Who was Jesus? This has been the perennial question of Christians and non-Christians alike for two thousand years. In this massive 4-volume exposition of the historical Jesus, noted scholar John P. Meier pursues the historical Jesus and his impact for today’s world. His well-reasoned account of the life of Jesus is nothing less than startling, as though almost 2,000 years later we were seeing Jesus for the first time as his contemporaries would have seen him—“a marginal Jew”—with all the implications and questions raised by this deliberately provocative title. Indeed, the author has here sketched out for us the portrait of Jesus for our times.
Volume 1 lays out the method to be used in pursuing a critical quest for the historical Jesus and sketches Jesus’ cultural, political, and familial background. Volume 2 focuses on John the Baptist; Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God, and his startling works and teaching. Volume 3 widens the spotlight from Jesus himself to various groups around him, including his followers—the crowds, disciples, and circle of the Twelve—and his competitors—Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Qumranites, Samaritans, the scribes, Herodians, and Zealots. Volume 4 addresses the teachings of Jesus on major legal topics like divorce, oaths, the Sabbath, purity rules, and the various love commandments in the Gospels. What emerges from Meier’s research is a profile of a complicated first-century Palestinian Jew who, far from seeking to abolish the Law, was deeply engaged in debates about its observance.
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Future scholars are certain to judge John Meier's book as one of the foremost studies ever written on the historical Jesus. . . . A brilliant accomplishment!
—Jack Dean Kingsbury, editor, Interpretation, Union Theological Seminary, Virginia
This book is about the Jesus of history, a 'marginal Jew,' but it is no marginal book. . . . Meier asks all the right questions, discusses all the pertinent aspects of them, and invariably comes out with the right answers. It will be a boon to the educated general reader who seeks to know what we can find out about the founder of Christianity.
—Joseph A. Fitzmyer, author of commentaries on Luke, Acts, Romans, First Corinthians, and Philemon in the Anchor Yale Bible
By his painstaking research, his balanced presentation, and his sane conclusions, Meier has set a new standard against which all future studies of this kind will have to be measured.
—Paul J. Achtemeier, author of the commentary on 1 Peter in Hermeneia
John P. Meier is a Catholic priest and professor of New Testament at the University of Notre Dame. He has been both president of the Catholic Biblical Association and the general editor of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly. He lives in South Bend, Indiana.