- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Macmillan Pub Co; 1st Collier Books ed edition (November 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0020852517
- ISBN-13: 978-0020852513
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels Paperback – November, 1992
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Top Customer Reviews
Grant analyzes aspects of contemporary Galilean, Judean, Aramean and Roman culture in the gospels and other literature, to draw a powerful detailed -- yet easly readable -- character profile of Jesus and his teachings. He probes the gospels, supplemented by contemporarty sources, to draw out a detailed view of the psychology and self-concept of Jesus.
This skilled critical writer establishes strongly the authenticity of some events and teachings commonly dismissed in some circles of thought. Highlighting some ignored aspects of the gospels, Grant's comparative approach to the 4 gospels easily portrays the overarching goal and purpopse of all Jesus' actions and teachings -- the urgency of ushering in the Kingdom of God. This guiding focus explains many aspects otherwise considered anomalies in the gospel accounts.
Grant compares Jesus to the themes, goals and character of the Qumran teachers, Galilean sages and Old Testament prophets. He provides an extensive analysis of Jesus' relationship to John the Baptist. He establishes the unique aspects of Jesus' teachings, as well as the similarities with the developing rabbinic forms of the time. Notable differences are Jesus' unique self-confidence, assurance of his unique relationship to God and his novel personal authority.
Grant pointed out aspects of the political and geographical setting, as well as cultural dynamics I have never seen dealt with in other texts.Read more ›
Grant's views help explain Jesus's indifference toward worldly things. Why worry about possessions, religious laws, and rendering taxes unto Caesar when the end is near? This leads the author also to maintain that Jesus's Ministry was based on a mistake -- the end didn't come, and hasn't yet come -- and that he was "a total failure turned into enormous triumph" after his death. As a person, Jesus comes across as somewhat abrupt and intolerant, especially with his intellectually-challenged disciples.
These are pretty strong and controversial views but Grant maintains his historical detachment throughout. One can never be sure whether he is a believer or not. I thought the book would have been better had it included more background on the four gospels -- Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John -- which are almost the only sources Grant used to interpret the life of Jesus (he finally gets around to doing so briefly near the end of the book.) He perhaps presumes more familiarity with the Bible than some of us, including this reader, may have. But all in all this is a most interesting book and the interpretation of Jesus is very convincing.
The greatest strength of Grant's book is its status as a serious and lengthy biography of Jesus written from the standpoint of an historian. Almost every other available biography of Jesus is written by a Christian theologian of some sort or another. Even liberal, skeptical, naturalistically-minded theologians or other Christian scholars harbor deep emotional bonds to Jesus, such that they occasionally describe him as "the Lord," or allow him at least an occasional miracle, or idealize him to perfection or near-perfection. Grant steers clear of this. Moreover, unlike many liberal Jesus scholars in more recent decades, Grant does not dubiously resort to the newly discovered Gospel of Thomas, or to other Gnostic gospels, as sources for his portrait of Jesus. Nor does Grant, when examining the resurrection story, deny the probability of an empty tomb, as most liberal Jesus scholars today do. Instead, he accepts the strong tradition that the tomb of Jesus was found empty on the third day. But he concludes very reasonably that someone or other "had taken the body" (p. 176).
One of the best parts of Grant's book, in my view, is a chapter titled "What Were the Miracles?" Other readers, I notice, have also found that chapter especially compelling. In it, Grant systematically analyzes the miracle stories of the gospels.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Grant's review of the Gospel accounts is a must read for anyone looking for skeptical of non-theological reconstructions of the historical figure of Jesus. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Brent P
An excellent historical look at Jesus Christ and the Gospels.Published 13 months ago by William F. Corcoran
Grant provides very compelling arguments for the historical (but not supernatural) Jesus. His arguments are an expanded form of the Criteria of Embarrassment, with the Gospellers... Read morePublished on December 27, 2013 by Stephen B. Gray
To be completely honest, I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. I came in with no preconceptions whatsoever. Read morePublished on April 7, 2011 by David Withun
Michael Grant (1914-2004) was an English historian and classicist, who was the author of numerous famous works (e.g., The Twelve Caesars, History of Rome, The Roman Emperors). Read morePublished on June 9, 2010 by Steven H Propp
Michael Grant's work is still the best short book on Jesus the man. The basic story is quite simple. Read morePublished on September 14, 2009 by Amazon Customer
Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Author, Michael Grant. 264 pages. 1977.
I picked this book up for free at a local library give away last year. Read more
Lest there be any confusion about this book, I just want to make two initial points:
FIRST, Grant does NOT argue that all of the miracles were merely symbolic. Read more
Excellent book. Michael Grant writes in a clear and concise way about how much we know about Jesus and how we can decide what parts of the Gospels are historical and what parts are... Read morePublished on June 29, 2005 by Amazon Customer