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150 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, balanced, insightful
I have read several other books from the "historic Jesus" genre. Because this book is thorough and balanced, I consider it the best I have read so far. In fact, I have used it as the basis for sorting out fair interpretation from biased speculation among the other books I have read. This book is not the easiest read; it sits on the cusps of popular...
Published on October 27, 1998

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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HIstorical Jesus not Biblical Jesus...
Just a quick note. This book is a view of the historical Jesus. This is not a biblically supported work. If you are a devote believer in the word of Christ, this book may not be for you. It is NOT designed to strengthen an individual's faith. However, it is written as a scholarly work to better understand who Jesus was in actuality. It is well written and...
Published on June 21, 2010 by Jonathan Schmidt


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150 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, balanced, insightful, October 27, 1998
By A Customer
I have read several other books from the "historic Jesus" genre. Because this book is thorough and balanced, I consider it the best I have read so far. In fact, I have used it as the basis for sorting out fair interpretation from biased speculation among the other books I have read. This book is not the easiest read; it sits on the cusps of popular writing on the subject as well as more purely academic research, and that means it takes patience and commitment to get through. But the commitment is worth it.
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119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE seminal work on historical Jesus, November 13, 2003
By 
William Alexander "Bill Alexander" (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
If you only read one book on the historical Jesus this should be it. Although I think that Fredriksen oversteps in her analysis in a few cases, overall her analysis and conclusions are right on the money. She is one of the best New Testament scholars working in the field and her careful presentation of the evidence and support for her conclusions is strong and reliable. Her reasoning is exceptionally careful and for the most part simply allows the text to speak for itself with exceptional clarity.
Fredriksen first lays out the world of the New Testament. A brief introduction on the nature of the documents and the challenges that they present begins her discussion. For those who have done a careful reading of the gospels it is apparent that there are minor as well as significant differences between them. Far from being slight changes to previous copies, they represent different understandings of who Jesus was. In many cases they represent vastly different conceptions of theology, and the future for the followers of the risen Jesus. One must delve deep into the documents with an understanding of their history and transmission in order to gain a clear perspective on this. She has done this precisely and the reader is the one who benefits from her work. Extremely helpful for understanding this is a comprehension of the Hellenistic world that Jesus was born into, the enduring legacy of Alexander's conquests that we ourselves live in the shadow of to this day. History often turns on a dime and vast changes for posterity sometimes depend on the smallest of events: the birth and rise of Alexander of Macedon is one such event.
Fredriksen moves backward in time, beginning with the highly developed esoteric Christology in the gospel of John at the turn of the century back to the very Jewish, earthy, eschatological Mark, written between 65 and 75 AD. Carefully laying out the evidence of the texts, Fredriksen incisively reasons a very likely history of the development of the ideas of Jesus and takes us back to the most probable reconstruction of who the man of history truly was. She then evaluates Paul, who represents a sort of anomaly compared to the gospel development and demonstrates that the theological development wasn't necessarily as smooth a trajectory as one would presume.
In order to gain a proper understanding of the context all this takes place in and why indeed it even occurs one must have a modicum of knowledge about the history of Israel, and the development of messianism that began with the experience of the Babylonian Exile and the subsequent influence of Persian religious ideas on historical Judaism. Indeed it was this time, from the sixth century through the second, that proved formative to Jewish ideas, which when mixed with Hellenism produced the Christian religion that we know today, which subsequently greatly influenced Islam. (What an amazing time in history!) This book describes that process. For a more complete analysis of the particularities, I recommend Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come by Norman Cohn.
Fredriksen then proceeds to the development of the Christian faith and its process of evolving away from Judaism that occurred as a result of the experience of the resurrection (whatever that was). This experience and an exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures led the first followers to make some dramatic conclusions about what had really happened and what Jesus' mission was. Also significant in this process was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, which had a profound effect on the subsequent development of the tradition. Fredriksen lays this out for the reader concisely and thoroughly. She then summarizes by building a smooth trajectory from what we know about Jesus, the earliest gospels, to what the tradition came to be at the beginning of the second century.
Do not let its 200 pages fool. This work is thorough and packed with information and analysis. It deserves two readings.
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage of a little-known phenomenon, August 26, 2003
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This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
It may be true that modern Christian theology is the correct interpretation of the life and teachings of the man who lived 2,000 years ago. This interpretation, though, is only one of many that co-existed the first century. Indeed, a perusal of both New Testament and accompanying writings of the day show an intense battle among various factions - all claiming to represent attempting to set the agenda.
Fridrekson argues that what we perceive as the basic Christian message came about over time through compromise, cultural wars and sheer power politics. The split between Christians and Jews was presetn as soon as Jesus was deemed "God". The idea of a god impregnating a human woman is mythological and was (and is) deemed heretical by Jews. They never thought the Messiah would be divine nor that his rule would include Gentiles. This set the stage for two millenia of Jewish persecution. Indeed, one of the first acts of the Church was to ban the Ebionites, a group of Jewish believer in Jesus who did not consider him divine.
A contradiction in the New Testament is present if one knows the date of origin: The earlier the book, the less that was known of the life of Jesus. The first books (Paul's works) show a remarkable lack of knowledge. Mark (written next) starts at manhood while Luke and Matthew go back to the birth. John, the last written, starts at the Beginning of the Universe. This process became static only when a conference of Christian bishops voted not only on Orthodox theology but on approved Scripture.
This is an important, well-researched work that should demand more attention.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Fredriksen: Sane and Erudite, March 27, 2001
This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
Before "Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews" there was "From Jesus to Christ". In fact, Paula Fredriksen wrote this book 11 years previously to her recently acclaimed tome. This book is the more "theological" of the two, being a discussion of the New Testament portraits of Jesus whereas her more recent book is a study of the historical Jesus. This is not the latter whilst simultaneously being a useful way to get into it. Thus the sequence of Fredriksen's books is understandable.
Fredriksen is a responsible scholar. She has a smooth and erudite manner which shows a sharp and attentive grasp of her subject. This book shows a clear and concise understanding of the Greco-Roman world and the Jewish world alike as the background to the New Testament. Her discussions of Paul and the Gospels, while not assauging the reader's questions, provide meaty treatments which repay reading. For readers who have her recent book this is the perfect companion to it. For readers who want a solid exposition of the New Testament world and the way the New Testament writers relate their images of Jesus, this is the perfect book for that too, providing simple, yet never simplistic, readings of the images of Jesus provided by the Gospels and Paul.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Jesus to Christ: Origins of New Testament Images of Christ, March 27, 2009
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This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
This book shows impeccable scholarship and sheds much light on the different historical perspectives held by each of the writers of the four gospels and by the apostle Paul. It is very usueful when trying to understand why and how the books were written as they were.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars HIstorical Jesus not Biblical Jesus..., June 21, 2010
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This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
Just a quick note. This book is a view of the historical Jesus. This is not a biblically supported work. If you are a devote believer in the word of Christ, this book may not be for you. It is NOT designed to strengthen an individual's faith. However, it is written as a scholarly work to better understand who Jesus was in actuality. It is well written and historically supported. Do not expect to find support from biblical tales. In spite of this, for anyone who desires an historian's point of view of Jesus and who he was and what he did, it is an interesting read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly but Accessible Work, One of the Best for Introducing the Problems of History and Interpretation of the New Testament, December 24, 2007
This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
Paula Fredriksen's "From Jesus to Christ" is a minor gem in the field of New Testament criticism. Following primarily on the work of E.P. Sanders (whose "Jesus and Judaism" ought to be required reading for any reader interested in the Historical Jesus), Fredriksen gives a forthright and convincing analysis of the various images we get of Jesus in the four gospels and the letters of Paul. Her survey paves a healthy middle path between skepticism and generosity, always critical but also gentle and approachable. The progression of the image from fiery preacher of the imminent end to a heavenly stranger unconcerned with eschatology is well laid out and, refreshingly, its anachronisms are also presented (why should the two accounts most distant on the timeline, Paul and John, have such similar and disproportionate interest in the spiritual meaning of the risen Christ?). I am currently reading Fredriksen's follow-up, "Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews," which presents another 11 years of research and decidedly different results from this work. We should be glad that scholars of Fredriksen's honesty and critical receptiveness have had such crossover scholarly-popular success.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Jesus to Christ, September 4, 2004
By 
T. Wells (Knoxville, TN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
"From Jesus to Christ" is the best single volume introduction to Christian origins ive come across. Fredriksen writes with a lively, intelligent and sometimes humorous style that keeps the readers attention through even some of the more mundane material. The books primary strength is the way it covers all the bases by showing not only the historical Jesus but his world and the evolving traditions about him. Most of its kind simply focus on the life of Jesus without giving the overall context of the Church in which the traditions were devloping.

