'Disciple Short Term Studies' - Celia Brewer Sinclair + James D Tabor

'Suicide and Martyrdom Among Christians and Jews in Antiquity'

Front Cover ~ available from Amazon
Front Cover ~ available from Amazon

'Disciple Bible Study' - Course

Front Covers ~ available from Amazon
Front Covers ~ available from Amazon

'The Holy Land'


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