|Publication Date||May 11, 1998|
The quest for the "historical" Jesus - the human figure who became Christ - has preoccupied the Christian world for centuries. Their conclusions have always revealed far more about themselves than the meaning of Jesus, and, as Charlotte Allen now shows in this book, they nearly always missed the most fundamental human reality of the man whom Christians call the Son of God: he was born of a Jewish mother into a Jewish community. The story of the search for the historical Jesus is a tour through the great and terrible ideas of modern Western civilization. The Human Christ is the first chronicle of this quest from its beginnings to the present day. In addition, Allen focuses on the huge "life-of-Christ" industry that has flourished in novels and films, revealing it to be a heady combination of piety, exotica, and even soft-core pornography. Finally, Allen explores the efforts of Jewish and Gentile scholars to locate Jesus' place in first-century Judaism, the environment in which he actually conducted his ministry. For generations, scholars, intellectuals, novelists, and filmmakers have set out to find the "real" Jesus and have come up with mirror images of themselves. Their efforts amount to an exercise in theology rather than history and one that tells more about the intellectual and popular fads of their time than it does about Jesus. While Allen debunks these rationalistic approaches to Jesus, she has not abandoned useful historical methods. Guided by an unwavering acceptance of religious mystery, she has exhaustively researched and referenced her work.