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More than two billion people on the planet identify as Christians, a majority of whom associate with the Roman Catholic Church (some 1.3 billion). At the core of this belief system is the dual nature of the Jesus of Nazareth; the understanding that he was at once fully human and fully divine. Yet, has this always been the view? If not, how did it develop? Is this how he was understood during his lifetime? Put another way, how do historians study the life of someone billions consider to be divine? How do we study someone who left behind no writings? How do we study someone of whom we have few if any testimonials from people who knew him when he was alive?

Paula Freidriksen’s Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews is an example of what historians call an interpretive history. An interpretive history is based on the story told and the judgments made with the available evidence used in her / his study. It is the job of readers to assess whether or not the author met the goals of the study and proved her / his thesis?

Task:

Consult the materials located here: Resources for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews

Read Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews by Paula Fredriksen

Answer the following questions:

1 What is the central thesis (argument) of the book? (10-40 words)

2 List at least 12 (twelve) sources the author uses to craft her study.

◦ Hint: Writing simply the “Bible” does not count as a source, but writing the “Letters of Paul” is acceptable. That said, be precise.

3 What are the opportunities and challenges of the available historical sources for this sort of study? (100-150)

4 Describe Jewish religious life in Roman antiquity, its features, its spaces, its beliefs. Why is this context important for the author? (200-250 words)

5 Why are apocalyptic beliefs and the Davidic Messiah critically important to this story? (200-250 words)

6 Describe the social and political environment within which John the Baptizer and Jesus of Nazareth were preaching, and why is this important? (100-150 words)

7 What role do the crowds in Jerusalem play in the lead up to the arrest and execution of Jesus of Nazareth? (100-150)

8 Whether or not you agree with the author’s central thesis, why is it important (or not) to understand the historical Jesus? (50-150 words)

Criteria:

1 Answers should meet the word limit requirements posted on each question. [Be advised: you may go over the word limit slightly, but you must not come in under]

2 Number and write your answers in paragraph form, except for Question 2.

3 Immediately after writing the question number, put the word count in parenthesis,

◦ e.g. – 3. (221 words) [BEGIN ANSWER]

4 Use Times New Roman font, size 12 point. 

◦ You will likely have to manually adjust your font.

5 Adequate answers will include clear responses to all parts of the question.

6 Excellent answers will be complete, with careful analysis using and citing concrete examples from the book. You may simply cite the relevant page number(s) for the examples, be they summarized or quoted like so (147).

7 Consult the grading rubric so you know exactly how I will proceed.

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