It’s almost Easter, which can mean only one thing: it’s time for the blockbuster Bible bestsellers. Last week, Bart Ehrman promoted his new book, How Jesus Became God, on NPR’s Fresh Air. Ehrman advances a common argument: Christian conceptions of Jesus’ identity grew more elaborate with time. His followers first perceived Jesus as a remarkable preacher or prophet, but eventually believers came to regard him as God incarnate.
Although I was aware of Ehrman’s book, I missed the publicity blitz.
Parallel Lives of Jesus: A Guide to the Four Gospels, by Edward Adams. Introductions to the Gospels most often underscore the individual personality of each Gospel and leave aside questions of the Gospels’ similarity. Parallel Lives of Jesus achieves both with economy and clarity.
People often assume—wrongly—that the Bible presents a single view of God and the world. In Understanding Wisdom Literature, David Penchansky shows how the Hebrew Bible’s wisdom books, Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, speak differently from covenant-centered writings such as Genesis, Deuteronomy and Isaiah.
One of the most interesting shifts in Christian theology after the Shoah was in how the adjective Jewish was used. In the patristic era, to call someone’s work Jewish was to insult it: the work was too fleshly or legalistic. Since the Shoah, to call someone’s work Jewish is to praise it as appropriately this-worldly, concerned with the ordinary stuff of life, embodied.