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American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a…

American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (2003)

by Stephen Prothero

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Prothero's strength here is in his immense research. He cites hundreds of texts and quotes from many of them to support his fascinating thesis. The idea of how Jesus is viewed differently by different people is hardly a new idea. However, the depth he goes into to show the changes in people's perceptions of this most enigmatic figure. Jesus is feminine and masculine, he is a man and a woman, he is black and white and Jewish. He represents that which is good and so many people are trying to tap into that authority that he encapsulates. Prothero sets his book up very well and I found the chapters on protestant Christianity more interesting but all of it was insightful.

The struggle between Christ and culture has been fought for centuries. This book does an excellent job of showing that in America, culture is pulled Jesus in so many different directions that his authority is being deteriorated. The struggle over what Jesus really meant is ongoing and unfortunately means he meant everything.

Prothero's book teems with relevant citations and excellent research. I do wish he had refined his second half to reflect other areas. Mormonism is fascinating and its relationship to Jesus is very complex, however, where is Islam here? I understand he can't touch on everything but this just seems like such a blatant next step. I can understand that the relationship between Jesus and Islam in more than an American phenomenom. Still, I feel it deserves at least a mention. This is a very good book but it is just lacking a little in cohesiveness to take it beyond that. The first half was excellent and showed a very interesting movement within American religion. The chapter on Judaism left something to be desired but overall this book was still very good and insightful if perhaps lacking a cutting edge. ( )
1 vote bas615 | Feb 10, 2010 |
I like the premise, but felt I was slogging through this one, hard going... ( )
  MarthaHuntley | Dec 1, 2009 |
Your own, personal, Jesus, and how He got that way. Fascinating sociology.
  kencf0618 | Aug 26, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374529566, Paperback)

Jesus the Black Messiah; Jesus the Jew; Jesus the Hindu sage; Jesus the Haight-Asbury hippie: these Jesuses join the traditional figure of Jesus Christ in American Jesus, which was acclaimed upon publication in hardcover as an altogether fresh exploration of American history--and as the liveliest book about Jesus to appear in English in years.

Our nation's changing images of Jesus, Stephen Prothero contends, are a kind of looking class into the national character. Even as most Christian believers cleave to a traditional faith, other people give Jesus a leading role as folk hero, pitchman, and countercultural icon. And so it has been since the nation's founding--from Thomas Jefferson, who took scissors to his New Testament to sort out true from false Jesus material; to the Jews, Buddhists and Muslims who fit Jesus into their own traditions; to the people who adapt Jesus for stage and screen and the Holy Land theme park. American Jesus is "a lively, illuminating and accessible survey that takes us into unexpected corners of our shared religious heritage" (Dan Cryer, Newsday).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:27 -0400)

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"Stephen Prothero's American Jesus is a major new work of history: a vivid chronicle of the distinctive "images of Jesus" cherished by the American people, and an incisive account of Jesus' transformation, in Americans' hearts and minds, from crucified Lord to folk hero, from divinity to celebrity."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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