Christ Actually

Viking. Nov. 2014. 368p. notes. index. ISBN 9780670786039. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781101609125. REL
Former priest, Catholic reformer, and Boston Globe columnist Carroll (distinguished scholar in residence, Suffolk Univ.; Constantine's Sword) here sets out to answer theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer's question from a Nazi cell: Who is Christ actually for us today? That is, what can one honestly believe about Jesus Christ after the Holocaust? Carroll's thoughtful and deeply personal quest takes him back to an earlier catastrophe, the Roman war against the Jews (66–136 CE), the context in which the Gospels were written, and the birthplace of two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism. The bulk of the book is spent unpacking the implications of this context for Christian understandings of Jesus, revealing the Jewishness of both the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith, in contrast with later interpretations which set him against his own people. Carroll takes a fresh look at biblical figures such as John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, and Mary Magdalene, and their connections with Jesus in light of the Roman war's impact on the Christian scriptures. The end result is a beautiful portrait of Christ and faith in a post-Auschwitz world.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in biblical studies, theology, and critically informed yet devout expressions of the Christian faith. [See Prepub Alert, 6/2/14.]
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