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The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? (Student Library) 2nd Edition
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"An excellent apologetic . . . showing the insuperable problems of viewing Christianity as an outgrowth of Greek philosophy, the Hellenistic mystery religions, or gnosticism." --Robert C. Newman
"A lucid and superb book." --Edwin Yamauchi
"[Regarding] the substantial debt which Christianity allegedly owes to Platonism, Stoicism, mystery religion, gnosticism . . . Nash has no difficulty in showing that much of the supposed indebtedness is ruled out of court on [several] grounds . . . But Nash is not content with refuting unsound arguments; he makes positive contributions to the subject under discussion." --F. F. Bruce
About the Author
Ronald H. Nash was professor of Christian philosophy at Southern Baptist Seminary. He authored more than thirty books and lectured at more than fifty colleges and universities in the United States, Great Britain, and the former Soviet Union.
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Top Customer Reviews
This entire line of thinking falls apart in the face of actual study, as Rondald Nash shows in The Gospel and the Greeks. There is not only evidence that the foundational ideas and rites of Christianity were stolen from Gnosticism, an ancient form of the panentheism that envelopes our modern world in political correctness, but that many of the arguments made in the Gospels and Epistles were actually aimed squarely at differentiating Christianity from Gnosticism.
Dr. Nash begins his examination of the evidence by explaining the various forms of Greek religion dominant at the time of the Apostle's writings. This is a necessary piece of the puzzle; how can we determine whether or not Christianity stole ideas from the Greek religions if we don't understand the Greek religions themselves? In short order, the author lays out a high level overview providing a good understanding of the religious environment into which Christ appeared.
From this point, he explains the origins and nature of the various "mystery religions," the Gnostic warpage of the Greek religions from which Christianity supposedly sprang. he then dives into comparing Gnosticism and Chrsitianity directly, specifically showing how Christianity is not related to Gnosticism in any way. Based on the timeing alone, Dr. Nash shows that many of the elements critics claim were stolen into Christian belief systems were, in fact, not even current at the time they were supposedly stolen.
One interesting point the author develops throughout this book is that the book of Hebrews was specifically written to Christians who had been raised in the world of Philo, who merged the mystery religion idea with Torah observance to create a Jewish mystery religion that stood apart from the Greek mystery religions. These Christians were considering moving back into this syncretic world, and the book of Hebrews was written to convince them that Christianity has more to offer than these mystery religions --that Jesus is superior to the angels and the logos as conceived in these mystery systems.
Overall, a well argued expose of faulty beliefs about the origin and development of Christianity, and it's relationship to Greek mystery religions in general, and Gnosticism specifically. Well worth reading in a world captured in the thrall of silly modern myths about lost gospels, the "wife of Jesus," and Gnostic thought in general.
For those who are interested in the development of the early church, this is a must read book.
Nash carefully divides the book into 3 sections; analyzing the possibility that early Christianity was influenced by pagan philosophy such as Platonism or Stoicism, analyzing the possibility that early Christianity borrowed some of its stories from the pagan mystery religions such as Isis/Osiris or Mithra, and analyzing whether Christianity was influenced by Gnosticism. In each case, Nash does a good job of beginning his analysis by clearly defining the terms of the debate, and fairly representing the claims made by those who positively assert pagan influence on Christianity. These introductions give the reader a very good starting point for seeing how these arguments, when left unscrutinized, can on the surface appear to be compelling. By presenting the arguments fairly and completely, Nash does a good job of peaking the interest of the reader to read on in order to find out whether these arguments really hold water once we get below the surface. And particularly in the analyses of pagan philosophy and the mystery religions, Nash's analyses are very detailed and meticulous. Nash's analyses are very effective in meticulously discrediting these arguments and in most cases, showing very clearly the lazy scholarship that often fuels such arguments. By doing this, Nash not only puts these arguments in their place, he affirms the historical reliability, uniqueness, and truth of the Christian faith as described in the New Testament and clearly demonstrates that there is absolutely no evidence of a pagan influence on Christianity, and in fact, there is sufficient evidence to suggest a Christian influence on paganism.
In summary, after one reads this book, it is likely that they may scratch their heads in wonder when one thinks about why this book had to be written, given the lazy and even contrived scholarship that is the basis for so many of the arguments affirming a pagan influence on early Christianity. One might reasonably wonder how such ideas ever had any credibility to start with when Nash so completely destroys the arguments with very simple facts and analysis. I applaud Nash for being so thorough in the topics covered and in the analysis. There are over 30 pages of footnotes at the end of the book for the reader who is interested in conducting additional research and examining other pertinent resources. I completely concur with what Nash says in this book when commenting on the alleged influence of the mystery religions on early Christianity, "These..arguments against Christian syncretism help us understand why biblical scholars today seldom claim any early Christian dependence on the mysteries. They constitute an impressive collection of reasons why scholars in such other fields as history and philosophy should rethink their methods and conclusions and finally put such views to rest." This is an excellent book, and one that can greatly help any Christian easily and effectively counter the claims of pagan influence on the early faith. A 'must have' for any apologetics collection.