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The Changing Faces of Jesus

Vermes. Geza,

83 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0713991933 / ISBN 13: 9780713991932
Published by Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, London, 2000
Used Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From Jonathan P Vokes (Richmond, United Kingdom)

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About this Item

[viii] 273 pp. 1 map. Black boards with title, author and publisher in gilt on the spine. The dust wrapper is not price clipped. Avery good clean, tight copy. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # MRT1760

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Changing Faces of Jesus

Publisher: Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, London

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


Who was the real Jesus? How was this Palestinian charismatic transformed by later generations into the heavenly savior who is the focus of the Christian Church? Did Jesus's own teachings lead to his divine characterization? Or did the church-centered needs of gentile Christianity hide his true face, obscuring the religion he preached and practiced? With unique authority, sensitivity, and insight, renowned scholar Geza Vermes explores these difficult questions by examining the New Testament writings, placing them in the context of the Jewish civilization of the first century. Starting with the elevated, divine figure of Christ presented in the most recent Gospel, the Gospel of John, Vermes travels back through earlier accounts of Jesus's life to reveal the true historical figure.


The Changing Faces of Jesus is a reflection on the ways that translations of Scripture have transformed believers' understandings of Jesus. Author Geza Vermes, a biblical scholar perhaps best known for his English translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, reviews the varying portraits of Jesus in Scripture, particularly focusing on the letters of Paul and the Gospel of John. The author contends that, "by the end of the first century Christianity had lost sight of the real Jesus and of the original meaning of his message." The real Jesus, a "religious man with an irresistible charismatic charm," was replaced by "Jesus the Christ, the transcendent object of the Christian religion." Vermes avoids the polemic tone often adopted by scholars who make similar arguments. Here is an example of the modest style in which this author makes his momentous claims:

As a historian I consider Jesus, the primitive church and the New Testament as part and parcel of first-century Judaism and seek to read them as such rather than through the eyes of a theologian who may often be conditioned, and subconsciously influenced, by two millennia of Christian belief and church directives.
This tone will help readers--even those predisposed to disagree with Vermes--to understand his argument that religious belief has skewed understanding of the central figure of the Christian religion. --Michael Joseph Gross

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