A few weeks back I ordered Jens Schröter’s Jesus of Nazareth: Jew from Galilee, Savior of the World, translated by Wayne Coppins. Wayne has also translated another of Schröter’s works for Baylor, From Jesus to the New Testament: Early Christian Theology and the Origin of the New Testament Canon—which is a must read! Although this is not a formal review, I still wanted to give some initial impressions of what I think thus far.
Schröter organizes his work into two parts: Introduction and a Portrayal of Jesus. The introduction highlights matters of historical issues, topics like research on the historical Jesus, some key players, and methodology are discussed. Schröter is known to be a careful and influential historian, all of which are clearly on display in the first part of the book.
In part two, we move from methodology to application. It is here that Schröter begins to apply what he laid out in part one to Jesus of the Gospels. He begins by looking at the birthplace of Jesus, Nazareth, and move outward from there. He discusses the geography, political landscape, religious upbringing, and other matters that influenced the life and ministry of Jesus. His chapters are organized in a somewhat chronological way, starting with Nazareth and ending with the beginning of the Christian church.
I am currently about half way through the book and I find it to be a stimulating read. Schröter is a careful historian and interpreter. He is extremely knowledgeable of the primary documents of the era, which include the DSS, Philo, Josephus and other relevant sources. But what I enjoy most about this work is that he is able to take his wealth of understanding and write in such a way that anyone can understand. This is not to say that he simplifies or dumbs down the material. Schröter instead keeps things rather concise and to the point.
Because of this, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth: Jew from Galilee, Savior of the World would make the perfect text for an undergraduate course on Jesus. Well done Baylor for once again bringing important German works to English readers. Please keep pursuing and publishing these kinds of studies. I know the cost of such works is high, so I thank you for sacrificing for us readers,