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The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   168
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 5.96" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.64 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2001
Publisher   Polebridge Press
ISBN  0944344895  
EAN  9780944344897  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Did the historical Jesus preach that God was about to bring an end to human history and impose the divine kingdom on the earth and all its peoples? Four eminent New Testament scholars -Dale Allison, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and Stephen Patterson- come together under the direction of Robert J. Miller to debate this, the single most important question about the historical Jesus. Borg, Crossan, and Patterson argue that Jesus taught that God's kingdom was already here, not that it was coming in the near future. Dale Allison defends the widely-held view that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet. Everyone's cards are on the table in this candid exchange. The disagreements are sharp and the debate is both pointed and respectful. This book is an eloquent exploration of a pressing issue that strongly affects how we understand the historical Jesus and Christian life today.

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More About Robert J. Miller

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Father Robert Miller is Pastor of St. Dorothy Church in Chicago. He is the author of five other books, the most recent of which is Surprised by Love.

Robert J. Miller was born in 1924.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Allison takes on a Jesus-Seminar tag team  Nov 13, 2007
This is a fine scholarly debate over a very hot (read: controversial) topic in New Testament research. In this debate Dale Allison, well-known advocate of the standard Synoptic view of Jesus being a millennial prophetic figure, takes on three well-known opponents proposing a non-apocalyptic Jesus. Allison deserves credit at least for tackling a wrestling tag-team of formidable Jesus Seminar (hereafter "JS") scholars, and to this reviewer at least, easily holds his own in the debate, and even then some. This perhaps may be because his thesis, when all is said and done, seems to make more sense of the actual 1st-century Jewish milieu of Jesus than the sometimes idiosyncratic exegesis of his opponents. In fact, it may be fair to say in general that the effort to separate Jesus away from his Synoptic environment, which seems to be a particular agenda of the Jesus Seminar (and its localized North-American brand of peppery analysis), is viewed with a good deal of amusement by many in the world biblical scholarly community.
Readers unfamiliar with the debate will be wise to note several lynchpin assumptions that underlie the "JS" conclusion that Jesus wasn't, fundamentally, a prophet with an apocalyptic message of the kind you read about in the Synoptics. For many members of the Jesus Seminar, in fact, the Synoptic apocalyptic Jesus should be replaced with a completely different caricature, that of a wandering radical Hellenistic cynic whose "real" message seemingly consisted of egalitarian wisdom sayings (sounding suspiciously like modern counter-status-quo sentiments) and zen-like one-liners; never mind any consideration of Jesus' persona resembling a prototypical Jewish charismatic prophet, or any talk of a millennial kingdom around the corner...
For many folks, however (and not just the scholarly unsophisticated), the "cynic" caricature results in a Jesus few would recognize or relate to. While we may grant it being a valuable window on an aspect of Jesus' ministry, does it additionally serve as a comprehensive picture of who Jesus really was? Certainly many Jewish AND non-Jewish scholars have severely criticized this Jesus so abstractly yanked out of his Jewish milieu. The eminent N.T. scholar Gerd Theissen (whose sociological analysis of "wandering radicalism" provided the springboard for later speculations), for instance, humorously remarked, "The 'non-eschatological Jesus' seems to have more Californian than Galilean local colouring." Would not scholars like J.D. Crossan, for instance, have been better off had they focused less on a comprehensive cross-cultural examination of ancient Mediterranean cultures, and focused on a more relevant, but less-sweeping, analysis of the Jewish charismatic milieu of the 1st century, as others scholars have done? Would his "Jesus" have looked less like a cross-cultural hodge-podge hippy-figure that spouts quasi-Californian social sentiments? The questions deserve to be asked, and the methodologies that produce such distorted pictures, questioned.
One could well ask here, how did a non-apocalyptic caricature of Jesus arise anyway? The answer can only be understood by a thorough examination of the analysis of the "sayings" tradition by the scholarly community. Such an examination will not be taken here, obviously, for space reasons. But a few brief points may be noted. Several scholars (notably James M. Robinson and Harvard's Helmut Koester) brilliantly got the ball rolling by recognizing the similarities of Jesus' teaching style with the ancient Jewish Wisdom tradition. An appreciation began that Jesus' original sayings could be located within the "Logoi Sophon" tradition (Robinson's term), which had a long history in Jewish literature. In other words, Jesus was a Wisdom teacher, throwing out pearls of sapiential proverbs as he wandered around, much as the writer of the Hebrew book of Proverbs might have spoken. However, valuable as the "Logoi Sophon" insight undoubtedly was, the danger here was already present- are the Sophia (Wisdom) sayings the ONLY valid context within which to view Jesus' teachings? As Dale Allison points out in the current debate and in his other work, just because Jesus undoubtedly had similarities with the Wisdom genre of Israel, are the wisdom sayings his only message? What about other parameters of his life, his deeds, his ministry? Allison points out that apocalyptic is just as much a part of the so-called "Wisdom" literature as are wise proverbial sayings. By no means are such mixed contexts mutually exclusive. In fact, in the Hebrew literature, they may be typical.
Another lynchpin the "non-apocalyptic" gospel rests on is the thesis that the mostly-sapiential "sayings" tradition as found in "Q" and the Gospel of Thomas are more primitive than the (apocalyptic and apologetic) layers that were presumably added on later by the Synoptic writers. Much of the work in this direction was laid by the detailed reconstruction of "Q" into different layers by John S. Kloppenborg, also a member of the Jesus Seminar. Kloppenborg's analysis seemed (and seems) extremely persuasive to many in the "JS" crowd and beyond, but it is perhaps fair to say his layering of Q wasn't met with quite the same enthusiasm on the European continent, nor with scholars (also familiar with all the "Q" issues) in North America who questioned the arbitrary nature of some of his assumptions. Allison, in the present book under review, is one.
As for the Gospel of Thomas, much has been made of this collection of "sayings", and scholars such as Stephen Patterson have gone to great lengths to ensure Thomas gets proper recognition among Patterson's peers. However, it has been noted (and must be repeated here) that using Thomas as "source material" for what Jesus "actually taught" is highly questionable; the book itself, as Allison properly observes, has it's own agenda, which seems to be a Neo-Platonic reunion with one's own true humanity... like Adam before the Fall. And Jesus, to Thomas, is no apocalyptic figure; this is hardly a surprise. Thomas's Jesus is, instead, a guide whose words were meant to get you to recognize your Pre-Eden immortal self. Apocalyptic concerns don't show up in Thomas simply because they were never meant to show up here; that wasn't the message in this deliberately selective list of sayings. Can we use Thomas, then, as Patterson and many others do, as a source-book of Jesus' primitive teaching? Not without some tortured logic.
And so on. We've barely scratched the surface with this review, but you get the idea. Read this debate, learn from all these fine scholars, but use your own judgment. Maybe you too will chuckle at some of the popular Jesus caricatures when you're done, like I do!

The Apocalyptic Jesus  Nov 21, 2002
This book is very well writen. It is done in a well thought out manner and the layout and discussion parts are excellent. It would be good to have a decent handle on recent theology, however. It will breach some answers and conclusions that will need prior knowledge for the reader. Dale Allison does a fantastic job with his argument and ideas. It is a great book for those considering the idea of the Apocalyptic Jesus.

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