Recent scholarship on the historical Jesus has rightly focused upon how Jesus understood his own mission. But no scholarly effort to understand the mission of Jesus can rest content without exploring the historical possibility that Jesus envisioned his own death. In this careful and far-reaching study, Scot McKnight contends that Jesus did in fact anticipate his own death, that Jesus understood his death as an atoning sacrifice, and that his death as an atoning sacrifice stood at the heart of Jesus’ own mission to protect his own followers from the judgment of God.
This is a brave book. With due awareness of the historical traps and with a mastery of the recent relevant literature, McKnight here asks the crucial question, How did Jesus interpret his own death? His answer, which hearkens back to Albert Schweitzer, does full justice to Jesus’ eschatological outlook and makes good sense within a first-century Jewish context. Even those who see things differently—I do not—will enjoy how the detailed and rigorous argument develops and will find themselves learning a great deal.
—Dale C. Allison, Jr., Errett M. Grabe Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Recent books on the historical Jesus illustrate how compelling scholars and general readers alike find the topic of Jesus’ death. But these books also illustrate a major problem—some studies depend upon some grand interpretive theory, while others rivet their attention on exegetical details and disregard developmental questions. Widely read, Scot McKnight does both. He moves back and forth with careful transitions between contemporary hermeneutics and the ancient texts. As he does so, he also provides a rich and often entertaining account of the secondary literature. The volume can be read both as an address of its central questions and as a well-informed introduction to New Testament theology.
—Bruce Chilton, Bard College
Scot McKnight is fully aware that making claims about the historical Jesus is like entering a minefield. But he combines wide-ranging knowledge of and a willingness to interact with the extensive literature to build a careful, brick-by-brick argument. The sheer breadth of issues covered separates this work from what might otherwise have been its competitors. In ways reminiscent of Stephen Neil, McKnight also has written a book that is never dry or dull.
—Joel B. Green, Dean and Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
Scot McKnight (Ph.D. University of Nottingham) is the Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University and author or editor of twelve books, including The Historical Jesus
(2005), Turning to Jesus
(2002), and Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels