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Jesus among Friends and Enemies: A Historical and Literary Introduction to Jesus in the Gospels

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This engaging text offers a fresh alternative to standard introductions to Jesus. Combining literary and socio-historical approaches and offering a tightly integrated treatment, a team of highly respected scholars examines how Jesus’ friends and enemies respond to him in the Gospel narratives. This is the first book to introduce readers to the Gospel’s rich portraits of Jesus by surveying the characters who surround him in those texts—from John the Baptist, the disciples, and the family of Jesus to Satan, Pontius Pilate, and Judas Iscariot (among others).

The Logos Bible Software edition of this volume is designed to encourage and stimulate your study and understanding of Scripture. Biblical passages link directly to your English translations and original-language texts, and important theological concepts link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. In addition, you can perform powerful searches by topic and find what other authors, scholars, and theologians have to say about the Word of God.

Resource Experts
  • Introduces portrayals of the people and characters who surround Jesus in the Gospels
  • Explains the importance of paying attention to what the Gospels say about those around Jesus
  • Attempts to bring readers close to how original audiences of the Gospels would have heard them
  • Part 1: The Friends of Jesus
    • God and Angels
    • John the Baptist
    • The Disciples
    • The Family of Jesus
    • Other Friends of Jesus: Mary Magdalene, the Bethany Family, and the Beloved Disciple
    • Secret Disciples: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea
  • Part 2: The Enemies of Jesus
    • Satan and Demons
    • The Jewish Leaders
    • Political Authorities: The Herods, Caiaphas, and Pontius Pilate
    • Judas Iscariot: The Betrayer of Jesus
  • Seeking the Historical Jesus among Friends and Enemies

Top Highlights

“frank statements that the criteria of authenticity simply do not work” (Page 281)

“emphasis upon the Gospel tradition as Jesus memory.” (Page 281)

“Regardless of its origins, the important concept to grasp at present is the distinction between the reality of Jesus’s life and the claims of Christian Gospels. This distinction typically contains within it an implicit or explicit skepticism that the two are identical, thus giving birth to critical questioning of the canonical versions of Jesus’s life and identity. Under such approaches to Jesus, the ‘historical Jesus’ refers to the actual Jesus of the past rather than the portrayals of him by later Christians in the church’s Gospels.” (Page 270)

“Since the criteria of authenticity are built upon this assumption, and devised as a means of separating one from the other, this abandonment problematizes the usage of criteria of authenticity.” (Page 284)

Approaching the Jesus question from the outside in, the contributors reflect both on what can be known historically about the figures who surround him in the Gospels and on how these figures function within the respective narratives as foils to create distinct portraits of Christ. . . . The content of the discussion will be of interest to scholars while the accessible presentation will make this book a valuable resource for students.

—Tom Thatcher, professor of New Testament, Cincinnati Christian University

It is innovative to ask historical questions about Jesus and the Gospels without getting caught up in the quagmire of the authenticity criteria, and this book is innovative because different authors bring different methods to the texts. And what better topic—asking what Jesus’ friends and enemies thought of him! Time and time again we are taken to the Gospels themselves to see how the narratives shape our understanding of Jesus. It is the breadth of the testimony of these narratives that makes this book sparkle.

Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

The recipe for this book is brilliantly simple: get to know Jesus through those who knew him. Seek out both friends and enemies. Interview family and foreigners, disciples and detractors, men and women. Confer not only with secret allies but also with public opponents, with loyalists as well as traitors. Find out what drew each group toward Jesus or scared them away. Into this mix stir what modern scholars are saying about the impressions Jesus left on the Romans and Jews of his day and about the most responsible ways to read the Gospels. Simmer. Season with clear prose. Serve. Jesus among Friends and Enemies is a great read, a rich introduction to Jesus and his world, and a fresh addition to the often-bland menu of Jesus studies.

Bruce Fisk, professor of religious studies, Westmont College

A fascinating concept for a collaborative book on the historical Jesus—to see him through the biblical and extrabiblical stories about his friends and enemies. This book covers it all, providing clear and robust historical and literary examinations of Jesus from our knowledge of John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Caiaphas, Pilate, Judas Iscariot, and more. This book will inspire classes.

April DeConick, Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University

An outstanding teaching resource, Jesus among Friends and Enemies offers a balanced and comprehensive collection of essays treating the historical contexts and narrative methods of ancient Christian and Jewish writers. Though Jesus and the New Testament Gospels are the primary focus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, non-Christian discussions of Jesus, writings associated with apocalyptic Judaism, and noncanonical Gospel traditions are also addressed, providing readers with a rich store of comparative data from which to assess canonical descriptions of Jesus, his friends, and his enemies. Keith and Hurtado are to be congratulated for this superior contribution to the study of Jesus in the Gospels.

—Jennifer Knust, assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins, Boston University

This collaborative work of several New Testament scholars takes a novel and fruitful approach to learning about the historical Jesus and the Jesus of the gospels. . . . The goal is to help the reader cumulatively to see the full dimensions of the Jesus of the gospels through the eyes of those who surround him in the gospel dramas.

The Bible Today

  • Title: Jesus among Friends and Enemies: A Historical and Literary Introduction to Jesus in the Gospels
  • Editors: Christ Keith and Larry W. Hurtado
  • Publisher: Baker Academic
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Pages: 352

Chris Keith is an assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins at Lincoln Christian University. He was the 2010 recipient of the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise for The Pericope Adulterae, the Gospel of John, and the Literacy of Jesus.

Larry W. Hurtado is a New Testament and Christian origins scholar. He was a professor of New Testament language, literature, and theology and director of the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland until his retirement in 2011. An internationally respected New Testament scholar, he is an expert on the Gospels, the apostle Paul, early Christology, the Jewish background of the New Testament, and New Testament textual criticism.


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