A Marginal Jew, Vol 4 (Jesus and the Law)
- List members should know that the fourth volume of John Meier's "A Marginal Jew" is now available, but that it isn't the final volume as promised. I suspect there may even be a sixth volume. Let's review the project's evolution.
In 1994, Meier wrote:
"In the beginning, A Marginal Jew was to have been a one-volume work on the historical Jesus, Then two volumes became necessary; now there will be three." (Vol II, p 1)
But by the time of the third volume (2001), Meier said there would need to be a fourth. Again, it would be final:
"The theme of the final volume of our quest will be 'The Enigmas Jesus Posed and Was'. The four great enigmas to be considered are the enigma of Jesus' teaching on the Law, the enigmas or riddle-speech of Jesus' parables, the enigmas or riddle-speech of Jesus' self-designations, and the final enigma or riddle of his death... It is to the massive task of unravelling these four great enigmas...that we will turn our attention in the fourth and final volume of A Marginal Jew." (Vol III, pp 645-646)
I'm now reading that "fourth and final volume" and (surprise) there's nothing final about it. In fact, the book treats only one of those four enigmas (the law). Meier now promises that "the other three enigmas will be treated in volume five." (Vol IV, p 1). Indeed. I think we can count on at least six volumes.
Crankiness aside now, I am enjoying Volume 4 (only on p 81 out of 663), and it's seems up to Meier's usual standards. If you think the subject of Jesus and the law has been beaten to death with not much new to say, be advised that Meier is convinced "every other book or article on the historical Jesus and the Law has been to a great degree wrong", and that he is not merely repackaging a solution peddled in the past (p 2). It will be interesting to see where this all leads.
Loren Rosson III