Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not quite a book review: Michael Bird

I recently read Michael Bird's Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question as well as his A Bird's-eye View of Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message, and though I'd offer up a few thoughts. I read them over too long a period and without taking enough notes to call this a review though.

Bird's Pauline introduction book was pitched at just the right level for what I wanted to read. Pauline studies were never my strong suit, but over my 10+ years as a believer, I've grown more and more endeared to Paul. Yet sometimes it's hard to keep a big picture in one's head of Paul, his life and letters. Bird's book does an excellent job at doing that, dealing with some particularly difficult contemporary issues in a clear, summative yet not dismissive manner. Bird offers up his position, a short account of why he holds that position, and a few timely footnotes to the broader debate.

The Messianic book was pitched at a more academic level, and I confess I don't have the background in Historical Jesus research to fully appreciate it. What I did appreciate was the strong historical defence for a messianic Jesus who presented himself in messianic terms that match at least a range of messianic hopes from the 1st century period. The notion of performative messianism resonated with me also. Finally, I managed to take enough away from this book to crop up in at least a couple of recent sermons/talks and fuel my ongoing interest in biblical theology (in the sense of Old/New Testament unity and convergence).

Bird's work is solid, reformed without being narrowly confessional, and worth your time.

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