River of God, The: A New History of Christian Origins

Gregory J. Riley

Published by HarperOne, 2003
ISBN 10: 0060669802 / ISBN 13: 9780060669805
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Where did Christianity come from?

Acclaimed author Gregory Riley embarks on a remarkable journey in this readable and persuasive account of the origins of Christianity. Riley demonstrates that early Christians held widely differing beliefs about God, Jesus, the Devil, and the human soul, and follows these beliefs back to their sources in Greek science and philosophy and the religions of the ancient Middle East. An expert on the context in which Christianity arose, Riley maps out a new understanding of the forging of Christianity, and conveys a vital message for today about the true nature of Christian faith as inherently diverse.

Review: Believing in Jesus means so many different things to so many people that it's difficult, if not impossible, to define the true essence of Christianity. The differences between a charismatic Baptist hymnal, for instance, and a high-church Anglican communion merely scratch the surface of the many varieties of Christian belief. The River of God reminds readers that Christian belief has always been wildly diverse, and that Christianity was preceded and informed by many ancient cultural traditions. This is the point made by author Gregory J. Riley, professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology in California and the author of One Jesus, Many Christs. Riley's prose is mostly uncomplicated, and his metaphorical argument is fairly clear: many cultural streams converged to form the river of God, and material from those streams built up the delta of Christianity. But this book is not, as its subtitle claims, "A New History of Christian Origins." It is primarily a reworking of a familiar and amply documented fact, made popular by the work of Elaine Pagels and Jack Miles, among others: Christianity did not spring into being independent from its cultural context. Like life, it evolved, and continues to evolve. Though not original, Riley's point does bear repeating. Its repetition cultivates Christian humility, by helping to remind us that everyone in history who has ever learned to live well--including, or perhaps especially, Jesus--has learned largely by paying attention to the world around him. --Michael Joseph Gross

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Title: River of God, The: A New History of ...
Publisher: HarperOne
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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