Part 1 begins by describing the Hellenistic NT world, the result of Alexanders conquests, showing both Pagan and Jewish versions. Next, Fredriksen shows the NT images of Christ from the latest, Johns "Logos", to the earliest, Pauls apocalyptic cosmic redeemer.

Part II describes Jesus's context, the world of Second Temple Judaism and gives her view of the historical Jesus whose death as a insurgent is best explained by his role as an apocalyptic prophet.

Part III shows the developing Christ through the tradition and teaching of the Church after the original resurrection experience

The book also contains a helpful glossary and suggested reading section for those new to the material.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balanced and Scholarly, November 21, 2010
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This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
A good book if you are looking for a balanced and scholarly view of the development of early Christianity. The influence of Hellenistic and Jewish traditions on the development of Christianity, coupled with the "deferral" of the secon coming - which was viewed as imminent by Paul and the original disciples - led to the ongoing adaptation of early Christianity to unanticipated fact patterns, and the development of a Christology that is both Jewish and Hellenistic. Exploring the development of Christology from the Pauline letters (the oldest elements of the New Testament), through the Gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew and Lohn (the latest), we see an emerging complex Christology that attempts to explain the lack of an immediate second coming. If you are Biblically fundamentalist, this book will seem heretical. However, it's well written and researched, and represents a scholarly exploration to the development of early Christology.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Jesus to Christ, April 24, 2010
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This review is from: From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition (Paperback)
This book was a real eye opener. I never gave much thought to Jesus and his family life. I was surprised that he led a totally Jewish life and the the deciples were also Jewish. So when I finished this book, which I found to be very informative, I bought the Orthodox Study Bible, also from Amazon, and for the first time, I am finding it (The Bible) to be very interesting. This book is about Jesus in the New Testament and it made me want to know more about the Old Testament, the history that led up to the birth of Christ. I highly recommend it.
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From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition
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