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The Existential Jesus

The Existential Jesus


Upending Christianity’s popular notion of Jesus the comforter, the good shepherd, the Lord, and the Savior, this completely new exploration of Mark’s Life of Jesus reexamines the image presented in this earliest of the New Testament gospels–the mysterious stranger, the singular, abandoned, and solitary figure–and rethinks the current role of Western culture through a radically altered view of Christianity. The existential Jesus has no interest in sin, and his focus is not on an afterlife. He is anti-church, anti-establishment, anti-family, and anti-community; a teacher, with himself his only student, he gestures enigmatically from within his own torturous experience, inviting the reader to walk in his shoes and ask the question, “Who am I?”

This book argues that Jesus is the West’s great teacher on the nature of being. Incorporating a new translation of the Gospel of Mark from its original Greek, this radical reinterpretation identifies the philosophical and cultural significance of Jesus in the modern world, based on his life, actions, and reflections.


“Awesome, awe-inspiring … The Existential Jesus is a work of genius.”

— Zygmunt Bauman, author, Consuming Life

“Testifies to the need for our culture to grapple once again with the Jesus of the New Testament. John Carroll is right. This task is inescapable if we wish to understand our history and the significance of our civilisation.”

— Peter Jensen, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Australia

“This is the Gospel of Mark as you’ve never read it before, but Carroll’s interpretation of Mark’s Jesus suddenly makes sense. It’s a scholarly but not forbiddingly academic study, for Carroll writes like a novelist, his passionate almost frantic style lending conviction to the story.”

— Alison Cotes, journalist and arts critic, Brisbane, Australia

This is a powerful book. John Carroll is a wonderful writer, in the crazed literary critic mode, not that of the pedantic theologian, digging deep for new connections, unafraid of over-stretching the simple truths of Mark. Which he does, often. He has discovered themes, parallels, motives, metaphors and allegories that never would have occurred to me upon five readings of Mark.

— Stuart Schulz, Sacramento, CA

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