The title notwithstanding, this is not a biography of Jesus (""impossible""), but a discourse that is also a synthesis of modern scholarship. (The author was formerly at General Theological Seminary, New York, is now at Cambridge.) Jesus is seen as related to the Jewish milieu and to the stream of Jewish tradition; his personal role is seen as derived from gospel criticism, and the methods and findings of the various branches are clearly set forth. Thus, ""the story of Jesus in the historical sense must begin with his baptism... and not with the tales about his birth and childhood"": similarly, ""there is no way to trace the precise sequence of events... after the baptism, the call of the first disciples, and the beginning of the preaching mission with its healings"" until his entrance into Jerusalem. In regard to ""the things Jesus said,"" Dr. Pitlenger emphasizes that Jesus was neither a moralist nor a philosopher but a teacher, and he explains the teachings in context. Having established the gospels as dependent on oral tradition, he surveys the feelings of Jesus' contemporaries and their evolution, including the necessity to account for his mystery. A final chapter interprets his ongoing influence as exemplar and teacher. The Chute Jesus of Israel, also for older children, is a more traditional narrative which assumes that the gospels were based on eyewitness accounts. Hardly for casual reading, this is nevertheless lucid expertise for the believer and non-believer alike.