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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener. Highly recommended!, 17 Feb 2013
This review is from: Jesus: Nativity - Passion - Resurrection (Paperback)
What a book! This is actually 3 books I one; The Nativity, The Passion, The Resurrection having once been released as individual books. This issue brings all 3 under one title and the book is all the stronger for it. Each topic is looked at in the kind of detail they need to be fully explored, explained and concluded on.

This is a highly stimulating book that will get you to think about these familiar aspects of Christianity in a new way. Some of it supports existing Christian faith, some challenges it, but whatever the conclusions, the facts are fully brought to bear on the stories. Some of what emerges may well surprise you. Some may indeed offend you. But all will make you think again and reflect. Especially as it is written by a highly esteemed New Testament scholar who through his placing of Jesus in a Jewish setting in his ground breaking book Jesus the Jew (SCM Classics) has radically influenced (for the better) the study and understanding of Jesus. The contents of this book Jesus: Nativity - Passion -Resurrection is therefore grounded in reputable scholarship.

What we get with this book is a thorough examination of the gospel stories. Mr. Vermes looks at what each of the gospel says and explores whether what is said to have happened could have happened that way given what we know of the people, religious and legal processes at the time. Mr. Vermes does this in a highly readable and engrossing way. The book is easy to read and follow, is hugely insightful in its explanations and analysis, and I personally found it a riveting read.

So what of the 3 main topics? I learnt an awful lot from all them even though I had done a lot of other reading about Jesus prior to reading this book. I found the section on the naivety to be scintillating read that delivered a most complete and enthralling account and dissection of the events surrounding Jesus' birth. He's extremely thorough and looks at events from all angles. A couple of insights which I have not come across in any of the other many Jesus / New Testament books I have read are worth mentioning. First the bombshell. According to Mr. Vermes Mary would have been only 12 years old when she got betrothed to Joseph, as child marriage was the custom of the Jews at the time of Jesus. Was she a virgin? Well, surprising as it may seem, with Jewish ways of looking at things at the time, she could technically have been looked upon as a virgin even after conceiving Jesus. How so? Before her first menstruation a `women' was viewed a virgin. If Mary conceived after her first ovulation and before her first menstruation she could in Jewish eyes technically be a looked upon as a virgin. So Jesus in this scenario could have been a result of a virgin birth. But this book is not about sensationalist claims despite the impression I might be giving. It offers a serious examination of what each gospel says and looks at all aspects of the events it covers. The sections on the passion and resurrection mirror this very thorough and enlightening approach. The depth and breadth of coverage is superb and the analysis and insights into the gospel accounts are fascinating.

To conclude; This is an excellent, very readable book. The events surrounding the nativity, passion and resurrection are central to the Jesus story and Christianity. There are now many doubters as to whether these events happened or not. This book will definitely help make up your mind, and do so in a credible and balanced way. I would highly recommend this book.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packed full of scholarly insights, but not always rigorous in its use of the evidence, 23 Sep 2010
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Jesus: Nativity - Passion - Resurrection (Paperback)
In this single volume edition of three books previously published separately, the great Hungarian-born Jewish scholar Geza Vermes plays the role of historical detective to try and get at the `truth' of Jesus' nativity, passion and resurrection. There can be few people better-qualified to do so: not only does Vermes have a deep understanding of the New Testament (NT), he also knows intimately the rabbinic and other relevant Jewish sources of the time. This makes for an illuminating read: even if you're already reasonably familiar with NT scholarship on the issues in question, you'll probably find new angles and insights here - for example, on Jewish definitions of what constituted a `virgin birth', something the rabbis definitely thought natural and possible in the terms they defined it.

I found little to disagree with fundamentally in his very detailed account of the passion, with its helpful tabulation of differences between the four gospel sources: it's long seemed clear to me that there's an element of whitewashing of the Roman authorities' role in Jesus' trial, and a sectarian overplaying of the Jewish establishment's one. But on the nativity, I found Vermes' insights occasionally a little contradictory. For example, Matthew and Luke have on the one hand a fairly poor understanding of Palestinian Jewish customs and history, but on the other hand [Vermes argues] preserve some distinctively Palestinian (and therefore authentic) insights. On the resurrection, I felt the author had not made best use of all the evidence by opting for a `spiritual resurrection', most strongly supported by a very late-dated John's Gospel, without any discussion of either (i) how Johannine traditions had been shaped by a prior Johannine community (see for example Raymond Brown's `The Community of the Beloved Disciple'); or (ii) the increasingly-discussed possibility that the distinctively Johannine material could be historically reliable. There was also not enough discussion of the NT's seeming understanding of the resurrection of Jesus as of a fundamentally different kind to the various contemporary ideas of resurrection Vermes usefully and indeed exhaustively details in this section of the book.

There are of course seemingly as many different angles on Jesus as there NT scholars. Despite my disagreements with the consistency of some of Vermes' conclusions, this is still a very impressive piece of scholarship, with a huge amount of well-marshalled material drawn together in one volume to stimulate and engage the reader. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and largely convincing study of the New Testament's shaky areas, 24 Feb 2014
I have to start out by saying that I am a Vermes enthusiast. Although I used a multitude of sources in my own novel, The Testament Of Marcellus, I returned to Vermes consistently as a touchstone for my own portraits of Jesus, Pilate, Herod and other figures of the New Testament.

He has written powerfully and insightfully about the content of Jesus' teaching, and those books, especially "Jesus The Jew" and "The Authentic Gospel Of Jesus," are perhaps his most important work.

Here he discusses areas of the New Testament which do not come directly from Jesus himself, but which are narratives concerning his birth, death and resurrection, added to the body of his teaching in order to flesh out "the story of Jesus."

Vermes' great subtlety as a writer and his skill as an analyst of 1st Century documents can often go over the heads of readers. We have to recall that this was a man who studied the Dead Sea Scrolls for 30 years, and produced a magisterial translation of them into English (I believe it is still the only complete translation in English).

Fundamentalists are unlikely to be impressed by this scholarly book. It is not so much that Vermes debunks the legends, as that he tries to put them in context, explain the anomalies (Gospel accounts are often contradictory) and clear the way for us to make a decision about what really happened.

Very highly recommended to all lay people who are interested in this subject.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and authoritative, 22 April 2012
This review is from: Jesus: Nativity - Passion - Resurrection (Paperback)
Well-written and easy to understand analysis. Doesn't rush to draw conclusions. Close commentary on New Testament narratives, while using other ancient sources to set it all in context. Simple but authoritative. I got a lot out of reading it.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the search., 31 Aug 2010
G. Campbell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jesus: Nativity - Passion - Resurrection (Paperback)
Geza Vermes is a favourite author of mine on the life of Yeshua. He does not stray from the facts as he knows them. His dispassionate approach leaves no room for wishful thinking.

The truth is his goal and he persues it diligently without being distracted by what some of us would wish or hope were true. From that point of view, he is a trustworthy analyst of the materials available. His own reputation as a researcher and biblical scholar are beyond doubt.

He presents fact and background information that illuminates the scriptures in the context of 1st century Judea.

Eagle Books were incredibly quick in delivery and the book, though listed as used, was virtually in new condition. When a seller takes the care that this one did, you can probably rely on them to deliver quality in the future.
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Jesus: Nativity - Passion - Resurrection
Jesus: Nativity - Passion - Resurrection by Geza Vermes (Paperback - 4 Mar 2010)
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