Hedrick: The wisdom of Jesus: between the sages of Israel and the apostles of the Church.

Hedrick: The wisdom of Jesus: between the sages of Israel and the apostles of the Church.

HEDRICK, Charles W

The wisdom of Jesus: between the sages of Israel and the apostles of the Church.

Cambridge: James Clarke and Co Ltd, 2017.

246p.

ISBN 978-0-2271-7652-8, £22.50

The aim of Hedrick’s book is to explore the context of Jesus’ wisdom sayings by comparing them on the one hand with those of ancient Israel and on the other with those of the first-century church. Deciding what is authentically Jesus in the sayings—as opposed to borrowings from Jewish wisdom or inventions of early Christianity—is Hedrick’s first task. The second, having decided what are Jesus’ own words, is to then build a picture of the historical Jesus and his beliefs.

The volume is divided into nine chapters, the first four of which discuss the theoretical problems of historical Jesus studies and the context of his sayings, with the final five offering Hedrick’s view of Jesus’ wisdom and the conclusions he draws therefrom. Arising out of the space between the sages of Israel and the apostles of the church is a Jesus, according to Hedrick, who is ‘surprisingly different’ from both (x), an ‘itinerant artisan’ rather than professional sage whose ‘discourse was in the language of the secular world’ (188).

This book offers another contribution to the historical Jesus debate and will appeal (or not) to those readers who are convinced (or not) by Hedrick’s case. His presentation of the parables is the most compelling and his chapter-long reading of the ‘Fired Manager’ (‘a first-century fiction’ (144)) is a welcome addition to the field, although its earlier incarnation as an article perhaps demonstrates what this book mostly is: a means to re-publish and expand earlier work. This is by no means a bad thing but it probably makes it of interest to specialists only.

Ronan McLaverty-Head, The King’s School, Worcester

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