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Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth

Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth [Kindle Edition]

Burton L. Mack
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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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

Product Description

The Making of the Christian Myth

Commencing in mid February 2004, SBS TV (Australia) will run a two–part documentary based on this title.

In this groundbreaking and controversial book, Burton Mack brilliantly exposes how the Gospels are fictional mythologies created by different communities for various purposes and are only distantly related to the actual historical Jesus.

Mack‘s innovative scholarship which boldly challenges traditional Christian understanding‘ will change the way you approach the New Testament and think about how Christianity arose.

The clarity of Mack‘s prose and the intelligent pursuit of his subject make compelling reading. Mack‘s investigation of the various groups and strands of the early Christian community out of which were generated the texts of Christianity‘s first anthology of religious literature and makes sense of a topic that has been confusing.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perspective worthy of consideration. 22 Aug 1998
By A Customer
The author makes no secret of his views on the accuracy and validity of the New Testament as we know it. This is not a casual commentary, as his views are well thought out and documented. Whether one chooses to agree with Mack's conclusions or not, it provides valuable information and insight on how the Bible may have become what it is. He puts social issues, motives, personalities, and human nature on the table -- something that Christians are not normally subjected to in religious training. While those of us who are Christians may bristle at his conclusions, many of them will be difficult to discount. This is a must-read for those Christians who can be enriched by opposing views, rather than shun and discount them out of hand.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous fables and garbled Gospels 29 Jan 2005
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Since the Higher Criticism enterprise in the late 19th Century, biblical researchers have probed deeply into the origins of Scriptural texts. Contributions from archaeology and other disciplines have added new information on the times and places dealt with in biblical texts. Burton Mack, in a sweeping study of the foundations of the Christian myth, offers an in-depth analysis of the progress of the movement. He also broadens the scope of view by placing its growth in a wider social context. Not a "serious" academic tome, Mack has produced a study for a wide readership. He gives us a better understanding of the roots and development of the book considered so fundamental in many people's lives. With astute insights presented in lively style, he has offered much for reflection.

Wisely side-stepping the historical validity of Jesus, Mack follows the foundation and likely development of the way one man's teachings became a global movement. Whether Jesus actually lived is insignificant beside how stories of his life and ideas were promulgated. Mack carefully depicts the socio-political scenario in which the Jesus story took root. Palestine's population had undergone severe disruptions in recent times. At the time of Jesus, the Jews, either exiled or conquered, had suffered various dislocations, although the worst was yet to come. During the period under Alexander's domination, many Greek ideas permeated Palestine, including various scholastic practices. These, Mack points out, would have strong impact on how the Jesus story was developed and spread. It also increased the toil of scholars struggling to understand who wrote what and when they did it. Students often composed essays in the name of some emminant scholar as a means of demonstrating their comprehension of the material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Derren Brown cited this book as a demolition ball in his departure from Evangelical Christianity. I can say with confidence that even if you don't agree with all of the book's conclusions (as I do not) you will walk way from this with a completely new understanding of how the New Testament came to be written, compiled and revered (some may say venerated) as 'Holy Writ'.

There are many rival theories as to how best explain the Historical Jesus and the origins of Christianity. I disagree with Burton Mack's characterization of Jesus as a Cynic philosopher whose followers took things a bit out of hand after his untimely death (I strongly recommend Bart Ehrman or Laura Fredriksen's treatments of Jesus as a Apocalyptic Prophet in this regard). However, Mack's expert knowledge of the Book of Q (see 'The Lost Gospel') allows an exploration of the early church that is mind-boggling in its complexity. Though at times highly speculatory, Mack presents an environment of theological diversity among early Christians that extends far beyond the familiar "Pauline vs Gnostic" rivalry. The world of first century Judaism and Christianity suddenly becomes a lot more strange and the development of the New Testament canon comes to read like an action thriller - the bizarre circumstances of books being compiled and redacted, judgements and proclamations being issued against entire towns and cities, communities collapsing and coalescing make an engrossing read.

Mack is a radical and makes no secret of it. His theories will not impress everyone and I reserve much greater caution in accepting every one of his ideas about Christian origins and development. However, one thing will be clear in coming away from reading this book - the New Testament as we understand it cannot, in any real sense, be called 'Divinely inspired' or 'Guided by the Holy Spirit' - to do so now would be an act of mortal blasphemy in itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Most Christians who have been brought up in the Christian traditions would never have dreamed of questioning the authenticity of the Holy Bible or to question who may have written it and why was it so written. Most would have taken the Bible as mostly a historical record of the Jews and of Adam and Abraham and Moses, and Noah and Jesus and Matthew, and Mark, and Luke and John with a few allegorical anecdotes thrown in. All other sources of contradiction were suppressed over the ages until the United Nations Convention of Human Rights freed human expression and the Internet allowed for the immediate access to information world wide. The inquiring mind was finally set free. The more evangelicals have proselytised that their "contained" views were the truth and the only truth, the more was there a reason to investigate whether what they were saying was true. So the reviews on this book will probably reflect the sentiments of evangelicals, open minded investigators, and atheists with entirely opposing views.

Burton Mack through his studies attempts to visualise early Jesus Movements that started in Galilee in the 30s and 40s of the first century AD. These early Jesus followers were seeking a kingdom, to take them away from their sufferings under the harsh Roman rule, a kingdom that they identified as "the Kingdom of God." So different Jesus movements evolved forming different groups and these groups began to write their thoughts down, share it, saved it, embellished it and reworked it till it eventually resulted in the New Testament.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Fascinating read. If you enjoy Dawkins and Hitchens then this is a book for you.
Published 1 month ago by ian james mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Who Wrote the New Testament
Anyone buying this book in the expectation of finding out who actually wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will be sadly disappointed since no one knows who wrote them and the names... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ragnar
5.0 out of 5 stars Burton L Mack Sets it All in Order
This is a well researched, positive, very readable and factual examination and realistic explanation of the many faceted origins of Christianity. Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2012 by H. A. Weedon
5.0 out of 5 stars The Development of the New Testament
Mack suggests that it is impossible to recover the historical Jesus. However,some of the earliest sayings of Jesus are to be found in Quelle - 'Q' - or source, particularly in Q1. Read more
Published on 1 May 2011 by Rev. T. J. Carter
2.0 out of 5 stars Not accurate...
For those who want to know the real Christianity I recomend " EARLY CHRISTIANITY: BASED ON THE EARLY CHRISTIANS' ACCOUNTS by Anderson Rocha de Oliveira.
Published on 9 Nov 2008 by Uola
1.0 out of 5 stars Circular, Presumptous Methodology
In "Who Wrote the New Testament" Mack asserts a picture of New Testament history that lies significanyly beyond the evidence that is currently available. Read more
Published on 13 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling! Highly persuasive and very informative.
This is a first rate scholarly analysis of the origins of the Christian myth. It is, however, accessible to the lay person. Read more
Published on 22 July 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars You can thump the bible to get it to say anything you want
Burton Mack starts with the premise that the bible is one of the most powerful and influential books in all of human history but also one of the least understood. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Alternate history based on literary theory
Mack says previous understanding of Bible authorship is wrong and presents a new account. This isn't based on new manuscript or historical discoveries, but on a way of... Read more
Published on 15 Mar 1999
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