Item description for Jesus As a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell...
Overview Essential reading for anyone interested in the historical Jesus debate, this volume offers a comprehensive and balanced account of research into the person of Jesus.
Here is the first comprehensive, balanced account of historical Jesus studies. Beginning with brief discussions of the early days of historical research into the person of Jesus and the methods developed by researchers at the time, Mark Allen Powell offers insightful overviews of some of the most important participants in the contemporary Jesus quests.
From Publishers Weekly Anyone intrigued by the history, methodology and results of the research done
in the quest for the historical Jesus should read Powell's study. In his
opening chapter, Powell notes that interest in the historical Jesus began in
the 1700s due to Reimarus's volume that declared Jesus to be a messiah only in
a worldly, political sense. He then explains how later scholars have influenced
the search for the historical Jesus. The heart of the book lies in Powell's
"snapshots" of Jesus, a sampling of the diverse portraits of the historical
Jesus and of the scholars who are engaged in contemporary research, including:
Jesus as social prophet (Richard A. Horsley); Jesus as charismatic Jew (Geza
Vermes); Jesus as magician (Morton Smith); Jesus as Jewish sage (Ben
Witherington III); and Jesus as cynic philosopher (F. Gerald Downing). He then
presents what he regards as the six key players in the current quest for the
historical Jesus--the participants in the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan,
Marcus J. Borg, E.P. Sanders, John P. Meier and N.T. Wright--and offers
critiques of their methods and findings. Powell concludes that the goal of our
search for the historical Jesus should be "the Jesus of a story, a story of
which history is but a part, sometimes a shadow." (Dec.)
Citations And Professional Reviews Jesus As a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 11/16/1998 page 69
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Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.08" Width: 6.12" Height: 0.69" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 1998
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN 0664257038 ISBN13 9780664257033
Availability 0 units.
More About Mark Allan Powell
Mark Allan Powell has published articles on contemporary Christian music in "Christian Century, Christianity Today, " and "Trinity Seminary Review." He is frequently interviewed in print and over the airwaves concerning the proliferation of rock, rap, and other popular genres of Christian music. He is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and is the author of seventeen books, including the best-sellers "Jesus as a Figure in History" and "Narrative Criticism: A New Approach to the Bible."
Mark Allan Powell was born in 1953.
Mark Allan Powell has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus As a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee?
I was tricked Nov 23, 2006
This is not historical and factual - the book was theologic lies and bull. Circular Logic. YUCK. Unless you are Christian and want to read happy lies to help you sleep at night do not buy this book
who do historians say that I am? Oct 20, 2006
Who was Jesus of Nazareth? Today, few scholars doubt that Jesus actually existed, that he was a real historical figure. But exactly who or what was he? A raving madman? A prophet? A self-proclaimed Messiah? Or...?
This book, written by Mark Allan Powell (who is incidentally a Lutheran) doesnt give an answer to the question "who was Jesus". Rather, it describes the views of various scholars on the matter. Inevitably, there are many different views on Jesus within the scholarly community.
Powell begins by giving a short historical background. He describes how scholars during the 18th and 19th centuries attempted to cast Jesus in a "naturalist" mold. His miracles were really natural occurances, misunderstood by the superstitious disciples. The "kingdom of God" preached by Jesus was an earthly, political entity, not something supernatural and divine. And so on. The eschatological, apocalyptic and messianic elements of the Gospels were rejected as later ideas, and Jesus was transformed into a figure acceptable to 19th century agnostics or atheists. During the first half of the 20th century, Albert Schweitzer decisively challenged these ideas, "re-discovering" the eschatological ideas of Jesus, placing him once again in a firm 1st century Palestinian context. However, Schweitzer also believed that Jesus had failed in his mission, and that 20th century Christians must adopt an ultra-liberal, Social Gospel stance.
The main bulk of the book is devoted to contemporary scholars and their views of the historical Jesus. Powell does a good job in describing the various positions, the criticism levelled against them, and the often tricky methodological issues involved. For instance, how do we know what parts of the Gospels give the most trustworthy historical information about Jesus? How should apocryphal texts like "the Gospel of Thomas" be evaluated? What about the Talmud? Etc.
A particularly tricky criterion is the one called Dissimilarity. If a statement purported to be by Jesus is very different from 1st century Jewish conceptions, while also being potentially embarrasing to the early Church, it is usually deemed authentic. However, the Dissimilarity criterion gets problematic if taken to far. If the historical Jesus was neither "Jewish" nor "Christian", its difficult to explain why he recruited Jewish disciples who eventually founded the Christian Church! Dissimilarity risk turning Jesus into an unexplicable anomaly. In reality, there must have been at least some continuity between John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul. Why else would Jesus become a follower of John? And why else would Paul claim to act in Jesus name? Powell also points out another very common problem: those who attempt to reconstruct the "real" ideas of Jesus often end up with a Jesus whose ideas are similiar to their own! Leftist radicals end up with a leftist radical Jesus, Catholics with a Catholic Jesus, vegeterians with a vegetarian Jesus... Indeed, one of the things that made Schweitzer so remarkable was precisely that he came up with a Jesus he couldnt agree with.
