This engaging, sharply honed book applies a postmodern paradigm to two crucial questions: What does "historical" mean?
and How should we apply this to Jesus?
Many historical Jesus scholars try in vain to peel away early Christian interpretations of Jesus and finally lament the ancient past as ultimately unknowable. Yet Anthony Le Donne argues that by analyzing patterns in the way Jesus was remembered by his followers, it is possible to make positive, plausible claims about his life and teaching.
Le Donne explores the nature of perception and human memory -- and the ways in which these forces create and shape our knowledge of the past. He then shows how his approach to history can illuminate three important facets of Jesus' life: his complex relationship with his mother and their dysfunctional family, the spiritual and political dimensions of his revolutionary preaching, and his final confrontation with the temple priesthood in Jerusalem.
Read about the book in a blog post by Anthony Le Donne
and a review of the book
, both on EerdWord
James D. G. Dunn
— University of Durham
"This very readable and provocative book should provide an invigorating agenda for many discussion groups, particularly if they want to grapple seriously with postmodern views of history and the role of memory in recording the impact which Jesus made on his disciples."
— University of Georgia
"Anthony Le Donne's Historical Jesus is among the most remarkable of recent efforts to comprehend Jesus historically. Engaging, informative, and provocative, the book is at once a brilliant portrait of the historical Jesus and a valuable contribution to social memory scholarship. Le Donne's 'postmodern paradigm,' which includes an astute analysis of perception and memory, transcends postmodernism itself. . . No one can read Le Donne's book and fail to think in new ways about the historical Jesus."
— Bard College
"Some philosophers of history have underscored how closely interwoven are history as a narrative and the meaning attached to that history by those who tell it. History is not just the record of events but is inherently a matter of perspective. Anthony Le Donne here sets out in clear and accessible terms how this critical view of history has begun to exert a dramatic impact on our assessments of Jesus."
— University of Massachusetts
"In their obsession with authenticating individual sayings of Jesus as precious artifacts of a unique individual teacher, modernist mainline questers for the historical Jesus have ignored that Jesus must have communicated with followers. They have thus ignored the necessity of understanding oral communication and social memory in a distinctive historical context. Anthony Le Donne is one of the first to take both oral communication and social memory seriously. He takes some key steps toward rethinking how we might have knowledge of Jesus-in-context through an appreciation of the social memory of Jesus' followers."
— Cincinnati Christian University
"A provocative look at the next wave of study of the Jesus of history. Accessible to general readers yet up to date with the latest developments in the field, Le Donne grounds his understanding of Jesus both in ancient sources and in a careful consideration of contemporary philosophy. Appealing to postmodernism as a way to better understand human perception, memory, and narrative, Le Donne gives us a high-tech look at the ancient and early stories of Jesus' life. He anchors Jesus carefully in the past but allows him to speak meaningfully to the present."
— University of Heidelberg
"As a rule postmodernism means historical skepticism. . . Le Donne opens the door to the past again, not by refusing postmodern historiography but by applying its insights. If all reality is interpretive reality — perception, memory, and history — it is possible to make responsible statements on the past and on the historical Jesus. His book is a convincing plea against historical resignation — written with lucidity, esprit, and common sense."