Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet

Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet

Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet

Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet


Dale Allison's clearly written Jesus of Nazareth will enable people who have followed recent discussions to vindicate and reclaim the central religious significance of the historical Jesus. Allison makes a creative contribution to Jesus studies in several ways:

  • He offers new suggestions for establishing the authenticity of Jesus' word - including what he calls "the index of intertextual linkage" - and for the process of framing a convincing picture of the central thrust and purpose of the activity of Jesus.
  • Referring to fascinating cross-cultural millenarian parallels, he shows that the impetus for the pre-Easter Jesus movement was apocalyptic in nature and that the historical Jesus can best be understood as an eschatological prophet.
  • He presents the first full-length treatment of the question of Jesus and asceticism and shows that Jesus, far from the image suggested by some today, was driven by an apocalyptic asceticism that extended to matters of sex, food, and social relations.

Always evenhanded and fair, Allison's new work is nonetheless penetrating, acute, and provocative.


I used to tell friends that I wanted to write a book on the historical Jesus, but that I would not know enough or be wise enough to do so until I was in my fifties. Well, I am still in my forties, and here is a book on Jesus. the reason is not that I have gained sufficient knowledge and wisdom but rather the opposite. the years have bestowed some humility and taught me that, partly because of an inability to make up my mind about so many things, I shall never be able to write the sort of thorough tome I once envisaged. I shall instead always be limited to seeing and writing about only fleeting glimpses of the past—and to making guesses about all too much. These three chapters, then, are fragments that have fallen from the ruins of a project that the builder has abandoned.

Chapter 1 sets out to discover how we might come to knowledge of the historical Jesus and ends up concluding that the tradition about him is best understood on the supposition that he was, among other things, what sociologists and anthropologists call a millenarian prophet. Chapter 2 considers what we can know about Jesus' millenarian vision and how his eschatological language should be interpreted. Chapter 3 argues that Jesus was, despite so much written to the contrary, a sort of millenarian ascetic whose words and behavior are illuminated through comparative materials.

As a whole, this book functions as a belated prologue to my earlier contribution, The End of the Ages Has Come: An Early Interpretation of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1987). in that volume I sought an explanation for the so-called realized eschatology of the New Testament. During graduate days the study of millenarian movements persuaded me that the early Christian interpretation of the death and vindication of Jesus in eschato-

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