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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

William A. Barry and John P. Meier

Recently PrickliestPear at Far from Rome encouraged me to read the book(s) A Marginal Jew by John P. Meier. I sent for volume one from the library and it came today. It reminded me that I have an old book by spiritual director William A. Barry SJ which I haven't yet read - Who Do You Say I Am?: Meeting the Historical Jesus in Prayer - which he wrote based on Meier's books. I hope to have some future posts on both Meier's books and on Barry's book. But for today, I thought I'd post a bit from the preface to William Barry's book, and below that, a video of Meier (professor of New Testament at the University of Notre Dame) giving a lecture entitled "Jesus the Jew - But What Sort of Jew?"


Who Do You Say I Am?, pp. 8 - 10, William Barry SJ

A couple of years ago Bob Hamma of Ave Maria Press suggested that I try my hand at a book on Jesus that used some of the modern works of Christology. At the time I had no idea what that might mean. Even after I read the first volume of John Meier's A Marginal Jew and was moved by the knowledge gained on the historical Jesus, I did not think of writing a book. Then, just as I was beginning Meier's second volume and expecting to finish it at the thirty-fourth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, I found out that I had a cancerous growth on my vocal cord. The six and one-half weeks of radiation therapy needed precluded my attendance at the Congregation. I had arranged my life and work as provincial so that I would have the months of January, February, and March, 1995, free for the Congregation; now the only thing I had to do was walk across the street five times a week for a short period of radiation therapy. The radiologist, Dr. Anthony Zeitman, recommended that I do something that would occupy my mind so that I would not focus too much on the treatments. One thing led to another, and I began to write this book.

More than any other book I have written, the writing of this one took on a prayer dimension. Each time I turned on the computer, I tried to remember to express to Jesus the desire with which I began each chapter: "I want to know more about you so that I may love you more intensely and walk with you more closely." I mention the circumstances to explain the genesis of the book and also its rather personal nature. The circumstances contributed, no doubt, to the particular point of view I take in the book and perhaps to some of the particular characteristics of the historical Jesus that I stress. In other words, my own situation with its awareness of mortality may have influenced how I read the texts I used in preparing this book. I hope, however, that I have been as true as possible to the results of research on the historical Jesus ..... I have used John Meier's two-volume work A Marginal Jew as my main source .... someone needed to link the research on the historical Jesus to spirituality ....



Blogger PrickliestPear said...

I don't know how I missed that Meier lecture.

He says in it that it would be a "tetralogy," but now that the fourth volume has been published, he says there will be a fifth.

I look forward to hearing what you think about Volume 1.

That book by Barry sounds interesting, too. Based on the title, it doesn't sound like something I would be terribly interested in, but it might be interesting to see how he connects Meier's portrait of Jesus with spirituality.

11:40 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I just found that lecture by accident - he's really kind of charismatic :) Thanks for recommending the book.

1:00 PM  

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