Jesus of Nazareth

Maurice Casey, T&T Clark, 2010, reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

        Casey presents a careful look at all the fields of Jesus research, in a formidable historical and linguistic treatment. A major case is the one Casey makes for attempting reconstruction of Aramaic formations of key Jesus formulations (eg the Lord’s Prayer, the Eucharist).

        Emphasized in Casey’s research is that Jesus was a first century Jewish prophet; here, Casey relies most strongly on E. P. Sanders and Geza Vermes. Casey sees the Virgin Birth and the resurrection account as being in the same genre of story telling, using categories of authentic, re-written and secondary traditions, and pays careful attention to Jesus’ background in an observant Jewish family that gave two of its members to the early church leadership.

        He has a chapter on ‘G-d’: G-d’s Fatherhood and kingdom (kingship of G-d), and emphasizes Jesus’ activity as exorcist and healer; a chapter on ethics (translating ‘return’ as the Aramaic rather than ‘repent’ which is Hebrew). He details the polemic between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees. Most of his followers, even after his death, continued to believe in his mission, and some came to believe in his resurrection (some of his closest friends claimed Jesus had appeared to them after his death).

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.