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Jesus in the World's Faiths: Leading Thinkers from Five Religions Reflect on His Meaning
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Jesus in the World's Faiths: Leading Thinkers from Five Religions Reflect on His Meaning

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By Gregory A. Barker (Editor). What is incredible in this book is the distinction of so many of the scholars Gregory A. Barker has persuaded to write. They are drawn from the top flights of international scholarship. What is even better is that he has persuaded them to write short readable essays which go straight to the heart of the matter. I know of no book which covers Jesus in the world religions in the way this does or speaks with such lively immediacy about him.  What is fascinating is that the differences are not solely between religions as inside them. The different Christian responses for example range from those who see the uniqueness of Christ as essential to Christianity and those like Archbishop William Temple who believe that the same word of God which inspired Jesus was also at work in the lives of Isaiah and Plato, Zoroaster, Buddha and Confucius.  Likewise the Jewish responses range from those who say that Jesus has no meaning or place within Judaism to those who hail Jesus as a Jew, as a Hebrew of the Hebrews who did not wish for or teach a new religion,and within whose Gospel teaching all Jews can feel at home.

 

Similarly in Islam there are those who see a gulf or abyss between Christianity and Islam and those who see the person of Jesus as a bridge across that abyss. Both viewpoints are fully represented here.  The same is true of Buddhism which is represented by writers from very different traditions. They approach Jesus in different ways but all seem fascinated by him. In the Theravada tradition the appeal is to the humanity of Jesus while in the pure-land tradition they may see at work that "the other-power of inconceivable reality transforming the life of Jesus". The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying that Jesus was either a fully enlightened being or a Bodhisattva with a high degree of spiritual realization. Orbis Books (April 2005), English, Paperback: 198 pages.

 

Paul Badham Professor of Theology & Religious Studies and Director of the Alister Hardy religious Experience Research Centre, University of Wales Lampeter.

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