Jesus: The Human Face of God

Jesus: The Human Face of God, by Jay Parini ($12.00 hb)

JesusAmazon:  Jay Parini brings a life’s worth of contemplation on Jesus to the first volume in ICONS, a series of brief, thought-provoking biographies edited by James Atlas. In Jesus, Parini turns the powerful narrative skill he’s wielded over the course of a four-decade career to a figure who’s dominated our collective imagination and cultural iconography for over twenty centuries.

The main trend of modern theology has hinged on the notion of “demythologizing” Jesus. Parini’s book seeks to re-mythologize him, considering the story in all its mythical radiance, taking Jesus as the human face of God. It asks: What’s so moving about Jesus’s story that millions of people over two millennia have considered it a paradigm for living?

Far from dogmatic, Parini looks at the many ways in which Jesus has been viewed and dramatizes the transformation from Jesus to Christ, man to myth, and obscure Jewish carpenter to someone who pointed a finger toward God and said with conviction: This is the way. Follow me. Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, December 2013: Skeptics–religious and otherwise–will surely ask what more could possibly be said about Jesus, who has been mythologized, de-mythologized, re-mythologized and then some over twenty centuries. While novelist and professor Jay Parini hardly breaks new ground with this erudite yet accessible Jesus: The Human Face of God–the first in a series of short biographies known as the ICONS series–he manages, in less than 200 pages, to raise and examine the most important questions about the founder of Christianity. For those already steeped in religion, myth and literature, Parini’s offering is mostly a guidebook. But to those seeking to understand both who Jesus was and how he came to dominate the minds and hearts of millions over thousands of years, this is the perfect primer–arriving, of course, at the perfect time of year. —Sara Nelson


“A capacious, inspiring meditation on the subtleties, complexities, and even contradictions of the life and teachings of Jesus.” —Richard Wakefield, The Seattle Times

“Jay Parini offers us in less than 200 pages a warm, bold, strong, well-written historical biography of Jesus Christ. No kidding. It is probably the most reliable biography on Christ written for a century or two.” The Huffington Post

“Parini’s brief and ambitious book…is not only well informed, but deeply personal.” The Boston Globe

“An insightful illumination of the life and significance of its subject… summarizing the scholarship and shifting currents of thought that have led to such diverse and divergent beliefs on who Jesus was and what he meant.” Kirkus

“Jay Parini’s Jesus escapes the limitations of the ‘historical Jesus’ genre without leaving some of the most valuable insights of that effort behind. But he realizes that a real ‘life’ of Jesus has to include not just the years 1 to 33 CE but what Jesus has meant to generations of people ever since. So he makes deft references to artists, poets, spiritual writers and modern theologians. And all packed into 153 pages of readable and engaging prose. An exquisite book.” —Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, and author of The Future of Faith

“The manner in which Parini creates the life and times of Jesus is vivid, almost tangible.  I felt at times I could smell the air in the streets and taste the food and wine.  Parini leads the reader though the gospel stories with real skill, weaving the different accounts together with subtlety and sensitivity.  Moreover, the whole thing is beautifully written.” —Richard McLauchlan, Cambridge University

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