The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy

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9780826413550: The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy
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This book traces Burton Mack's intellectual evolution, from a creative analyst of ancient texts, to a scholar searching for the motives and interests of Jesus's followers who composed those texts, and for the social logic of "the Christian myths" they created. Mack rejects depictions of Jesus that have emerged from the quest for the "historical Jesus"—peasant teacher, revolutionary leader, mystical visionary or miracle-working prophet—on the grounds that they are based on a priori assumptions about Jesus, and are therefore contradictory. In addition, he argues, these portrayals are untrue to the many images of Jesus produced by the early Christians. Using systematic analysis, Mack seeks to describe and understand the cultural and anthropological influences on the conception and adoption of Christian myths and rituals.

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About the Author:

Burton L. Mack, Emeritus Professor of Early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology, is the author of A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins; The Lost Gospel: Q and Christian Origins; and Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the Christian Myth.

Review:

"This is Mack at his best—thoughtful and sometimes brilliant; articulate and sometimes eloquent; persuasive and sometimes provocative and disturbing. The agenda and focus of the Christian Origins project that this book announces and begins to model are compelling. This study of Christian myth-making has the potential to help a new generation and demographic of New Testament and Early Christianity scholars make sustained creative connections to other fields and discourses. For those who have long needed encouragement to leave behind the 'merely' theological-historical antiquarianist orientation of New Testament studies, Mack's book should be considered a welcome beacon and roadmap, signalling one dramatic way outward."—Vincent L. Wimbush

"Mack lucidly presents a complex argument to scholars and general readers alike. Moreover, his care in outlining his project opens a window on the research process. Some may find Mack's critique unsettling, but being unsettling in the study of religion 'may finally be worthwhile.'"—Booklist

"Must Read"—Today's Books

"His book reminds the church that the New Testament is a book one needs to learn how to read, and that the extravagant claims of Christianity are not honoured when accompanied by cultural imperialism. And faith in the person of Jesus is a precarious and astonishing gift - not a self-evident truth to be read off the page of the Gospels."
—Church Times 11/10/02
"This is a well researched and documented study of Christian origins....this is a book that theological libraries should have."
—Catholic Library World, 7/02

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