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Jesus of Nazareth
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The Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith. Add to Cart. Wright on the long-standing question of the relationship between the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ of faith as depicted in the New Testament. Demetrion has created a study designed to supplement and expand on the discussion laid out in Borg's and Wright's widely read, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Views. While the author is more empathetic to Wright's emphasis on the continuities between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, as illuminated throughout the New Testament, he is critical of Wright's overemphasis on history.
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In placing his interpretive emphasis on the revelatory dynamic of the canonical Scripture and the Great Tradition of Christian orthodoxy, Demetrion calls for a fourth quest for the historical Jesus that starts from a position firmly rooted in biblical faith and works backwards in search of historical roots. The strength of these three psychological studies lies in the light they shine upon the psychodynamic strains that quite obviously arise in the character development of Jesus, as literary personage, in the gospel stories.
That character's behaviour and message reflect psychological drivers in personality formation that shape how we should think of him.
They shed light on how we should take his abuse of his mother, his friendship with the marginalised in his society such as thieves and whores, his frequent chiding of the wealthy and powerful during his visits with them, and his guerrilla war with the religious authorities. It also explains his chronic denigration of the Mosaic Covenant of law and his desire to move Israel back to its roots in the Abrahamic covenant of grace.
Growing up in Galilee. The net effect of the six typical studies we have so far reviewed presents us with a character who displays a number of distinctly identifiable qualities. He operates from a conflicted emotional and social life. He finds his consolation in a unique and intense perception of his relation with God. He has an ambivalent sense of himself.
He is persistently anti-establishment and critical of the father-figures of the authorities. He stands for those who are marginalised in society, but is not preoccupied with them. He keeps company with twelve close male followers. He seems to be sought out by women for his general intimate sensitivity toward them. He has an idealised image of God's intended destiny for the world and for his own vocation and destiny in that model.
He is capable of surprising expressions of humour, antipathy, and rage.
He is stubbornly committed to the path on which he has set his course. He never backs down, even in the face of his own pitiful demise. It is of great interest that this is the picture the psychological and biblical scholars present for us compared with the picture generally painted by contemporary preaching in the churches.
It is quite a different image of that man from Nazareth than fills the imagination of Christians around the world today, and that has been predominant throughout the centuries since the rise of the Imperial Church in the 4th century. At Christmas time the entire Christian world celebrates Jesus as the 'sweet little Jesus boy'. That image is enshrined in our hymns, popular songs, and our individual and communal memory. It is a romantic cultural notion largely oriented toward children but never really transcended in adult believers.
Of course, Jesus was once little. Otherwise he would not have managed his progress down the birth canal of an adolescent mother. There is no evidence in any scripture, nor testimony in the extracanonical literature of the 1st and 2nd centuries, that Jesus was ever sweet. We suppose he was, of course, because we project on him our notion of young children being sweet little creatures.
That is mostly our imagination, rather than anything inherent to the character of that person or any person in childhood. In any case, the image is not a real characterisation of the Jesus that we know from the stories the Bible presents about him. As suggested in the introduction, there is a second portrait enshrined in our hymns and hearts that is a dominant presence controlling our notions and emotions about the nature and character of Jesus. That is the line from the popular song, 'Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild.
He was kind to children and the marginalised. He was ambivalent about women and occasionally abusive to them, particularly his mother. He was aggressively hard on adult males, particularly men in authority or prominence. When his Jewish mother nagged him about having disturbed her trip from Jerusalem to Galilee and made her anxious and uncomfortable, he shot back sharply at her asking why she was worried, given that she should have known that he would be about his heavenly father's business.
When she jostled him at the wedding in Cana about performing a miracle to help the host who had run out of wine, he castigated her with the peremptory denigration: 'What is that to you and me. This is not the time to mention that kind of stuff! When she and his siblings, having heard him claim that he was the Messiah, thought him deranged and came to Capernaum to take him home to care for him, he ignored her.
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Indeed, he publicly put her down and shamed her by rhetorically asking the crowd who they thought his mother and brothers were. Then he declared that his true family was made up of his followers who listened to his preaching and were devoted to his ways! Only at the cross, in his last gasping moments, did he seem briefly to speak gently to her and acknowledge her as a person.
There he charged his disciple to care for her. Of course, if we read his expression to her from the cross through the lenses offered us by Capps, Miller, and Van Aarde, we cannot be certain even then if he is saying to the disciple, '[ b ]ehold your mother, you poor guy, I hope you can get on with her better than I could,' Jn or whether it is a moment of tenderness. We can only assume that he is being kind and gentle at that point.
What does the story teller really intend here? He does not tell us how to take this moment in the story.
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Remember that the next thing Jesus is reported to have said is:. I am it is finished. My whole project is a bust! I was obviously wrong about my apocalyptic vision of history and God's intention to rescue me. My God, my God, why have your forsaken me! Jn Some scholars and preachers claim that he had a preferential option for the poor and needy.
That is not true.
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The truth is that he could be very cavalier about his consideration for the poor and needy. Judas remarked that the woman who bathed Jesus' feet in expensive ointment or perfume would have done better to have sold the alabaster jar and its costly contents, for it was undoubtedly of significant value, and given the money to the poor. Jesus shut him up abruptly by declaring that we can minister to the poor any time, given that we will have them with us forever Mt They are always around looking for handouts, he implies. Jesus affirmed the woman who was behaving rather intimately with him.
He seems to have been gratified by her attention and love. From Jesus' story it is clear that he was equally preferential to the up and out and the down and out. He cared very much for those for whom others cared very little. He had a preferential option for everyone in need or pain. Moreover, think of the healing of the blind man in John 9. Generally, people react to that narrative with awe and emotional admiration for that healing.
Read the story more carefully. It is a story of Jesus abusing that poor fellow in order to score a political point against the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. Jesus undoubtedly knew the blind man as a fixture in the town, as did everybody else, of course.