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Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / 2010 / Paperback
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Demonstrating how historical memories are initially formed, Le Donne considers how people interpret sensory data in light of what they expect and what they've learned. He then offers a philosophy of history and uses it to outline three dimensions from Jesus' life---his "dysfunctional" family, his politics, and his final confrontation in Jerusalem. 112 pages, softcover from Eerdmans.
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.
-James D. G. Dunn
University of Durham
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.
University of Georgia
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.
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.
University of Massachusetts
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.
Cincinnati Christian University
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.
University of Heidelberg
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