An approachable distillation of modern views about Jesus.
Skeptical about his parents’ Protestant religion from a young age, Miles looks back upon a lifetime of learning and attempts to record his own understanding of who Jesus was and how he came to be the figure most Christians today understand him to be. Though apparently a believer in a higher power, Miles denies the divinity of Jesus and therefore sees the New Testament as a mix of history and myth. He takes an orderly approach to his work, with each chapter focusing on one particular aspect of his views, including the historical concept of Jesus. Miles moves on to discuss the dramatic influence of Paul and how Jesus was perceived by the Gospel writers, thus shaping his identity for generations to come. An exploration of Greek philosophy’s influence upon Christianity follows, as well as a look at literalism and other aspects of Christian thought. Throughout, Miles writes in a casual style, invoking James Bond and Jesus Christ Superstar, comparing the Council of Nicea to a session of Congress, and even at one point asking rhetorically, “Was God getting Alzheimer’s?” Despite his propensity toward what many might see as irreverence, Miles tackles a serious question in this book, namely, whether the historical identity of Jesus was “hijacked,” as he puts it, by the religion of Christianity. Miles asserts, “By the early second century, Jesus was no longer a Jew. He had been kidnapped by the Greeks, who made him a second Christian God.” Sure to be controversial among Christians, this treatise welcomes the dispute and stands its ground.
Covers territory other scholars have trod, but nevertheless, a personal, easy-to-read discussion of Jesus’ humanity.