On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Herv. teol. stud. vol.64 n.2 Cape Town Jun. 2008
Boekbesprekings / Book Reviews
Burridge, R A & Gould, G 2004 Jesus now and then
Publisher: Eerdmans. Pages Xii + 215. Price: $16.00
Reviewer: Prof Ernest van Eck (University of Pretoria)
Jesus now and then must be read in terms of what it is: a reworking of nine lectures on the effect Jesus had on people then (the New Testament and the early church) and now, presented to King's College students coming from different religious backgrounds and who were not necessarily studying theology. Because of this particular setting and the original aim, expect a book that presents the issues at an introductory level. Therefore, do not expect in-depth discussions on, for example, the question of the historical Jesus or Paul's relationship to Jesus. Moreover, since the authors are who they are (Burrigde, who was responsible for the part on the New Testament and Gould, who focused on the early church), expect the genre of the gospels being described as Lives (see Burridge's What are the Gospels? A comparison with Graeco-Roman biography, 1992), Mark as the roaring lion, Matthew as the human face, Luke as the burden-bearing ox and John as the high-flying eagle (see Burridge's Four Gospels, one Jesus? 1994), and expect an emphasis on the contribution of the Cappadocian Fathers when Jesus' humanity and divinity is discussed (Gould).
Contents-wise, the book consists of an introduction (ch 1, co-authored by the two authors) and two parts, the New Testament (Part I, written by Burridge) and the early church (Part II, written by Gould). In a certain sense the first chapter can be seen as a summary of what is to follow, focusing on the Christological debates in the early and modern church on who Jesus was (then) and is (now). In Part I Burridge discuss the historical Jesus-question (ch 2), Jesus as the different gospel writers presented him (ch 3), Paul's understanding of Jesus (ch 4) and the views of Jesus in the New Testament (ch 5). Part II, written by Gould, has as its focus what the early church taught about Jesus (ch 6), the way in which the early Christians had worshipped Jesus (ch 7), the confession of Jesus as being wholly human and divine (ch 8), and modern day understandings of Jesus (ch 9).
Taking its purpose into consideration, Burridge and Gould must be congratulated on a book that is well written. The historical and theological questions surrounding Jesus are presented in a non-technical and understandable manner. Many undergraduate students in my classes over the past two years can vouch for this. The box inserts, explaining some of the "difficult" terms used, are useful and are welcomed. The suggested reading list at the end, however, could have been expanded to have been more representative of the scholarly debate Jesus now and then wants to introduce.