Get John Dominic Crossan essential facts below. View Videos or join the John Dominic Crossan discussion. Add John Dominic Crossan to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
John Dominic Crossan (born 1934) is an Irish-American New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity, and former Catholic priest who was a prominent member of the Jesus Seminar. His research has focused on the historical Jesus, on the cultural anthropology of the Ancient Mediterranean and New Testament worlds and on the application of postmodern hermeneutical approaches to the Bible.
His work is controversial, portraying the Second Coming as a late corruption of Jesus' message and saying that Jesus' divinity is metaphorical.
In place of the eschatological message of the Gospels, Crossan emphasizes the historical context of Jesus and of his followers immediately after his death.
He describes Jesus' ministry as founded on free healing and communal meals, negating the social hierarchies of Jewish culture and the Roman Empire.
Crossan is a major scholar in contemporary historical Jesus research.
In particular, he and Burton Mack are notable advocates for a non-eschatological view of Jesus, a view that contradicts the more common view that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher.
While contemporary scholars see more value in noncanonical gospels than past scholars did, Crossan goes further and identifies a few noncanonical gospels as earlier than and superior to the canonical ones. The very early dating of these non-canonical sources is not accepted by the vast majority of biblical scholars.
Crossan married Margaret Dagenais, a professor at Loyola University Chicago in the summer of 1969. She died in 1983 due to a heart attack. In 1986, Crossan married Sarah Sexton, a social worker with two grown children. Since his retirement from academia, Crossan has continued to write and lecture.
Views and methodology
Crossan portrays Jesus as a healer and wise man who taught a message of inclusiveness, tolerance, and liberation. In his view, Jesus' strategy "was the combination of free healing and common eating . . . that negated the hierarchical and patronal normalcies of Jewish religion and Roman power . . . He was neither broker nor mediator but . . . the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or humanity and itself."
Central to Crossan's methodology is the dating of texts. This is laid out more or less fully in The Historical Jesus in one of the appendices. He dates part of the Coptic Gospel of Thomas to the 50s CE, as well as the first layer of the hypothetical Q Document (in this he is heavily dependent on the work of John Kloppenborg). He also assigns a portion of the Gospel of Peter, which he calls the "Cross Gospel", to a date preceding the synoptic gospels, the reasoning of which is laid out more fully in The Cross that Spoke: The Origin of the Passion Narratives. He believes the "Cross Gospel" was the forerunner to the passion narratives in the canonical gospels. He does not date the synoptics until the mid to late 70s CE, starting with the Gospel of Mark and ending with Luke in the 90s. As for the Gospel of John, he believes part was constructed at the beginning, and another part closer to the middle, of the 2nd century CE. Following Rudolf Bultmann, he believes there is an earlier "Signs Source" for John as well. His dating methods and conclusions are quite controversial, particularly regarding the dating of Thomas and the "Cross Gospel". Again, the very early dating of these non-canonical sources is not accepted by the vast majority of biblical scholars.
In God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now (2007), Crossan assumes that the reader is familiar with key points from his earlier work on the nonviolent revolutionary Jesus, his Kingdom movement, and the surrounding matrix of the Roman imperial theological system of religion, war, victory, peace, but discusses them in the broader context of the escalating violence in world politics and popular culture of today. Within that matrix, he points out, early in the book, that "(t)here was a human being in the first century who was called 'Divine,' 'Son of God,' 'God,' and 'God from God,' whose titles were 'Lord,' 'Redeemer,' 'Liberator,' and 'Saviour of the World.'" "(M)ost Christians probably think that those titles were originally created and uniquely applied to Christ. But before Jesus ever existed, all those terms belonged to Caesar Augustus." Crossan cites the adoption of them by the early Christians to apply to Jesus as denying them of Caesar the Augustus. "They were taking the identity of the Roman emperor and giving it to a Jewish peasant. Either that was a peculiar joke and a very low lampoon, or it was what the Romans called majestas and we call high treason." 
Crossan, John Dominic (1966). Scanning the Sunday Gospel. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Company. OCLC3098979.
——— (1967). The Gospel of Eternal Life: reflections on the theology of St. John. Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Company. OCLC799467438.