The Bible introduces us to a loving Jesus who turns the other cheek, loves his enemies, and shows grace to all. But we also meet a warrior Jesus who leads an army of angels bent on earthly destruction. Which is the true Messiah? Should we all follow the nonviolent Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount or the vengeful, sword-wielding Christ of Revelation?Read more...
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The Bible introduces us to a loving Jesus who turns the other cheek, loves his enemies, and shows grace to all. But we also meet a warrior Jesus who leads an army of angels bent on earthly destruction. Which is the true Messiah? Should we all follow the nonviolent Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount or the vengeful, sword-wielding Christ of Revelation?
As one of the foremost biblical scholars of our day, John Dominic Crossan re-veals that running throughout the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation are two conflicting revelations of God: one offering a radical, holy vision where every need is provided for and love and grace are extended widely; the other working to domesticate this radical vision by em-phasizing judgment and punishment and by propping up the status quo.
But one thing is clear, argues Crossan: one cannot pretend that the Bible provides a single, unified vision of God or Jesus. If one wants to discover the Bible's best and purest revelation of God, then Christians must measure the Bible by Jesus. And to find the best and purest revelation of Jesus, Crossan concludes, then we must look to the work of scholars who can point us to the teachings of the historical Jesus. Only then will we know how to read the Bible and still be a Christian."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-16
- Reviewer: Staff
Reading the Bible can be troubling for both Christians and non-Christians who wonder how to reconcile Jesus's teachings on nonviolence and love with stories about a vengeful and violent God. In his usual ingenious fashion, biblical scholar Crossan (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography) locates the heartbeat of the Christian Bible in a cycle of assertion and subversion. Through close readings of texts from Genesis through Revelation, he illustrates that many biblical stories assert the radical nature of God's love and desire for nonviolent justice, while others illustrate subversion through the desire of civilizations for violent retributive justice. In the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation, for example, God's dream for a kingdom of justice and peace is subverted by visions of divine punishment for not following God's rules for the kingdom. Crossan stresses that the historical Jesus, who teaches peace and nonviolence, is the measure by which Christians read the Bible: "We are called Christians, not Bible-ians." While sometimes repetitive, Crossan's provocative book challenges readers to pick up the Bible once more and pay close attention to the collision of violence and nonviolence in its pages. (Mar.)