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on December 14, 2014
Alvar Ellegard defends two strong lines:

1: The Teacher of Righteousness is behind the figure of Jesus. Ellegard searches for further confirmation in early Christian texts where he finds indications that Jesus was not considered as a man but as a spiritual savior, a mythical Messiah. When speaking of Jesus his missionaries must have been referring to some distant past. So the Jesus of the Gospels was a reinterpretation of the Essene Lawgiver, whatever came out of the story afterwards in the hands of Diaspora communities, be they Jewish, Gnostic or Christian. I can globally agree. Ellegard gives no particular reasons for the renewed first century interest in the Lawgiver. He also considers, a mistake I believe, that the Teacher of Righteousness had not been given a Messianic status before Christianity and concludes that it was Paul around the thirties who gave Messiah-ship to Jesus as a result of his visionary revelations. Relying on Paul’s visions to glorify the Jesus/Teacher as a Messiah considerably weakens his claims of keeping to an historical approach. He doesn't seem very aware that community strategies with their campaigning messages are behind all religious texts.

2: Ellegard is a specialist on dating texts. Here we find his most exclusive contribution. His linguistic analysis makes him consider that several texts, usually dated to the second century, belong to before the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. And vice-versa, according to his criteria the Gospels, usually considered as first century documents written or at least started after the Temple's destruction, belong to the second century. (See Tyson: Luke-Acts and Marcion; a defining struggle. Tyson shows that the infancy and childhood chapters 1 and 2 were written late and essentially to establish a wide anti-heretical front)

Ellegard shows a lot of intellectual curiosity and explores well beyond official lines. Readers will find many ideas to graze on, whether they finally accept or reject them.
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on July 30, 2016
A good book. A lot of people will dislike it, but some will see a different perspective.
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on September 13, 2005
Although Mr Ellegard is rehashing some sholarship, there is much in this book that is new and intriguing. His dating of many biblical and extra-biblical documents is insightful and well presented. He does not appear to be pre-judging or allowing a bias to draw his conclusions for him in advance of his research. He presents his evidence in a clear and readable manner.
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Alvar Ellegård (1919-2008) was a Swedish professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Gothenburg, and a member of the academic board of the Swedish National Encyclopedia. His earlier book, The Myth of Jesus [Myten om Jesus] has not been translated into English.

He begins this 1999 book by saying, "I shall argue in this book for an entirely new perspective on the earliest history of Christianity... I argue that the earliest Christians, among them Paul, regarded Jesus as a great Jewish prophet and teacher of their movement---but one who had lived in the distant past. To them, accordingly, he was not a contemporary, crucified before their eyes, but a historical figure, on a par with the Old Testament prophets... When Paul and his companions experienced ecstatic visions of Jesus as a heavenly figure, they inferred that Jesus had been 'raised from the dead' by God. They also thought that Jesus' appearance to them at this particular time... was a sign from heaven that the Last Day, God's Final Judgment, was now at long last approaching." (Pg. 1)

He states, "The Jesus of the six early documents [The Shepherd of Hermas; the Didache; 1 Clement; the Letter of Barnabas; the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Revelation of John] treated in this chapter was primarily a teacher and prophet, and an adviser on points of liturgy and worship. He was closely attached to the communities which in the first century, and earlier, were commonly referred to as ... the Church of God. They regarded him as a pre-existent interpreter of God's words, and as a revealer of religious truths and mysteries, e.g. the Ellegårdpromise of immortality... the Saints came to look upon Jesus as having impersonated the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, and his suffering death came to be interpreted as a sacrifical act." (Pg. 77-78)

He argues, "there is hardly any room for doubt: the earliest writers do not provide any information about the earthly Jesus, simply because they not know much about him. Now, if they do not know, they cannot have been Jesus' companions and contemporaries. Yes Jesus was clearly a well-established and revered figure in the Churches of God. The only natural explanation, it seems to me, is that Jesus' fame was of long standing... Jesus was by no means a near contemporary of these early Christians, but a figure belonging to the late second century BC." (Pg. 141) He adds, "Paul's virtually complete silence on the earthly figure of Jesus had a very simple explanation: he was convinced that the figure that had appeared to him in his visions was a teacher and prophet who had lived and died long since." (Pg. 157)

