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Title: Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God
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With the same passionate scholarship and analytical audacity he brought to the character of God, Jack Miles now approaches the literary and theological enigma of Jesus. In so doing, he tells the story of a broken promise–God’s ancient covenant with Israel–and of its strange, unlooked-for fulfillment. For, having abandoned his chosen people to an impending holocaust at the hands of their Roman conquerors. God, in the person of Jesus, chooses to die with them, in what is effectively an act of divine suicide.
On the basis of this shocking argument, Miles compels us to reassess Christ’s entire life and teaching: His proclivity for the powerless and disgraced. His refusal to discriminate between friends and enemies. His transformation of defeat into a victory that redeems not just Israel but the entire world. Combining a close reading of the Gospels with a range of reference that includes Donne, Nietzche, and Elie Wiesel, Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God is a work of magnificent eloquence and imagination.
Bucking the trend of books about "the historical Jesus," Jack Miles offers a purely literary reading of the New Testament--rendering Jesus as a character whose history spans all of time, from the beginning to the end. Continuing the work begun in his Pulitzer prize-winning God: A Biography, Miles considers the New Testament the next chapter of an ongoing story. The central question of this chapter is, "Why does [God] become a man?" In Miles's reading, God "has something appalling to say that he can say only by humiliating himself." The world's inherent flaws, its pervasive injustice and cruelty, comprise "a great crime" for which someone must pay. "Mythologically read, the New Testament is the story of how someone, the right someone, does pay for it." As God, in the form of Christ, pays the price for His own mistakes, the crucifixion "saves us from the violence that we might otherwise feel justified in inflicting on one another." Ingeniously argued and masterfully paced, this book presents an original and unsettling portrait of Christ. Whatever readers think of Miles's premise--that God is heroic but not saintly--the book will certainly force them to reexamine Christ's relevance to moral life. --Michael Joseph Gross
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