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Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet Paperback – May 14, 1991


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Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet + The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for Meaning + The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress Publishers (May 14, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800631447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800631444
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"At last a book on Jesus that lets him be a Jew of antiquity, however politically incorrect he may seem to modern eyes. Allison's book is like a breath of fresh air in the current Jesus debate. The updated defense of Schweitzer's apocalyptic prophet is entirely convincing." ---John J. Collins University of Chicago

"Finally, a book that trumpets the return of the apocalyptic Jesus! Allison mounts a powerful counterattack against those who have spurned the view . . . that Jesus expected an imminent transformation in history as we know it. . . . Allison has produced a persuasive argument that will not be easily overturned and must not be ignored." ---Bart D. Ehrman University of North Carolina

"This wonderfully incisive contribution to the current Jesus debate carries its scholarship gracefully and lightly. Much more than just a put-down of portrayals of Jesus as a sapiential teacher, it is a full-scale presentation of Jesus as a millenarian prophet with an ascetic cast. . . . Original, vastly readable, and powerfully persuasive, it is not to be missed." ---John K. Riches University of Glasgow, Scotland

About the Author

Dale C. Allison Jr. is Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

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Customer Reviews

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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By peculiar on December 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have read a lot of books on the historical Jesus in my situation as a postgraduate student specialising in this area - and Dale Allison's "Jesus of Nazareth" is easily in the top 5 I have ever read. It holds to that research programme which regards Jesus as an eschatological figure based on the belief that since his mentor, John the Baptist, was, and since his followers, the first Christians, were, then he must also have been. It follows this belief through with a pulsating argument based on religious parallels and methodological sifting of the Gospel texts.
Interesting then that this book begins by totally destroying the argument of John Dominic Crossan and the Jesus Seminar who find a diametrically opposed and non-eschatological Jesus. But then we see that Allison is attempting to show that reasoned and reasonable treatment of these resources leads to the conclusion that an eschatological explanation for Jesus (or apocalyptic as Crossan would want to say) is the only one which makes sense of the majority of the Jesus tradition. Indeed, this is a criterion for Allison: if the tradition is basically misleading, then what historical use can it really be? Thus follows a masterful sifting of the eschatological traditions about Jesus in comparison with other religious parallels which leads Allison to argue even that Jesus was an ascetic expecting the end - his persuasive argument leads the reader to seriously consider the proposition.
In summary, this book is brilliant, easy to read and very, very persuasive. Its conclusions make sense of the majority of the Jesus traditions and are based on strong methodological foundations. Allison is realistic about what can and cannot be claimed for Jesus and I believe that this book sets this out in clear and ringing tones. A "must read" for those interested in the historical Jesus.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Loren Rosson III on October 30, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I often tell people that if there is one book to read about Jesus, this is it. Dale Allison develops Schweitzer's apocalyptic prophet in view of millenarian movements, outlining 19 characteristics shared by apocalyptic groups and cargo cults -- all of which happen to fit the Jesus movement like a glove. He gets Crossan out of the way in chapter one (not a difficult task), and then explains the advantages of Sanders over Borg. Mistaken prophecies like the temple's destruction and replacement ("in three days"), and Judas Iscariot's reign over one of the twelve tribes of Israel, point to authenticity. Against Caird and Wright, the author shows that Jesus' apocalyptic language, about which he was wrong, was intended literally. He locates Jesus as an ascetic (a celibate), a notion many people find as unattractive as eschatology. Allison concludes: "Jesus was the millenarian prophet of judgment, the embodiment of the divine discontent that rolls through all things; the prophet of consolation and hope who proclaimed the last would be first, making the best of a bad situation. But his generation passed away, and they all tasted death. Like all apocalyptic prophets, he was wrong; reality took no notice of his imagination." This is Schweitzer's legacy, and those who fight it are swimming against the tide.

The author doesn't mean to imply that Jesus was wrong about everything. There's wheat and chaff in anyone's religion. Jesus empowered people socially while misleading them eschatologically. He was wrong about the apocalypse, but perhaps for the right reasons, wanting God to defeat evil, redeem the world, and hold humanity responsible. This is one of the few studies that allows Jesus his human inconsistencies and failings, and for that reason alone convinces.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on April 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dale Allison has written a fine book here. In the tradition of Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer, he has joined E.P. Sanders on the barricades to defend a view of Jesus as an eschatological/apocalyptic prophet.

The entire volume is very well written and argued; in particular I heartily applaud both its destructive criticism of John Dominic Crossan and its refutation of Marcus Borg as against Sanders. (Both Crossan and Borg think Jesus was altogether noneschatological.)

If I had to pick on one flaw, I would single out the following: I do not see that Allison makes clear the crucial difference between (a) announcing prophetically that the Messianic Age _is_ at hand and (b) announcing non-prophetically one's own _expectation_ to that effect. In particular I do not see that Allison has dealt with the gospels' own reports (in e.g. Mark 13) that Jesus himself did not claim to _know_ the "day or the hour." Yet even on the most skeptical view of the gospels, passages that attribute ignorance to Jesus can surely not be dismissed as late additions. The issue is probably less important to me than it will be to Christians, but since the Messianic Age did _not_ dawn at that time, we should probably be a bit careful about making Jesus a false prophet!

If I had to find a _second_ nit to pick, I'd probaby settle on Allison's emphasis on Jesus's asceticism. His remarks here are a fine corrective to a tendency in the opposite direction, but on the whole I think Allison goes a bit too far.

Nicely done, though, and a valuable attempt to recover the eschatological dimension of Jesus's life and teaching. If Allison is essentially right -- and I think he is -- then, contra the assertions of some other scholars, most of the material in the Christian gospels is historical.
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