He summarizes, "the Jesus of the first Christian visionaries was, at least to many of the first Christians, the revered Teacher of Righteousness of the early Essene movement... the main question now is not whether the Teacher of Righteousness of the Essenes was in fact the figure---historical or not---behind the Jesus of Paul and his contemporaries. That may now be regarded as settled. The main question at this stage is why the second-century Christians substituted another, fictional Jesus, and how they managed to convince their communities on this point, and how they succeeded in obliterating virtually all evidence about the original, Essene Jesus." (Pg. 158)

He concludes, "In this book I maintain that precisely the basic story of Jesus in the Gospels has to be completely abandoned as an account of 'what really happened.' ... Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary at the end of Augustus' reign, is a fiction created in the second century by the Gospel writers... They knew Jesus because he was the great prophet and founder of the religious movement that they belonged to, namely, a branch of the Essenes... The change of focus from a heavenly to an earthly Jesus seems to have been initiated by the highly respected Ignatius, bishop of Antioch... at one stroke Ignatius made Jesus a contemporary of Paul and his colleagues among the apostles." (Pg. 258)

The notion that Jesus was the Essene "Teacher of Righteousness" isn't particularly original, but Ellegård's other arguments are, if not particularly convincing historically, at least provocative. Those interested in "Jesus Myth" theories will probably enjoy this book.
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Alvar Ellegård (1919-2008) was a Swedish professor of English and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Gothenburg, and a member of the academic board of the Swedish National Encyclopedia. His earlier book, The Myth of Jesus [Myten om Jesus] has not been translated into English.

He begins this 1999 book by saying, "I shall argue in this book for an entirely new perspective on the earliest history of Christianity... I argue that the earliest Christians, among them Paul, regarded Jesus as a great Jewish prophet and teacher of their movement---but one who had lived in the distant past. To them, accordingly, he was not a contemporary, crucified before their eyes, but a historical figure, on a par with the Old Testament prophets... When Paul and his companions experienced ecstatic visions of Jesus as a heavenly figure, they inferred that Jesus had been 'raised from the dead' by God. They also thought that Jesus' appearance to them at this particular time... was a sign from heaven that the Last Day, God's Final Judgment, was now at long last approaching." (Pg. 1)

He states, "The Jesus of the six early documents [The Shepherd of Hermas; the Didache; 1 Clement; the Letter of Barnabas; the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Revelation of John] treated in this chapter was primarily a teacher and prophet, and an adviser on points of liturgy and worship. He was closely attached to the communities which in the first century, and earlier, were commonly referred to as ... the Church of God. They regarded him as a pre-existent interpreter of God's words, and as a revealer of religious truths and mysteries, e.g. the Ellegårdpromise of immortality... the Saints came to look upon Jesus as having impersonated the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, and his suffering death came to be interpreted as a sacrifical act." (Pg. 77-78)

He argues, "there is hardly any room for doubt: the earliest writers do not provide any information about the earthly Jesus, simply because they not know much about him. Now, if they do not know, they cannot have been Jesus' companions and contemporaries. Yes Jesus was clearly a well-established and revered figure in the Churches of God. The only natural explanation, it seems to me, is that Jesus' fame was of long standing... Jesus was by no means a near contemporary of these early Christians, but a figure belonging to the late second century BC." (Pg. 141) He adds, "Paul's virtually complete silence on the earthly figure of Jesus had a very simple explanation: he was convinced that the figure that had appeared to him in his visions was a teacher and prophet who had lived and died long since." (Pg. 157)

He summarizes, "the Jesus of the first Christian visionaries was, at least to many of the first Christians, the revered Teacher of Righteousness of the early Essene movement... the main question now is not whether the Teacher of Righteousness of the Essenes was in fact the figure---historical or not---behind the Jesus of Paul and his contemporaries. That may now be regarded as settled. The main question at this stage is why the second-century Christians substituted another, fictional Jesus, and how they managed to convince their communities on this point, and how they succeeded in obliterating virtually all evidence about the original, Essene Jesus." (Pg. 158)

