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The Changing Faces of Jesus (Compass) Paperback – February 26, 2002
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As a historian I consider Jesus, the primitive church and the New Testament as part and parcel of first-century Judaism and seek to read them as such rather than through the eyes of a theologian who may often be conditioned, and subconsciously influenced, by two millennia of Christian belief and church directives.This tone will help readers--even those predisposed to disagree with Vermes--to understand his argument that religious belief has skewed understanding of the central figure of the Christian religion. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the present work he continues his project of reclaiming Jesus as a (solely) human being and a Jew of his own time. Here he tackles a topic he has not treated in his previous three volumes: the Christian New Testament's presentation of Jesus outside of the three synoptic gospels. He also gives the synoptics themselves another look after he has dealt with John and Paul.
His theme here is that Christian understanding(s) of Jesus have been colored heavily by the New Testament's portraits. Vermes wants to recover, as far as possible, the human being behind the theology. The portrait Vermes presents here will hold no surprises for readers of his other works: he regards Jesus as a charismatic Galilean holy man with an emphasis on God as father, a somewhat "individualistic" approach that decentralized the importance (though not the necessity) of the social/communal aspects of Torah observance, and the occasional touch of chauvinism.
There is much to accept in Vermes's portrait, and I am in essential agreement with most of it. My worries are about what he omits; as with his earlier work, I am simply unconvinced by his claim that Jesus was crucified simply for doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I also do not see that he has adequately dealt with the possible historicity of Jesus's resurrection. (I would supplement Vermes's account on these points by, respectively, Hyam Maccoby's _Revolution in Judea_ and Rabbi Pinchas Lapide's _The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish View_.Read more ›
To begin with, Vermes demonstrates to the reader that the Gospel of John is significantly different to the rest of the Gospels as it elevates the figure of Jesus to a divine status that would have been quite foreign to the Jewish way of thinking (even to Jesus!). He shows how influences from Paul and the early gentile church contributed in formulating this divergent account. He illustrates that from a theological point of view, John has been tailored to omit/modify many passages (that were present in the Synoptics) that may have detracted from the portrayal of a divine Jesus. Furthermore John's portrayal of Jesus is that of a self-centred, assertive and transcendent figure which is not present in the Synoptics. In John, Jesus is shown as answering the question "Are you the Messiah?" with a firm positive answer that is unparalleled in the earlier Gospels. Vermes adds that the metaphoric title of "Son of God", that is so prominent in biblical and post-biblical Jewish literature, is taken literally in the fourth Gospel.Read more ›
First, some dates to keep in mind. Jesus died about 30. The authentic epistles of Paul begin early in the 50s and end in the mid-60s. Outside the Pauline domain, all we know of Christianity at the time was centered in Jerusalem and led first by Peter, then by James, Jesus's brother, who was killed in 62. Peter and Paul were executed in Rome in the mid-60s. In 66 an uprising began in Judea which led to the razing of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, in 70. The three synoptic Gospels were written in the 80s and early 90s, Mark first, then Matthew and Luke in debatable order. Around 100 were written the Acts of the Apostles, perhaps by the same hand as Luke. The gospel of John comes later, about 110, and the Revelation later still. All of the NT (New Testament) was written in Greek. Despite the traditional attributions, none of the authors had met Jesus. The author of Luke was not Jewish, and that of John may well not have been. The other writers generally were. All of this is a moderate stretch from, say, the notes in the pre-Vatican-2 Catholic Bible of Jerusalem. Only fundamentalists should be shocked (and they will not read Vermes).
"The changing faces of Jesus", then, are the earlier and earlier pictures of him that emerge when we begin scraping away layers of scriptural overpaint. The Jesus in question is the Galilean charismatic who, according to the synoptics, first acknowledged John the Baptist and probably joined him, then lived for less than a year after John was arrested.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had already read Mr. Vermes later book "The Authentic Gospel of Jesus", so I was somewhat disappointed in that there is a lot of repetition between these two books. Read morePublished 21 months ago by dave1
Geza goes into detail how the Jesus of each book of the New Testament is a little different. I greatly enjoyed the amount of detail that is presented in the text. Read morePublished on October 21, 2013 by Ben
Very good in depth survey of the early and later gospels with reference to Greek, Jewish and other sources. An entertaining read.Published on August 11, 2013 by Donn
Will you swear to tell us all the truth and noting but the truth? Stepping down the chronological ladder, Vermes is showing us four different portraits of Jesus, downgrading him... Read morePublished on May 22, 2010 by Chris Albert Wells
It's interesting to read an erudite analysis of the New Testament by a learned Jew like Geza Vermes, the first Professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. Read morePublished on June 15, 2008 by Brent A. Anderson
The Changing Faces of Jesus, partly an update of Jesus the Jew, goes into all the New Testament writings, whereas Jesus the Jew concentrated on the Synoptics, Matthew, Mark and... Read morePublished on June 14, 2007 by trini
Publisher's Weekly complains that "The book sometimes engages in speculative reasoning". "Constantly" is more like it. Read morePublished on May 10, 2006 by Ken Jacobsen
I confess I am baffled by some of the reviews here. The one thing this book is, is polemical. It is intensely polemical. Just two examples. Read morePublished on December 16, 2005 by Ken Braithwaite