Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth

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9780060655181: Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth

The Making of the Christian Myth

Commencing in mid February 2004, SBS TV (Australia) will run a two–part documentary based on this title.

In this groundbreaking and controversial book, Burton Mack brilliantly exposes how the Gospels are fictional mythologies created by different communities for various purposes and are only distantly related to the actual historical Jesus.

Mack‘s innovative scholarship which boldly challenges traditional Christian understanding‘ will change the way you approach the New Testament and think about how Christianity arose.

The clarity of Mack‘s prose and the intelligent pursuit of his subject make compelling reading. Mack‘s investigation of the various groups and strands of the early Christian community out of which were generated the texts of Christianity‘s first anthology of religious literature and makes sense of a topic that has been confusing.

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From the Publisher:

A radical Jesus scholar reveals who really wrote the Gospels and other books of the New Testament--and why.

From the Inside Flap:

"The New Testament is commonly viewed and treated as a charter document that came into being much like the Constitution of the United States. According to this view, the authors of the New Testament were all present at the historic beginnings of the new religion and collectively wrote their gospels and letters for the purpose of founding the Christian church that Jesus came to inaugurate. Unfortunately for this view, that is not the way it happened." (from the Prologue)

With innovative scholarship and an engaging, detective-like style, an eminent and controversial scholar of Christian origins presents the first comprehensive yet popular explanation of who wrote the New Testament--and why.

Burton L. Mack, who won wide acclaim for The Lost Gospel, scrupulously examines the Christian Testament and fleshes out both the social and the cultural context from which it emerged. In contrast to the widely held view of the gospels as complementary accounts of single set of events, Mack offers a history of divergent Christian communities and their anonymous writers who wrote widely different chronicles for distinct purposes and audiences over a period of more than one hundred years. He delineates how Christians in later centuries assigned the names of apostles and disciples to the anonymous stories about Jesus and his teachings, adjusted the chronology, and erased cultural differences in an effort to present a coherent history of the faith and invest the new church with authenticity.

This trailblazing reconstruction of early Christianity, which makes cutting-edge scholarship thoroughly accessible to a popular audience, reveals how the Christian Bible was created. Who Wrote the New Testament? challenges us to envision the New Testament as dynamic myth, reinterpreted many times through the course of Western cultural history, rather than as the static statement of any single truth. Much as The Iliad and The Odyssey mythologized events and figures in the remote Greek past, the New Testament writings, Mack shows, transform the historical Jesus, a counter-cultural philosopher with no grand messianic pretensions, into the Christ, the dying and rising son of God. Ultimately, then, the New Testament consists of a powerful religious mythology comparable to those of other great religions.

Vital reading for all serious students of the Bible and Christian origins, Who Wrote the New Testament? should also prove enormously enlightening for those who seek to uncover the true story of how the historical Jesus was transformed into the mythologized Christ of faith.

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