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Jesus: A Brief History

ISBN: 978-1-4051-7018-5
288 pages
April 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Jesus: A Brief History (1405170182) cover image
Drawing on examples from literature, art, and popular culture, as well as theology, this engaging book reveals the importance of the question, "whose was he?" in fully understanding the life and legacy of Jesus.
  • A concise, accessible and engaging exploration of Jesus's life and enduring influence
  • Charts the changing global status and influence of Jesus, a Galilean Jew born when the ancient Roman Empire ruled the Mediterranean world, and how he has come to be honored as the Christ and recognized by billions of people around the world
  • Traces the reception history of Jesus and his story over the past two millennia, through art, literature, and culture, as well as theology
  • Draws on a fascinating range of materials - from ancient texts, creeds, and theological treatises, to the visual and dramatic arts, including books like The DaVinci Code and films such as The Passion of the Christ
See More
List of Figures

Preface and Acknowledgments

Prologue: Jesus, a Jew from Galilee

1. Jesus and Christian Beginnings (First to Fourth Centuries)

A Strange Case: Paul and his Letters

Anonymous Narratives: Three Gospels and One Sequel

An Author Called John: A Fourth Gospel, More Letters, and an Apocalypse

Christianity’s Earliest Writings: Literary Diversity, Theological Unity

Christianity’s Transformation: From a Jewish Sect to a Gentile Religion

Emerging Christianity: A “Catholic” Church

“Gnosticism”: The Nag Hammadi Library

Living as Christians in the Roman Empire: The Threat of Persecution

Christianizing the Roman Empire: Constantine the Great

Material Culture: Manuscripts, Architecture, and the Visual Arts

2. Jesus and the Triumph of Christian Orthodoxy (Fourth and Fifth Centuries)

The Council of Nicaea I (325): The Relation of the Son to God the Father

The Council of Constantinople I (381): God as Trinity, One Substance, Three Persons

Transition: From the Trinity to the Incarnation

The Council of Ephesus (431): The Incarnate Son, One Person, Not Divided

The Council of Chalcedon I (451): The Incarnate Son, One Person, Two Natures

Early Monasticism: From Martyr to Monk

Material Culture: Manuscripts, Architecture, and the Visual Arts

3. Jesus and Medieval Christian Orthodoxy (Fifth to Fifteenth Centuries)

Rome, the Papacy, and the Eastern Church: A Church Dividing

The Iconoclastic Controversy: Can Images of Jesus be Created and Venerated?

The Filioque Controversy: Does the Holy Spirit also Proceed from the Son?

Jesus as the Christ of Eastern Orthodoxy: Creed, Liturgy, and Spirituality

The Crusades: Warriors for Christ

Beyond Monasticism: Monks, Mendicants, and Mystics

Scholastic Theology: The Trinity, the Incarnation, and the At-one-ment

Jesus as the Christ of Roman Catholicism: Creed, Liturgy and Spirituality

 Rome and the Papacy: Exile, Schism, and Dissent

Material Culture: Architecture and the Visual Arts

4. Jesus and Challenges to Christian Orthodoxy (Since the Fifteenth Century)

The Renaissance:: Back to the Classics

The Reformation: Back to the Bible

The Enlightenment: Not Revelation, but Reason

Material Culture: Architecture, Visual Arts, and Printed Books

5. Jesus and the Historical Quest (Since the Eighteenth Century)

Pre-Quest Period: Christ = Jesus (before 1778)

Old Quest Period: Christ // Jesus (1778–1906)

No Quest Period: Christ // Jesus (1906–1953)

New Quest Period: Christ > Jesus (1953–1985)\

Third Quest Period: [Christ] Jesus (since 1985)

Dramatic Arts: From Passion Plays to Jesus Films

6. Jesus and Christological Diversity (Since the Eighteenth Century)

Modern Protestant Theology: Liberalism (Nineteenth Century)

Modern Protestant Theology: Neo-Orthodoxy (Twentieth Century)

Modern Catholic Theology: Two Vatican Councils (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries)

Beyond Liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy: Process Theology (into the Twenty-First Century)

Liberation Theology: Latin America (into the Twenty-First Century)

Black Theology: The United States and Beyond (into the Twenty-First Century)

Feminist Theology: The United States and Beyond (into the Twenty-First Century)

Womanist Theology: The United States and Beyond (into the Twenty-First Century)

Theology in the Third World: Latin America, Africa, Asia (into the Twenty-First Century)

Dramatic Arts: Christ-Figure Films and Literary Imagination

7. Jesus and World Religions (Since the First Century)

Judaism: Jesus, a Jew, but No Messiah

Islam: Jesus, a Prophet, but No Son of God

Religions of South and East Asia: Jesus, the Outsider

Material Culture: From Stone to Celluloid

Epilogue: Jesus, a Global Christ

Select Bibliography and Further Reading

Index

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W. Barnes Tatum is Jefferson-Pilot Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Greensboro College. He is the author of two books on Jesus: Jesus at the Movies: A Guide to the First Hundred Years (2004) and In Quest of Jesus (1999), along with numerous articles. He is a long-standing member of the Jesus Seminar and is the author of John the Baptist and Jesus: A Report of the Jesus Seminar (1994).
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  • A concise, accessible and engaging exploration of Jesus, revealing the importance of the question, "whose was he?" in fully understanding his life and legacy
  • Traces the reception history of Jesus and his story over the past two millennia, through art, literature, and culture, as well as theology
  • Charts the changing global status and influence of Jesus, a Galilean Jew born when the ancient Roman Empire ruled the Mediterranean world, and how he has come to be honored as the Christ and recognized by billions of people around the world
  • Draws on a fascinating range of materials - from ancient texts, creeds, and theological treatises, to the visual and dramatic arts, including books like The DaVinci Code and films such as The Passion of the Christ
See More
"The author draws on a range of materials, including ancient texts, creeds, theological treatises, and sources from the visual and dramatic arts, such as The Da Vinci Code and The Passion of Christ." (Journal of Contemporary Religion, January 2011)

"A topically arranged, select bibliography, chapter endnotes, and a single subject/proper name index enhance this introductory text's classroom usefulness." (CHOICE, January 2010)

"A remarkable book. Tatum has taken on the daunting task of sailing the Christological currents from the backwaters of first century Nazareth to the cultural tsunamis of twenty-first century globalization. He adroitly navigates vast and ever-shifting intellectual coastlines, the tumultuous rocks of history and the undertow of politics, while never losing sight of the fundamental reasons for embarking on this hazardous venture."
--Arthur J. Dewey, Xavier University

"Written in deft and crystalline prose, this is a well-informed, instructive, and insight-filled book for anyone interested in the reception history following Jesus."
--Darren J. N. Middleton, Texas Christian University

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