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Gospel Time Travel
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Michael Grant
Jesus:  An Historian's Review of the Gospels (NY:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1997. 272p.)
(Also published earlier by Macmillan Publishing Co: Collier Books edition, November 1992)

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Michael Grant's book is so vivid, provides so many cultural details, and engages so much practical data, that it was like boarding a time machine to actually travel back to first-century Galilee to follow Jesus around and observe the life around him.

Grant writes as a historian, probing the stories that have come down to us in the New Testament Gospels.  Grant looks at these stories as a critical historian, and analyzes the core realties and possiblities from the modern academic perspective of history.

Cultural Settings
Grant analyzes aspects of contemporary Galilean, Judean, Aramean and Roman culture in the gospels and other literature, to draw a powerful detailed -- yet easly readable -- character profile of Jesus and his teachings. He probes the gospels, supplemented by contemporarty sources, to draw out a detailed view of the psychology and self-concept of Jesus.

This skilled critical writer establishes strongly the authenticity of some events and teachings commonly dismissed in some circles of thought. Highlighting some ignored aspects of the gospels, Grant's comparative approach to the 4 gospels easily portrays the overarching goal and purpopse of all Jesus' actions and teachings -- the urgency of ushering in the Kingdom of God. This guiding focus explains many aspects otherwise considered anomalies in the gospel accounts.

Qumran Comparisons
Grant compares Jesus to the themes, goals and character of the Qumran teachers, Galilean sages and Old Testament prophets. He provides an extensive analysis of Jesus' relationship to John the Baptist. He establishes the unique aspects of Jesus' teachings, as well as the similarities with the developing rabbinic forms of the time. Notable differences are Jesus' unique self-confidence, assurance of his unique relationship to God and his novel personal authority.

Live-Action Presence
Grant points out aspects of the political and geographical setting, as well as cultural dynamics I have never seen dealt with in other texts. These bring out a total presence and vibrance in the gospel texts rarely achieved by a New Testament scholar.

In spite of my extensive studies and avid interests in these topics, having read dozens of relevant books, I felt projected in a new way into the physical presence of Jesus in a vivid local Galilean setting, as though it was a movie set painstakingly created for authenticity.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[TXT] The Language Jesus Used
[Review] A Phenomenology of Jesus   New!

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First written and posted on Amazon.com December 15, 2004
Revised and posted on Thoughts and Resources 20 December 2006
Last updated 27 December 2006

Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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