Item description for Jesus the Jew by Geza Vermes...
Overview Contents: PART 1: THE SETTING 1. Jesus the Jew 2. Jesus and Galilee 3. Jesus and charismatic Judaism PART 2: THE TITLES OF JESUS 4. Jesus the prophet Excursus: prophetic celibacy 5. Jesus the lord Excursus: 'lord' and the style of the Gospel of Mark 6. Jesus the Messiah Excursus: Jesus, son of David Excursus: the metaphorical us of 'to anoint' 7. Jesus the son of man Excursus: the cloud, a means of heavenly transport Excursus: debate on the circum- locutional use of son of man 8. Jesus the son of God Excursus: son of God and virgin birth GEZA VERMES: The author was born in Hungary in 1924, studied in Budapest and in Louvain. He is now Professor Emiritus of Jewish Studies and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College. He continues to lecture at the Oriental Institute, has taught at Oxford and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Publishers Description This now classic book is a significant corrective to several recent developments in the study of the historical Jesus. In contrast to depictions of Jesus as a wandering Cynic teacher, Geza Vermes offers a portrait based on evidence of charismatic activity in first-century Galilee. Vermes shows how the major New Testament titles of Jesus-prophet, Lord, Messiah, son of man, Son of God-can be understood in this historical context. The result is a description of Jesus that retains its power and its credibility.
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More About Geza Vermes
Geza Vermes s pioneering work on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the historical Jesus led to his appointment as the first professor of Jewish studies at Oxford University, where he is now professor emeritus. He is the author of several books, including The Authentic Gospel of Jesus."
Geza Vermes was born in 1924 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Oxford University.
Geza Vermes has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus the Jew?
Jesus the Jew; PERIOD Dec 21, 2007
Geza Vermes is an authority on the life and religion of Jesus and this book cements that statement. If you want to understand Jesus' life and religion in its Jewish context; read this book. If you want to better understand 2nd Temple Judaism; read this book.
One of the greatest books of the Twentieth Century. Sep 11, 2006
I read this book following up some references in G. de St. Croix's book "Class Struggles in the Ancient Greek World" (well worth reading itself!); it came up in passing a few times and seemed intriguing.
I was simply blown away by the text itself. It is one of the greatest books I have ever read. I shook the whole time. All the opacity concerning the Gospel and teaching of Jesus, how it could all have come about: it is made so plain. All other treatments I have seen of "the historical Jesus" are dust and ashes by comparison.
I have read some of Vermes' later works - he has taken a few things back and adjusted claims, unsurprisingly. It is worth reading a recent work, then, in conjunction with this one, but the force of the original work is unparalleled in the later ones. For those doubtful of Vermes' greatness, I recommend the discussion of the references of Jesus to himself as "son of man", which have been the source of a sense of mystery in readers of the Gospel, and also of so many vast tomes of theology by writers ignorant of first century Aramaic argot and certain widespread linguistic phenoma. The solution to the Son of Man Problem, as it was called, is sudden, total and of course completely deflationary.
It is amusing that an this site reviewer of another of Vermes' books says that Vermes is guilty of comparing Jesus to "someone called Honi the Circle-Drawer", which he says is palpably absurd. There is no absurdity in Vermes' treatment. Honi is one of several characters of the period, in fact, to whom Jesus is compared. It is a question of constituting a type known to Galileans which Jesus was received by them as fitting into. It is as "that kind of guy" that Jesus was in the first instance understood by his hearers. But for Vermes there is also a specific difference from these rustic Galilean holy men and exorcists: the astounding ethical doctrines of Jesus, which anyone who has read the Sermon on the Mount will know.
If only the same work could be done for St Paul and the formation of the early Church, the comprehension of the world we live in would be hugely extended. Vermes tells us what Jesus really was; we must now understand what was made of him. This work would require someone with a total comprehension of the Hellenistic world superadded to Vermes' clearly magisterial comprehension of the Jewish world of this period. And it would require someone devoid of excessive psychological freight connected with the topic. (Vermes is able somehow to triangulate through the shoals here.) I invite an Orthodox Jewish boy of immense brilliance and broad learning - but who has given up the practice - there must be a lot of these guys! - to take on the study of Greek and the hellenistic world - the younger the better - and meanwhile to extend his Jewish learning in the direction of Vermes. A really scientific, dispassionate comprehension of the path from Jesus' wandering preaching to the church circa 150 AD would be an earthquake. It is incredible how hard it is to find truly rational and compelling literature on these matters.
