A Search for the Historical Jesus
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 An interesting but ultimately unsatisfying introduction to some disparate scholarly theories about the historical Jesus. Dimont (The Jews in America, 1978, etc.) argues that modern scholarship has augmented traditional Pauline interpretations of the life of Jesus with more esoteric theories. He delineates six of these theories that, together with the conventional Christian understanding, comprise the ``seven faces of Jesus.'' The faces include: ``Jesus the Zealot,'' who led an abortive patriotic Jewish rebellion against Roman rule; ``Jesus the Essene,'' who derived the Christian sacraments from Jewish monastic practice; a Jesus who, to enhance his own prestige, masterminded his own crucifixion and resurrection; and ``Jesus the Gnostic,'' who led a sex-oriented mystical cult (this variant, though receiving some support from ancient texts, Dimont dismisses abruptly as ``unhistorical''). Disappointingly, the author constantly alludes to the work of scholars without identifying them or describing their work in detail; he also arguably ducks an important responsibility by simply presenting these divergent hypotheses without making a historical case for any one theory. Nonetheless, Dimont raises many provocative questions about inconsistencies in the Gospel texts, disparities between references in the Gospels and historical practices of the Romans and ancient Jews, and new archaeological discoveries, and provides an excellent bibliography. A workmanlike though inconclusive and insufficiently rigorous introduction to a fascinating subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06291-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991