One of the most highly regarded works of intellectual history of the past decade, this book is an original and compelling study of the impact of Jesus on cultural, political, social, and economic history. Noted historian and thelolgian Jaroslav Pelikan reveals how the image of Jesus created by each successive epoch--from rabbi in the first century to liberator in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries--is a key to understanding the temper and values of that age.
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Review 1 for Jesus Through the Centuries: His Place in the History of Culture
This book is what it purports to be: "not a life of Jesus, nor a history of Christianity, nor even a history of theological doctrines about Jesus [though all of these are touched upon, some in detail], but a series of images portraying his place in the history of culture" [p. vii; my brackets]. So, for an understanding of Jesus as a historical figure, what is the point? Prof. Pelikan's thesis is a subtle one: we necessarily see Jesus through the lens of our own time and place, now some 2000 years removed from the events of his life and death. However objective and immutable we would like our documentation (the New Testament and its adjuncts) to seem, we will always read these in light of contemporary imagery, everything from simple rabbi to cosmic presence. The upshot: we ought always to have before us an awareness of this essential and inescapable bias, and a full knowledge of its influence on our thinking, in any claims which we may make about a "true" understanding of Jesus' message. Well worth reading from this perspective.