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Jesus in History and Culture

The impact of Jesus in western history has arguably been greater than that of any other human being who has ever lived. With the launch of the T&T Clark Jesus Library this month, find out about the historical figure of Jesus in his first-century milieu and about how that historical figure changed and morphed through time in art, film, and society.

Alexamenos Graffito
Line drawing of the Alexamenos graffito as first published by Raffaele Garrucci  (“Un graffito blasfemo nel palazzo dei Cesari,” La Civiltà Cattolica VII, Ser. III, 4 (1856), 531).

The earliest receptions of Jesus

The figure of Jesus was received in widely different ways in the ancient world. Before the earliest manuscripts available of the texts that made up the New Testament information about Jesus was spread through different means, orally, in letters and annals and even in graffiti as the famous Alexamenos Graffito shows. It was intended to mock Christians for worshipping someone who was crucified. Dating from the early 3rd century it may be the earliest surviving pictorial depiction of Jesus, and it shows him with the head of a donkey.  

Jesus and Brian
Jesus and Brian: Exploring the Historical Jesus and his Times via Monty Python’s Life of Brian, by Joan E. Taylor (ed) (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015)

Was Jesus a Brian?

Monty Python’s landmark film The Life of Brian was the result of a remarkable amount of research on 1st century Judea and the political atmosphere at the time. George Brooke examines Brian as a ‘teacher of righteousness’ and an accidental figure of worship, asking the question of whether or not Jesus was a ‘Brian’. 

The Crucifixion
The Crucifixion by Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro) (Artist) © Public Domain, sourced from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jesus through history

Art historian and biblical scholar Katie Turner’s specially selected collection of images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art shows key images related to the study of Jesus and his impact in history, from archaeological finds from Jesus’ own time through to modern depictions of Jesus in art and devotional materials.

The Head
Head of Christ (© Public Domain, sourced from The Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Jesus and postmodern philosophy

Exclusive articles throughout the resource focus on key topics. This one by Lynne Moss Bahr looks at Jesus in postmodern philosophy, and showing how many recent developments in New Testament studies can trace their origins in the interest of continental philosophers such as Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Žižek in early Christianity.

Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child, by Segna di Buonaventura (Artist) (© Public Domain, sourced from The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Holy Terror?

What was Jesus like as a child? The infancy gospel of Thomas confronts its readers with a very different Jesus – a child who sometimes kills and harms others for trifling faults. So why is Jesus portrayed as acting in such an 'unchristian' fashion? Robert Cousland focuses on three interconnected representations of Jesus in the text: Jesus as holy terror, as child, and as miracle-working saviour.

Contributions from the Key Theologians of the T&T Clark Theology Library

With the release of additional titles to the T&T Clark Theology Library in August this year, discover the works of some of the key theologians featured within this resource through eBook and uniquely commissioned article content.

Book cover for Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics, vol. 1 (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Karl Barth

Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed theologian whose influence reached beyond the academic world to mainstream culture, has influenced numerous theologians, novelists and the very state of modern Christian Ethics. T&T Clark’s collection of Barth’s works spans six decades and covers the entire gamut of theological topics, including his magnum opus Church Dogmatics.

In his new introduction to Barth as a Protestant theologian, Dr Declan Kelly suggests that Barth possessed an ‘intense zeal for the integrity of Protestant theology’, and that he was compelled to carve out a new future for this tradition.

Book cover for Eberhard Jüngel's God’s Being is in Becoming (Bloomsbury Publishing

Eberhard Jüngel

T&T Clark is home to most of the English translations of Jüngel’s works already made available. Dr R. David Nelson eloquently introduces Jüngel’s contributions to modern theology, describing him as ‘a theologian of exceptional gifts casting a breath taking vision of dogmatics as astonished and joyful reflection on the interruptive truth of the Christian gospel.’

Book cover for Thomas F. Torrance’s Space, Time and Resurrection (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Thomas F. Torrance

Thomas F. Torrance’s development of dogmatic theology allows for an integration of all Christian doctrine, in such a way as to offer sensible and compelling explanations of the Christian faith. Professor Paul D. Molnar focuses on the significance of Torrance’s dogmatic theology, particularly his understanding of the Trinity, Creation, Incarnation and Atonement, with a view toward encouraging readers to study his theology themselves.

Book cover for Colin Gunton's Actuality of Atonement (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Colin Gunton

Colin Gunton to this day remains a highly influential and inspirational figure, who regarded the triune God- God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – as making a genuine and actual difference to the world, and that every other doctrine or theology by necessity must treat God’s triune nature as determinative for them. Dr Terry J. Wright outlines each of the major books that Gunton either authored or edited and published with T&T Clark over several decades.

Book cover for John Webster's Confessing God (Bloomsbury Publishing)

John Webster

John Webster was one of the leading theologians of the 21st century, inspired by Eberhard Jüngel and Karl Barth and writing in the area of systematic, historical, and moral theology. Professor Michael Allen teaches us what it would mean to read John Webster well, by identifying three key elements of his own theological witness.