THE HISTORICAL FIGURE OF JESUS

A valuable contribution to the evaluation of our knowledge about Jesus by a noted bible scholar. Sanders (Religion/Duke Univ.) returns to the territory of his well-received Jesus and Judaism (not reviewed) to provide an overview of the history of study of the historical Jesus (as opposed to the Christ of faith). He doesn't advance any startling new claims about Jesus; nor does he assume the biographical stance that A.N. Wilson adopted in his Jesus: A Life (1992); but he does offer his own clear summary of what can be accurately said of Jesus of Nazareth. The so-called quest or search for the historical Jesus began in the late 18th century, in the wake of the Enlightenment, and later engaged Albert Schweitzer, among others. At first, scholars thought the real person was easily discoverable behind the mythic accounts of the Gospels. In the 20th century, it became fashionable, Sanders points out, to say that next to nothing could be known about the man. Sanders himself hews to a middle ground: While admitting the difficulties involved in uncovering the historical reality, he nevertheless claims that one can, with reasonable certainty, say quite a lot that is true about Jesus. Sanders presents an outline of Jesus' life and a discussion of his basic beliefs and teachings. He also traces what he discerns as the course of Jesus' ministry and the events leading up to his execution. He places Jesus in both the political setting of the backwater province of the Roman Empire (Judea was then ruled by a fairly independent Herod) and the Judaism of his time. His discussion of the miracles attributed to the man is set against a backdrop of acceptance of magic and miracles generally in the ancient world. Highly readable, this book will be of interest to scholars and accessible to general readers as well. (History Book Club main selection; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selections)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-713-99059-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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