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The First Christian
Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus
POD; Published: 7/25/2003
ISBN: 978-0-8028-2110-2
Price: $ 17.50
148 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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In this book Paul Zahl seeks a broader understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus. What was it within his message that burst his first-century Jewish context? What was creative, fresh, and universal about his message? What did Jesus maintain, within his own setting and period, that is still true and applicable today?

In pursuing these questions, Zahl swims against the current of modern scholarship, arguing that Jesus was more "Christian" than "Jewish." Jesus' teaching concerning the kingdom of God is replete with Christian perspectives on human nature and salvation, and his insights into original sin and grace are closer to core Christianity than much recent literature acknowledges. Drawing from both Jewish and Christian thinkers, Zahl shows Jesus to be a saving figure, a christological figure, even a radically Protestant figure. Zahl also brings his fresh perspective into present-day focus by showing how Jesus' dynamic teachings still have worldwide impact.

Zahl writes both as a highly trained theologian and as a pastor who recognizes that scholarship stands in the service of discipleship. In The First Christian he renders the contemporary "quest for the historical Jesus" not only accessible but also relevant to the life of faith. Students of the Bible and general readers alike will be enriched by his compelling portrait of a Christian, universal Jesus.
Booklist, Editor's Choice (2003)
Booklist, Top Ten Books in Religion (2004)
Theological Book Review
"The book deserves wide distribution and should be read by all students and scholars involved in studies of the historical Jesus."
Peter J. Gomes
"Paul Zahl continues to be one of our most productive, provocative, and prolific theological thinkers. He writes in the best tradition of the learned ministry, and he is at his trenchant best in this, his latest book. "
Booklist, starred review
"Basic stuff, this, but Zahl, drawing on some marvelous resources, including the appreciative Jewish scholar of Jesus, David Flusser, restates it all so cogently and concisely that this is the book anyone befuddled about Christianity should read to get a clear idea of the distinctives of Christian belief."
"A bold an timely reassertion that the Jesus of history is the Christ of faith."
Review & Expositor
"This is a readable but responsible treatment of an important, often complex subject. Zahl provides a stellar example of responsible scholarship and theological thinking."
The Living Church
"The First Christian should be a useful and thought-provoking read, whatever one's theology or ecclesiastical politics."