He concludes, "In this book I maintain that precisely the basic story of Jesus in the Gospels has to be completely abandoned as an account of 'what really happened.' ... Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary at the end of Augustus' reign, is a fiction created in the second century by the Gospel writers... They knew Jesus because he was the great prophet and founder of the religious movement that they belonged to, namely, a branch of the Essenes... The change of focus from a heavenly to an earthly Jesus seems to have been initiated by the highly respected Ignatius, bishop of Antioch... at one stroke Ignatius made Jesus a contemporary of Paul and his colleagues among the apostles." (Pg. 258)

The notion that Jesus was the Essene "Teacher of Righteousness" isn't particularly original, but Ellegård's other arguments are, if not particularly convincing historically, at least provocative. Those interested in "Jesus Myth" theories will probably enjoy this book.
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on June 1, 2007
Gospel writers had several tasks. They had to transform a minor Jewish preacher into a supernatural God, the long awaited Messiah, and they had to explain his rejection by his own people (directly contradicting the prophecies). Orthodox Jews considered the union of a woman and a god as heretical, a pagan Greek idea. Countless Old Testament "prophecies" (and some not in the OT) are used to "prove" his Messianic calling though the leading of Israel to glorious victory is omitted.

We have learned that the order of the New Testamen is incorrect and that Paul did not write all the books attributed to him. He preceded the Gospels. It's always seemed odd that Paul never spoke of a historical Jesus but of a spiritual Christ. Odder still, the historical Jesus was fleshed out decades later by various writers, four of which were voted by Council as being correct. This accounts for the numerous contradictions and variances among the stories. Ellegard contends that Jesus was a historical figure but lived 100 years before. He was associated (or adopted) by the Essene movement that was still strong when Paul began preaching a new message - Jesus died for our sins and was raised by God. In the maelstrom of disorganized Christianity of the day this kind of talk had huge implications.

Ellegard reviews and redates several documents of the period (comparing certain words, writing styles) to show that the spiritual Christ became the physical Jesus rather than the reverse as most assume. The biographies are noteworthy for their reliance on OT "prophecies" chosen, it seems, for their applicability. Modern scholars have revised the order of the four Gospels. John, once thought to come last, now is seen as the first written and this fits in with Ellegard since it features a "spiritual" Christ. Hi Jesus makes long theological speeches referring to himself.

There's LOTS of repetition here, as if the author wanted to make sure we got the point. Some of the book could be ommitted with little problem. There is also a lot of casual assumptions...yes, most scholars think this was written in 60 AD but it was actually in 120 AD. But his message is valid - Paul's "vision" and Eusubius' words produced the Gospel tales of Jesus, not the other way around. It would be difficult to find such a complex theology fullblown as Paul presents it. More likely this was part of some ongoing movement when he received his vision. And the rest is, as they say, history.
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VINE VOICEon January 18, 2010
Ellegard staggers from painful error to laughable error, as he argues that Jesus never existed, Paul never believed in a human Jesus, and the gospels were written some hundred years after Paul.

Apparently Ellegard has no background in biblical studies, Second Temple Judaism, ancient history, or anything relevant to his subject.

Ellegard claims earliest Christianity, which Paul believed, was a mild variant of the Essene philosophy. This makes no sense. Two years after the crucifixion, Paul sent from Jerusalem to persecute this group. And Paul describes his actions with the words 'ediokon' and 'eporthoun' and both indicate cruel, violent action - which is unbelievable against the Essenes.

No, Paul was sent out to persecute the early Christians because they were proclaiming Jesus the equal of God, a concept anathema to the fiercely monotheist Second Temple Jews.

