Jesus Is the Christ
Who do the Gospels say Jesus is?
The title and role of "Messiah" ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels has long been regarded as a late add on, a fabricated claim or an insignificant feature. Michael Bird, however, argues that the Gospels' messianic claims are the most significant feature of their portrayal of Jesus.
Bird describes how each Evangelist portrays Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, what they think is at stake in that claim, and how the claim that "Jesus is the Messiah" drives the purpose and shape of the Gospels. Emphasizing that Christianity was a messianic movement rooted in its Jewish context, Bird points toward the profound theological implication of Jesus' identity: that Jesus' messiahship is the "mother of all Christology."
"Michael Bird's Jesus Is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels offers readers a succinct and compelling analysis of the Christology, or 'messianic testimony,' of the four New Testament Gospels. Bird rightly presupposes that Jesus understood himself as Israel's Messiah, whose mission was to bring forgiveness and salvation to Israel and beyond. In his new book Bird shows how the evangelists understood Jesus and his saving work and what his significance continues to be."
"'The Gospels are messianic stories about a messianic hope.' With this affirmation, Michael Bird counters the trend in modern Gospels scholarship to relegate Jesus' messianic identity to later layers of tradition. This book provides solid evidence for an early and pervasive understanding of Jesus as Messiah. Bird demonstrates that Jesus as Messiah is the centerpiece of each Gospel portrait. Jesus Is the Christ is an important offering to an essential question."
"How would we read the Gospels if we took as fundamental the declaration that 'Jesus is the Messiah'? That is what Michael Bird does in this book ideally suited for undergraduates and beginning seminarians. Once he defines the bedrock function of Jesus as Messiah, he reads each Gospel from that perspective, offering a quick trip through the Synoptics and John. In his zeal, Bird at times probably stretches the evidence too far (e.g., the use of the article with Messiah) or perhaps gets it wrong (e.g., on John 20:30-31), but for the most part this is a good introduction to seeing Jesus as the Messiah."
"This is the place to begin a study of Jesus in the Gospels, to understand their common thrust and their unique portraits of Jesus the Messiah. Sailing against some stiff breezes of scholarship, with enviable clarity Michael Bird sets out to show that Jesus' messiahship is the 'mother of all Christology.' There are touches of humor and flashes of insight. Wearing his knowledge lightly, Bird has given us a lively introduction to the Christology of the four Gospels and Acts. It is a compelling book, keeping the reader close to the biblical text and in touch with contemporary scholarship."
"In this important book, Bird seeks to show that the confession that Jesus is the Messiah is central to the structure and message of all four Gospels. In his previous book Are You the One Who is to Come? (2009) he demonstrated that Jesus' messiahship was not a later development based on the resurrection and alien to the intentions of Jesus. Here, he demonstrates that neither was it an early Jewish confession superseded by a more universal 'Son of God' Christology. As a result, the church must always understand its identity in the context of a renewed Israel."
"The four Gospels announced to the first-century world that Jesus is the Christ. The twenty-first-century world needs to hear this announcement afresh. Michael Bird's exposition of this core aspect of the Gospels' message will considerably help this contemporary hearing."
"Michael Bird tackles one of the hottest topics currently debated among New Testament scholars--what early believers understood by their confession that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah of Israel. This is a splendid study, written by an expert in the field, in engaging style and displaying clarity of thought. There is much to be learnt on every page."
"This is a helpful little volume. Bird writes in a clear and engaging style and shows good awareness of secondary literature. He provides a convincing case that Jesus' identity as Israel's Messiah is foundational for all Gospel Christology. Especially insightful is Bird's lengthy chapter on John. . . . As a model for how to do biblical theology, this volume would be an excellent supplemental text for college or graduate level courses on the Gospels, NT theology or NT survey."
"Bird's study is a provocative, necessary reminder of what too much contemporary biblical scholarship has attempted to deny."
"The confession 'Jesus is the Christ' was central to early Christian belief, and it played a crucial role in how the Gospel writers framed their narratives. This work would also be helpful for readers trying to gain a better understanding of messianic expectations and conceptions in the second temple period."
"On balance, this book would make a good text for a christology class. There is an evangelical slant, but it hardly feels like a 'slant.' The four Gospels are clearly distinguished; positions are thoughtfully argued; and the endnotes alert the reader to lines of research, including differing viewpoints."
"Bird does succeed in demonstrating how the identity of Jesus as Messiah represents a central christological claim of the gospels and Acts. . . . The book will serve as a useful resource for students and ministers who wish to have a firmer grasp of the distinctive ways the gospels develop a picture of Jesus as Messiah."
Introduction: When Did Jesus Become the Messiah?
1. The Gospel of Mark: The Crucified Messiah
2. The Gospel of Matthew: The Davidic Messiah
3. The Gospel of Luke (and Acts): The Prophetic Messiah
4. The Gospel of John: The Elusive Messiah
Conclusion: Believing in the Messiah