Tabor, James D. 1946-

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Tabor, James D. 1946-

PERSONAL:

Born 1946; children: five. Education: Pepperdine University, B.A., M.A.; University of Chicago, Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Charlotte, NC. Office— University of North Carolina, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223-0001. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, faculty member, 1979-85; College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, faculty member, 1985-89; University of North Carolina, Charlotte, faculty member and chair of the department of religious studies, 1989—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Things Unutterable was named one of the ten best scholarly studies on Paul of the 1980s by the Journal of Religion.

WRITINGS:

Things Unutterable: Paul's Ascent to Paradise in Its Greco-Roman, Judaic, and Early Christian Contexts, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1986.

(With Arthur J. Droge) A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom among Christians and Jews in Antiquity, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1992.

(With Eugene V. Gallagher) Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1995.

The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

Chief editor, Original Bible Project.

SIDELIGHTS:

Religion scholar James D. Tabor's primary areas of research interest include biblical studies, especially as they pertain to Christian origins and ancient Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, John the Baptist, Jesus, James, and Paul. He is also the chief editor of the Original Bible Project, a scholarly endeavor to produce an historic-linguistic translation of the Bible, including annotations. In an interview for the Petro Baptist Church blog, Tabor said of his interests: "I am passionate about history, mostly Western and European, and a good part of my library deals with twentieth-century politics and history, both American and European. I try to also work more broadly in what we called Religious Studies, especially the theoretical aspects of the academic study of religion." As part of his research, he has traveled extensively to perform field work, including participating in the third Judean Desert Expedition, a survey of Wadi el-Yabis (Wadi Cherith) in Jordan, and archaeological trips to Masada; Qumran; Sepphoris, near Nazareth in the Galilee; and at Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. In 2000 and 2001, Tabor joined Shimon Gibson in the excavation of a newly discovered cave in the Ein Kerem region outside Jerusalem, where they uncovered primitive Jewish-Christian art believed to have some relation to John the Baptist. Tabor and Gibson were also the main participants in a dig that yielded the only first-century Jewish burial shroud ever found in Jerusalem, which was located in a looted Herodian tomb.

Tabor has written extensively on both ancient religion and the modern approach to religious practices and faith. His book Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, which he wrote with Eugene V. Gallagher, looks at the role of true cults and fanatical approaches to faith as opposed to religious groups that fall outside the accepted parameters set down by governments and society, addressing them through the lens of the Branch Davidian massacre in Waco, Texas. Tabor has firsthand experience with the tragedy, having served as a religious consultant to the attorneys responsible for mediating with cult leader David Koresh during the fifty-one-day siege. In addition, he and Gallagher accessed some of Koresh's own unpublished writings to gain insight into the Davidians' point of view. Despite this, Mary Carroll, in a review for Booklist, called the book "a useful but far from balanced presentation." In Reason, Jacob Sullum remarked that the authors "argue eloquently and persuasively in Why Waco? that the central failure of federal negotiators after the aborted February 28 raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was their unwillingness—or inability—to take the beliefs of the Branch Davidians seriously." Nancy T. Ammerman observed in the Review of Politics, that the "comparison between Waco and Jonestown … is especially insightful. They point out the contrast between Jones's invention of a new religious system that rejected existing texts and authorities and Koresh's claim to be a unique interpreter of a religious system shared by millions. The first creates enormous difficulties in communication with nonmembers, while the second leaves many bridges intact."

In The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity, Tabor turns his attention to Jesus Christ and his earthly family, attempting to provide a detailed accounting of his life and the people close to him. Booklist critic Ilene Cooper wrote of the book: "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." Charlie Murray, writing for Library Journal, cited examples of conclusions that did not seem to be backed up by scriptural evidence, remarking that it is Tabor's "willingness to overreach and misuse theological sources that make Jesus Dynasty an ultimately irresponsible endeavor." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly nevertheless called Tabor's work "a bold and sometimes speculative interpretation of the historical Jesus and his family."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1995, Mary Carroll, review of Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, p. 15; April 15, 2006, Ilene Cooper, review of The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity, p. 4.

Christian Century, April 7, 1993, James T. Clemons, review of A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom among Christians and Jews in Antiquity, p. 369; April 3, 1996, Leo P. Ribuffo, review of Why Waco?, p. 377.

Journal of Biblical Literature, September, 1988, Victor Paul Furnish, review of Things Unutterable: Paul's Ascent to Paradise in Its Greco-Roman, Judaic, and Early Christian Contexts, pp. 555-558.

Journal of Church and State, winter, 1998, Bill Pitts, review of Why Waco?, pp. 209-210.

Journal of the American Academy of Religion, autumn, 1993, David P. Efroymson, review of A Noble Death, pp. 594-596.

Library Journal, April 15, 2006, Charlie Murray, review of The Jesus Dynasty, p. 84.

Publishers Weekly, August 7, 1995, review of Why Waco?, p. 452; March 13, 2006, review of The Jesus Dynasty, p. 63.

Reason, March, 1996, Jacob Sullum, review of Why Waco?, p. 46.

Review of Politics, fall, 1999, Nancy T. Ammerman, "Moloch's Revenge," review of Why Waco?, p. 755.

ONLINE

Petro Baptist Church Blog,http://petrobaptistchurch.blogspot.com/ (April, 14, 2006), interview with James D. Tabor.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Religious Studies Web site,http://www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/ (December 2, 2006), faculty biography of James D. Tabor.