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Old 07-24-2008, 12:58 AM
Cisco is offline
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Recommend a biography of Jesus


Is there a book that collects everything the bible has to say about the J-man and speculates to fill in all the gaps? That would be the perfect biography, IMO, and that's what I'm looking for: a really good biography of Jesus, besides the bible. I already have one of those and it's free online anyway.
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:23 AM
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Jack Miles, a former Catholic priest, has written two informative, thought-provoking books in the "literary biography" genre- 'GOD: A Biography' (of the OT God) and its sequel 'CHRIST: A Crisis in the Life of God'.

For sheer fiction, check out Anne Rice's two CHRIST THE LORD books, 'Out of Egypt' and
'Road to Cana'.

Last edited by FriarTed; 07-24-2008 at 02:24 AM. Reason: correct Cana title
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Old 07-24-2008, 02:42 AM
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I haven't read Walter Wangerin's book Jesus, which is a novel, but I did read his fiction version of the book of Genesis and it was pretty good. I don't know about a biography specifically.
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Old 07-24-2008, 03:48 AM
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Well there's always Lamb by Christopher Moore

Though I doubt that's what you are looking for
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Old 07-24-2008, 04:04 AM
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There's also Ken Russell's Mike and Gaby's space gospel , but that probably isn't what you're looking for either.
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Old 07-24-2008, 05:18 AM
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An interesting account of the historical Jesus that is very accessible is Bart Ehrman's Jesus Apocalyptic Prophet .
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Old 07-24-2008, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Future Londonite
Well there's always Lamb by Christopher Moore

Though I doubt that's what you are looking for
Where else would you learn that Jesus created Judo?
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Old 07-24-2008, 10:06 AM
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The classic book is by Dr. Albert Schweitzer.. Yes, the guy who founded all those hospitals deep in Dark Africa, the guy to associate with the sentence: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Quote:
As a young theologian..Schweitzer..published The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906), by which he gained a great reputation. In this book, he interpreted the life of Jesus in the light of Jesus' own eschatological convictions. Schweitzer demonstrated that 19th century "liberal lives of Jesus" produced by those who sought to reimage Jesus through historical study were reflections of the authors' own historical and social contexts.
This work effectively ended for decades the Quest for the Historical Jesus as a subdiscipline of New Testament studies, until the development of the so-called "Second Quest," among whose notable exponents was Rudolf Bultmann's student Ernst Käsemann. The original edition was translated into English by William Montgomery and published in 1910.
A second German edition was published in 1913, containing theologically significant revisions and expansions. This revised edition did not appear in English until 2001.

.... Schweitzer established his reputation further as a New Testament scholar with other theological studies including his medical degree dissertation, The Psychiatric Study of Jesus (1911).
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Old 07-24-2008, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Maastricht
the guy to associate with the sentence: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

Um, that was Dr. David Livingstone, a medical missionary to Africa in the 19th century, and the sentence was spoken by Stanley the journalist.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdwarning
I haven't read Walter Wangerin's book Jesus, which is a novel, but I did read his fiction version of the book of Genesis and it was pretty good. I don't know about a biography specifically.
I haven't read it either, but here's a link to the book on Amazon.com. As mentioned, this is an attempt to tell the story of Jesus in the form of a novel. For what it's worth, Wangerin is (if I recall correctly) a Lutheran pastor and an author whose best-known work may be the fantasy novel The Book of the Dun Cow.

From the non-Christian/skeptical perspective, one biography of Jesus is the one by A. N. Wilson, which I have not read either. Wilson is a non-Christian English novelist and biographer who has also written biographies of C. S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, and the Apostle Paul.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by FriarTed
Um, that was Dr. David Livingstone, a medical missionary to Africa in the 19th century, and the sentence was spoken by Stanley the journalist.
Still, both were religious doctors in Africa. That has to count for something, no?..No?
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:44 AM
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There really are no proper biographies of Jesus since almost nothing is verifiable about his life (pretty much the only thing historians have any confidence in is that he was a Galilean preacher who was crucified under Pilate). The Gospels are not true biographies and are contradictory in any case, but they are still virtually the only source of any alleged biographical information about him. The only semi-contemorary, non-Christian claims about him come from Josephus and Tacitus who both mention in passing what I referenced above -- that he was a a Jewish preacher crucified by Pilate and that he was the founder of the Christos cult.

Still, a couple of interesting books based on informed speculation about the life of Jesus would be John Crossan's Jesus: A radical Biography, the above mentioned Ehrman book and the Jesus seminar's The Acts of Jesus.

Finding a good, clean chronological record of Jesus' life with a reliable timeline and details just isn't going to happen, though.
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Old 07-24-2008, 01:30 PM
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There really are no proper biographies of Jesus since almost nothing is verifiable about his life . . . Finding a good, clean chronological record of Jesus' life with a reliable timeline and details just isn't going to happen
I understand. For my interests, it can be made up as long as it's somewhat historically plausible (i.e. no books about pothead surfer dude Jesus.)
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Old 07-24-2008, 01:42 PM
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I understand. For my interests, it can be made up as long as it's somewhat historically plausible (i.e. no books about pothead surfer dude Jesus.)
Try to find Robert Graves' King Jesus. It's a fiction, but Graves is a good researcher.
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Old 07-24-2008, 01:55 PM
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The best novel I've read about Jesus in terms of research and "explaining" the myth was by Frank Yerby: Judas My Brother. It's out of print but can be found in libraries and reasonably priced in used bookstores. The book contains as many footnotes as if it were a work of history. (Yerby was an interesting guy: a Georgian who got rich writing "bodice rippers" and sensationalized historical fiction super popular among women readers- his sales dropped significantly when it was learned [at his insistence] he was part African-American [also part white, part Cherokee- but in the '50s twas the drop of black that counted] and in irritation with American race relations he moved to Spain, where his fiction became more serious; Judas- which contains a disclaimer to the effect of "If you're a fundamentalist Christian you will not like this book and I do not recommend you buy it"- was written late in his career.)

ETA: Wiki has most of the disclaimer-
Quote:
On the frontispiece, Yerby warns "those emotionally dependent upon the Christian Religion" to read no further. The sleeve notes continue:

This novel touches on only two issues which, in a certain sense, might be called controversial: whether any man truly has the right to believe fanciful and childish nonsense; and whether any organization has the right to impose, by almost imperial fiat, belief in things that simply are not so. To me, irrationality is dangerous; perhaps the most dangerous force stalking through the world today. This novel, then, is one man's plea for an ecumenicism broad enough to include reasonable men; and his effort to defend his modest intellect from intolerable insult.
==============

For easy to read well researched non-fiction it's hard to beat Karen Armstrong (the former nun who now teaches at a rabbinical college). She hasn't written a bio of Jesus exactly, but her A History of God comes close in parts. Her other books include The Battle for God (a history of Fundamentalism) and The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, which I also enjoyed.

Last edited by Sampiro; 07-24-2008 at 01:57 PM.
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