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Who Wrote the Gospels? Hardcover – September 1, 1997

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About the Author

Dr. Randel Helms, a professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, teaches courses in Bible as Literature, World Literature, and 19th Century Romantic Literature. He is the author of the highly-acclaimed and controversial book, Gospel Fictions, that now has over 150,000 copies in print.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Millennium Press; illustrated edition edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965504727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965504720
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By M. Lilliquist on June 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a perfect beginning point for anyone interested in modern scholarship into the origins of the Christian Bible, and of the origins of traditional Christianity. Helms' writing is clear, his arguments cogent, and his scholarship is commendable. While not as detailed, subtle and penetrating as Burton Mack's "Who Wrote the New Testament," this book is far more approachable and understandable for regular people who may not be academically oriented.
While it may come as a suprise to many, it has been known for centuries that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Instead, these are "traditional" names given to anonymously-written works over a hundred years after they were written. This much is not controversial among biblical scholars. What is controversial is the attempt to assign actual authorship to these anonymous works, and to place them in the proper historical, social, cultural, and theological context. Helms does an excellent job of showing how these Gospels were not simply eyewitness accounts, or even second-hand accounts, of Jesus' time. Rather, they are products of complicated theological advocacy written generations after Jesus' time. Each Gospel is shown to reflect the author(s) own theological interests and agenda, as each sought to advance their own vision of the emerging religion. While I do have a few quibbles and reservations about some of Helms' more speculative speculations, I found his arguments to be convincing generally.
Christianity as we have come to know it, is the historical product of a historically brief period between the traditional dates of Jesus' ministry and the Council of Nicaea in the early 4th century.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Dr. John H. Plouffe on September 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a new Bible to read during this first year of the new millenium (I'm on my fourth pass through the Bible) and came across this book by Helms. I went home without buying it, even though the jacket stired my interest. It was no use. I couldn't get it out of my mind. So several days later I went back and bought the remaining copy.
I've always enjoyed the thrill of well thought-out new ideas and logically explained differences of opinion. And Helms does an excellent job of leading the reader, step-by-step, through his thought processes. Describing very thoroughly how and why he reached his conclusions. In addition, Helms has the ability to transmit enthusiam for his research through the written word.
Whether or not your religious convictions allow room for what Helms puts forward is a personal choice. Being a liberal (some would say - radical) Presbyterian, I see no harm in questioning any ideas put forward. It then becomes a personal choice as to whether or not the idea is accepted in part or in its entirety.
The only shortcoming in the book was the absence of the presentation of acceptable or plausible alternatives to Helms thesis, and a discussion as to why those alternatives fell short of the mark.
Along with providing some interesting ideas, Helms fired my desire to undertake additional reading in this area.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By William Neece on June 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is especially appropriate now when a number of Evangelists and Christians believe the "last days" are approaching and they quote Daniel and Mark in support of their beliefs. Helms clearly shows how Mark based many of his apocalyptic beliefs and statements on the Book of Daniel. In his analysis he also points out several historical inaccuracies of the Old Testment and contradictions between the Gospels in the New Testament. When Jesus failed to return during the life time of his followers (as Mark said he would), Matthew and Luke had to rewrite the stories to make them fit their own troubled times. Helms also presents a strong and fascinating case that the author of Luke was a woman. "Who Wrote The Gospels" is readable, clear, and enlightening.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. James Gardner VINE VOICE on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Randel Helm's Who Wrote the Gospels is a well written book, but it is extremely uneven, and some chapters are very weak while some are truly excellent. Let's look at this chapter by chapter.

Chapter two refers to Mark. Helms is obsessed with the Book of Daniel, and this chapter might better be labeled Mark and Daniel. There is almost nothing at all about who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and Helms accepts the standard 70 CE as the date of composition.

Chapter three is about Matthew, and Helms does a great job in showing how Matthew changed Mark and how the changes therein reflected Matthew's objectives. We get no closer to knowing who wrote this gospel (which is the title of the book), but we do get some great insights into the workings of the minds of the author(s) of Matthew. Helms uses 90 CE as the date for Matthew, with no real discussion of why this date works.

Chapters four and five concern Luke. Helms believes that Luke also wrote Acts, and posits the idea that Luke is a woman (a Greek speaking God fearing Gentile widow with a sly feminist humor, no less). He offers numerous examples of how the Gospel of Luke favors women and makes a good case for his theory. He dates the Gospel at about 100 CE.

Chapter six covers the so-called "lost gospels" - Thomas and Q. Helms apparently doesn't understand that a hypothetical construct does not necessarily have a separate life, and hence treats Q as if it is a real gospel. It isn't. It is merely a theory to explain why certain passages are common to Luke and Matthew but not found in Mark. And it isn't the only theory to explain the communality, a factor Helms ignores.
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