Vermes, unequalled. Apr 22, 2006
No-one understands Jesus in his (actual) Jewish context better than Vermes. He is uniquely qualified, both by the depth of his scholarship, and by his own personal history, as a Jew who before he came to understand his Jewish heritage was for a while a Catholic priest! Everything he writes is worth reading. Among other things, he is a foremost authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
William Nicholls Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, University of British Columbia.
Jesus The Hasid Feb 20, 2005
Geza Vermes (1924- ) was raised Catholic, but of Jewish descent. In 1957 he quit the Catholic priesthood and subsequently converted to Judaism. He has been one of the more influential scholars in urging the study of Jewish cultural and religious milieu in order to understand Jesus.
JESUS THE JEW (1973) is the first of several books that Vermes has written on the historical Jesus. Vermes' argument is that Jesus was a Hasid, a type of charismatic miracle worker common in first century Galilee. Vermes frankly tells us that Jesus has been "distorted by Christian and Jewish myth alike." According to Vermes, Jesus claimed to be only a Jewish teacher, but after his death was proclaimed the Messiah by the early church and then - only as a result of the influence of Greek thought - the pre-existent Son of God. Say what you want about Vermes' ideas, he presents an understanding of the trajectory of the "Jesus tradition" free from conspiracy theories, reliance on dubious Gnostic gospels and the like.
There are a couple of problems with this approach:
First, Vermes' claims that Jesus was a type of Galilean charismatic Jew rests on slim evidence. His two examples are Honi the Circle Drawer (first century B.C.) and Hanina ben Dosa (first century A.D.). While there are some similarities between Jesus and these two, Honi was not Galilean and Hanina's Galilean origin is far from certain. And Vermes relies on very late traditions (some going to the eighth or ninth centuries A.D.). (See Witherington, THE JESUS QUEST, pp. 108-112 for a critique of Vermes.) He also claims that the Hasid used the term "Abba" as "father," like Jesus. Yet this claim has been effectively refuted. (Stein, THE METHOD AND MESSAGE OF JESUS' TEACHINGS, p. 168.)
Second, Vermes employs what appears to me at least an inconsistent methodology. He looks to Mark's gospel to find evidence for a more primitive Jesus tradition consistent with his Hasid theory. But he then ignores all sorts of Markan evidence that doesn't support it. Even in Mark's gospel we see Jesus forgiving sins, preaching the Kingdom, and predicting his death. His claim that Jesus forgiving sins was not remarkable is hard to accept in light of the reactions reported in the Gospels. All this puts Jesus in a different category than Honi and Hanina ben Dosa. In fact, this evidence is consistent with the widely held belief that Jesus acknowledged to his disciples that he was the Mesiah, but was reticent about disclosing it to the public given a likely misunderstanding.
I haven't read Vermes' other works (which are later & I gather take into account some of the criticisms I've mentioned) so I won't comment on his "project." At the same time, I found this work disappointing. E.P. Sanders' work JESUS AND JUDAISM strikes me as a more thorough investigation of Jesus and his religious milieu.
The Jewish Jesus behind the face of the Christian Christ! Jul 31, 2001
This book is absolutely essential--whether you are a historical Jesus scholar, a Christian, and especially if you are concerned with anything Jewish. This is the groundbreaking work which has paved the way for "Meeting Jesus again for the First Time" (Marcus Borg), "Rabbi Jesus" (Bruce Chilton), and Richard Horsley's "Bandits, Prophets and Messiahs". Geza Vermes was/is professor of Jewish studies at Oxford, and his excellent approach in this tome is to avoid both the pitfalls of narrow-minded orthodoxy and the sterile, mechanistic strains of German theological scholarship. Instead, Vermes lets Jesus' Jewishness speak for itself, and letting his Galilean nature breathe like a sea breeze blowing onto Capernaum. Vermes is curious, but never heavy-handed or brow-beating, either as a scholar or a theologian. He rightfully insists that his goal is not Christian or Jewish theology; he is an historian and reads Jesus as such. He delves into the rustic, Galilean strain of charismatic Chasidism for his Jesus, rather than the Hellenic waters of recent scholarship, and through his excellent studies one will be exclaiming "Rabbouni!" in awakened recognition of the Jew Jesus was and truly is. This has long since become a textbook classic of New Testament/Jewish studies, but it is absolutely essential reading for either the Jew seeking to know more about Christ, or for the Christian who might be seeking to know the Jew behind the gospels. Again, this is not theology. For those looking for synthesis of scholarship and theology, Marcus Borg is a better and more current place to start. But to understand Christianity, you must first understand Judaism; and to understand the relationship between the two, you must understand Jesus. This book is definitely a step in the right direction towards understanding the man from Nazareth, but the reader must make his own judgments about the Christ of faith, separate or in addition to this Jesus of history.