The Unriddling of Christian Origins

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9780879759520: The Unriddling of Christian Origins

Despite thousands of books devoted to the origins of Christianity, there has never been a complete and factual history of the religion from the secular point of view. This volume provides a coherent, real-life account, without all the theological baggage.

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Why was Jesus, described in the gospels as a preacher with a message of peace and love, executed by the Romans as "Kings of the Jews"? Why do the gospels play down Roman involvement in Jesus' death and vilify the Jews as the chief culprits? Was there a connection between Jesus and Zealot rebels whose various attempts to overthrow Roman domination eventually led to the destruction of Jerusalem? These are among the many interesting questions answered by Joel Carmichael in this thought-provoking books. Carmichael notes that although thousands of books have been devoted to the origins of Christianity, no clear consensus has emerged among scholars regarding the events of Jesus' life or the development of Christianity after his death. Carmichale believes the reason for this confusion is a "combination of scarce data and willful speculation. The constant production of books is fueled by a widespread reluctance to accept as adequate those data that are uncontested". The Unriddling Of Christian Origins sets the record straight by offering a purely secular account of the critical events and characters of early Christianity without recourse to theories, surmises, speculations, and borrowings from other disciplines. Part one, "Jesus Before Christ", examines the life of Jesus. Part two, "Christ After Jesus", studies the articulation of the Christian message after Jesus' death , focusing on the role of Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul) and the impact of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem on both the Jewish and the fledgling Christian communities. Carmichael puts special emphasis on the concept of the "Kingdom of God" which was fundamental to the teachings of Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul. He describes the ferment of political unrest and apocalyptic theological speculations that influenced the thinking of the earliest Christians, and he delves into the intriguing relationship between the many Jewish sects of the time and the believers in Christ Jesus. The Unriddling Of Christian Origins is a fascinating, well-argued study, unique in its secular emphasis and controversial in its conclusions. Joel Carmichael is an author, translator, and polymath who has written numerous books not only on early Christianity but also on Russian history and Islamic Studies. -- Midwest Book Review

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