Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God” as Want to Read:
Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  296 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
With the same passionate scholarship and analytical audacity he brought to the character of God, Jack Miles now approaches the literary and theological enigma of Jesus. In so doing, he tells the story of a broken promise–God’s ancient covenant with Israel–and of its strange, unlooked-for fulfillment. For, having abandoned his chosen people to an impending holocaust at the ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 5th 2002 by Vintage (first published August 1st 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Christ, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Christ

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Christians. People with any interest/knowledge of the Bible
This is the "sequel," if you will, to the book "God: A Biography." I actually read this one first, and it really doesn't matter. He briefly lays out his hypotheses from the first book at the beginning of this one. This is again a literary reading of the Bible. It just deals with the New Testament. Or more accurately, the changeover from the Old Testament and the New Testament, and all the contradictions that Jack Miles finds there. In short, his conclusion is that God changed his mind. He realiz ...more
Ron Charles
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jack Miles likes big celebrities. Six years ago, he wrote a biography of God. His analysis of the Great Protagonist in the Hebrew Bible won a Pulitzer Prize. Now, he's back. And this time, it's personal.

"Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God" reminds us that the story of Christianity reaches its climax with a lynching, an "improbable and appalling conjunction" of native Jewish ideas.

In the ancient story of Abraham and Isaac, animal sacrifice had dramatically replaced human sacrifice as a demonstra
Apr 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Disclosure: This review is written by my husband who has a MTh.
Rev. Mr. Daniel Laurita

"Three things in life are highly over rated" an old mentor once told me. Two are home cooking and a Harvard education--the third cannot be shared in a public forum. Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God suffers from both the Harvard education of its author Jack Miles and his home cooked ideas.

I really looked forward to this book. Mr. Miles had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his first book, God: A Biography T
Steven Williams
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
In this book Jack Miles does what he did with god in his book God: A Biography on god and the Old Testament for god, focusing on Christ, in the New Testament. He describe the life of god as going through a crisis, involving guilt over how he dealt with his people in the Old Testament. His approach throughout the book is one of literary analysis. In other words he is not interested in the historicalness of the Bible per se, or does he take a theological perspective.

I have a few remarks on parts o
Jan 09, 2011 marked it as to-read
Loved Jack Miles' first book. You know, I really have no idea what's in the New Testament. Is it just Jesus? I don't even know how long it is.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I’m really not sure what to make of this book and I don’t have a lot to say about it. It’s the stories of the gospel in a narrative format with some (perhaps?) controversial twists. For example, in the story of the talk Jesus has with the Samaritan woman at the water well, the author suggests that there is some provocative wordplay going on that may even have been scandalous in its historical context (a single man talking to married woman).

It seems that the author’s basic thesis is that God had
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's my good fortune to have spent about a year in India over the course of the last three years, and I've often hosted first time visitors. Conversations invariably move to an overview of Hinduism, a religion that is quite foreign to Westerners. Almost without fail my guests have voiced the belief that Hinduism is all myth, and not to be taken very seriously. I've taken to asking these folks what makes Hinduism more a myth, or fiction, or literary construct than Christianity, and, to no surpris ...more
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
I think my opinion of this book could be best summarized by simply taking the first word of the title and adding an ellipse.

Books like this are the reason why nobody takes academia seriously anymore. It's a very, very dense, pedantic, and breathless interpretation of what the author thinks of the Bible, presented in a way that makes it obvious that Miles thinks his interpretation of disjointed, rapid-fire Bible passages is unique when in reality he's mostly stating the obvious to any halfway-ob
Henry Sturcke
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A continuation of the author's project of taking the Bible rigorously as literature. In his first book, God: A Biography, he treated the God of the Hebrew scriptures as the protagonist of a single account. This book is in a way a sequel, recounting how one group, who came to be known as Christians, responded to the crisis referred to in the subtitle: the seeming non-fulfillment of God's promise to deliver Israel. They did so by acclaiming Jesus as the Son of God and viewing the crucifixion as a ...more
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have read about four kabillion books about Jesus, so it was nice to read one with a little bit of a twist -- it wasn't about the historical Jesus, but it approached Christ from a literary, philosophical perspective. I think it's super important to consider Christianity in this way, because ... that's what Christianity is. The Bible is not a literal account of our history, it is a reflection of our history. This book tries to answer the question: why did this part of the story, this Jesus stuff ...more
Jul 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Once again, the author has created a text which examines a portion of the Bible -- in this instance the New Testament -- as a work of literature rather than a sacred text. And so this time he continues his scrutiny of the "life of God", and the crisis that he -- God -- has created. Whereas the Old Testament is the story of God's covenant with his chosen people -- the Hebrews -- so the New Testament is the story of how God resolved the problem of his (apparent) inability to win a final victory on ...more
Therese  A.  Brink
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jack Miles, author of the Pulitzer Prize - winning *God -a Biogaphy* has written an excellent literary analysis of Christ in the New Testament.
What is the "crisis" referred to in the title? The crisis is that God has not delivered his Chosen People from 500 years of oppression. How does God solve this problem? Answer: God/Christ commits sacred suicide. This is Miles' provocative conclusion from his stirictly literary analysis the Christian Bible. How does Miles arrive at the conclusion? You, dea
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic sequel (if it can be called that) to Miles' God: A Biography. His basic premise is that Christ, or God Incarnate, has been born in crisis, which crisis is the broken covenant Miles discusses so well in his first book. In order to resolve this crisis, Christ must humiliate himself (which is, as those of us who've read the New Testament, exactly what he does). For the believer, I feel like this book can do much to build faith; for the non-believer, this book can go far to explain (?) t ...more
George Mills
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It lives up to 'God, A Biography.' with a highly creative thesis that is quite consistent with his analysis of the "character" God in the first book. In both books, the author provides the reader with a view of the character "God" that strives to be a strictly literary character analysis rather than religious or theological analysis. In other words, he has approached the character "God" in both the Hebrew Bible and in the New Testament as if he were analyzing the character Ahab in "Moby Dick." A ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This book was slow going for me -- it's very cerebral and often challenging. I took a long break and then read the last 100 pages in a week, and I enjoyed the end more than I had the rest of the book.
The overall thesis is very interesting (if I'm remembering it right: Christ's life and death and resurrection is God's attempt to work out the problem of why He doesn't lead Israel to conquer as He did in the days of Exodus, and He works it out by changing the role of the Messiah and redefining wh
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In "Christ: Crisis in the Life of Christ", author Jack Miles examines how Christ completed the transition from the God of the Old Testament to the God of the New Testament.

