"A MARGINAL JEW: Vol. II: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: Mentor, Message, and Miracles" by John P. Meier
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"A MARGINAL JEW: Vol. II: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: Mentor, Message, and Miracles"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This second volume of Meier's magisterial attempt to create a ""consensus document"" about the historical Jesus on which scholars of all faiths could agree makes some tantalizing assertions about Jesus' public ministry. Meier (New Testament Studies/Catholic Univ.) divides this successor to Volume One (subtitled The Roots of the Problem and the Person, 1991) into three parts: an examination of the pervasive effect on Jesus of the life and career of John the Baptist, whom Meier calls Jesus' ""mentor""; an analysis of the centrality to Jesus' message of the concept of the ""kingdom of God""; and an extended discussion of the historicity of Gospel accounts of Jesus' miracles, healings, and exorcisms. Meier uses John the Baptist's career as his starting point, asserting that Jesus not only accepted baptism from the charismatic preacher at the outset of his public ministry, but he also adopted John's themes of the imminent judgment of sinners and the need for reform and repentance as integral parts of his own message. Unlike John, however, Jesus emphasized the coming of the kingdom of God, which he represented as both an approaching eschatological event and, in a mystical way, as being present in the actions, beliefs, and fellowship of the community of believers: ""The kingdom of God is in your midst"" (Luke 17:21). Meier argues that Jesus' preaching of the heavenly kingdom was most manifest in his miraculous works, which Meier inventories in painstaking detail, dividing them into exorcisms, healings, raising of the dead, and ""nature"" miracles, such as walking on water and cursing the fruitless fig tree and causing it to wither. The author concludes that the power of Jesus' message arose from his actual historical fame as a miracle worker as well as from his moral teachings. Scholarly, carefully reasoned, and lucidly written, Meier's portrait of Jesus as a fiery, wonder-working prophet rather than the gentle teacher of Christian tradition may continue the controversy (with believers and nonbelievers alike) initiated in Volume One.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1994
Page count: 1055pp
Publisher: Doubleday