Obituary of the Day: Geza Vermes

Friday, May 17, 2013

New York Times obituaries editor Bill McDonald joins us every day during the drive to discuss one life featured in the obit page. Today's person is the religious scholar Geza Vermes.

From the Obituary of Geza Vermes

Dr. Vermes had long been frustrated that only a handful of scholars had direct access to the scrolls, and he eventually made his frustrations public. In 1977, he said that their handling was “likely to become the academic scandal par excellence of the 20th century.” More than a decade passed, but the scrolls eventually became more easily accessible in their original form and through photographs.

The scrolls helped deepen Dr. Vermes’s interest in Judaism and in how perceptions of Jesus changed as Christianity spread. He argued that the messianic Jesus worshiped by modern Christians was largely created in the first three centuries after he died. In 1973 he wrote “Jesus the Jew,” the first of several books in which he placed Jesus in the tradition of Jewish teachers.

“When it came out, it sounded like a very provocative title,” Dr. Vermes recalled in 1994 of “Jesus the Jew.” “Today it is commonplace. Everybody knows now that Jesus was a Jew. But in 1973, although people knew that Jesus had something to do with Judaism, they thought that he was really something totally different.”

-- Read the full obituary here.


Bill McDonald

Comments [6]

jgarbuz from Queens

TO Noach

Until 1859, only Christians could sit in Parliament. Disraeli had to get baptized first. Rothschild was elected three times from his district, but could not take a seat until after 1859.

May. 17 2013 12:10 PM

Benjamin Disraeli...

May. 17 2013 12:06 PM

Don't forget Barry Goldwater.

May. 17 2013 12:05 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Not so unusual Brian. Many, many Jews got baptized and converted in the 19th century to get civil service and other jobs open only to Christians in Western Europe. Marx, Herzl, and a host of figures were either children of converts, or totally assimilated knowing nothing whatsoever about Judaism. Not that very different from today, except that today, due to the Holocaust and the rebirth of Israel, the Jew has the freedom of choice that was once unimaginable elsewhere before WWII.

May. 17 2013 12:02 PM

@jgarbuz: I live in SW Missouri with several local "bible" colleges and talking to the graduates from these "schools" one wonders what they were learning as this is a complete shocker to them!

May. 17 2013 12:01 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Yeshua was a Jew? Duh! What a shocker!

May. 17 2013 11:58 AM

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