"Price may be the best living religious writer." The Boston Globe
"An insightful work combining thoughtful erudition with Price's obvious love for the Gospel stories . . . [to] help readers see anew Jesus of Nazareth." Los Angeles Times
"[An] insightful, challenging, and moving reflection." Elaine Pagels, author of Beyond Belief
"Brilliant." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"It is good to have an outlaw storyteller like Reynolds Price turn up from time to time to help us reimagine Gospel truth." The Christian Century
Trying to get at the essence of Jesus's ethic, Price boils down his teachings to three essential aphorisms: Love your neighbor as yourself, Feed my sheep, and Do not resist an evil person. (That last is the line just before his better-known instruction to turn the other cheek.) He then imagines three scenes in which a biblical character poses a problem to Jesus, and the Lord, sometimes haltingly and sometimes with seeming obfuscation, responds. Lauren F. Winner
… this is an insightful work combining thoughtful erudition with Price's obvious love for the Gospel stories and his expansive artistic abilities, resulting in a text designed to help readers see anew Jesus of Nazareth. Bernadette Murphy
Ever since A Palpable God was published 25 years ago, novelist Price has been reimagining biblical stories and bringing them to new life in our time. With graceful, lyrical prose and a masterfully probing imagination, Price turns his eye here to the ethics of Jesus. What captures Price's attention most are those ethical questions that modern society confronts daily but that Jesus never addresses. Thus, in three brilliant and moving apocryphal gospel stories, Price's Jesus engages in conversations about homosexuality, suicide and the plight of women in male-dominated societies. Since Jesus did not talk at all about either homosexuality or suicide during his life, Price imagines the resurrected Jesus discussing these issues with a disciple in whose life they may have figured largely-Judas. When the risen Jesus appears to Judas in a cave where Judas is hiding and contemplating suicide, Judas declares that he loved Jesus completely from the first day. Jesus replies that Judas's erotic love for him must be transformed into a love for everything equally. In the apocryphal story on suicide, Judas encounters the risen Jesus as Judas is trying to hang himself. Unable to tie the rope properly and hoist himself, Judas asks Jesus to help him, if he pardons Judas, and Jesus does so. Elegant and passionate, Price's provocative parables provide no simple answers to the saccharine question "What would Jesus do?" Rather, they compel us to imagine creatively our engagements with Jesus' teachings and the impact of those teachings on our lives. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Though neither a churchgoer nor a trained theologian, Price has spent his life pondering teachings of Jesus both in theological works (Three Gospels) and in works of fiction and poetry (Kate Vaiden; Noble Norfleet). He is not afraid to stretch the limits of traditional theology, although, at the same time, he wonders how one can doubt the reality of the Resurrection. Expanded from three invited lectures, including the 2001 Peabody Lecture at Harvard, Price (English, Duke Univ.) reimagines the ethics of Jesus through three "imagined narratives," as he calls them, in which Jesus responds to three people: a homosexual, a suicide (Judas in both cases), and a woman who challenges traditional feminine roles. These are preceded by a very personal reflection on Jesus as a teacher of ethics. Price's theology could be called unorthodox Protestant and so will not be accepted by those who would be made uncomfortable by his view, but the book offers some serious thought for those who want to consider, along with Price, Jesus' possible response to three ethical challenges that do not appear in the Gospels. Recommended for general collections.-Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A profoundly engaging essay in Christology, honoring Jesus’ humane divinity and divine humanity. Essayist and novelist Price (Noble Norfleet, 2002, etc.) has been a civilian, non-churchgoing student of theology for most of his 70 years, and he has little use for the semiliterate What Would Jesus Do and the archliterate Jesus Seminar variants of exegesis afoot today. In their place he proposes a mostly commonsensical view of Jesus, though one that requires a leap of faith all the same: namely, acceptance as fact that Jesus really did rise from the dead. "No moment of history has been the bone of more contention," he writes. "Who, though, questions that Socrates of Athens taught in a quizzical manner; that Alexander the Great was eventually an alcoholic or that the Emperor Caligula was barking mad? For which of those items do we have firmer historical evidence than for Jesus’ potential survival--in some uniquely perceptible form--of death?" It’s possible not to make this leap and still enjoy the portrait of Jesus, and of Jesus’ ethical views, for, as Price offers it, it is a loving and altogether generous one. Writing apocryphally, in the biblical sense, Price suggests, for example, that Jesus would never have dreamed of condemning homosexuality per se; instead, only those "who cause these little ones who believe to stumble"--that is, child molesters--are singled out for the fire-and-brimstone (or, rather, saltwater and millstone) treatment. For Price, Jesus’ central ethic can be distilled to this: "God loves us; we must love one another." And, though he discerns some contradictions in the teachings, and perhaps a few misreadings of God’s big plan (whence Jesus’ plaintive final words),Price finds no false notes whatever in Christ’s open-armed behavior toward the people he encountered in his short lifetime--behavior that your run-of-the-mill fundamentalist would likely not care to emulate, or even endorse. A revisionist view, to be sure, full of big questions and persuasive answers. A worthy companion to Elaine Pagels’s Beyond Belief (p. 290) and other recent proposals of a kinder, gentler Christianity.