Geza Vermes, translator and editor of The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls and worldwide expert on the life and times of Jesus, tells the enthralling story of early Christianity and the origins of a religion.
The creation of the Christian Church is one of the most important stories in the development of the world's history, but also one of the most enigmatic and little understood, shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. With a forensic, brilliant re-examination of all the key surviving texts of early Christianity, Geza Vermes illuminates the origins of a faith and traces the evolution of the figure of Jesus from the man he was - a prophet fully recognisable as the successor to other Jewish holy men of the Old Testament - to what he came to represent: a mysterious, otherworldly being at the heart of a major new religion. As Jesus's teachings spread across the eastern Mediterranean, hammered into place by Paul, John and their successors, they were transformed in the space of three centuries into a centralised, state-backed creed worlds away from its humble origins. Christian Beginnings tells the captivating story of how a man came to be hailed as the Son consubstantial with God, and of how a revolutionary, anti-conformist Jewish sub-sect became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.
'A beautiful and magisterial book' Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Guardian
'An exciting and challenging port of call, sweeping aside much of the fuzzy thinking and special pleading that bedevils the study of sacred scripture ... courteously expressed and witty' Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Times
'A challenging and engaging book that sets out to retrace the route by which a Jewish preacher in 1st-century Israel came to be declared as consubstantial and co-equal with the omnipotent, omniscient only God' Stuart Kelly, Scotsman
'A major contribution to our understanding of the historical Jesus' Financial Times
'A very accessible and entertaining read' Scotland on Sunday Books of the Year
'A magnum opus of early Christian history and one of the year's most significant titles' Bookseller