Martin Hengel (who was perhaps the most famous biblical scholar in the world) wrote: "It is impossible to conceive of first-century Palestinian Jews accepting elements of paganism, or compromising their strict monotheisim" (p 54) from "The Hellenization of Judaea in the First Century after Christ",

As Lester Grabbe says: "The Jews always maintained one area that could not be compromised...religion. In the Greco-Roman world, only the Jews refused to honor gods, shrines and cults other than their own" (p 170) from "Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian".

And good luck trying to convince anyone the Pharisees wanted to persecute the Essenes, a group they apparently mange to ignore for decade upon decade. Pliny and Josephus, who claimed to be a Pharisee, wrote nothing but kind words about the Essenes.

Actually, I cannot think of a single biblical scholar, either theist or nontheist, who disagrees that Paul's epistles date to only 20 years after the crucifixion. Why couldn't Ellegard accept the near unanimity among scholars?

I loved this statement of Ellegard's : "The Church of God (what Ellegard calls the early Christians) in Paul's time had an unmistakeably Jewish character" (p 24), and all of Paul's letters "were apparently all addressed to a predominantly Jewish audience" (p 35) which is to utterly ignore the fact that Paul claims he was converting Gentiles. Or that Paul got into an argument with other apostles about whether or not to keep Jewish law regarding circumcision.

More funny mistakes: Ellegard asks why, if "the common language was Aramaic, it is hard to see why all early Christian writings are in Greek" (p 5). What a mystery! Gee, only every single person who has read anything about Second Temple Judaism or the Roman empire knows that Greek was the common language at the time. And in Galilee most Jews were not only bilingual, but, perhaps, judging from such archaeological digs as at Masada, perhaps spoke three languages.

Ellegard claims "Christianity and Gnosticism were nearer to each other in the first century AD than in the second" (p 94). Total nonsense. There were no Gnostics in the first century, period, and I defy Elegard to name one. Here's a book to prove him wrong: "A Separate God" by Petrement.

Here's a real howler: "Lack of evidence makes it impossible for us to say whether the Gnostics were from the start connected with the Essene movement" (p 173). The Essenes vanished after the war that ended in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And the Gnostics didn't form their various philosophical schools until at least one hundred years after the crucifixion. There was no point of contact at all.

More hilarious statements: Ellegard keeps saying--and he must mention it in every chapter of the book--how suspicious he finds that "none of the letters" (p 140) Paul wrote betray any interest in Jesus' earthly life.

Lack of interest in Jesus? Paul was whipped and locked up, slogged from town to town, and eventually had his head chopped off for Jesus. And he had no interest in the life of Jesus? How logical is that? How could anyone believe it? But Ellegard insists Paul isn't interested in Jesus because, in his letters, he fails to relate the history of Jesus' life. Yes, that's his proof and he's sticking to it.

Now, when was the last time you emailed your best friend and relayed the entire history of your life? Why would you? Why wouldn't your friend already know it? And why didn't Ellegard ask himself this basic question??

The epistles were letters of encouragement or reproof. They were sent mostly to congregations Paul himself had founded and with whom he had lived for considerable periods of time. Paul keeps reminding his congregations to hold fast to 'the traditions' he gave them. If he had already taught these 'traditions', why repeat them?

Ellegard simply falls flat on his face when trying to shove the evidence around to fit his preconceptions. If Jesus never existed it would be difficult for him to have a brother. So Ellegard trys to explain away that Paul "On one occasion (mentions) 'the Lord's bother' which theologians have all too rashly interpreted as 'brother in the flesh'" (p 14-15). Oh, those rash biblical scholars who worked for long years studying ancient languages and ancient history and textual problems and Second Temple Judaism and all the things Ellegard knows zip about.

In fact, Ellegard keeps calling biblical scholars theologians, which is to ignore the fact that a large number of biblical scholars are atheists, and that many more hail from other academic backgrounds, like history or archaeology, that have squat to do with religion. I presume he simply doesn't know. So he grumbles about how "the overwhelming majority of theological scholars, who have been practically alone in studying these matters in depth" (p 44) before Mr Ellegard came along in all his sparkling wisdom.