He examines selected scriptures in the Bible, and tries to show how Jesus fulfilled those prophesies. The impression I was left with was that God changed his mind, and decided that the forgiving and loving way of Jesus was a better approach in dealing with humanity than the strict and demanding god of the Old Testament.

Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book picks up where God: A Biography left off.

It's difficult to paraphrase Miles, but God, having messed up relations with his chosen people, uses Jesus to give human experience to a spiritual being. Implicit here is the idea that God hasn't done that well with his creation. At the first transgression he has saddled humanity with death. Through Jesus he offers a wrenching sort of empathy that results in the overcoming of that very state which he imposed on humanity.

Miles zips back and fort
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book looking at the New Testament, mostly the gospels, from a literary point of view. Miles also wrote God: A Biography which looked at the character of God in the Old Testament and how he changes during the course of the scriptures. In Christ, God has come to a major crossroads in his covenant with Israel, and His need to make amends (Israel has been under oppression for centuries) leads to sending His son, here looked at through the guise of God Incarnate. The terms or the ...more
John Holliday
Jun 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because it gave me a better understanding of the New Testament and of Christianity. The author has a beautiful, clear writing style. He spends a lot of the book making his case that Christ was a crisis for God, and this becomes a bit tiresome. However, don’t give up; continue reading past the end of the book. In Appendix 2 he has a good overview of the evolution of thought about the Bible. Where we are now, appreciating its literature, seems to leave open the way for future int ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great follow to Miles's "God: A Biography" in which the author considers Jehovah as a character in a great work of literature. In this book, Miles regards the life of Christ -- God Incarnate -- as the resolution to the crisis provoked by God's failure to restore Israel to its former glory. Though not intended as a work of theology I found the book and Miles's interpretation of the Bible as literature deeply moving and spiritually illuminating.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
using history and scripture, miles shows the evolution of God and our perceptions of Him from the beginning through Jesus' time, and how His different personalities formed and resolved the contradictions of his attitude towards his people. this was a tough read, there wasn't much of a flow, but miles makes some really interesting and exciting points.
Knut H
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Less famous than it's forbear, this is my favourite of the two Jack Miles works in which he approaches the bible as a work of art, and with the tools of the literary critic. The results are profound, and Miles is a deep and even minded thinker. One of the great, great works of theology of the last hundred years.
John E
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This follow-on the his Old Testament study of God was rather hard to read. It was hard in the academic sense because it was very stictly laid out and very detailed. Not a history, but a literary criticism study of the story of Jesus; not a study of the New Testament since it was only following the "life" of the main character of the New Testament. It helped to have read his earlier book on God.
Chuc Laventure
Apr 24, 2010 added it
Recommends it for: Open minded people with a desire for knowledge
Recommended to Chuc by: Borders
I'm incredibly impressed by Mr. Miles' ability to thread the old and new testament together. A true talent for picking up the loose ends of story and weaving them into what the original authors may have trying to convey. This is a very scholarly piece.
May 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Conceptually very interesting, but it was a very heavy read and I don't enjoy having to continually put books down to let them "breathe". I'm glad I made notes so I can look back and know I didn't imagine how bogged down I felt when I first read this.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Seekers, the open-minded
Shelves: gotta-have-faith
A nice follow to Miles' literary analysis of the Old Testament. I like the exploration of Jesus' varied NT roles. I still believe the image of God/Jesus as bridegroom/husband invites abuse and rationalization, though. Can't we just be friends? Both of Miles' books will merit re-reading.
Edgar Sandoval
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What made GOD go from a warrior/blood-thirsty/vengeful/-all-powerful invisible entity to a mortal miracle maker hell-bent on suicide? Pick up this stellar book (I dont usually use the world stellar all that much either)and find out. Just the facts Mam'
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book that really changed the way I look at things. A deep read, but easy to take important lessons from.
Tom D
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
as with the first volume, it is extremely well written, but I disagree with the premises.
Aug 07, 2007 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in history of theology
very interesting explanation of the history of Judeo-Christian Religous thought....but not a page turner as one can see by the looooong ago start date...something i come back to now and again...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • God's Funeral: The Decline of Faith in Western Civilization
  • The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus
  • Head and Heart: American Christianities
  • Melville: His World and Work
  • As For Me And My House: Crafting Your Marriage To Last
  • Gospel According to Jesus
  • From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ
  • Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict
  • On Suicide: A Discourse on Voluntary Death
  • High Tech/High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning
  • The Historical Figure of Jesus
  • The American Religion
  • Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes
  • In the Shadow of a Rainbow
  • The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith
  • Meditations: On the Monk Who Dwells in Daily Life
  • The Bible with Sources Revealed
  • Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil
Jack Miles (b. 1942) is an American author and winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the MacArthur Fellowship. His work on religion, politics, and culture has appeared in numerous national publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times.

More about Jack Miles...