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Revolutionary

Author Tom Holland (ed.)
Publisher SPCK £15.99
Format hbk
ISBN 9780281083336

This searching examination of ‘Who Jesus was?’ and ‘Why does he still matter?’ has ten contributors, including Holland. Some were new to me: Joan Taylor, Amy-Jill Levine, Tarif Khalidi who gives an Islamic perspective on Jesus, and Nick Spencer. More familiar were Robin Gill, Terry Eagleton, Julian Baggini and Rowan Williams. There are marvellous things to ponder in these essays, sustaining food for everyone. Passionately argued, they unsettled and at times disrupted my preconceptions. Holland’s challenge was enthusiastically accepted, in a book inviting debate. Big claims are made. ‘Jesus is the single most important figure in Western, arguably world, history’ (Spencer). From a nobody from Nazareth, Jesus becomes ‘the biggest somebody in the world’ (Taylor). The conclusion overwhelmingly is: yes, Jesus was revolutionary – for Gill in an ethical way; for Levine through the power of his stories, which illustrate the kingdom of God. The exception is Baggini who doubts Jesus’ very existence and yet finds him a genius of ambiguity in word and deed. Thanks to SPCK and to Holland for this visionary book.

Reviewed by JEREMY HARVEY

Theological essays