Picture of author.
37+ Works 5,210 Members 43 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

Geza Vermes was a religious scholar who became one of the "essential translators and a vocal advocate for their broad dissemination" of the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to the New York Times. Until his death, he was a Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, show more Oxford, but continued to teach at the Oriental Institute in Oxford. He was born on June 22, 1924, in Hungary and died on May 8, 2013, after a recurrence of cancer. He was 88. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Géza Vermes

The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Penguin Classics) (1962) — Translator — 2,716 copies
Jesus the Jew (1973) 361 copies
The Changing Faces of Jesus (2000) 303 copies
The Story of the Scrolls (2010) 201 copies
The Passion (1719) 91 copies
Jesus in His Jewish Context (2003) 73 copies

Associated Works

Motor Mouth (2006) — Translator, some editions — 2,217 copies


Common Knowledge



Geza Vermes (1924-2013) in Let's Talk Religion (October 2013)


This is a short, very readable book by Geza Vermes, retired Professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford and a leading historian on Judaism in the era of Jesus.

In Part One he examines Jewish attitudes towards the afterlife in the times leading up to and including the life of Jesus. Was belief in resurrection a feature of Judaism in the time of Jesus? Definitely not. Pharisees held this belief, but their influence was small, mostly limited to the towns of Judea, and almost entirely nonexistent in the Galilee region of Jesus and his followers. To the vast majority of Jews of this era, the concept of bodily resurrection would have been either repugnant (Hellenized Jews) or unfamiliar (the rural mass of Palestinian Jewry).

In Part Two, he examines the New Testament claims regarding the Resurrection of Jesus, and very briefly offers his own thoughts on what may have happened. He begins by noting that Jesus spent very little of his ministry preaching about the afterlife. He did, however, predict his death and resurrection to his disciples. But they in turn never seemed to grasp what they were being told. Mark writes that the apostles had no idea what rising from the dead meant when Jesus predicted this to them, which confirms the previously established argument that bodily resurrection was a foreign concept to Galilean Jews of this time.

So we come to the accounts of Jesus' resurrection in the Gospels, Acts, and letters of Paul, which contain discrepencies and contradictions between them. Vermes lays these out. He then discusses how Paul was crucially responsible for making the resurrection story into the central defining argument of the emerging Christian Church.

In the last chapter Vermes gets to the question: What Really Happened? We have two classes of evidence presented in the New Testament: the account of the empty tomb and the appearances of the risen Jesus to various individuals. He seems convinced of the veracity of the empty tomb. To mention one reason, every single account has women finding the tomb empty, and in Jewish society the testimony of women had no standing. This would be an exceedingly poor start to making up such a story in that historical era.

As for the appearances of the resurrected Jesus, they are no good at all as evidence for today's historian. They can convince only the already converted believer of today.

He then rules out no fewer than 8 explanations for what may have historically happened to explain the stories of the empty tomb and appearances - ranging from the true belief of the religious fundamentalist to the denial of the entire thing as mere fantasy by the committed skeptic.

What explanation does this leave? In the epilogue Vermes discusses how the apostles are transformed from a fearful, terrified band of followers in hiding following the death of their leader into brave evangelists openly preaching, defying the authorities at risk of death, and seeking converts. Something happened to them. Vermes posits that they heard of the empty tomb and experienced some "apparitions", felt themselves under the influence of the Spirit, ventured forth with some ray of hope and found renewed self-confidence and success.

Note that this does not explain why the tomb was actually empty, which Vermes accepts as a likely historical fact, and that he has previously rejected various theories that would explain this. And that reference to "apparitions" is really begging for further clarification.

Throughout, the book is written in a neutral and scholarly tone, which is most welcome for a book on this topic.
… (more)
lelandleslie | 3 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |
A descoberta dos Manuscritos do Mar Morto no deserto da Judeia, entre 1947 e 1956, foi um dos maiores achados arqueológicos de todos os tempos. Estes extraordinários manuscritos transformaram a forma como entendíamos a Bíblia hebraica, o Judaísmo no seu período inicial e as origens do Cristianismo.
Esta é a primeira publicação destes textos em Portugal, realizada a partir da edição muito recentemente actualizada de Geza Vermes, o investigador académico de topo a nível mundial em matéria de Manuscritos do Mar Morto.… (more)
pfreis86 | 11 other reviews | Feb 23, 2024 |
A world renowned Jewish scholar explores the primitive and genuine significance of words and events recorded in the Gospels in order to reach a fuller understanding of the historical Jesus.
PendleHillLibrary | 3 other reviews | Jul 27, 2023 |
I find his logic more convincing than that of the Jesus seminar.
Folio Society Edition.
markm2315 | 3 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
½ 3.5

Charts & Graphs