Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith

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9780195214291: Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, the Christ of Faith

Illuminating the life of Jesus--his historical context, his religious teachings, and the changing perceptions of him over the centuries--this lavishly illustrated volume offers one of the most comprehensive and authoritative accounts available of this great and charismatic man.
Featuring some 180 illustrations (including 20 full-color maps) and numerous boxed and sidebar features that shed light on interesting facets of the story, Jesus Christ paints a vivid portrait of Christ's life from the Nativity to the Ascension. Drawing on the Gospels and other evidence, J. R. Porter disentangles many of the mysteries and confusions surrounding the life of the historical Jesus--such as the role of women in his career and the political issues surrounding his trial--and paints a detailed background portrait of all aspects of society in first-century Palestine, from the fishing communities of Lake Galilee to life under Roman rule. Porter also explores the teachings of Christ, looking at his use of parable, his view of Hebrew Scriptures and his attitude toward the law, and his thinking about the Kingdom of God. And the book assesses the many interpretations of Christ down through the ages, from his immediate impact on the early Church, to the changing image of Jesus in art and illustration, to his perceived role as apocalyptic preacher, revolutionary, mystic, and prophet.
A marvelous gift at Easter time or for a child's confirmation, this attractive, informative volume gives us an inspiring portrait of one of the most complex figures in world history.

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Review:

Jesus Christ: The Jesus of History, The Christ of Faith by J.R. Porter is a beautifully illustrated overview of Jesus' life, social and political context, and teachings, and the variety of ways Jesus' contemporaries and later followers have interpreted his significance. Porter, a professor of theology at the University of Exeter, has a great talent for synthesizing and popularizing the research of today's leading archaeologists, historians, and biblical scholars--who have lately unearthed some surprising discoveries about Jesus' relationship to first-century Judaism, his view of the Hebrew Scriptures, his close relationships with women, and the political issues surrounding his trial. Porter's keen awareness of contemporary scholarship is complemented by his mastery of the content of the original gospels, the creation of orthodox Christianity by the Church Fathers, and the development of Christendom's relationship to Christ through the Middle Ages and into the Modern period.

The resulting book is an engagingly sober balance of humble traditionalism ("It seems likely that the gospel writers worked with a body of existing traditions about Jesus that had many points in common and must, in numerous instances, have derived from the disciples who knew him.") and reasonable subjectivism ("In the end, anyone who attempts a reconstruction, however tentative, of the life and intentions of Jesus cannot avoid a degree of subjectivity. Every idea about Jesus has to be tested by the wide range of criteria and sound historical methods that present-day biblical scholarship has at its disposal."). Porter's excellent text is complemented by hundreds of sumptuous color photographs of the Holy Land and of artists' renderings of Jesus through the ages. Altogether, it's a fine achievement by a scholar whose commitment to both revealed and historical truth shines through on every page of the book. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:


J.R. Porter is Professor Emeritus of Theology at the University of Exeter and a former Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. A renowned scholar, he has served for twenty years as a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and has held many other prominent posts throughout his distinguished career. He lives in the United Kingdom.

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