The Gospels were written by believers for believers.
The alternative of events occurring in history is not phantasy.
Jesus viewed through the prism of resurrection-faith.
Gospels are not primarily history but rather theology.
Jesus was a first century Palestinian Jew.
Anthony J. Jordan is a native of Ballyhaunis Co. Mayo. He has written biographies on Major John MacBride, Sean MacBride, Conor Cruise O'Brien, Winston Churchill, Christy Brown, WB Yeats, WT Cosgrave, John A Costello, Eamon deValera. He has written two books on the Yeats/tonne/MacBride Triangle and has edited a collection of the writings of John MacBride. His own autobiography is titled The Good Samaritans - Memoir of a Biographer. His most recent book was, ARTHUR GRIFFITH, with James Joyce & WB Yeats - Liberating Ireland.
This is an interesting account of the life of Jesus Christ by an accomplished biographer. Many writers have provided portraits of Jesus, ranging from the bizarre to the traditional.
Anthony Jordan’s belongs to the latter category, although his description of the Resurrection varies from the traditional understanding of that unique event, when he claims that it is not a miracle authenticating faith, but is itself the object of faith. The four gospels and classical and early Christian writing are the main sources for a life of Jesus.
In addition, like other modern writers, Jordan makes full use of information garnered from remarkable archaeological digs and discoveries in Palestine during the past hundred years. Not least among these has been the discovery between 1947 and 1956 in Qumran of 851 texts which became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. These documents were contemporary to Jesus’ time and assisted scholars in their understanding of the religious practices, social conditions and mores which impacted on Jesus in his daily life.
The Qumran documents in particular shed light on the Essenes, a strict religious sect with monastic communities in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. This prompted some scholars to claim that Jesus spent some of his hidden life – those years not reported in the Gospels – with the Essenes. This is rightly rejected by Jordan by pointing out the incompatibility between Jesus’ teaching and the Essenes’ rejection of the ‘world of sinners’.
Jordan narrates with an easy fluency the story of the best-known historical person to enter the world from his birth in Bethlehem to his crucifixion on Mount Calvary. Throughout he emphasises the humanity of Jesus. Frequently he notes his compassion for those who were disabled, disturbed, lepers or sick, and his gentle and respectful demeanour towards women and children, and the outcasts of society. He stresses the presence of pain and especially fear in the life of Jesus, even claiming that in the garden of Gethsemane so far from accepting his fate Jesus was planning to escape from his enemies into Galilee!
The author is to be commended for his courage in publishing this book. A study of this kind is generally regarded to be the remit of scripture scholars, theologians and experts in Christology and academics tend to resent those who intrude into their domain.
Alfred O’Rahilly, the polymath from UCC, faced such resentment, when he attempted a life of Jesus. When a colleague informed another academic that O’Rahilly had begun his life of Christ and added that it should be interesting, the response he received was: “It could not be half as interesting as Jesus’ life of O’Rahilly!” This is another excellent publication from the prolific Anthony Jordan.
- J. Anthony Gaughan