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How Did Christianity Begin?: A Believer and Non-Believer Examine the Evidence Paperback – December 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (December 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801045657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801045653
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,984,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael F. Bird is lecturer in theology at Crossway College and honorary research associate at the University of Queensland. He has published several articles on the linguistic background to the gospels and the Gospel of Mark and is the author of Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission. James G. Crossley is lecturer in New Testament at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of The Date of Mark's Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity and Why Christianity Happened: A Socio historical Account of Christian Origins 2650 C.E. .

More About the Author

Michael F. Bird is a leading academic on New Testament studies and Christian Theology. He is Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E.L.B. on March 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Why did Christianity happen? Can it be adequately accounted for in naturalistic historical terms? Or is Christianity inexplicable apart from the assumption of miraculous causal realities presupposed by the texts which make up our earliest evidence for its formation?

In this book, two younger-generation NT scholars clash their views on Christianity's origins. There are five topics: the historical Jesus, the resurrection, Paul, the gospels, and the emergence of Christianity. In alternating sections one scholar gets space to lay out his views, the other responds, and the one takes the last word. At the end, McKnight for the believing side critiques Crossley's performance, and Casey for the nonbelieving side critiques Bird's.

HOW DID CHRISTIANITY BEGIN? is evidently written for laymen. So I figured I'd spell out my layman's reception of the arguments in this book. I must be frank and admit that I fall on the Crossley-Casey side of this debate, but I will try to stay as objective as possible.

Crossley tries to describe Christianity's emergence as a distinctive religion along broad socio-historical lines, focusing on three factors that mark this distinctiveness: the nonobservance of the law, the inclusion of gentiles, and the theological development of Jesus as God. Bird tries to describe Christian origins in terms of a series of unprecedented theological innovations rooted in Jesus of Nazareth. This runs them both into troubling confusion especially in the first two sections that deal with Jesus and miracles.

I. The Historical Jesus
II. The Resurrection

How was Jesus born? Did he do miracles? What did he teach and why? Was he Torah-observant? Did he claim to be God? Did he rise from the dead?
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