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Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth Paperback – August 2, 1996
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A powerful, compact, yet detailed introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity. Mack has sketched the panorama of early Christian literature and social development in a lucid, convincing, and magisterial performance.-- Robert W. Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar and author of "The Five Gospels"Certainly Mack's book should take a place in the front ranks [of New Testament introductions].-- "Booklist
From the Inside Flap
"The New Testament is commonly viewed and treated as a charter document that came into being much like the Constitution of the United States. According to this view, the authors of the New Testament were all present at the historic beginnings of the new religion and collectively wrote their gospels and letters for the purpose of founding the Christian church that Jesus came to inaugurate. Unfortunately for this view, that is not the way it happened." (from the Prologue)
With innovative scholarship and an engaging, detective-like style, an eminent and controversial scholar of Christian origins presents the first comprehensive yet popular explanation of who wrote the New Testament--and why.
Burton L. Mack, who won wide acclaim for The Lost Gospel, scrupulously examines the Christian Testament and fleshes out both the social and the cultural context from which it emerged. In contrast to the widely held view of the gospels as complementary accounts of single set of events, Mack offers a history of divergent Christian communities and their anonymous writers who wrote widely different chronicles for distinct purposes and audiences over a period of more than one hundred years. He delineates how Christians in later centuries assigned the names of apostles and disciples to the anonymous stories about Jesus and his teachings, adjusted the chronology, and erased cultural differences in an effort to present a coherent history of the faith and invest the new church with authenticity.
This trailblazing reconstruction of early Christianity, which makes cutting-edge scholarship thoroughly accessible to a popular audience, reveals how the Christian Bible was created. Who Wrote the New Testament? challenges us to envision the New Testament as dynamic myth, reinterpreted many times through the course of Western cultural history, rather than as the static statement of any single truth. Much as The Iliad and The Odyssey mythologized events and figures in the remote Greek past, the New Testament writings, Mack shows, transform the historical Jesus, a counter-cultural philosopher with no grand messianic pretensions, into the Christ, the dying and rising son of God. Ultimately, then, the New Testament consists of a powerful religious mythology comparable to those of other great religions.
Vital reading for all serious students of the Bible and Christian origins, Who Wrote the New Testament? should also prove enormously enlightening for those who seek to uncover the true story of how the historical Jesus was transformed into the mythologized Christ of faith.
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Mack does not discuss the historical Jesus at all. The interest here is in the communities that formed after his death and what they believed and wrote about him.
There were some helpful sections, so this book was not a complete waste. But it just did not wow me. Nothing was groundbreaking for me. I’d encourage Marcus Borg, John Crossan, or Bart Ehrman if you are looking for more nuanced approaches in critical studies of the New Testament.