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From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, Second Edition Paperback – July 11, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paula Fredriksen is the author of "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews", which won the National Jewish Book Award. She is also the author of "Augustine and the Jews" and "From Jesus to Christ". The Aurelio Professor Emerita at Boston University, she now teaches as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd edition (July 11, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084573
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
I have read several other books from the "historic Jesus" genre. Because this book is thorough and balanced, I consider it the best I have read so far. In fact, I have used it as the basis for sorting out fair interpretation from biased speculation among the other books I have read. This book is not the easiest read; it sits on the cusps of popular writing on the subject as well as more purely academic research, and that means it takes patience and commitment to get through. But the commitment is worth it.
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Format: Paperback
If you only read one book on the historical Jesus this should be it. Although I think that Fredriksen oversteps in her analysis in a few cases, overall her analysis and conclusions are right on the money. She is one of the best New Testament scholars working in the field and her careful presentation of the evidence and support for her conclusions is strong and reliable. Her reasoning is exceptionally careful and for the most part simply allows the text to speak for itself with exceptional clarity.
Fredriksen first lays out the world of the New Testament. A brief introduction on the nature of the documents and the challenges that they present begins her discussion. For those who have done a careful reading of the gospels it is apparent that there are minor as well as significant differences between them. Far from being slight changes to previous copies, they represent different understandings of who Jesus was. In many cases they represent vastly different conceptions of theology, and the future for the followers of the risen Jesus. One must delve deep into the documents with an understanding of their history and transmission in order to gain a clear perspective on this. She has done this precisely and the reader is the one who benefits from her work. Extremely helpful for understanding this is a comprehension of the Hellenistic world that Jesus was born into, the enduring legacy of Alexander's conquests that we ourselves live in the shadow of to this day. History often turns on a dime and vast changes for posterity sometimes depend on the smallest of events: the birth and rise of Alexander of Macedon is one such event.
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It may be true that modern Christian theology is the correct interpretation of the life and teachings of the man who lived 2,000 years ago. This interpretation, though, is only one of many that co-existed the first century. Indeed, a perusal of both New Testament and accompanying writings of the day show an intense battle among various factions - all claiming to represent attempting to set the agenda.
Fridrekson argues that what we perceive as the basic Christian message came about over time through compromise, cultural wars and sheer power politics. The split between Christians and Jews was presetn as soon as Jesus was deemed "God". The idea of a god impregnating a human woman is mythological and was (and is) deemed heretical by Jews. They never thought the Messiah would be divine nor that his rule would include Gentiles. This set the stage for two millenia of Jewish persecution. Indeed, one of the first acts of the Church was to ban the Ebionites, a group of Jewish believer in Jesus who did not consider him divine.
A contradiction in the New Testament is present if one knows the date of origin: The earlier the book, the less that was known of the life of Jesus. The first books (Paul's works) show a remarkable lack of knowledge. Mark (written next) starts at manhood while Luke and Matthew go back to the birth. John, the last written, starts at the Beginning of the Universe. This process became static only when a conference of Christian bishops voted not only on Orthodox theology but on approved Scripture.
This is an important, well-researched work that should demand more attention.
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Before "Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews" there was "From Jesus to Christ". In fact, Paula Fredriksen wrote this book 11 years previously to her recently acclaimed tome. This book is the more "theological" of the two, being a discussion of the New Testament portraits of Jesus whereas her more recent book is a study of the historical Jesus. This is not the latter whilst simultaneously being a useful way to get into it. Thus the sequence of Fredriksen's books is understandable.
Fredriksen is a responsible scholar. She has a smooth and erudite manner which shows a sharp and attentive grasp of her subject. This book shows a clear and concise understanding of the Greco-Roman world and the Jewish world alike as the background to the New Testament. Her discussions of Paul and the Gospels, while not assauging the reader's questions, provide meaty treatments which repay reading. For readers who have her recent book this is the perfect companion to it. For readers who want a solid exposition of the New Testament world and the way the New Testament writers relate their images of Jesus, this is the perfect book for that too, providing simple, yet never simplistic, readings of the images of Jesus provided by the Gospels and Paul.
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