Paul and Jesus: How Paul Transformed the Gospel of Jesus. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012)

 In this “compulsively readable exploration of the tangled world of Christian origins” (Publishers Weekly), religious historian James Tabor illuminates the earliest years of Jesus’ teachings before Paul shaped them into the religion we know today.

This fascinating examination of the earliest years of Christianity reveals how the man we call St. Paul shaped Christianity as we know it today.

Historians know almost nothing about the two decades following the crucifixion of Jesus, when his followers regrouped and began to spread his message. During this time Paul joined the movement and began to preach to the gentiles. Using the oldest Christian documents that we have—the letters of Paul—as well as other early Chris­tian sources, historian and scholar James Tabor reconstructs the origins of Christianity. Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James to introduce his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached.

Paul and Jesus illuminates the fascinating period of history when Christianity was born out of Judaism.


The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity, with Simcha Jacobovici. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012)

From Booklist

Covered by CNN, “Nightline” and cover story on Eretz magazine.

The book was the subject of a one month special forum (March 2012) on the American Schools of Oriental Research web site and was featured in a special session at the March 2013 ASOR Southeast Regional meeting, see “An Overview of The Jesus Discovery” for links to the papers.



The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity (New York: Simon & Schuster, April 2006. Published in twenty languages.

New York Times Best Seller, Major media coverage including cover of USNews&WorldReport, ABC-TV Good Morning America, 20/20, Nightline. National and international book tour; Extensive media coverage and reviews.

The Jesus Dynasty offers a startling new interpretation of the life of Jesus and the origins of Christianity that is grounded in careful analysis of the earliest Christian documents and recent archaeological discoveries, including the much-discussed “Jesus family tomb.”

In The Jesus Dynasty, biblical scholar James Tabor brings us closer than ever to the historical Jesus. He explains the crucial relationship between Jesus, a royal descendant of David, and his relative John the Baptizer, a priestly descendant of Aaron and Jesus’ teacher. When John was killed, several of his followers — including Jesus’ four brothers — joined with Jesus, who continued John’s mission, preaching the same apocalyptic message. After Jesus confronted the Roman authorities in Jerusalem and was crucified, his brother James succeeded him as the leader of the Jesus dynasty.

James Tabor has studied the earliest surviving documents of Christianity for more than thirty years and has participated in important archaeological excavations in Israel. His reconstruction of the life of Jesus and his followers, and of the early years of Christianity, will change our understanding of one of the most crucial moments in history.

From Publishers Weekly

From Booklist



Why Waco: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, co-authored with Eugene Gallagher (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), paperback edition published in April, 1997.

Malcom Gladwell, in his featured piece in the New Yorker, “Sacred and Profane: How Not to Negotiate with Believers,” (March 31, 2014) credited Tabor and his colleague Philip Arnold, as singularly pursuing a course of action in the 1993 Waco/David Koresh tragedy that well might have resulted in a peaceful outcome.

Additional Media Coverage: cover review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review; Serialized in Harpers Magazine, June, 1995; included on New York Times 1995 “Best List” (November 3, 1995 NYTBR) lengthy reviews have appeared in Lingua Franca, Choice, New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Kirbus, The New York Review of Books, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, First Things, Christianity Today and Religious Studies News (AAR/SBL); the book was also reviewed in approximately 38 newspaper chains worldwide.


David Edwin Harrell, The Journal of American History, Vol. 83, No. 1 (Jun., 1996), pp. 301-302.

Charles H. Lippy, Journal of American Studies, Vol. 33, No. 1, Women in America (Apr., 1999), p. 138.

Nancy T. Ammerman, The Review of Politics, Vol. 61, No. 4, Christianity and Politics: Millennial Issue I (Autumn, 1999), pp. 755-758.

Roland J. Campiche, Archives de sciences sociales des religions, 42e Année, No. 100 (Oct. – Dec., 1997), pp. 140-142.

Kelley, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec., 1995), pp. 523-524.

Catherine Wessinger, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, Vol. 1, No. 1 (October 1997), pp. 122-138.


A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom Among Ancient Jews and Christians, co-authored with Arthur Droge (San Francisco and New York: HarperCollins, 1992).

From Library Journal



Feature length, five page review by James T. Clemons in Christian Century, (April 7, 1993)

Frederick W. Norris, Church History, Vol. 62, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 544-545

David P. Efroymson, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 61, No. 3 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 594-596

Michael White, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 113, No. 2 (Summer, 1994), pp. 358-360

Paula Fredriksen, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 73, No. 4 (Oct., 1993), pp. 638-639

Bible Review (August, 1994)


Things Unutterable: Pauls Ascent to Paradise in its Greco-Roman, Judaic, and early Christian Contexts, Studies in Judaism (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1986). A refereed academic series edited by Jacob Neusner, Brown University, published in hardcover and paper.

Included in the Journal of Religion list of important works on Paul from 1970-88, JR 68 (1988): 186-190


Peter Schäfer, Numen, Vol. 36, Fasc. 2 (Dec., 1989), pp. 283-286.

Arthur J. Droge, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Jul., 1988), pp. 451-453.

Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley, History of Religions, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Nov., 1987), p. 225.

Victor Paul Furnish, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 107, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 555-558.

Thomas Finn, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 50 no 1 January 1988, pp. 149-150

Robin Scroggs, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 42 no 4 1988, pp. 69-70.