THE SEARCH FOR JESUS’ IDENTITY
Christ Is the Question
By Wayne A. Meeks
Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. 166pp. $19.95
by Kathy Perry
Christ Is the Question is a direct challenge to look beyond the limited horizons of both conservative and liberal interpretations of the New Testament. New Testament scholar Wayne Meeks has never been known to shy away from the complexity and ambiguity of the accounts of early Christian writings. In this book, he responds to the challenges of people like Luke Timothy Johnson, to whom he dedicates this work, and presents his argument for embarking on a radical new quest in the search for Jesus’ identity.
Midway through my first reading, a bizarre image came to me. Picture Regis Philbin, former host of the American game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? –gazing toward an endless canopy of stars and asking God: "Is that your final answer?" The image may be humorous and flippant, but the question is not. Particularly when documents like Dominus Iesus form its backdrop. Meeks (who is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Yale University) successfully casts more than a shadow of doubt on all contemporary western images of Jesus, whether those images are as pious and conventional as Mel Gibson’s, or as shockingly adventurous and romantic as Dan Brown’s.