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Book Review – Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism: Quests, Scholarship and Ideology, by James G Crossley
Just received word that James Crossley’s new book will be shipping soon! This is quite exciting. I have been looking forward to this book since I heard about it months ago.
I will be writing up a book review here, so check back or subscribe to my feed so you can be sure to keep up with it.
Here is the ToC:
Chapter 1: Introduction: Jesus Quests and Contexts
PART I: From Mont Pelerin to Eternity? Contextualising an Age of Neoliberalism
Chapter 2: Neoliberalism and Postmodernity
Chapter 3: Biblioblogging: Connected Scholarship
Chapter 4: ‘Not Made by Great Men’? The Quest for the Individual Christ
Chapter 5: ‘Never Trust a Hippy’: Finding a Liberal Jesus Where You Might Not
PART II: Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism
Chapter 6: A ‘fundamentally unreliable adoration’: ‘Jewishness’ and the Multicultural Jesus
Chapter 7: The Jesus Who Wasn’t There? Conservative Christianity, Atheism and
Other Religious Influences
PART III: Contradictions
Chapter 8: ‘Forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing!’ Other
Problems, Extremes and the Social World of Jesus
Chapter 9: Red Tory Christ
Chapter 10: Conclusion
You can also pick up a copy on Amazon, if you so wish:
My review copy of Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism arrived yesterday and I had some extra time that I could skim through it and make some initial impressions. What struck me first was the weight of the book; for the subject matter, at over 250 pages, it covers quite a bit. James Crossley and I had talked about the publication and he mentioned that I would be in the volume so, the narcissist that I am, I eagerly looked myself up in the book (this being the second volume that I know of to discuss my forthcoming collection of essays, in which James Crossley has a chapter, it was rather exciting). I was pleased to see that Crossley references both my blog and ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ on several occasions, all in good order. Interestingly, Crossley cites me within the context of the Jesus Project, and he spends a great deal of time on the Project as a whole, in a manner which is both responsible and apt–and he would know since, like myself, he was a part of it. I’ll cover more on this issue when I get to reviewing that chapter at some point in the next month or so.
One minor correction (which is not Crossley’s fault) which should be highlighted is that he lists me as a mythicist. At the time of the Jesus Project in 2008-2009 I did consider myself a mythicist, and by the time Crossley had submitted his manuscript to Equinox for publication, I had not clearly denounced that affiliation. Crossley is aware of the change but, alas, it is too late to rectify the volume!
I browsed through the rest of the volume with interest and found the range of topics compelling. Crossley’s book, while he admits is not comprehensive, is perhaps the most solid examination thus far of the subject of the political-social-religious reception of the figure of Jesus across the spectrum. From atheists and secularists, to fundamentalists, to republicans and liberals, to diverse social groups, concerning confessional theology and presuppositional apologetics, Crossley does an exceptional job of laying out the subject. And he isn’t doing it to make friends. From the brief exposition into the volume, no one comes away from the volume feeling clean and unscathed. And that is a good thing. It keeps the world of New Testamentlers honest.
UPDATE 6/29/12: Chapter 1
Because the book is divided into sections, with Chapter 1 sort of standing alone, I’m going to review the first chapter and then move on to reviewing the sections instead of each subsequent chapter. My skim of the book was positive and, so far, James Crossley’s book does not disappoint. Chapter 1 is primarily an introduction to what he wants to do with the rest of it. At times introductions can be boring and appear almost as if they were an afterthought to the reader, but not so with Crossley’s book. Crossley delivers his purpose with lucidity and humor, making it a joy to read. He spends the appropriate time necessary laying out definitions for his terms and, while normally that may be dull, the way he organizes it–with bits of funny tongue-in-cheek thoughts in parentheses–kept my attention.
To the meat of it, Crossley discusses doing away with the function of named quests (i.e., first quest, second quest, third quest, etc…); and I find those thoughts echo my own, since I don’t believe that is a practical way of describing the cultural phenomena of politicizing or socializing the figure of Jesus. And I certainly appreciated Crossley’s discussion of ‘the well’; that is to say, scholarship on the figure of Jesus which has predominantly been about the scholar staring into the well, seeing his own reflection, and calling that reflection ‘Jesus’. But Crossley does argue that he feels that this cannot always be the case; of course he is correct. My concern though is that I am not so sure that we might not clearly be able to recognize those instances when the Jesus presented to us is a reflection of something other than ourselves (i.e., Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs seems to suggest that we are forever wrapped up in the self concept and the figure of Jesus provides, for many at least–though not all–some of those basic needs).
I am looking forward to getting into the sections now; it is hard to put the book down! More anon.