So it was all 'theological scholars' who instituted the search for the historical Jesus?? Pretty hard to ignore thousands and thousands of books by atheists written over the last three centuries, but Ellegard has managed it somehow.

Another funny Ellegard mistake is when he talks about 1 Clement and says "Clement sometimes calls Jesus 'High Priest' thus emphasizing the connection with ancient Jewish history, and also, it should be noted, with the Qumran Essenes" (p 43). Oh, for pity's sake. As if the Jews didn't have a high priest in the temple, and as if the mention here wasn't to the Davidic priestly and genetic heritage of Jesus.

A few sentences later Ellegard is again deeply suspicious because Clement doesn't mention Jesus' death "who according to the Gospels must have been contemporary with" the deaths of Peter and Paul" (p 43 ) Yeah, I know. Makes no sense to me, either.

Loved this one, too, when Ellegard is just utterly mystified because the Didache mentions "the gospel" three times and "In all these instances the word 'gospel' seems to refer to a written text" (p 53). Go figure, using the word gospel to mean written text.

And you can't have attended Biblical Scholarship, the Basics, to puzzle over, as Ellegard does, "Barnabas' technique of extracting information about Jesus from the Old Testament" (p 69). Clearly, Ellegard has never once heard of typology.

Ellegard is also deeply, deeply suspicious that Jesus and Philo harp on some of the same themes. Why, people from the same era harping on the same themes, can you imagine?

Here is Ellegard muttering suspiciously about "the excellent Greek style of these letters seemed difficult to reconcile with the idea that they had been written by unlearned fishermen" (p 140). Ellegard seems not to have noticed that 1 Peter mentions an amanuensis, Silvanus.

Ellegard claims "The word 'witness' (martius) does not imply 'eyewitness'" (p 145). I won't bother with an explanation, but read Bauckham's "Eyewitnesses to Jesus". to learn how funny this is.

Ellegard falls down yet again: "Ignatius is earlier than the gospels" (p203) he argues, and then points out this deeply suspicious fact: "He mentions Peter, but he calls him an apostle" (p 203). I don't know about you, but I am just dumbstruck at how suspicious it is that Ignatius called Peter an apostle.

Now, the letters of Ignatius, the overwhelming majority of scholars agree, date to around 110 AD. They were written to various early Christian congregations as Ignatius journeyed to his death in Rome, where he was fed to the lions.

Why, why didn't Ellegard wonder why the Romans wanted to kill Ignatius, if all he believed in was a mild variant of the Essene philosophy? Why was he being tossed to the lions? For that matter, why did Nero order an "immense multitude" (most scholars take this to mean thousands) of Christians in Rome lathered with pitch and burned alive in his gardens some 40 years before Ignatius if there were no Christians yet? Why was Pliny writing about persecuting Christians at just about the same time as the letters of Ignatius? What about the Ryland fragment? It's Ellegard's blithe unconcern with basic questions like these that are so maddening. He appears not to come in contact with logic at all.

It's Ignatius, of all people, Ellegard blames for the start of Christianity. (Yes, yes, I know, Ignatius was martyred because he was a Christian, but we are talking Ellegard here). Ellegard's theory is that Peter and Paul only experienced a risen Christ. A vision. Then, later on, other writers, taking clues they hunted down in Ignatius, decided there must have once been a real, live Christ.

And for these dreamed up clues, and the silly visions, they were willing to give up the games, give up the theater, pray all the time, give money to charity, and be persecuted and perhaps martyred. Oh sure.

Here is a quote from Ignatius' letter to the Church of Smyrna which proves Ellegard is wrong, wrong wrong: "In regard to the Lord, you firmly believe that he was of the race of David according to the flesh, but God's son by the will and power of God; truly born of the Virgin and baptised by John, that all justice might be fulfilled; truly nailed to a cross in the flesh for our sake under Pontius Pilate and the Tetrarch Herod, and of his most blessed passion we are the fruit. And thus, by his resurrection he raised up a standard over his saints and faithful ones for all time (both Jews and Gentiles alike) in the one body of his Church. For he endured all this for us, for our salvation; and he really suffered, and just as truly rose from the dead...When he visited Peter and his companions, he said to them: Take hold of me, touch me and see that I am not a spirit without a body. Immediately they touched him and believed...In addition, after his resurrection, the Lord ate and drank with them like a real human being, even though in spirit he was united with his Father".

