Item description for Mentor, Message, and Miracles (A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 2) by John Meier...
This book is the second volume in John Meier'smasterful trilogy on the life of Jesus. In it hecontinues his quest for the answer to the greatestpuzzle of modern religious scholarship: Who wasJesus? To answer this Meier imagines the followingscenario: "Suppose that a Catholic, aProtestant, a Jew, and an agnostic were locked up in thebowels of the Harvard Divinity School library... andnot allowed to emerge until they had hammered outa consensus document on who Jesus of Nazareth wasand what he intended...". A MarginalJew is what Meier thinks that documentwould reveal. Volume one concluded with Jesusapproaching adulthood. Now, in this volume, Meierfocuses on the Jesus of our memory and the developmentof his ministry. To begin, Meier identifiesJesus's mentor, the one person who had the greatestsingle influence on him, John the Baptist. All of theBaptist's fiery talk about the end of time had apowerful effect on the young Jesus and theformulation of his key symbol of the coming of the"kingdom of God." And, finally, we are given afull investigation of one of the most strikingmanifestations of Jesus's message: Jesus's practiceof exorcisms, hearings, and other miracles. In all,Meier brings to life the story of a man, Jesus,who by his life and teaching gradually made himselfmarginal even to the marginal society that wasfirst century Palestine.
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Studio: Anchor Bible
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.29" Width: 6.22" Height: 2.44" Weight: 3.4 lbs.
Release Date Nov 30, 1994
Publisher Anchor Bible
Series Anchor Bible Reference Library
ISBN 0385469926 ISBN13 9780385469920
Availability 0 units.
More About John Meier
John P. Meier is William K. Warren Chair Professor of Theology (New Testament), Theology Department, University of Notre Dame. He lives in South Bend, IN.
John P. Meier currently resides in the state of Indiana.
John P. Meier has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Mentor, Message, and Miracles (A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 2)?
A tremendously thorough review of historical information regarding Jesus Jun 30, 2006
This book is valuable for the mind-boggling wealth of historical information it covers in careful detail regarding the historical Jesus. Of course, it is only the first of a series, but anyone interested in what history has to offer on Jesus will benefit greatly from this book. The extensive endnotes for each page make reading tedious. I would have preferred footnotes, though some notes run over one page, so there is probably no real way to avoid this inconvenience. Even where a reader may not agree with Meier's assessment of the data, they are all presented with such detail, and the bibliography is so extensive, that the reader will know where to pursue other avenues easily. Works are cited in German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin, with indications of translated versions in English, where applicable. A great resource.
Marginal Jew II Mar 30, 2006
It is a very good book. The author has done a magnificent historical research. For us catholics and non catholics gives a new and more accurate picture of our Savior. A better one than the one I had. I recommend the first and second volume to all people no matter what religion they have.
Three Books In One Jan 23, 2005
Every once in a while, public attention turns to the person of Jesus of Nazareth. A few years ago, it was the "Jesus Seminar." Lately, Dan Brown's book THE DA VINCI CODE sparked some interest, particularly among the conspiracy minded. The impression that many people have is that the conventional story about Jesus is wrong, and the more established churches don't want you to know it.
What many people haven't been told is that there is a large body of work in recent years which is supportive of the historical accuracy of the Gospels. One such work is John Meier's series A MARGINAL JEW. Meier is a Catholic priest who teaches at Notre Dame. In 1991 he came out with the first volume. It might not be the first book you want to read on the subject, but it's a work that anyone interested in the historical Jesus should tackle. Volume two and three are out, and a fourth and final volume is promised.
There are a few things to keep in mind when reading this series. First, Meier is writing a book on the historical Jesus. There is minimal theological reflection. Second, it is not an old-fashioned "life of Jesus" which presents a chronological discussion of Jesus' life (Meier probably doesn't have enough confidence in the historicity of the Gospels to write such a work). He arranges his material topically.
Volume 2 is a 1118 page monster which discusses three subjects: (1) John the Baptist; (2) Jesus' teaching on the Kingdom of God; and (3) Jesus' miracles. This book is well organized and Meier has an introduction which tells you where he is going. For example, he tells you flat out that he disagrees with Crossan and Smith's claim that Jesus was a magician. There are tons of footnotes, which are unfortunately placed at the end of each chapter. The footnotes/endnotes are informative and contain lots of interesting barbs directed at other scholars.
Meier's discussion of miracles is illustrative of his approach. Meier concludes that there is no reason to doubt that Jesus was perceived to be a miracle worker. In addition, through an exhaustive look at other miracle workers and magicians in antiquity, he shows that Jesus was not a magician in any traditional sense. At the same time, when and if any particular miracle occurred as written is an open question. Thus, he thinks it unlikely that the miracle in Mk. 3:1-6 (the man with the withered hand) occurred at all. Yet the curing of Bartimeaus (Mk. 10:46-52) is probably historical at its "core." Even here, he thinks Mark "worked up" the oral tradition. If your view of biblical inspiration swings toward the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, you might be disappointed.
