JESUS

A LIFE

The prolific novelist (Daughters of Albion, 1991, etc.) and biographer (C.S. Lewis, 1990, etc.) turns his attention to the historical Jesus, a biographical subject out of fashion among contemporary theologians. The result is a surprisingly dispassionate, respectfully skeptical study that makes the best biblical scholarship accessible to general readers. At once cautious and speculative, Wilson's book is not a biography in any modern sense of the term, since there is little we know about Jesus outside of the Gospels. And the Gospels are, of course, narratives ``of a high imaginative order'' that have to be read critically with their historical intentions in mind. Following recent Christologists, Wilson restores the figure of Jesus to his Jewish roots, and views him as a Galilean hasid, or holy man, who preached his message of love and forgiveness to his fellow Jews. After his death, three fairly distinct strands of Christianity developed: the Temple-based, Jewish followers of Jesus in Jerusalem; the anti-institutional, anti-ritualistic celebration of faith embodied in the Gospel of John; and the Christian religion as conceived by Paul and developed both in his many epistles and in the Synoptic Gospels, which were written, most likely, under his influence. This last strain, addressed to Gentiles more than Jews, came to dominate Western ways of worshipping Jesus for centuries. Synthesizing textual and archaeological evidence with plain common sense, Wilson rejects any effort to systematize Jesus, offering an abundance of contradictions and inconsistencies. But this doesn't stop him from admiring the radicalism of what he sees as Jesus' fundamental massage—that God loves and forgives sinners—a dangerous notion for a historical people dedicated to formal worship and good works. Finally, though, in Wilson's view, it's Jesus' very inexactness that explains his abiding transcendent appeal. A formidable challenge to believers in Jesus' divinity, Wilson's eminently readable book also serves as an excellent introduction to the New Testament.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1992

ISBN: 0-393-03087-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more