Jesus and Brian

Exploring the Historical Jesus and his Times via Monty Python's Life of Brian

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Joan E. Taylor
  • New York, NY: 
    Bloomsbury T&T Clark
    , September
     304 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


This book has been reviewed in JAAR, along with Bigger Than Ben-Hur: The Book, Its Adaptations, and Their Audiences and Coen: Framing Religion in Amoral Order, by Terry Lindvall.

Monty Python's Life of Brian film is known for its brilliant satirical humour. Less well known is that the film contains references to what was, at the time of its release, cutting edge biblical scholarship and Life of Jesus research. This research, founded on the acceptance of the Historical Jesus as a Jew who needs to be understood within the context of his time, is implicitly referenced through the setting of the Brian character within a tumultuous social and political background.

This collection is a compilation of essays from foremost scholars of the historical Jesus and the first century Judaea, and includes contributions from George Brooke, Richard Burridge, Paula Fredriksen, Steve Mason, Adele Reinhartz, Bart Ehrman, Amy-Jill Levine, James Crossley, Philip Davies, Joan Taylor, Bill Telford, Helen Bond, Guy Stiebel, David Tollerton, David Shepherd and Katie Turner. The collection opens up the Life of Brian to renewed investigation and, in so doing, uses the film to reflect on the historical Jesus and his times, revitalising the discussion of history and Life of Jesus research. The volume also features a Preface from Terry Jones, who not only directed the film, but also played Brian's mum.

Date of Review: 
June 13, 2016
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Joan E. Taylor is the prize-winning author of Christians and the Holy Places, and a leading authority on the Jewish world of Jesus, including women within that world. She is Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King's College London.


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