The Blackwell Companion to Jesus

The Blackwell Companion to Jesus

The Blackwell Companion to Jesus

The Blackwell Companion to Jesus

Synopsis

The Blackwell Companion to Jesus features a comprehensive collection of essays that explore the diverse ways in which Jesus has been imagined or portrayed from the beginnings of Christianity to the present day.
  • Considers portrayals of Jesus in the New Testament and beyond, Jesus in non-Christian religions, philosophical and historic perspectives, modern manifestations, and representations in Christian art, novels, and film
  • Comprehensive scope of coverage distinguishes this work from similar offerings
  • Examines both Christian and non-Christian perspectives on Jesus, including those from ethnic and sexual groups, as well as from other faiths
  • Offers rich and rewarding insights which will shape our understanding of this influential figure and his enduring legacy

Excerpt

William R. Telford

It is fitting that this volume, the Blackwell Companion to Jesus, which is dedicated to exploring the diverse ways in which Jesus has been considered significant in human culture over the past 2,000 years, should begin with Mark’s portrait of Jesus. The Gospel of Mark is considered by many to be the primary compendium of Jesus traditions, and the first connected narrative account of the life of Jesus resulting therefrom. The status of the gospel in this regard cannot, therefore, be overestimated. While there are still those who would assign it a secondary role in the development of the Jesus tradition, for example, by casting doubt on its position as the first gospel to be written, and claiming that honor for the Gospel of Matthew (e.g., Peabody et al. 2002), most scholars nowadays would accept the case for Markan priority, and hence a scholarly consensus resulting from over two centuries of debate on the interrelationship of the gospels (e.g., Head 1997; for a full summary of scholarship over the last quarter century on the issue of Markan priority and posteriority, see Telford 2009, 4–5). The apostle Paul, of course, was the first to establish a Christian literary tradition through his epistolary activity, but his letters offer us little in the way of a description of Jesus. The compilers of Q (the other putative source used by Matthew and Luke in addition to Mark) may have been the first to compile a collection of Jesus’ sayings, but nothing that resembles a picture of Jesus emerges from them. The Markan evangelist, on the other hand, was the first to bring together into a coherent form the various traditions that had grown up over a generation regarding Jesus’ teaching and activity, and by placing not only his sayings but also his deeds within the framework of a story recounting his life and death, he it is who provides us with our first real portrait of Christianity’s founder.

Being first at anything in human life and experience brings with it its own kudos, but in the case of Mark, the first evangelist, and the Gospel of Mark, the first gospel, we can recognize an achievement that, in historical, literary and theological terms, was to have profound significance for the emergence, development, and influence . . .

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