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Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth Paperback – August 2, 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
Mack is a biblical expert and has written previous works on the subject including one on the existence of a common source of sayings for two of the Gospels known as Q.
In this book he uses as a tool of exposition the recent finding of the Gospel of Thomas. A manuscript written in Coptic which was found in 1945. Rather than being a Gospel which purported to tell Jesus life, this is a collection of his sayings. Mack believes that all of the Gospels have a similar background. A series of sayings which have been developed by different Christian communities to reflect their teachings over practical and theological issues. The interesting thing about the Gospel according to Thomas is that there are no miracles, there is no crucifixion and no physical resurrection, suggesting that these things became important somewhat later.
He sees the writing of the Gospels as something akin to fiction writing. The authors of the Gospel wrote their stories to illustrate and to explain the doctrinal intricacies of their belief system. In much the same way that an ancient Greek may have developed a saying of Diogeneses to illustrate a point about his philosophy.
Later these stories have become something else and have been seen as literal history. The book is interesting as an exposition of what is common knowledge about the study of the bible. I personally would have preferred more detail about some things such as the means of dating the Gospels. However the book is aimed to be an introduction to a complex field.
Given this to work with, Mack proceeds with a remarkable bit of detective work to develop a working hypothesis about the true origins of the New testament. Consequently, and in a manner not unlike the methodolgy employed by the Jesus Seminar, he unabashedly (but carefully)incorporates non-canonical works such as the Gospel of Thomas and the hypothesized "Q" document into his analysis, being aware that an over-arching factor in the early church's assessment of the canonical worthiness of any book lay in its conformity to accepted church orthodoxy and doctrine. As a result, modern scholarship is therefore correct in being suspicious of some canonical works and in accepting(provisionally) the inclusion of other non-canonical works in any analysis. Frankly, this is no different than a paleontologist accepting new fossil evidence, even if it invalidates or alters his or her own pet theories.Read more ›
Mack's book ostensibly deals with the New Testament, however, he begins with a focus on the Bible in general and stays for there quite some time. For some authors this would be problematic, but Mack is an excellent writer so we tend to go with the flow. He also has lots of interesting ideas and some very unusual interpretations of familiar material. Unfortunately he tends to present his ideas without adequate substantiating evidence or documentation, so that while his ideas are certainly worthy of consideration, they come from a theoretical rather than a hypothetico-deductive methodology which is more likely to yield fruit. This criticism isn't meant to disparage the ideas themselves, only to say that ideas with support are better than ideas alone, no matter how good the ideas may be.
Part 1 consists of 3 chapters. The thesis of Chapter 1 is that "Early Christianity was a creative, if daring, response to the multicultural challenge of the Greco-Roman age (p. 41). This chapter is among the very best descriptions you will ever find of the background forces which shaped early Christianity, and it's worth the price of the book by itself. Chapter 2 goes heavily into Q theory, and it is a core concept for Mack's approach. Chapter 3 deals with fragments from the Christ myth, which Mack sees as separable from the Q teachings.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sheds light on the creation of what is one of the most popular books of all time.Published 6 days ago by Inkwell
Outstanding contribution to the scholarship and history of early Christianity. I haven't finished reading it yet, and time is limited, so I will hold off writing a longer review... Read morePublished 2 months ago by JAN EDWARD GARRETT
For all those who are curious about how the New Testament came to be, and what kind of revisions, compromises, and alterations it has gone through over the first few decades,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Trap49
... Real history of that epic called the New Testament. Anyone searching for how these books were put together will greatly benefit from reading this very well written account. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rick Theis
Authoritative, well written account of the whole New Testament writingsPublished 6 months ago by Rolodell
Really. Really good. This book will really open your eyes as to how the bible was put together and why one cannot take it as literal.Published 6 months ago by granville russell
Not a fast read by any means, but fascinating all the way. And I'm not the least bit religious! The author shows where the various traditions and new philosophies were first... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Steve H
A well-written account of the beginnings of the New Testament, the historical events that influenced its writing, and the evolution of the New Testament as Christianity took hold... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Travis Short