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Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide [Paperback]

By Gerd Theissen (Author) & Annette Merz (Author)
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Item description for Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide by Gerd Theissen & Annette Merz...

What can we really know about the compelling figure of Jesus of Nazareth? Theissen and Merz explore the historical and social context of his ministry; examine his characteristics as charismatic teacher, Jewish prophet, healer, teller of parables, and ethical guide; and answer questions surrounding the biblical accounts of the Last Supper, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Publishers Description
In the continuing quest for the elusive but compelling figure of Jesus of Nazareth, Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz's authoritative yet engaging book is the single most helpful resource to date. Comprehensively detailing the sources for our knowledge of Jesus, Theissen and Merz fully explore the historical and social context of Jesus and his activity. They then unfold what we can know about Jesus' characteristics as a charismatic teacher, a Jewish prophet, a healer, a teller of parables, and an ethical teacher. Finally, they examine closely the historical questions surrounding Jesus' last supper, his violent death, the accounts of Easter, and the beginnings of Christology. Beholden to neither ancient dogma nor contemporary fantasy, written in a clear style with a variety of learning aids, The Historical Jesus will provide students, teachers, and other individuals with a fascinating and reliable guide into this most exciting field of Jesus research.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Pages   642
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 10.06" Width: 7.07" Height: 1.44"
Weight:   2.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1998
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800631226  
ISBN13  9780800631222  

Availability  0 units.

More About Gerd Theissen & Annette Merz

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Gerd Theissen is Professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg.

Gerd Theissen was born in 1953.

Gerd Theissen has published or released items in the following series...
  1. T & T Clark Academic Paperbacks

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Jesus > Historical Jesus
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Biographies > Biography
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide?

Poorly Translated, but Likely Your Best Option  Jan 17, 2006
This book is very poorly translated from the original German, and consequently reads awkwardly. There are also lengthy 'study sections' at the end of each chapter, which is bothersome.

In terms of substance the book is generally sound, though far too much space is dedicated to dispelling the reader's presumed disposition towards blaming "the Jews" for Jesus' execution. Surely, the point needs to be made, but this is redundancy. The authors also go overboard in stressing their "objectivity" on the question of Jesus as the Christ, to the point where they almost come across as skeptics.

To its credit, the book is quite comprehensive, and is, overall, head and shoulders above practically every other comparable volume.
Analysis or apologetics?  Nov 9, 2005
I am a layman with an interest in the historical Jesus and I bought this book based on reviews here. The forward states explicitly that "each topic [is] self-contained" and "it is possible to skip sections," so after reading Ch. 1 I went to Ch. 15, "The Risen Jesus" where I was quite disappointed. 1 Cor 15:3ff must play a significant role in any discussion, but Theissen woodenly declares, with emphasis, that its status "as tradition is undisputed" and "Its pre-Pauline origin is certain" (pp 487-8). To the contrary: in a 1995 "J. of Higher Criticism" article, "Apocryphal Apparitions: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 as a Post-Pauline Interpolation," Robert Price explicitly addressed this question (also found as Ch 4 of "The Empty Tomb" by Price and Lowder as well as elsewhere). In addition to his own arguments, Price shows that the discordant nature of 3-11 has been noted even by those not arguing for a post-Pauline origin (including by Bultmann, Evans, Conzelmann, and Schillebeeckx). My point is not that Price is correct. It is, rather, that in at least one critical chapter in this book apologetics is being passed off as historical analysis.
Excellent Introduction to Jesus Research  Jun 29, 2001
The subtitle 'A Comprehensive Guide' is well-earned. this incorrectly lists its length as 624 pages; in actuality, it is 642 pages long, and every page is large. There is plenty of information here on almost every aspect of Jesus research. The book consists of the following sixteen chapters.

1. The Quest of the Historical Jesus

2. Christian Sources about Jesus

3. The Non-Christian Sources about Jesus

4. The Evaluation of the Sources: Historical Scepticism and the Study of Jesus

5. The Historical and Religious Framework of the Life of Jesus

6. The Chronological Framework of the Life of Jesus

7. The Geographical and Social Framework of the Life of Jesus

8. Jesus as Charismatic: Jesus and his Social Relationships

9. Jesus as Prophet: Jesus' Eschatology

10. Jesus as Healer: The Miracles of Jesus

11. Jesus as Poet: The Parables of Jesus

12. Jesus as Teacher: The Ethics of Jesus

13. Jesus as the Founder of a Cult: The Last Supper and the Primitive Christian Eucharist

14. Jesus as Martyr: The Passion of Jesus

15. The Risen Jesus: Easter and its Interpretations

16. The Historical Jesus and the Beginnings of Christology

Finally, there is a retrospect in which a short life of Jesus is presented.

This work was created with use as a textbook in mind. At the end of each chapter, there are 'Tasks' required of the reader that encourage a direct participation in the interpretation of the primary source materials. While it is suited for use in the classroom, it is also easily adaptable to personal study. Each chapter can be easily covered in a convenient session of a couple hours. There are extensive bibliographic notes for further study in particular topics.

The following historical facts about Jesus emerge from _The Historical Jesus_:

1. Jesus was from Galilee (p. 164).

2. Jesus was baptized by John (p. 207).

3. Jesus performed exorcisms and healings (p. 301, p. 304).

4. Jesus was accused of being in league with the devil (p. 76, p. 297).

5. His family thought him to be mad (p. 570, p. 582).

6. Jesus rejected an overestimation of himself as 'good teacher' (p. 558).

7. Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God; e.g., the logion concerning 'Taking the kingdom by storm' (p. 580).

8. Jesus spoke most of the parables that have been preserved (p. 338).

9. Jesus said something against the Temple cult (p. 432).

10. The disciples of Jesus fled at his arrest (p. 428).

11. Jesus was crucified with the titulus 'The King of the Jews' (p. 458).

12. The disciples were disappointed that Jesus did not 'redeem Israel' (p. 428).

One possible weakness of the book is that it offers no over-arching explanation or model for the historical Jesus. Rather, the book investigates each aspect of Jesus ('Jesus as...') more or less individually. On the other hand, this may be considered a strength, especially given that the real Jesus himself is not a cardboard cut-out figure but rather an actual human being. This is brought out beautifully in another book by Theissen, _The Shadow of the Galilean_.

A Textbook For Studying the Historical Jesus  Dec 3, 2000
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.

I couldn't stop reading this book  Apr 29, 2000
Though being a German customer and having read the German original in the first place, I am nevertheless able to say that the English version of Theissen's and Merz' study guide (it is certainly more than that!) adds a refreshing new style and content to the quest for the historical Jesus. Following the idea of Theissen's first book 'The shade of the Galilean' the two German scholars unfold lots of material to work with, to work on and to consider. The book presents itself in chapters, whose length is just appropriate to spend a couple of hours on. The questions and suggestions for further study encourage to go further. The style (in both, English and German) is refreshing and turns the book into a really enjoyable reading experience, yet a challenging one at any time. As mentioned above, I found myself barely able to lay it down. Having encontered Theissen's books during my time in the seminary, I felt enriched and well prepared for seminars, presentations and written assignments. Now, serving a congregation as a pastoral intern, Theissen's and Merz' sophisticated material and research provides me with material for teaching as well as for preaching. Therefore, a book for students as well as for ministers and interested laity. A book, worth purchasing or giving to somebody, yet not without 'The shadow of the Galilean' as an additional great reading experience.

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