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Jesus the Jew Paperback – April 1, 1981
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Well, yes, she was, and so -- of course -- was Jesus himself. This volume, by Jewish scholar Geza Vermes, is probably the single work that did the most to drive this point home to the modern world.
There are naturally some difficulties with Vermes's work. One of these is that he relies on Talmudic writings that date, in their written form, from about 500 years later than Jesus; this objection he has dealt with in _Jesus and the World of Judaism_. Another is that he has provided no real reason why his charismatic Galilean hasid should ever have gotten himself crucified; this objection he tries to meet in _The Religion of Jesus the Jew_ (rather lamely and unconvincingly, to my mind; he suggests, at bottom, that Jesus just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time).
Then, too, some of his parallels (the main ones being Hanina ben Dosa and Honi the Circle-Drawer) have been questioned for various reasons. Some of these reasons seem cogent to me as well, and I do not think Vermes has provided a _complete_ picture of the historical Jesus.
Nevertheless this groundbreaking work is the one that (re)started the conversation in the first place. If Jesus is now recognized by many Jews and Christians alike as having been, as a matter of history, a faithful Jew who in all likelihood did not intend to found a new religion separate from Judaism, this work played a crucial role in bringing that common recognition about.Read more ›
Vermes takes the position that Jesus the historical figure may be best understood in terms of his Judaic origins. Vermes portrays him as a charismatic, Chassid, similar to a number of others that existed in Jesus' time. He argues that many of the titles given to Jesus or titles that Jesus ascribed to himself such as "Lord", "Son of Man" and "Son of God" may be best understood in terms of Jewish culture and Jewish writings of the time. In fact a great deal of the book is devoted to explaining these and other titles. An example is given where the title "my Son" (son of God) was at one point bestowed upon a Jewish charismatic named Hanina Ben Dosa who, like Jesus, also broke Pharisaic etiquette at times but nonetheless was a respected teacher and miracle worker. Upon this point, Vermes concludes that the notion of "Son of God" in the Gospels is not an original form of terminology but was already well founded in Palestinian Jewish Belief to denote teachers that were highly respected by their peers.
Many more examples such as the one mentioned above are given with regards to all titles bestowed upon Jesus in the Gospels.Read more ›
Vermes sets Jesus within a context of the Judaism we know from early rabbinics, and examines various titles and practices ascribed to Jesus against this background. The result is a picture of Jesus as a Hasidic charismatic teacher/healer, in line with the phenomena and other personalities popular in his own day.
Vermes approaches many of the vexing issues by viewing them in this context. For example, he argues that the phrase "son of man" is a typical Jewish circumlocution (self-reference) meaning "I" or "man." He also points out that other Jewish Hasidic charismatics performed miracles.
As valuable and influential as his book has been, there are some fundamental problems with his work: 1) Vermes tends to rely too much on a historical reconstruction of Jesus based on later Jewish sources. 2) He tends to reduce the portrait of Jesus to what is common to Judaism, discounting the atypical or unique aspects of Jesus. For example, the Danielic use and influence of the "son of man" phrase in 2nd-Temple Judiasm or early Christianity is not given the weight it deserves.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book. Thorough research and an in depth look at the jesus of the gospels. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Andrew Breedlove
I thought I was going to read about Jesus. Instead the book constantly debunked the apostles.Published 12 months ago by Candis Thayer
You end up getting the true photograph of Jesus and his time. Vermes is really an expert. IRMA DICKINSONPublished 13 months ago by irma dickinson
If you enjoyed Reza Aslan's well-written book, "Zealot," you may want to dig deep (much deeper). Read morePublished 17 months ago by louis d rollmann
Why the interest by ex-believers in Jesus? If He is right, believe and follow His teachings. If He is a nobody, replace Him with someone who better represents Judaism. Read morePublished on May 31, 2014 by profling
I highly recommend. Even though the writer analyzes every issue very deeply, his neutral approach is overwhelming. Read morePublished on January 1, 2014 by Fabio
I found this book unbelievably interesting and at the same time disturbing. Dr. Vermes writes with clarity and integrity about his subject matter. Read morePublished on November 1, 2013 by Herbert J. Newhall