"Whenever scholars consider the question of whether Jesus had any self-conception of a messianic identity, Bird's scholarly study will be one of the contributions to the debate which will be impossible to ignore."--Paul Foster, Expository Times
"Jesus understood himself as designated by God as the Messiah of Israel." This thesis may strike many historical-Jesus scholars as dangerously bold. But through careful study of the Gospels, Second Temple literature, and other period texts, scholar Michael Bird makes a persuasive argument that Jesus saw himself as performing the role attributed to the messiah in the Scriptures of Israel and believed that Israel's restoration hinged on the outcome of his ministry.
Bird begins by exploring messianic expectations in the Old Testament and in Second Temple Judaism, finding in them an evolving messianism that provides historical context for Jesus' life and teaching. Next, he examines the prevailing contention that the messianic claim originated not with Jesus himself but in the preaching of the early church. Bird argues that such contentions lack cogency and often skew the evidence. Examining the Gospels and related literature, he then shows that what Jesus said and did demonstrates that he believed he was Israel's messiah. His career was "performatively messianic" in a way that shows continuity in eschatological terms between Israel and the church.