The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins

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9780060653750: The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins

The first book to give the full account of the lost gospel of Jesus' original followers, revealing him to be a Jewish Socrates who was mythologized into the New Testament Christ.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Simply stunning in its erudition and winning in its style. Probably better than anyone before him, Burton Mack has allowed the novel voice of this lost gospel to be heard with clarity at the same time as he fixes its position in Mediterranean antiquity. His case is that the Sayings Gospel Q represents a key piece in the puzzle of Christian origins is compelling; equally powerful is his account of what difference Q makes to the understanding of Christian origins." (John S. Kloppenborg, author of Q Parallels)

This is the first full account of the lost gospel of Jesus' original followers, revealing him to be a Jewish Socrates who was mythologized into the New Testament Christ. Compiled by his followers during his lifetime, the Book of Q (from Quelle, German for source) became the prime foundation for the New Testament gospels. Once lost, it has been reconstructed through a century of scholarship. In presenting his own translation, Burton Mack explains how the text of Q was determined and explores the implications of the discovery that Jesus was transformed into the dying and rising messianic savior of Christianity by the New Testament gospels.

Instead of telling a dramatic story about Jesus' life as the Christian gospels do, the Book of Q contained only his sayings. The first followers of Jesus focused not upon his life and destiny, but on the social experiment called for by his teachings. Their book collected his proverbs, aphorisms, and parables to offer instruction in living authentically in the midst of a most confusing time.

In The Lost Gospel, Burton Mack:

puts forth the first popular translation of Q as scholarly consensus has reconstructed it;

shows that Jesus' life story as presented in the New Testament gospels was fictionalized for theological purposes;

reveals Jesus to be a countercultural teacher and leader--subsequently mythologized into the Christ of the New Testament;

depicts Jesus' followers not as Christians, but as disciples of a wise, anti-establishment teacher; they did not believe him to be the son of God, believe that he rose from the dead, or gather to worship in his name;

concludes that Christianity is a mythologized religion (like Buddhism and other religions) rooted in a historical figure and teachings that in reality are quite remote from conventional beliefs.

"Q challenges the habituated assumptions and patterns of privilege granted the narrative gospels of the New Testament. With Burton Mack's landmark scholarship as a guide, the entire landscape of early Christian history and literature will now have to be revised." (Ron Cameron, author of The Other Gospels)

From the Back Cover:

"Burton Mack's The Lost Gospel, which finally presents the Book of Q to a public readership, impresses me as an immense clarification of Christian origins. Mack restores what seems to have been the actual Jesus, a wandering wisdom teacher whose gnosis has only a distant relation to what became institutional, doctrinal Christianity." (Harold Bloom, author of The Book of J)

"An utterly compelling book, engaged with the most recent scholarship, yet thoroughly comprehensible to a lay person. The provocative historical theses are persuasive. The lively translation of Q effectively captures the wit and power of the earliest document of Christian imagination. This will be a foundational work in the emerging discussion of Q and early Christianity." (Jonathan Z. Smith, University of Chicago, editor of The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion)

"Not everything that changes religious understanding comes out of a cave. Burton Mack uses the discovery of Q--the critical triumph that broke open the story of Jesus and the non-Christians who were his first followers--to break open a buried conflict in the secular culture of our own day." (Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography)

"A powerful and persuasive analysis emphasizing this lost gospel's role in both the church politics of the first century and the scholarly politics of the twentieth. Even if every apocryphal gospel, discovered or discoverable, be judged late, derivative, and dependent, here magnificently presented is a lost gospel already inside the biblical canon, already inside the walls that ecclesiastical scholarship consistently raises against the contamination of the New Testament gospels by their earlier or contemporary alternatives." (John Dominic Crossan, author of The Historical Jesus)

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