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Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question

Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question

Michael F. Bird

| Baker Academic | 2009

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“Jesus understood himself as designated by God as the Messiah of Israel.” This thesis may strike many historical-Jesus scholars as dangerously bold. But through careful study of the Gospels, Second Temple literature, and other period texts, scholar Michael Bird makes a persuasive argument that Jesus saw himself as performing the role attributed to the messiah—in the Scriptures of Israel—and believed that Israel’s restoration hinged on the outcome of his ministry.

Bird begins by exploring messianic expectations in the Old Testament and in Second Temple Judaism. In them he finds in them an evolving messianism that provides historical context for Jesus’ life and teaching. He examines the prevailing contention that the messianic claim originated not with Jesus himself, but in the preaching of the early church. Bird argues that such contentions lack cogency and often skew the evidence. Examining the Gospels and related literature, he shows that what Jesus said and did demonstrates that he believed he was Israel’s messiah. His career was “performatively messianic” in a way that shows continuity in eschatological terms between Israel and the church.

Author Bio

Michael F. Bird is lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry. He is the author of several books, including Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission, The Saving Righteousness of God, and with James Crossley, How Did Christianity Begin?