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Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity Hardcover – November 13, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 2.3.2012 edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439123314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439123317
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* There have been a number of books written about Paul and his relationship to the apostles; to James, the brother of Jesus; and to the early Christian community in Jerusalem. But Tabor, a professor of religion, does a particularly fine job of explaining Paul’s unique view of Jesus and how he originated a gospel that had almost nothing to do with the life of Jesus, nor the messianic message as it was understood by Jesus’ first followers. Tabor contends that Paul’s letters—Corinthians and Romans, especially—are the oldest biblical documents we have dating to Jesus’ time; the Gospels and even the Acts of the Apostles came later. Within this time line, it is possible to trace Paul’s thinking and to come to an understanding of both Paul’s gospel and the schism that developed between Paul and Jesus’ apostles. Tabor does very little speculating, keeping his focus on the texts and placing them within the context of first-century Judaism and early Christianity. The crisp, clear writing gives readers much to consider—especially the fact that it is a Pauline Christianity that most Christians practice today. Tabor writes in the preface that he has spent much of his adult life studying early Christianity in general and Paul in particular. The depth of his scholarship shows, but he also makes this an enjoyable read for those who want to know more about one of history’s greatest mysteries. --Ilene Cooper

Review

"Tabor does a particularly fine job of explaining Paul's unique view of Jesus. . . . The crisp, clear writing gives readers much to consider—especially the fact that it is a Pauline Christianity that most Christians practice today. . . . The depth of his scholarship shows, but he also makes this an enjoyable read for those who want to know more about one of history's great mysteries." (Booklist (starred review))

"A fresh, imaginative and insightful treatment of the original years of the Christian faith. It is not as we have been taught through the centuries. It is infinitely more complex and infinitely more exciting. James Tabor makes this clear.” (John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World)

“This superb, well written book carefully shows just how different Paul’s religion was from that of Jesus and his first followers. . . .A fascinating book, packed with illuminating insights. Highly recommended.” (Barrie Wilson, Ph.D., Professor, Humanities and Religious Studies, York University, and author of How Jesus Became Christian)

More About the Author

James D. Tabor is Professor of Christian Origins and Ancient Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught since 1989. Previously he held posts at Notre Dame and William and Mary. He holds a Ph.D. in biblical studies and early Christianity from the University of Chicago and is an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian origins. The author of several previous books, he is frequently consulted by the media on these topics and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs.

Customer Reviews

I have very little exposure to this author, but the book is interesting and I believe well researched and presented.
Tommy
This is the third book I have read by Dr. Tabor, and I want to say the best one I have read by him so far, but all his books are so good it is hard to really say that.
Amazon Customer
Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity by James D. Tabor should be required reading for every Christian.
Jim Myers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Ross K. Nichols on November 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Paul and Jesus, How the Apostle Transformed Christianity by James D. Tabor

In November 2012, the author of The Jesus Dynasty once again releases a book that is sure to challenge our thinking when it comes to Christian Origins. In his latest work, published by Simon and Schuster, James D. Tabor turns his academic attention to a thorough investigation of a particular way of defining and understanding Christianity. Of all the works he has published in more than thirty years as a Biblical scholar and historian of Christian origins, this may prove to be Tabor's most important contribution yet to our understanding of how and why we have come to believe the way we do. Tabor asserts and then sets out to prove that Catholics, mainstream Protestants and evangelicals have all inherited much of their Christianity, not through the teachings of Jesus but through the teachings of the Apostle Paul.

Even though this book may challenge readers, Tabor presents his convincing arguments in a way that is both respectful and sensitive. Tabor makes no excuses for Paul. For better or for worse, Tabor allows Paul to explain himself from his own words at every turn. He does this by carefully reporting facts taken from ancient sources and by examining and contrasting Christianity before and after Paul.

Tabor's work claims that Paul effectively transformed Christianity from a thoroughly Jewish sect into something that would have been altogether foreign to Jesus and his first followers. He shows that for Paul, there was no interest in "Jesus according to the flesh." Paul admittedly never met Jesus according to the flesh, but rather relates that in a series of visionary experiences or revelations, a "heavenly Christ" came to him with a message that would become his gospel.
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64 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Tabor's new book, "Paul and Jesus", is the culmination of the author's thirty-year examination of the life of Paul, the meaning of his message, and nature of his relationship with the Jerusalem apostles and with James, the brother of Jesus. In this eminently readable and ultimately challenging investigation into these issues, Tabor refreshingly portrays Paul without the added reinterpretation provided by the later church. Basing his analysis almost exclusively on the authentic letters of Paul, Tabor re-introduces us to a man many of us might have thought we already knew. We quickly realize that the popular image of Paul has been heavily based on the Acts of the Apostles, which is little more than an "Acts of Paul", written as late as the early second century according to the author, and thus by someone who never knew Paul.

In this fascinating and revealing portrait of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Tabor makes it clear that not only did Paul never meet Jesus, he paid scant heed to the inheritors of Jesus' teaching: the apostles and brothers of Jesus. Instead, Paul based his entire "gospel" on his repeated, self-reported revelations that he claimed were of the risen Christ. As the author convincingly shows, Paul's unique message conflicted with that of Jesus' own disciples and led to open hostility and perhaps even to Paul's arrest and imprisonment in Rome.

Throughout this reevaluation of Paul, Tabor challenges us to understand that the New Testament is, with few exceptions, comprised of books that represent the Pauline teachings, not those of early Palestinian Jewish Christianity. All of them were written after Paul's letters were composed. This leads to some startling discoveries.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jim Myers on December 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity by James D. Tabor should be required reading for every Christian. I first met James in the late 1980s at a conference in Ft. Worth, Texas and I was impressed by the fact that he laid his cards on the table when it came to discussing the histories of Christianity and Judaism. James hasn't changed. On the second page (xvi) of the preface of Paul and Jesus you will find:

". . . the message of Paul, which created Christianity as we know it, and the message of the historical Jesus and his earliest followers, were not the same. In fact, they were sharply opposed . . ."

Anyone reading the New Testament Gospels and Paul's Epistles critically knows that Tabor is correct. So, why will Paul and Jesus challenge the beliefs of millions of Christians? One reason can be traced back to the Niagara Bible Conference that published the "Five Points of Fundamentalism" in 1895. It stated the conference's conclusion that there are five essential beliefs required for one to be a Christian. One of those essential beliefs is "the inerrancy of Scripture" (meaning the Christian Bible). This belief became a cornerstone for fundamentalism and will be the obstacle standing between millions of Christians understanding the truth of Tabor's statement above - "the message of Paul created Christianity!"

Our beliefs about the Bible affect how we understand its words. If we believe everything in our Bible is the "inerrant Scripture," then our minds are forced to try and make everything we read in it agree - even when it clear that they don't. But, if we follow Tabor's method of viewing the words of each book in their textual and historical context, we find something very different.
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