Now how could Jesus be "truly born" and "truly nailed to the cross" and "ate and drank" if he had been a vision?

At the end of the book, Ellegard kindly tells Christians that "I cannot see that it makes much difference whether Jesus lived on earth...or indeed was a theological construction" (p 267).

Why no, whether or not there is an afterlife should be of no concern to anyone.

Ellegard scolds "religious people" who have been "extremely reluctant to admit what modern scientifically informed people now usually take as self-evident, namely, that none of the sacred books...contain...God's Word" (p 267).

If Ellegard is an example of scientifically informed people, frankly, even worshipers of aliens from Planet X look smart.

But now that the enlightened Mr Ellegard has arrived, heaven knows what we will do with all those churches.
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on February 16, 2006
This book should be read by anyone interested in biblical scholarship, especially those concerned with dating the Gospels. Ellegard analyzes the early Christian literature and makes an excellent case that the canonical Gospels and Acts are mid 2nd Century products while Paul, Hermas, Barnabas, Didache, 1st Clemens and Revelations are 1st Century works. This may be a minority view, but Ellegard provides ample evidence that it is not without foundation. From here, Ellegard cleverly and deductively composes a picture of Jesus from his 1st Century texts, and then compares this composite to what we know about the Teacher of Righetousness. Using Philo and Josephus as his base, he goes on to deconstruct the early Christian church as an extension of the Essenes and the Therapeutae (whom he considers Diasporic Essenes). The bottom line - the Jesus who appears in the Gospels in the mid 2nd Century is drawn from the Teacher of Righteousness.

Ellegard's theory is not new (see the works of G.A.Wells, Helmut Koester, Freke and Gandy, etc), but his scholarly approach is impressive. Readers of any alternative or non-traditional view of Jesus will find this book enormously useful.

