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Jesus in His Jewish Context [Paperback]

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Item Number 145423  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   200
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.54" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2003
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800636236  
EAN  9780800636234  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"Vermes's vast knowledge of first-century Judaism ensures his works will become some of the most important in historical Jesus studies. His readable style makes them useful for both public and academic library patrons. Recommended,"---Library Journal. Careful, nuanced, and stimulating.

Publishers Description
Readers: College, university, and seminary students; biblical scholars; clergy

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More About Geza Vermes

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Geza Vermes was Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford, UK and was one of the world's greatest experts on the historical Jesus, Christian beginnings, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. With the publication of Jesus the Jew (1973) he introduced the idea of Jesus as a 1st century Jewish holy man to the general public. His book The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (1962) introduced the English reader to the Scrolls, going on to sell over half a million copies.


Geza Vermes was born in 1924 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Oxford University.

Geza Vermes has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Library of Second Temple Studies
  2. Sheffield Academic Press Individual Titles

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Was Jesus just a Galilean Hasid?  Oct 11, 2005
This edition adds some chapters to Geza Vermes' (1983) Jesus and the World of Judaism. Most of the essays date back to the 70s and 80s. The Qumran related ones are more recent (1996, 1999) and the reflection in the final chapter is taken from Vermes' autobiography, published in 1998.

Vermes is now mainstream, though it appears that thirty years ago this was not the case. He argues for an historical approach, in contrast to what he calls a theological approach. Whereas the latter would focus on Jesus in his New testament context and regard the rest of what was happening in the intertestamental years as background, Vermes takes the opposite view. It is more historically valid and enlightening, in his view, to begin with what we know of the temporal and spatial setting and work back to the representation of Jesus in the synoptic gospels. From that point we can excavate what we think represents actual speech and events in the life of Jesus and what is constructed by the evangelists (ie the synoptics, not John, which Vermes believes has almost no historical validity at all).

I have said that I believe that Vermes is now mainstream - not necessarily that all his conclusions are accepted by the scholarly community, but that a more historically deductive approach is now common. By historical deduction I refer to the process of discovery proceeding from the general historical context to the particular events and characters to be discovered. My belief is not based on expertise, and is open to challenge from those who know better. However, I recently completed a course in biblical studies at a Catholic university that used extensively recent scholarship that did exactly what Vermes was arguing for in the 70s and 80s, ie placed gospel-based interpretations firmly in the context of the time and place of their writing and of the broader contemporary Jewish world. I would think it difficult for New Testament scholars now writing for a wider community to begin with a theological position and then proceed simply to find justification for it.

Vermes writes well and with a degree of passion. There is a degree of polemicism in his style. His wit and pleasure in pith have got him into trouble with sober scholars who have taken him to task for insufficient deference to method or unsubtle summative statements. This book begins with a self-defence from criticism by John Meier arising from a Vermes attempt to be humorous. At another time he argues that people misrepresent him for understanding statements such as "Jesus was a Galilean Hasid" (p. 10) as implying that that's all he was, but it's not an unreasonable inference when considered in the light of Vermes' argument as a whole. On other occasions, Vermes does make the explicit point that he thinks Jesus was in fact a Galilean Hasid, like Honi and Hanina ben Dosa, but much more as well (though still within the parameters of Hasidism).

I have found the three books I've read by Vermes on Jesus enlightening and very readable. They have helped me greatly to understand Jesus in his Jewish context without in any way lessening my faith in the value of Jesus' mission and its subsequent development in the mission of the Church. I believe Vermes would see this as a reasonable outcome of his message to the reader.

Unfortunately, my Fortress Press paperback copy ordered through this site fell apart almost immediately. I've not come across such a poorly bound book in many years. I hope it was a one-off, as I know Fortress Press is a quality publisher. I have let them know.

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