Ben Witherington provides a review of Meier's project up to the second volume in THE JESUS QUEST. Witherington reaches more conservative conclusions while using a similar methodology.
A New Elijah for the End of the World Aug 6, 2004
Of the three volumes of John Meier's study of the historical Jesus, this is probably the most difficult for the average reader. Much of it consists of complex discussions of the historicity of various bible passages, considered in extensive and exhaustive detail. It is not an easy read, but Meier's research is vital to understanding the real Jesus. As the subtitle indicates, Meier discusses John the Baptist, the basically eschatological message of the Kingdom of God, and the question of Miracles. On John the Baptist we read of how the embarassment of Jesus' baptism is effaced by the Gospel writers. We learn how Jesus accepted a baptism for the forgiveness of sins, which does not necessarily mean that he personally thought he was a sinner (many such confessions are of a communal nature). We learn about John's fundamental belief in the approaching end of the world. We learn how Mark muddled certain details of John the Baptist's execution, such as the identity of Herodias' first husband, and we find that many of the passages dealing with the Baptist likely go back to the historical Jesus. As for Jesus' message, Meier argues that Jesus did believe in a quickly approaching future kingdom. We can see this from his study of the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes, and such passages as Mark 6:10 and Matt 8:11-12. Meier also agrees that in some way Jesus viewed the Kingdom as already present, the first century Galilean mind not sharing the same interest in clarity and non-contradiction. Meier makes two vital points. First off, if John the Baptist believed in the near end of the world, and the early church believed in the near end, then it is likely that Jesus shared this incorrect belief. Second, if Jesus was an experienced teacher and if he "used the symbol of the Kingdom of God in a sense directly counter to the eschatological connotations with which it was often connected, he would have made his own usage clear--all the more so if he wanted to negate any or all eschatological expectations."
Meier then spends the second half of the book discussing Jesus' miracles. As a historian he claims that he cannot judge whether Jesus actually carried them out or not. This may seem like a cop-out, but it is not. Many past biographers of Jesus have wanted to split him from the miracles, but this assumes that Jesus was fundamentally rational and modern. Clearly this is not the case, and it also led to peculiar explanations of how people incorrectly thought a miracle took place. Instead, Meier notes we can examine which miracles go back to the historical Jesus and which do not. Certain kinds of miracles take place more than others, others show the redactional tendencies of the particular Evangelist. As such Meier concludes that Jesus was an exorcist, and was believed to carry out some remarkable healings. There are three accounts in the bible of Jesus raising someone from the dead. Here Meier believes there is a historical core to the events, though he is unsure whether they originally involved an actual resurrection. By contrast, nearly all of the nature miracles are creations of the Early Church. After one strips the allusions to the Eucharist and to Elijah in the Feeding of the 5,000 there may have been a remarkable, if not miraculous, meal in Jesus's life. But once one strips all the allusions and Johannine redaction in the turning of wine into water there is, as Meier clearly shows, nothing left. The walking on water, the stilling of the storm and the miraculous catch of fish are all reshifted resurrection appearances, while the cursing of the fig tree is clearly an exercise in Matthean theology.
What can we say about all this? First, this is a remarkably researched book. There are at least 380 pages of notes in this 1,049 page book. There are exhaustive discussions of linguistic questions, stylistic questions, and redactional ones. Meier is excellent on providing the wider historical context, such as the origins of the Kingdom of God, the Old Testament backgrounds to the walking on the water, and the Hebrew practice of exorcism. Meier is also acute on distinguishing between Jesus' miracles, (which emphasizes Jesus and God's free gift, are symbols of the coming end time, and [with one exception] do not hurt anyone) with contemporary magicians (who coerced deities for often petty purposes, provides no church and engaged in esoteric secrets and mysterious, often nonsensical spells). Many of his discussions, such as the raising of Lazarus, or the Miracle of Cana, are tour de forces. Naturally they are caveats with this book, as there must be in one so learned and complex. It may be true that the miracles of the Greek Apollonious and the Jewish Honi the Circle Drawer are not really contemporary with Jesus. But it is reasonable to assume that there were Greek and Jewish miraculous contemporaries, and had not Christians destroyed exactly this sort of literature once mastering the empire we would find more of them. Meier tends to concentrate on differences of technique in Jesus' healing and exorcisms, while forgetting that while we can trace the fact of exorcism and healing back to Jesus, we are less certain about his techniques. Nevertheless this is an important major work, especially so since it remembers that Jesus was a very different person from the man 21st century Christians of all denominations would like him to be.
A must own Mar 29, 2002
This book studies John the Baptist, Jesus' message, and Jesus' miracles. Meier goes through every passage and extracts history from them. He manages to go through every miracle story and determine whether the passage is historcal or not. You just can't find such an in-depth study in too many places. For this reason I think anyone interested in the historical Jesus should own this book (and probably the rest of the series).