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The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview Of The Quest For The Historical Jesus [Paperback]

By Raymond Martin (Author)
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Item description for The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview Of The Quest For The Historical Jesus by Raymond Martin...

What might the findings of researchers engaged in the quest for the historical Jesus mean to Christians? In posing this question and others, "The Elusive Messiah" opens a window for looking anew at the age old problem of faith vs. reason.To fully understand the implications of the historical search, Raymond Martin suggests we must first examine the inquiries of the individual scholars. In the book's first section, he provides an insightful overview into the major players who have written on the subject, among them E. P. Sanders, John Meier, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, J. D. Crossan, and Luke Timothy Johnson.In his second section, Martin discusses various Christian responses to the challenges presented by the historians' work. Martin goes on to argue philosophically that faith and reason are able to coexist alongside each other, and then suggests how this may be the key to Christianity's future.Through readily understandable language and examples, Martin poses basic questions, looks for the answers, and explains how these answers correspond to the overall problem. His accessible writing synthesizes complex academic arguments in ways that bring them down to earth, enabling Christians and other readers to understand what is being claimed and to test these claims for meaningfulness.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westview Press
Pages   236
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.94" Width: 5.91" Height: 0.57"
Weight:   0.74 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 2, 2003
Publisher   Westview Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0813391482  
ISBN13  9780813391489  

Availability  65 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 11:38.
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More About Raymond Martin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Raymond Martin is professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland. Among his many publishing credits are "Self-Concern, The Past Within Us, " and "Self and Identity." He has won numerous teaching and scholarly awards.

Raymond Martin currently resides in the state of Maryland. Raymond Martin was born in 1941.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > Substores > jp-unknown1
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Jesus > Historical Jesus
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview Of The Quest For The Historical Jesus?

A Brillant Professer And Writter  Nov 27, 2002
I was recently enrolled in one of Prof Martin's classes at Union College in Schenectady, NY. The class was actually taught around the basis of his book, but we read other popular and equally important authors such as J.Crossan and Wright. Prof Martin is so gifted in his field and by reading this book you will be able fairly judge all interpertations and opinions of experts on the historical Jesus.
Excellent Introduction  Jun 27, 2000
A great starting point for anyone interested in the current push to find the "historical Jesus." Read this before you read any of the other many books on "uncovering" Jesus -- for example, the many books looking at the so-called "Fifth Gospel," from Thomas -- and you'll have context for understanding their approaches and biases.
An Opportunity Largely Lost  Jun 23, 2000
I came to this book with a fair degree of anticipation; and I think, having read it, that I have been let down; whether that is by what Raymond Martin offers here or by my expecting too much, I am not quite sure yet.

This book proclaims on the cover to be a "philosophical overview of the Quest for the Historical Jesus" - I would hardly call it that. It is more like the product of a scholar who has just woken up and realised that the Enlightenment has taken place and now wants to address the question of how faith and (historical) reality should relate (or not) and what, in historical studies, the practical outworkings of this should be. Thus, he takes as his targets the history/theology opposition (at least it seems an opposition for the purposes of this book), how those of religious faith might fit their beliefs into secular historicalising and what might count as authentic history at all. These are worthy subjects and the Quest for the Historical Jesus is as good a place as any to discuss such issues - but does this then make said book a "philosophical overview of the Quest for the Historical Jesus"? I definitively think not. There is here no discussing of such topics as what historical reality might be in the first place, no discussing the interaction of reader and text, no discussing the metaphysics involved in studying a being many regard as "divine" or "supernatural" - and there is no discussion of myriad epistemological questions about historical knowledge as applied to the Quest. I would have expected a "philosophical overview" to have been so much broader than what is served up by Martin here.

All that said, what is Martin's approach? He begins by very broadly detailing what has led up to the present (third) Quest of the Historical Jesus in scientific and historical areas as they relate to the Quests. (This opening part of the book contains a narrative detailing the history of the Quest so far as well as an explanation of the most common results for the inter-relatedness of the canonical Gospels.) He then chooses some modern Questers to use as examples of the relative theological/historical positions he wishes to set out with the aim of critiquing them to make his points. These points largely revolve around the problem of fitting the miraculous or the divine, or, at least, belief in them, into histories which seem, methodologically, to have strayed down a secular line of thinking. One slight quirk here is his choice of Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, a feminist scholar who, while she has certainly written on Jesus, does not, as I understand it, see herself as part of the Quest for the Historical Jesus. This choice is compounded when Martin doesn't seem to pick up on Schussler Fiorenza later in his text as he does with others. These others include more well-known Quest names such as John Meier, John Dominic Crossan, E.P. Sanders, Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright. The result of all this concentration on the results and methods of various Quest scholars is a three-fold (actually four-fold) response Martin sees to studying the Historical Jesus (as an example of where faith and history meet): "only faith", "faith seeking understanding" and "only reason" (the fourth is "multiperspectivalism", viewing as many sides as you can and not making a definitive choice). In setting out his book thusly, Martin seemingly wishes to promote methodological history which fully accounts for how it might fit in extrahistorical factors in a coherent and sensible way. This aim seems fine to me as far as it goes (but how far is that?).

So we come to a summary of likes and dislikes. I liked the idea the book conjured up from its title, I disliked what I got in comparison with this; I liked the concentration on major figures from the modern Quest; I disliked the narrow concentration on only a tiny proportion of the issues these scholars raise in their own studies; I liked.......well actually I didn't like very much now I think about it. The book is just too narrow in its choice of literary and philosophical targets. Being written by an outsider to the Quest itself, the book further gives much introductory information that anyone who knows something of it will find unnecessary and they will, no doubt, desperately be hunting for the meat that is to come; I'm not sure they will ever find it. In closing, I would have to say that this book sets out with a great idea but that that idea, at least as regards those with knowledge of the Quests for the historical Jesus or, indeed, of philosophy, is still very much waiting to happen.


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