Tuesday, February 15, 2005

New book by Bill Arnal

It's good to see -- via Zeba Crook on Xtalk -- that Bill Arnal has a new book out and I can't wait to read it:

The Symbolic Jesus
Historical Scholarship, Judaism and the Construction of Contemporary Identity
William Arnal

Series: Religion in Culture:Studies in Social Contest & Construction

This volume addresses the current scholarly controversies that have erupted in the last 20 or so years over the implications of the Judaism of Jesus. Since the early 1970s, a surprising number if historical Jesus scholars have been insisting with increasing shrillness that Jesus was a Jew, and that this fact has significant implications for how one reconstructs the figure of Jesus out of the portraits in ancient Christian literature. While both Christianity itself and New Testament scholarship specifically do indeed have a disturbing anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic legacy, by the 1970s, that legacy largely seemed to have been overcome, at least in mainstream biblical scholarship. This suggests that something more, something subterranean, is involved in the emotionally-charged “debate” over the Judaism of Jesus, a debate over a point no one now disputes, and a debate that generates demonstrably false charges against certain scholars (e.g., John Dominic Crossan, Robert Funk, Burton Mack) as producing a “non-Jewish” Jesus. This book explores the anti-Jewish legacy of past scholarship, shows that the Judaism of Jesus is a more complex issue than many scholars will acknowledge, and explores the subterranean cultural implications of the recent insistence on the Judaism of Jesus. The book concludes that current controversies centered around the Jewishness of Jesus are actually debates about contemporary identity issues – scholarly identities, political identities, religious identities, and the definition of cultural identity itself.

ISBN (Hardback) 1845530063
Price (Hardback) £45.00/$65.00
ISBN (Paperback) 1845530071
Price (Paperback) £12.99/$22.00
Publication Date March 2005
Pages 128
Size 216 x 138mm
Book Status Not yet published

I. Introduction: Mad Mel and the Cultural Prominence of Jesus
II. Bad Karma: Anti-Semitism in New Testament Scholarship
III. A Manufactured Controversy: Why the “Jewish Jesus” is a Red Herring
IV. The Jewish Jesus and Contemporary Identity
a. Scholarly identities
b. Political identities
c. Religious identities
d. Cultural identities
V. Conclusions

The link above takes you to the publishers' site (Equinox). You can pick it up a bit cheaper at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Update (28 April 2005, 00.31): there has been some interesting discussion of the book now on Xtalk, beginning with a review by Loren Rosson and featuring Bill among respondents. Begin with the previous link and continue to follow the thread through from the bottom of that page.

1 comment:

Andrew Criddle said...

IMO certain reconstructions of the historical Jesus (eg those which emphasise the links between Jesus and the Cynics and minimize his links to the concerns of the Judaisms of his day) can legitimately be called types of 'non-Jewish Jesus'.

I agree that the term can be used in a polemic way so as to generate more heat than light but that is another matter.