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The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion Paperback – June, 1977

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

About the Author

Martin Hengel was Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Judaism at the University of Tubingen in Germany until his death in 2009. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Fortress Pr (June 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800612272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800612276
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,948,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeri VINE VOICE on April 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who has read anything in the field of biblical studies knows Martin Hengel. In "The Son of God" he asks how an obscure Galilean is described by Paul about 25 years later "as a preexistent divine figure" (p 1).

This book, which was written in the 70s, answers those believers in the History of Religions theories. Hengel points out that "The Hellenistic mysteries did not know of sons of gods who died and rose again" (p 25) anymore than did the cults which featured dying vegetation dieties like Osiris. After examining and disposing of all these theories, he takes on the gnostic myths. Here he points out the tiresome error of many (for example, a certain Mr. Crossan) who try to place gnostic texts that were written in the third century back into the first century. "Gnosticism itself is first visible as a spiritual movement at the end of the first century at the earliest" (p 34) he points out tartly.

Other interesting points: Hengel argues for an inner consistency of the belief in Christ, Jesus' unique relationship with "Abba", Jesus' position in comparison to that of all the angels, and the differences between early Christianity and other religions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Martin Hengel is a Christian theologian of the more "traditional" bent. Personally, I'm not a Christian at all. Still, I enjoyed his book "The `Hellenization' of Judea in the first century after Christ". Hengel argues, quite persuasively in my opinion, that *both* Jesus and Paul might have been Hellenized Jews, since Palestine and Palestinian Judaism were Hellenized during the period in question. There is therefore a certain continuity between Jesus and Paul, rather than the sharp break postulated by modern higher criticism. While Hengel's agenda is theological (no surprise there!), his arguments in "The `Hellenization' of Judea" are nevertheless quite strong. Reading a response from, say, Bart Ehrman would be interesting.

"The Son of God", unfortunately, is more overtly theological than the book on Hellenization. Hengel attempts to prove that the idea of Jesus the dying and resurrecting god-man is unique and therefore cannot be explained in terms of influence from pagan or Gnostic sources. Now, I don't deny that the Christian concept of Jesus in many ways *is* unique, but is it unique in the sense that nothing whatsoever preceded it in terms of influence and inspiration? Not even Hengel believes so, but he is at pains to prove that "the Son of God" is a Jewish rather than a pagan or Gnostic idea. He mentions various intermediary redeemer figures from the Jewish tradition, discusses the Jewish concept of God's Wisdom (which was often personified), analyzes Philo's philosophy, and even makes parallels to Jewish mysticism.

There is just one problem with all this.

Ancient Judaism was Hellenized, remember?
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