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The Historical Jesus : A Comprehensive Guide Paperback – 16 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press (16 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334026962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334026969
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 553,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By peculiar on 19 Jun 2000
Format: Paperback
This book by the well-known German New Testament scholar and his research assistant aims at being a comprehensive textbook for studying the historical Jesus - and largely acheives that aim. This book is not short nor for the casual reader and anyone attempting to enter its portals must be prepared to be questioned by the text as much as expecting a thesis to be laid out before them. The book even shades into discussions of Easter and early Christology, thus transgressing recognised disciplinary boundaries in an ever more defined academic world.
It has to be said that this book is hard going. This is a million miles away from previous books by Theissen, particularly his "The Shadow of the Galilean", which was narrative. Here we have dense argumentation, tables, questions and all the things we would expect to find in an academic textbook. I believe that this will (and maybe should) limit its readership. One interesting feature is the authors' decision to go with a "Jesus as" approach to its discussions. Thus, we have "Jesus as poet", "Jesus as healer", "Jesus as prophet" and "Jesus as a charismatic", etc. Jesus is also seen as the "founder of a cult" and as a "martyr". I would say that these designations meet with greater or lesser success - both in themselves and within the argumentation of this book. But the treatments here are thorough if not also totally convincing.
In short, this book is for the committed student most of all. The casual reader will have to struggle with technical background argumentation and ancient documentation. If they feel able and willing to do that then this book is worthy of their attention. It is a full and thorough discussion of the historical Jesus.
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Format: Paperback
Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz's `The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide' is a huge book which examines thoroughly the whole issue of whether or not we can construct a `historically reliable picture of Jesus'. Although the book stretches to well over six hundred pages, it is the scope of the study which makes it `huge', not the physical size.

After a short Introduction summarising `The Quest[s] of the Historical Jesus', Theissen and Merz divide their work into four large parts:

Part One: The Sources and the Evaluation (p17-124)
Part Two: The Framework of the History of Jesus (p125-184)
Part Three: The Activity and Preaching of Jesus (p185-404)
Part Four: Passion and Easter (p405-567)
A succinct, incisive summary of the `Life of Jesus' (four pages) then precedes the indexes and answers sections

Each part is further divided into self-contained chapters, each with it's own introduction and much sub-divided body text. A useful summary ends each section, combined with a page or two describing the authors' interpretation of the evidence previously presented. A couple of these summaries are in the form of a table or chart which simplifies and clarifies the whole summary. (The foreword emphasises that the book aims to accommodate personal and/or group study.)

The whole area of Jesus' earthly life is, potentially at least, one of the most interesting, complicated and contentious in biblical investigation. Theissen and Merz certainly give the impression of leaving no theological stone unturned, giving good coverage to all sides of the various debates. They are happy to take sides but do so openly and fairly (thus leaving the reader free to disagree - but you've got to be some kind of smart to do that!).
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By Johnny P on 15 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
Although I have not and probably will not read this cover to cover, I have found it to be a fascinating and extremely useful resource for reference. It gives a fantastic overview of other scholar's work, and the general state of play in academia with regards to all things Jesus.

Good stuff.
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