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Book reviews

S. G. F. Brandon
The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church
A Study of the Consequences of the Jewish Catastrophy in the Year 70 for

Profil, Zagreb, 2006, 221 pages

Before us is a book with an interesting ti- temple and the creation of the church cle-
tle and an even more interesting subtitle. arly enough. The theological and political
Since the subtitle is very bashfully un- significance of the Four Year War, that is
derlaid on the first page of the book, an the Jewish occupation of Jerusalem, is of
unwary reader would think it is about the great importance for Brandon. Not only
conquest of Jerusalem in the crusades, or because it is a time of political instability in
the “Fall of Jerusalem” into the crusaders’ the Roman empire which, in those four ye-
hands. However, such hasty hopes are dis- ars, changed emperors four times, but first
persed in the foreword that the author of- and foremost because Vespasian’s conqu-
fers. Every reader expecting some theory est of Jerusalem aided the depopulation
of a church plot that hid something about of the Jews. Brandon connects rebellion,
Jesus’ private life in order to establish its siege and the Roman conquest of Jerusa-
authority in the world, like, for example, lem on one side and the depopulation of
the books: Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Me- Jews which had the creation and writing
ssianic Legacy or The Da Vinci Code will of the Gospels as a consequence on the
not be satisfied. In fact, they will be disa- other side. Writing the Gospels, according
ppointed. The book is a serious study with to Brandon, was not just an interpretation
the subject of the fall of Jerusalem in the of painful political occurences from 66-70,
year 70 into Roman hands. The book find but also first and foremost, it constituated
its way to the reader precisely because the the church in a specific, and the author
importance of this subject for Christianity would say reactionary, way, rehabilitating
in this country has been marginalized for all of its actors. The writers of the Gospels
years, and not accidentally. This is a huge were, according to him, ecclesial interpre-
subject that needs experts such as Brandon. ters of Jewish political theological history
Brandon was a professor of com- with the help of the person of Jesus Christ,
parative religion and, as such, he is not a which Paul had already once interpreted to
specialized historian or theologian but a the Gentiles that converted to Christianity.
competent connoisseur who, with surgi- Even though the author introduces
cal precision, dissects political occurences many historical facts, insights, and com-
that led to the political crisis in the fifties ments, we cannot escape the feeling that
of the first century and that will culmina- his interpretation of the Gospels still we-
te with the fall of Jerusalem. The subtext ars the patina of time. A hermenautic form
of the whole book is that the historians of comes from the text that was very modern
Christianity did not elaborate upon the re- after the Second World War. Unfortu-
lationship between the destruction of the nately, that is the objection of the whole

KAIROS - Evangelical Journal of Theology / Vol. II. No. 1 (2008), pp. 137-140

book. The whole text is determined thro- ugh to conclude that the text is far from
ugh argumentation that stays imprisoned becoming a clasic or a good guide to the
by ambivalent anacronisms, so typical for subject. That is how this slightly unfinished
the liberal theology of the late fourties. It text should be read: as an anticipation of
seems that Brandon’s theme did not rema- the so-called “third search for the historic
in without response. Brandon is stalking Jesus.” I would definitely recommend this
through the margins and footnotes of the book to a serious student of theology who
so-called “second historic search for Jesus.” is thinking about post graduate studies in
A glance at the authors he quotes is eno- theology.
Boris Gunjević