Objective: To better grasp both the human and divine natures of Jesus and, as a result, enjoy a closer relationship with him.

Who is Jesus really, and what does that mean in my life? That two-part question has been asked in some form from the opening days of Jesus' public life, still is asked today, and will continue to be asked until the close of human history. It is the crucial question for anyone who takes Jesus seriously. However, it is not an easy question to grapple with, much less answer. No one is like Jesus, possessing dual yet equal natures: fully divine; fully human. Christian history clearly demonstrates that there has always been a tendency to swing from one end of the pendulum to the other, rarely stopping at mid-point. The following Scripture from Scratch issues may be helpful in developing a more balanced notion of who Jesus is and what that means in our lives.

A four-week course would include:

Jesus: The Man from Nazareth By Elizabeth McNamer. N0198

"The Gospel writers saw Jesus' life from the overwhelming perspective of the Resurrection. Although the Gospels do contain historical facts, the evangelists wrote statements of faith, not historical or even biographical documents," says McNamer. This issue covers the key historical events in the life of Jesus and explores the world in which he lived: life in Nazareth, his baptism, the religious sects of first-century Judaism, Jesus' preaching, his passion and his death.

The Healing Jesus: Interpreting the Miracle Stories By Helen Doohan. N1099

"The miracle tradition tells us more about the power of God at work in our lives than it does about health," writes Doohan. "These episodes point to growth in wholeness and holiness because of the healing touch of the Lord." Were Jesus' miracles (or signs as John terms them) healings or cures? How can we properly interpret them in light of the many medical advances today? Doohan provides an insightful look at Jesus the healer.

Jesus: Bread of Life By Virginia Smith. N0301

Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John may contain the highest eucharistic theology of any biblical passage. In this Gospel, which lacks a Last Supper institution ceremony, Jesus presents himself as the Bread of Life, a notion so hard to "swallow" that many disciples leave and even those closest to Jesus admit they don't understand. The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is central to Catholic belief, and this chapter is key to grasping that belief.

From Jesus of Nazareth to Lord of All By Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S. N0498

The Jesus who rose on Easter morning differed in many ways from the crucified Jesus who was placed in the tomb on Good Friday. Human Jesus to Cosmic Christ: Can two such diverse natures coexist? LaVerdiere leads his readers through mysteries that are central to Christian belief.

For a six-week course, add:

Jesus in His Middle-Eastern Cultural World By John J. Pilch. N0900

Each of us is shaped to some degree by the culture in which we live. That was also true of Jesus. Pilch contends that we cannot hope to understand the human Jesus without situating him in the first-century Mediterranean culture in which he was immersed. "Understanding Jesus in his cultural context is refreshing and challenging," writes Pilch. "How refreshing to learn how totally human Jesus was. How challenging to realize his example is not directly applicable to our lives. We live in a different culture and cannot merely copy his actions but must find our way to the significance that lies beneath them."

The Galilee Where Jesus Walked By Bargil Pixner, O.S.B. N0696

"While the events depicted in the gospels happened 2,000 years ago, the land where they took place exists to this day," says Pixner. In this issue, the reader travels with Jesus on his first two journeys through Galilee, as recorded in Mark's Gospel.

For an eight-week course, add:

Jesus' 'Plain' Sermon on the Mount By Virginia Smith. N0199

The core of Jesus' teaching is contained in his best-known discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, recorded only in Matthew's Gospel. Here Jesus, the new Moses, takes the sacred Mosaic Law and, in his word, "fulfills" it. This sermon in Luke takes place, not on a hillside, but on the Plain, and the famous Beatitudes appear differently there. A comparison of the two versions provides ample material for discovering the essence of Jesus' thought.

The Passion of Jesus By Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. N0201

The events surrounding the death of Jesus were of such significance to his early followers that some writers speak of the Gospels having almost been written backward. Jesus' public life was explored in an effort to find meaning in his death. All four evangelists approach the topic somewhat differently, as Witherup demonstrates, depending in part upon the audience for whom they wrote.

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Scripture from Scratch Mini-Courses

Catholic Approach to Scripture
Hebrew Scriptures
Morality and Justice
Nature of God