My only reason for not giving this book 5 stars (on a 10 point scale I would give it a 9) is that the book is a little difficult to read and not necessarily organized in the best fashion (I suggest you start with Chapter 13 first). Otherwise this book is scholarly, well-documented, thorough, and innovative. It definitely warrant a look
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on May 3, 2001
Ellegard points out many of the right problems in the "orthodox" view of Christian origins based on a scientific study of the early texts. But his postulation that the Jesus belief came from some corrupted tradition about the Essene Teacher of Righteousness seems unnecessary to me. It's quite possible that Jesus was a mythological savior-god from the beginning, along with Mithras, Hercules, Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, and all the similar figures worshipped by Mediterranean peoples at that time. (Refer to the book, _The Jesus Mysteries_.)
It's quite possible for a totally false belief system to arise from some misunderstood event or story. In our time we've seen one emerge from the crash of a "Project Mogul" scientific balloon near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. An unusual event with a prosaic explanation has turned into a quasi-religious cult about the crashed alien spaceship, dead aliens, massive government coverup and conjectures that modern technologies were in fact reverse-engineered from alien artifacts recovered from that event. If a story that preposterous could gain adherents in our society, it's not hard to see how something similar could have happened on a much larger scale in a much less knowledgeable society like the declining Roman Empire.
Ellegard's book is worth reading for the background information on the problems surrounding Jesus' historicity, but I don't find his solution all that persuasive.
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on January 18, 2001
This book stands unique in Jesus scholarship. Non-theological scholars claim either the story of Jesus, the first century Jew, was either a fabrication of crucified criminal, or that his very existence was a fabrication and did not actually live. Ellegard proposes that the first century Jesus, did not exist. Rather, it was founded upon the Essene Teacher of Righteousness. A generalization of the theory goes like this. The Teacher lived in the 2nd century B.C., seen as a great prophet and teacher, however not a divine Messiah. In the first century, Christianity first arose when Paul convinced the Diaspora Essenes that this figure was the Promised Messiah, whom he had experienced through visions and revelations. The historical gospels are downright fictional works of 2nd century Christianity, and make all of modern Historical Jesus scholarship a horrendous anachronism. He points out that Paul and all first century Christian writers never claim to have either known Christ or even known anyone who knew him, to them, he was a voice from the distant past. The gospels were constructed not out of eyewitness oral tradition, but an array of outside sources like the Greek Cynics. But I think that a theologian could argue here that, suppose that he (Paul) HAD recieved his writings from the risen lord, and then why should he prefer secondhand tradition. Nevertheless Ellegard solves the widely acknowledged enigma of why Paul never mentions details from the life of the Pre-Easter Christ. The first half of this book examines the earliest Christian documents: both canonical and non-canonical. And there he really redates everything. Some of his precepts are a bit too shaky however, or interdependent. Or to say more clearly, once he twists in his redates everything falls into place and looks OK for him, but even if one of those conclusions is inaccurate, certain parts of his theory could be annihilated. As I just said, some of his own redressing is questionable, and he purposely modifies things to make his theory look like the clear truth. Here's an example. Jesus didn't live in the first three decades of the first century A.D. and therefore was not crucified by Pilate. But Tacitus, an extrabiblical historian, tells us that Christus was crucified by Pilate in the first century. Hmmm. Earlier in the book, he tells us that since "Christ" only refers to a Messiah, and that there was not only one alleged Messiah in that era, that it need not refer to ours here. He forgets to mention that its a CRUCIFIED Christ written of. I think it would not be responsible on a historian's part to assume that this did not allude to Jesus. But later in the book, he claims that it would not be trustworthy FOR a historian to base their first century dating on this reference, since Tacitus published his work in A.D. 110 and the bands of Christians were already spreading propaganda about their Savior. But according to him the gospels were not written yet, and this seems weak unless he wants to admit that he is being more harsh on Jesus than anyone would on anyother ancient figure. So, I repeat, Jesus is the Teacher of Righteousness. How does he explain their differences when proposing this argument? Well, he says, its their position as held by their followers that makes the connection. But wait, he just admitted that there were so many Messiah-cults in the day, so how is their leadership only unique to them. If its not unique to those two, then there is no connection. Okay, now the Essenes. He advocates the "Sectarian Hypothesis." I usually slam this down. But indeed Ellegard has read Norman Golb's book "Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?" So he does make the point, which is true, that although each of the 800 scrolls are not sectarian, the majority of them hold a consistent theology. However, that does not vindicate the notion that celibate monks lived in Qumran and wrote a mass library there, though I admit that that part has not much to do with his theory. With Golb's theory, Khirbet Qumran is a military fortress. Since this contradicts the notion that Essenes were pacifists, as reported by Philo, Josephus, and Pliny, it is unlikely that they were the last inhabitants. But no, Ellegard thinks that the 3 records we have could have been biased mis-representations. Though he weakly corroborates this, I doubt that 3 historians would have done this and all in the same description, and that he was just finding extra support with all the minor modifications he could scrounge up. But in the general outline, these are MINOR tenets. So.... he says the Teacher of Righteousness looks like the first century, not second century (who was fiction), Jesus. He also has read Carsten Thiede, who argued that Mark's gospel was used at Qumran, awarding it with a very early date. Though he gets around this justifiably, he is silent on Thiede's other work, which finds an Egyptian Magdalean (Matthean) papyrus earlier than the Egyptian John fragment. (which he says might not have been from John but from its source) The ending.. is weird. He says that his theory would not destroy Christianity, since it doesn't really matter when Jesus lived. Does he realize though that it destroys the bulk of the New Testament's reliability? But he was not saying that he personally still believes in Christianity. In fact he says it is simply "impossible for us to arrive at the ultimate truth" and then in the final paragraph he says that there is no ultimate truth. This work though, has definitely given me some motivation to research a few additional odds and ends, mainly deeper into Essenism... Give Alvar Ellegard a whirl!
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