cover image Christ Actually: The Son of God for the Secular Age

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%E2%80%94the distinctive figure of Christianity%E2%80%94be 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.)