Defining Jesus is about the semantic content of the name Jesus. To what does the name refer, especially when modifying adjectives are attached, such as ""the historical Jesus,"" ""the Jesus of history,"" ""the earthly Jesus,"" ""the biblical Jesus,"" ""the real Jesus""? Problems arise when commercial writers and scholars, without the necessary caveat, equate their hypothetical portrait of ""the historical Jesus"" with ""the real Jesus""--none other than the Jesus of the first century ""as he actually was."" To disabuse scholarship of this hubris, the author carefully delineates the diverse settings in which the name Jesus appears in the ongoing dialogue about Jesus of Nazareth. Its approach is apologetic: it defends the traditional language of Christian faith, arguing with Martin Kahler in the nineteenth century that the only Jesus Christians have ever known, or can know, is the Christ of faith. ""Soulen's defining of Jesus is critical, profoundly clear, and faithful. Judiciously distinguishing between the earthly Jesus, the biblical Jesus, and the real Jesus, the author offers normative portraits of Jesus necessary to the church--hermeneutically sound, ethically viable, and experientially tested. This short yet magisterial book is a must-read for all who seek to understand who Jesus is in his earthly ministry, throughout history, and for today."" -Yung Suk Kim, Associate Professor of New Testament, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University ""Amidst the increasingly confusing claims about Jesus Christ today, Defining Jesus is a beacon of light as Soulen provides semantic and hermeneutical tools, clarity, and criteria to help readers traverse the rugged landscape and experience the reality of the traditional Christian faith."" --K. K. Yeo, Harry R. Kendall Professor of New Testament, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary ""Well-informed, precise, and insightful, Soulen's study brings much-needed clarity to an area that too often lacks it. A book especially for those confused and distracted by the commotions of contemporary scholarship."" --Luke Timothy Johnson, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and author of The Real Jesus Richard N. Soulen is Professor of New Testament (Ret.) at The School of Theology, Virginia Union University (Richmond). He is author of Sacred Scripture: A Short History of Interpretation (2009) and coauthor (with R. Kendall Soulen) of Handbook of Biblical Criticism (4th ed., 2011). He has taught at United Theological College in Bangalore, India (1998) and Union Presbyterian Seminary (Richmond; 1968, 1981), and pastored United Methodist churches in Virginia and Kansas.
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