The Contemporary Jesus

By Thomas J. J. Altizer

Subjects: Christianity
Paperback : 9780791433768, 225 pages, February 1997
Hardcover : 9780791433751, 225 pages, February 1997

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Table of contents


1. The Apocalyptic Jesus

2. The Jesus Seminar

3. Crossan's Jesus

4. The Gnostic Jesus

5. The Pauline Jesus

6. The Catholic Jesus: Dante and Joyce

7. The Protestant Jesus: Milton and Blake

8. The Nihilistic Jesus: Dostoyesvsky and Nietzsche

9. The Buddhist Jesus

10. The Anonymous Jesus


Integrates a contemporary understanding of Jesus with the most powerful, imaginative visions of Jesus in philosophy, literature, and religion.


The Contemporary Jesus is the first critical study integrating a contemporary understanding of Jesus with the most powerful, imaginative visions of Jesus in our history. The book imaginatively engages many views of Jesus: an apocalyptic Jesus, gnostic Jesus, Buddhist Jesus, Pauline Jesus, Crossan's Jesus, and the Catholic, Protestant, and nihilistic views found in writers such as Dante, Joyce, Milton, Blake, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche. Altizer also examines the Jesus who emerges from the Jesus Seminar.

Seldom, if ever, has there been such an intense public and critical engagement with Jesus, as our New Testament scholarship is wholly isolated from both our imaginative and our conceptual traditions, and likewise isolated from all genuine theological or even religious understanding. The Contemporary Jesus bridges that chasm, this alone making the book unique, but the book is also an embodiment of a contemporary radical theology which is Christian and universal at once. It intends a critical recovery of the original Jesus that can be integrated with our deeper history, a history which is finally a universal history, but a universal history that is wholly opaque to our given and established theological understanding.

Thomas J. J. Altizer is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He is the author of a number of books, including History as Apocalypse (published by SUNY Press), The Genesis of God: A Theological Genealogy, Radical Theology and the Death of God (with William Hamilton), The Self-Embodiment of God, and The Descent Into Hell: A Study of the Radical Reversal of the Christian Consciousness. There are hundreds of articles on his work in reference books, journals, magazines, and newspapers.