The scholarly opinions described by Powell include those of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus J. Borg, E.P. Sanders, John P. Meier and N.T. Wright. The Jesus Seminar and Crossan represent the "liberal" part of the spectrum, with Crossan speculating that Jesus was a kind of Cynic, antinomian philosopher, more Hellenistic than Jewish, indeed, something of a 1st century hippie. By contrast, N.T. Wright has adopted an almost Biblical position, claiming that Jesus might very well have believed himself to be the God of Israel in the flesh. Of course, its difficult to escape the suspiscion that Crossan is a hippie of sorts himself, while Wright might be some kind of evangelical!
As already noted, the author of "Jesus as a figure in history" never answers that Question of Questions Jesus put to his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?". But at least, he has made it possible for the rest of us to contemplate the scholarly responses.
Understanding Jesus Jan 29, 2006
Powell's book might not be for everyone. If you are a hardend Christian then you may want to gloss over this book because you may become so irate that you will go medieval witch hunting for all atheists.
With that being said, Powell presents this book as a way for the reader to see the best and brightest in the field of historical studies on Jesus. From the Jesus Seminar, E.P Sanders, N.T. Wright, and more, the reader will find theirselve emersed in a book that doesn't stop delivering. Was Jesus Hellenistic or was his movement a social or political one? The numerous historians in this book will offer their expert opinions on these questions.
Another note about the book, you will notice that each chapter begins with quotes, these quotes will lead you into each chapter and should help you understand what the chapter is about. Powell provides a background for each historian so that the reader will know what and why the historian is saying what he is saying, coupled with an excellent bibliography and note source for further reference. In addition, the reader will find a critique after each historian has been presented. These critiques are from the other leading scholars on the historical Jesus.
FYI, this is not a book of theology, so do not make it one. The reader needs to keep in mind that this is a book on the historical Jesus not the Church Jesus, although, many of the concepts of the Church Jesus are mentioned, such as the pre-Easter vs. the post-Easter Jesus. Also, many things will be mentioned that run contrary to the official doctrine of the Church, such as Jesus having political motives and the apocolypse that Jesus was teaching about was really just the return of the Jewish people from what "HE" saw as a still existing exile.
With all that being said, this book possesses great scholary work, but in a condensed version of the originals.
Clear, scholarly, meaningful, and even devotional! Jul 15, 2002
I couldn't get enough of this book. Powell is a wonderful writer, and he introduces us to the perspectives of Historical Jesus scholars of the last two centuries with absolute clarity and just the right details. I just had a lot of fun reading on the different scholarly views on who that ancient man of sorrows was. Powell seemingly has no axe to grind, seems completely competent to plough the terrain, and makes the whole trip worth it with the last two pages of the book....After this huge deluge of information about what Jesus did or did not say; after all of the guessing concerning Jesus message; after probing why Jesus has remained so controversial after 2000 years, Powell offers a tantalizing scenario concerning the very first Christian words ever penned on the last two pages (his only personal reflections in the book). I had to wipe the tears from my eyes after that.
This book is a 5 all the way. You won't be disappointed regardless of your view of who Jesus was (or is).
a clear explanation of a difficult and complex subject Mar 14, 2002
Dr. Powell is head of the Historical Jesus section of the SBL. He not only is a New Testament scholar in his own right, he is also a respected colleague and friend of the Jesus Scholars he discusses. He not only has read their works, but he understands their positions from the inside.
In my experience, the study of the Historical Jesus is sometimes characterized by rhetoric, special pleading, and an unfruitful "us" vs. "them" attitude. While Powell is forthright about his own views when this is appropriate, he comes across as surprisingly objective as he discusses the pros and cons of each position. This is aided by the fact that the Jesus scholars often disagree with each other - so he can just say "Wright would take issue with that", or "Crossan responds to this view in this way."
Powell's writing style is refreshingly informal at times, and he obviously strives for clarity over the "scholar-speak" so often encountered. At the same time, he is obviously familiar with the technical concepts and not only throws the jargon around but often explains it.
The book shows unusual restraint - Powell gives the reader room to formulate his/her own conclusions, while providing insight into both the issues and the scholars themselves.
I understand that this book is used in college courses as an introduction to the subject, and I can see why.
_Jesus As a Figure in History_ is a rare contribution: a clear explanation of a difficult and complex subject. I give it a 5.