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Christ: a Crisis in the Life of God

by Miles, Jack

  • ISBN: 9780375400148
  • ISBN10: 0375400141

Christ: a Crisis in the Life of God

by Miles, Jack

  • List Price: $26.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Publish date: 11/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9780375400148
  • ISBN10: 0375400141
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Description: The Bible is a classic in two editions, the Jewish and the Christian. God's life story begins in the same way in both, but ends differently. The Jewish edition, which was the subject of Jack Miles's Pulitzer Prize-winning God: A Biography, allows God to "subside" at the end of his life. The Christian edition, which is the subject of this book, turns the Hebrew scriptures into the Old Testament and adds and epilogue, the New Testament, in which God becomes a man and becomes active once again, only to be brutally executed as a putative criminal. Shocking as this is, it is still more shocking that God deliberately arranges for this execution. His death -- Christ's death -- is voluntary. To explain why God does this, Miles does not deal with the historical Jesus, but rather he presents Christ as a literary character based only in part on the historical Jesus. He asks the reader to take the notion that Christ is God Incarnate not as a dogma of religion but as the premise for a work of art, the New Testament, and then to join him in reading accordingly.

Thus read, the New Testament is revealed as the violent resolution of a crisis in the life of God. God has failed the Jews, but he has also failed mankind. He cannot defeat Rome, Israel's latest oppressor, as he defeated Pharaoh's Egypt. As for the rest of mankind, having expelled the first couple from the Garden of Eden, he cannot now bring them back. The crucifixion, an appalling demonstration of the limits to his power, is atonement for promises that cannot be kept.

This book offers the shock of the familiar re-framed and re-imagined just as God: A Biography did. Christ as God Incarnate differs from the historical Jesus in that he has apast that stretches back to the creation of the world and a future that stretches forward to the end of time. Despite the pathos of his self-martyrdom, God's defeat is not final. Christ ascends to heaven, but his spirit comes back down to earth and enters his apostles. God's spirit having touched all men, he gathers all to him in a mystical marriage that gives the Christian Bible, against all expectations, a happy ending.

This book is even more astonishing than its predecessor, with an author whose reputation has now been established.

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