Michael Grant's book is so vivid, provides so many cultural details, and engages so much practical data, that it was like boarding a time machine to actually travel back to first-century Galilee to follow Jesus around and observe the life around him.
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. These bring out a total presence and vibrance in the gospel texts rarely achieved by a New Testament scholar.
In spite of my extensive studies and avid interests in these topics, having read dozens of relevant books, I felt projected in a new way into the physical presence of Jesus in a vivid local Galilean setting, as though it was a movie set painstakingly created for authenticity.