Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age

James Carroll. Viking, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-0-670-78603-9
With well-researched clarity, Carroll explores the question posed by anti-Nazi Lutheran pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer: who actually is Christ for us today? A former Catholic priest, Carroll (Constantine's Sword) is Christ-haunted, as Flannery O'Connor once said of the South, and he is Holocaust-haunted. For Carroll, the Holocaust is not so much a question of evil as a question of history: Christianity has defined itself as an evolution beyond Judaism, and that has justified centuries of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust. Contemporary biblical studies scholarship that understands Jesus as a Jew addresses the historically troubled question of Christian-Jewish relations, still a tender point. So who can Jesus—the distinctive figure of Christianity—be for today's secular age? Carroll nicely translates contemporary scholarship about Jesus that emphasizes his quintessential Judaism, something scholars in today's academy often stint. The author's understanding of a mass atrocity that shakes faith is unfortunately limited to a 20th-century Euro-American frame of reference, despite lamentable occurrences of genocide against other groups at other times in history. Because Christ actually is meaningful in some way to a billion Christians around the globe, this heartfelt investigation is of interest to many. Agent: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014
Release date: 11/13/2014
Genre: Religion
Compact Disc - 11 pages - 978-1-61176-323-2
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-00-810348-4
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-14-312784-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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