Who Do People Say I Am?

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Spanning early Christian writings from the Gospel of Mark to the Acts of John, this book by Vernon Robbins explores the various ways early Christians explained their understanding of the special nature of Jesus beyond the canonical Gospels.

Who Do People Say I Am? shows how second-and third-century Christian authors of additional Gospels and Gospel-like writings expanded and elaborated on Jesus’ divinity in the context of his earthly existence. According to Robbins, these Christian authors thought that the New Testament Gospel writers could and should have emphasized the divinity of Jesus more than they did.

Throughout the book Robbins asks and answers questions such as these:
If Jesus introduced new beliefs and practices, what did second- and third-century believers find unresolved in the New Testament Gospels about those beliefs and practices, and how did they try to resolve them?What gaps in the storylines of the New Testament Gospels did second- and third-century Christian writers think could be filled in, and how did they fill them in?If Jesus really were fully divine when he came to earth and lived among his disciples, what experiences did his disciples have that the New Testament Gospels do not tell us?Learning activities and a bibliography at the end of each chapter help make this book a valuable resource for students and any other interested readers.


Vernon K. Robbins is professor of New Testament andcomparative sacred texts at Emory University, Atlanta,where he has taught for twenty-nine years. Among his otherbooks are Jesus the Teacher: A Socio-,Rhetorical Interpretation of Mark, The Invention ofChristian Discourse, and Sea Voyages and Beyond:Emerging Strategies in Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation.


Reviews in Religion & Theology
"What makes this book distinctive and worthwhile is its coverage of the extracanonical texts and the way in which they are in dialogue with their canonical counterparts."

Bibliotheca Sacra
"A helpful starting point for anyone wading into [Gospel] literature, particularly those documents outside the New Testament."

April DeConick
-- Rice University
"Jesus seen through many eyes, heard through many voices. That is what this terrific book by Vernon Robbins is all about. Robbins sets the more commonly known representations of Jesus in the Bible alongside lesser-well-known portraits of him found in texts like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, and the Acts of John. . . . Robbins's careful attention to historical detail and his accessible style make this the best book available on the subject of Jesus and the Gospels."

Library Journal
"This fascinating study takes Robbins's methods into the territory of the `other' gospels — rejected, forgotten, or Gnostic texts. . . . An impressive work of close reading and careful scholarship, Robbins's text should be rewarding for academic readers at any level, and the well-informed nonacademic as well."

Theological Studies
"Robbins provides a classroom-friendly introduction to Q, the four canonical Gospels, and six noncanonical presentations of Jesus. . . . This volume includes a remarkably lucid discussion of introductory matters such as a singularly helpful explanation of the Q hypotheses. Robbins' pioneering work in socio-rhetorical interpretation contributes to this study."

Catholic Library World
"Scholars and students of emerging Christianity will find Vernon K. Robbins' thoroughly-researched and accessible book of great value. . . . Each chapter provides useful learning activities as well as lists of sources for further study."

Review of Biblical Literature
"Vernon Robbins, well known for pioneering the sociorhetorical method, selects eleven ancient texts and introduces their differing representations of Jesus to a popular audience. . . . A useful introduction by an eminent scholar to the contents of gospels inside and outside of the canon for an undergraduate seminar, helping students to grapple with the historical processes that led to conceptualizations of Jesus's human and divine natures."