“In this final book of his career, published posthumously, Geza Vermes’ insightful eye remains as sharp as ever. Rejecting the traditional villainous presentation of Herod the Great, and drawing on both literary and archaeological evidence, Vermes argues that Herod was a complex figure, capable of terrible acts but also of loyalty and diplomatic brilliance. Beautifully illustrated, and written with a real relish for presenting a personality almost larger than life, this book vividly explores the history of the Jews, Herod’s stunning rise to power, the convolutions of Herod’s personal and political life, his maniacal murders, monumental architecture, death and legacy. Herod has both horrified and fascinated us throughout the centuries, and this book superbly captures why.”
Joan E. Taylor
Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism
King’s College London
For the last two-three months I’ve been working very hard on getting together the image permissions and high resolution files for our illustrated title on Herod next year, ‘The True Herod’, by the late Geza Vermes. This process is now complete, and I’m delighted to be able to say that the manuscript and the images go across to our production team on Wednesday in order to be made into a book.
The rest of the post includes the Preface of the volume. Looking forward to reading this one. Very much.
There is a strong case for Vermes being the most influential historical Jesus scholar of his generation. In some ways he was perhaps even more influential than Sanders whose historical Jesus work and challenge to the anti-Jewish rhetoric in New Testament scholarship owes something to Vermes. Others wrote bigger books but none of them changed the rhetoric of the debate as Vermes’Jesus the Jew did.
When Geza Vermes first coined the term “Rewritten Bible” a half-century ago, I suspect he did not have any idea of the impact that term would make in Qumran studies. I also suspect that the phenomenon to which he applied the term seemed to him clearly defined and easily recognizable. It certainly has to me for much of the time since I first encountered the book of Jubilees and the Temple Scroll, nearly fifteen years ago in Bernard Levinson’s seminar on Scripture and Interpretation at the University of Minnesota. Rewritten Bible, for me, was simply a biblical text that had been revised according to a later interpreter’s own agenda; as Vermes put it, “In order to anticipate questions, and to solve problems in advance, the midrashist inserts haggadic development into the biblical narrative—an exegetical process which is probably as ancient as scriptural interpretation itself.”
Fifty years ago this year, the first translations were made of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have contributed massively to the understanding of the Bible and Christian teachings. The translations were done by a man who has gone on to be called the most important Jesus historian ever, Geza Vermes.
John McCarthy meets Vermes, who has devoted his career to the historical examination of the Bible and the life of Jesus. Vermes tells McCarthy his own story of escaping Eastern Europe after his parents were killed in the Holocaust and how he became a Roman Catholic priest. He left the priesthood and his academic work has become the most-important academic study of the historical life of Christ, although many of his theories about the life and work of Jesus contradict the accepted teachings and beliefs that underpin the worship for hundreds of millions of people. McCarthy examines how his work contributed to the understanding of the Bible for ordinary worshippers, Christian and Jewish.
Another tv ‘special’ by some guy who lacks any real knowledge of the subject, as Deane shows plainly, is set to air in NZ on Sunday. I especially appreciate Deane’s observation-
… the list of biblical scholars demonstrates Bruce’s lack of knowledge of the field, his reliance on other people’s scholarship, and lack of first-hand knowledge of scholarship. Where are the current and most recent experts on the issue: Maurice Casey? Dale Allison? Roger Aus? They are nowhere to be seen, although they are obvious choices for anybody reasonably informed on current scholarship.
I’m kind of glad I’m not in NZ so I don’t have to watch.
This Sunday, 24 July 2011, at 8:30pm, Bryan Bruce will try to find out who killed Jesus, in a television documentary to be screened on New Zealand’s TV1. The documentary is one in an ongoing series in which Bruce examines old unsolved murders, and attempts to solve them … but with the twist that, here, the cadaver is 2000 years old … Read More