The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003 - 138
In this book Paul Zahl seeks a broader understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus. What was it within his message that burst his first-century Jewish context? What was creative, fresh, and universal about his message? What did Jesus maintain, within his own setting and period, that is still true and applicable today?
In pursuing these questions, Zahl swims against the current of modern scholarship, arguing that Jesus was more Christian than Jewish. Jesus' teaching concerning the kingdom of God is replete with Christian perspectives on human nature and salvation, and his insights into original sin and grace are closer to core Christianity than much recent literature acknowledges. Drawing from both Jewish and Christian thinkers, Zahl shows Jesus to be a saving figure, a christological figure, even a radically Protestant figure. Zahl also brings his fresh perspective into present-day focus by showing how Jesus' dynamic teachings still have worldwide impact.
Zahl writes both as a highly trained theologian and as a pastor who recognizes that scholarship stands in the service of discipleship. In "The First Christian" he renders the contemporary quest for the historical Jesus not only "accessible" but also "relevant" to the life of faith. Students of the Bible and general readers alike will be enriched by his compelling portrait of a Christian, universal Jesus.