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Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth Paperback – 9 Jun 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; Reprint edition (9 Jun. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060655186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060655181
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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

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Cultures clashed in Greco-Roman times, and the Eastern Mediterranean filled to bursting with a heady and volatile mix of peoples, powers, and ideas. Read the first page
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Aug. 1998
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 29 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
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 By I, Claudius Amazonius on 20 May 2014
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 By M. B. P. Lee on 15 Mar. 2013
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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