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Michael F. Bird, Are You the One Who Is to Come?


Are You the One Who Is to ComeMichael F. Bird, Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 208 pages, ISBN 9780801036385 .

Michael Bird’s ever expanding catalog now includes a volume on messianic expectations in the time of Jesus, and how the historical Jesus fits within that field of expectations. It is no coincidence that the book follows quickly after another such study by Joseph Fitzmyer—Bird’s book takes specific issue with Fitzmyer’s dismissal of the idea of Jesus’ messianic self-awareness, and with his unduly narrow conception of the Messiah. (In a long footnote on pp. 28-29, Bird presents a long list of other scholars who argue that Jesus claimed messianic status for himself.) Bird argues that Fitzmyer’s treatment hardly does justice to the NT evidence.

Like all discussions of the messianic idea, Bird’s study includes an overview of messianic conceptions found at Qumran, in pseudepigraphic writings, and early rabbinic writings. He devotes little space to competing concepts, like the idea of a priestly messiah, probably because he sees little impress of such ideas in the New Testament.

There are other NT scholars who are capable of writing books as quickly (yet as complete) as Bird, but I know of no other scholar that mastered the craft so early in their career. Some of those known for writing books quickly, unfortunately, do not have much of interest to say—they have well-padded CVs but have not really contributed to the field of NT studies. So far, this has not been the case with Bird.

Reviewed by John C. Poirier


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Category: In Depth, Pneuma Review, Winter 2012

About the Author: John C. Poirier, Th.M. (Duke Divinity), D.H.L. (Jewish Theological Seminary), is an independent scholar who has published numerous articles on a wide range of topics. He is the author of The Invention of the Inspired Text: Philological Windows on the Theopneustia of Scripture (2021).

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