Booklist 3.

Jesus

29

Jesus, Gnosis and Dogma

Riemer Roukema London: T&T Clark, 2 0 10,978-0-567-46642-6, £ 16.99, xi + 2 3 1 pb

This is an ambitious book, which aims to show that NT Christianity—especially as far as its view of Jesus is concerned—is more historically primitive than its Gnostic counterparts, and finds legitimate expression in the Nicene creed. After an introduction, ch. 2 argues for an early, high Christology (either expounded or assumed) in Paul and all four Gospels, and compares this with the representation of Jesus in various gnostic (very broadly defined) sources, especially the Gospel o f Thomas and the Gospel o f Judas. Similar comparisons are made about Jesus’ teaching (ch. 3) and Jesus’ death, resurrection and exaltation (ch. 4). The arguments for the secondary character of gnosticism vis-à-vis the NT are the gnostic sources’ (i) greater complexity (p. 59) in their dyadic or tetradic Christologies, (ii) view of Jesus’ indirect relationship to the God of the OT (p. 59), (iii) attribution to Jesus of teaching a ‘higher’ God—historically ‘completely out of the question’ (p. 87)— (iv) reception of Platonism in, e.g., Thomas's androgyny theology (pp. 115-16), and (v) formulation of themes in opposition to the magna ecclesia (p. 116). The exalted Christological categories in the NT, however, find parallel in Qumran and Philo, so a high Christology makes sense in a first-century Jewish setting. A minor quibble is that the English is often quirky (e.g., ‘in historical aspect’ vs ‘in theological respect’, pp. 7-8), but overall the expositions of the gnostic literature here are clear and accurate. The conclusions are not merely of a reactionary nature, as, for exampie, in the discussion of Jewish Christianity, and the possibility of the authenticity of Gos. Thom. 97-98 (the parables of the broken jar and the assassin). Perhaps not many will agree with Roukema’s total construal of the NT, given that he advocates both a high Christology and a view of divine plurality in early Judaism. But it is probably fair to say that this book is not, at least primarily, aimed at scholars. It will, however, provide great stimulation for undergraduates and postgraduates in this highly controverted field. Simon J. Gathercole

Jesus in the Jewish World

Geza Vermes London: SCM, 2 0 10,978-0-334-04379-9, £ 16.99, xii + 268 pb

This collection of essays by Vermes comprises a dozen previously published and three new contributions. Five pieces focus on aspects of Jesus: ‘Jesus of Nazareth in a Nutshell’ and ‘A Dream’, both very short, summarize respectively what Jesus (were he to return) might say to Jews, Christians and those who have given up religion, and the other what can essentially be said today about the historical Jesus; the latter topic is also addressed by a hitherto unavailable keynote address on historical Jesus methodology, while another essay is devoted to Jesus’ contemporary Hanina ben Dosa. Four contributions concentrate on Scripture and tradition (that is, on the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, midrash and Talmud) and on the revision of Schürer. Three essays address the Dead Sea Scrolls, including a now uncensored account of ‘the Battle over the Scrolls’, Vermes’s assessment (in 2002) of their significance for understanding Christianity and a study of the Binding

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