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Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   161
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.34" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.64 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2004
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800636740  
EAN  9780800636746  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
For most Christian believers, what is truly remarkable and important about Jesus is not his life, but his resurrection from the dead. They may believe that Jesus' death is significant not as the end of Jesus' life, but as the first half of the saving event that comprises the Christian gospel: the death and resurrection of Jesus. For Christians, this great divine cosmic event, around which all of human history pivots, is what saves us from our sins. Apart from this, the death of Jesus would simply be the meaningless end to an interesting but insignificant life. In this lively and provocative work, Patterson reconstructs early Christian assessments of Jesus' significance and also questions basic assumptions about modern interpretations of Jesus' death. He emphasizes the importance of Jesus' life in relation to his death and resurrection. And he challenges individualistic notions of how Jesus' death relates to Christian ethics.

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More About Stephen J. Patterson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Stephen J. Patterson is Associate Professor of New Testament at Eden Theological Seminary and author of The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for Meaning (Trinity Press). James M. Robinson is editor of The Nag Hammadi Library.

Stephen J. Patterson was born in 1957.

Stephen J. Patterson has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Foundations & Facets
  2. Jesus Seminar

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Politics intrude  Mar 12, 2005
The Roman Empire is not spared in Patterson's descriptions of its oppressive and violent rule. He describes how the towns of Sepphoris, Sappho, and Emmaus were burned to the ground by the Romans, who "sold their inhabitants into slavery" then rounded up 2,000 of those who had escaped and crucified them, "their writhing, tortured bodies providing the necessary message." Florus, Roman governor of Judea in the year 66 "crucified 3,600 people, including children and infants." These are described, aptly enough, as acts of "massive state terrorism." Yup, fair enough.

But then not many pages later, we come to Patterson's opinion of his own country: "North American Christians, especially, must realize that we live in the belly of the beast, in the very heart of empire. The Pax Americana is no less insidious and exploitative of the world's people than was the Pax Romana. And it is scarcely less violent with those who would challenge its authority and its vision."

Patterson does not supply even one piece of evidence for this assessment and, absent that, it's just hard-left cant that has no business in a book like this. There is a difference between making a case and simply asserting one; scholars are supposed to do the former. Patterson may believe that the truth of his poisonous view of America is self-evident to any right-thinking person, but it isn't. Those remarks were not in any way necessary to the point he was making, which makes them all the more puzzling and unfortunate.

I looked forward to this book, I enjoyed reading it, and I learned from it. But I'm not quite sure about what it really represents. When someone is this eager to inject his politics into his writing, I have to wonder what else in his work might be more a product of ideological axe-grinding and agenda-pushing than fair and impartial scholarship. Research on the historical Jesus is highly controversial and difficult to evaluate in the best of circumstances. I think Patterson does himself and his colleagues no service by gratuitiously muddying the waters in this way.
A Study Group Reads Beyond the Passion.  Feb 20, 2005
Twelve of us gather once a month, for three hours, for a study of recent books interpreting Scripture. We've just finished Beyond the Passion in 5 sessions. Each chapter was thought provoking and full of insights. We agreed it was an excellent text because it gave new meaning to our understanding of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. We agreed that these new ways of understanding the text was one that we would recommend for all Christians who want to deepen and extend their understanding of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Knowing Jesus' life is necessary to understand his death.
A Historical Viewpoint Regarding the Death of Jesus  Sep 19, 2004
There has been a lot interest and focus on the last week of the life of Jesus lately due to the Mel Gibson movie, "The Passion" Even I had an article published in our local paper as I critiqued that movie. Dr. Patterson has written this book in response to some of the discussion concerning this movie and he is addressing the general Biblical ignorance that has prevailed and attempts to place the death of Jesus within the context of history.

He opens with a simple question, "Is Jesus Dead?" Ah, but not such a simple question after all and thus we have this book. Within the historical context, Patterson points out how the first Christians might have experienced the death of Jesus. Then he goes on to talk about the various ways that Jesus' death can be viewed.
1. Jesus as Victim
2. Jesus as Martyr
3. Jesus as Sacrifice
He concludes with why the resurrection proves nothing.

Patterson looks at things from a purely historical viewpoint and this viewpoint is very helpful when it comes to looking at the situation of Israel at the time of Jesus and just how these different systems worked. It is also helpful to use this information to see just how the various doctrines regarding Jesus might have been formed.

This book is very provocative in the sense that it shows just how the life of Jesus has been an agent for change within the believers. It shows how radical Jesus was and how that he was challenging every boundary and system that existed at that time. It shows how political Jesus was and how transforming that was for the early followers.

I had never thought about how odd this Christianity must of seemed to other religions of the time. All religions had blood sacrifices and Christianity talked of one and had a ritual yet did not partake of the sacrificial system. Christianity encouraged followers to consider where they fit in society and challenge that.

Patterson concludes that, no matter how the death of Jesus is viewed, the early followers of Jesus were really attempting to draw attention to the life of Jesus. "His death mattered to them because his life mattered to them."


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