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From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus (Yale Nota Bene) Paperback – 1 Sep 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Sept. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300084579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300084573
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 292,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Sometime around the year 30 C.E., Jesus, a Nazarene peasant and charismatic religious leader, was executed in Jerusalem as a political agitator by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Bevan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 13 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
Are the New Testament gospels historically reliable in what they say about Jesus of Nazareth ? That much-debated question is the one Jewish New Testament scholar Paula Fredriksen seeks to answer in this painstaking and carefully-argued book. She's rightly concerned to insist that a faith which claims Jesus to be the unique occasion of divine revelation should demonstrate a serious commitment to `doing history' in support of that claim. And she certainly practices what she preaches, interrogating sources both Jewish (Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls in particular) and Roman as she builds up a rich picture of Jesus's context and draws conclusions as to the veracity or otherwise of particular episodes, sayings and events as reported by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Her conclusion - that the gospels are to a significant extent theology and identity politics (Jesus's followers `over against' Judaism) masquerading as history, and thus anachronistic in reading back a post-70 CE context to the lifetime of Jesus - will trouble some Christians. I'm not sure it should. For the Jesus who emerges from Fredriksen's examination, the eschatological prophet who understands himself to be ushering in God's new age, stands very much within the probable bounds of historical 1st-century Jewish traditions. So, too, does Paul, his early interpreter for the Jewish diaspora, who for Fredriksen remains - despite his centuries-old tag as the (real) founder of Christianity - quintessentially Jewish.

Fredriksen seeks to strip away the perception that the Jewish/Christian antagonism of the gospels is historically based - an antagonism she links, interestingly, to the Gospel writers' supposedly rather determined efforts to downplay Jesus's political role.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Oct. 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 Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating history of this period apparently very well researched and footnoted and a pleasure to read. I look forward to reading more o her work
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 36 reviews
153 of 162 people found the following review helpful
Thorough, balanced, insightful 27 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
124 of 131 people found the following review helpful
THE seminal work on historical Jesus 13 Nov. 2003
By William Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
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.
Fredriksen moves backward in time, beginning with the highly developed esoteric Christology in the gospel of John at the turn of the century back to the very Jewish, earthy, eschatological Mark, written between 65 and 75 AD. Carefully laying out the evidence of the texts, Fredriksen incisively reasons a very likely history of the development of the ideas of Jesus and takes us back to the most probable reconstruction of who the man of history truly was. She then evaluates Paul, who represents a sort of anomaly compared to the gospel development and demonstrates that the theological development wasn't necessarily as smooth a trajectory as one would presume.
In order to gain a proper understanding of the context all this takes place in and why indeed it even occurs one must have a modicum of knowledge about the history of Israel, and the development of messianism that began with the experience of the Babylonian Exile and the subsequent influence of Persian religious ideas on historical Judaism. Indeed it was this time, from the sixth century through the second, that proved formative to Jewish ideas, which when mixed with Hellenism produced the Christian religion that we know today, which subsequently greatly influenced Islam. (What an amazing time in history!) This book describes that process. For a more complete analysis of the particularities, I recommend Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come by Norman Cohn.
Fredriksen then proceeds to the development of the Christian faith and its process of evolving away from Judaism that occurred as a result of the experience of the resurrection (whatever that was). This experience and an exegesis of the Hebrew Scriptures led the first followers to make some dramatic conclusions about what had really happened and what Jesus' mission was. Also significant in this process was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, which had a profound effect on the subsequent development of the tradition. Fredriksen lays this out for the reader concisely and thoroughly. She then summarizes by building a smooth trajectory from what we know about Jesus, the earliest gospels, to what the tradition came to be at the beginning of the second century.
Do not let its 200 pages fool. This work is thorough and packed with information and analysis. It deserves two readings.
58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Excellent coverage of a little-known phenomenon 26 Aug. 2003
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Typical Fredriksen: Sane and Erudite 27 Mar. 2001
By peculiar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HIstorical Jesus not Biblical Jesus... 22 Jun. 2010
By Jonathan Schmidt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just a quick note. This book is a view of the historical Jesus. This is not a biblically supported work. If you are a devote believer in the word of Christ, this book may not be for you. It is NOT designed to strengthen an individual's faith. However, it is written as a scholarly work to better understand who Jesus was in actuality. It is well written and historically supported. Do not expect to find support from biblical tales. In spite of this, for anyone who desires an historian's point of view of Jesus and who he was and what he did, it is an interesting read.
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