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on 7 February 1999
Only a closed mind could totally dismiss this book. Q or Quelle, is something that has been known in Biblical scholarship long before this book came out. Mack does quite a bit of interpreting and imagining about the community that follwed Jesus, but I found this fun. The case for the actual text of Q was strong and it should challenge traditional Christians. I was raised Catholic, but would consider myself leaning to pagan now-that is, I believe God and Goddess are in everyone, not just Jesus or Buddha or whoever.
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on 15 November 2007
I found this to be a very informative book to read with a thorough look at the lost gospel of Q. The description given by Mack of the early Jesus people is that of a social movement which dared to experiment in new ways of living together across racial, ethnic, cultural and monetary boundaries. Mack mentions that the tradition that this movement was inspired by, was that of the early cynics, who were the social critics of that era, making pointed comment on human behaviour where ever possible. This part in particular did I find very inspiring to read and it gave me a very refreshing new look at the Jesus figure.

Mack does a great job at covering early research and in showing how the people of Q gradually changed as outside pressures grew. The story of Q demonstrates that the narrative gospels have no claim as historical accounts, and are carefully crafted myths with a powerful political design.

It is clear that Mack knew the difficulties in getting the message of Q to be read and accepted by the majority of Christians.

As he writes:

"The discovery of Q may create some consternation for Christians because accepting Q's challenge is not merely a matter of revising a familiar chapter of history. It is a matter of being forced to acknowledge an affair with one's own mythology. The disclosure of a myth is deemed academic as long as the myth belongs to somebody else. Recognising one's own myth is always much more difficult, if not downright dangerous."

The book is easy to read for the lay person and can be highly recommended. Considering the influence that Christianity has in the world, this book deserves to be read by every Christian and the challenge given by Q ought to be taken seriously and discussed.
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on 15 November 2007
I found this to be a very informative book to read with a thorough look at the lost gospel of Q. The description given by Mack of the early Jesus people is that of a social movement which dared to experiment in new ways of living together across racial, ethnic, cultural and monetary boundaries. Mack mentions that the tradition that this movement was inspired by, was that of the early cynics, who were the social critics of that era, making pointed comment on human behaviour where ever possible. This part in particular did I find very inspiring to read and it gave me a very refreshing new look at the Jesus figure.

Mack does a great job at covering early research and in showing how the people of Q gradually changed as outside pressures grew. The story of Q demonstrates that the narrative gospels have no claim as historical accounts, and are carefully crafted myths with a powerful political design.

It is clear that Mack knew the difficulties in getting the message of Q to be read and accepted by the majority of Christians.

As he writes:

"The discovery of Q may create some consternation for Christians because accepting Q's challenge is not merely a matter of revising a familiar chapter of history. It is a matter of being forced to acknowledge an affair with one's own mythology. The disclosure of a myth is deemed academic as long as the myth belongs to somebody else. Recognising one's own myth is always much more difficult, if not downright dangerous."

The book is easy to read for the lay person and can be highly recommended. Considering the influence that Christianity has in the world, this book deserves to be read by every Christian and the challenge given by Q ought to be taken seriously and discussed.
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on 8 November 2007
After reading this book I can see how it will be riling up the religionists. It is hard to let go of an idea. Something that was perpetuated as a true story. However, the fact is that Christianity was built on a myth. Several myths to be exact. And once you "believe" in these myths, no amount of facts can change your "beliefs" until you are ready to see the truth.

This book is doing just that. It is stripping away the myths of that time and showing how these myths were built one on top of the other. And it was done by scholars, not theologists. So there is no religious bias going on.

A very interesting find for those who are looking for the truth. And there are more truths to find about where all religions came from in Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book "Secret History of the World".
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on 8 November 2007
After reading this book I can see how it will be riling up the religionists. It is hard to let go of an idea. Something that was perpetuated as a true story. However, the fact is that Christianity was built on a myth. Several myths to be exact. And once you "believe" in these myths, no amount of facts can change your "beliefs" until you are ready to see the truth.

This book is doing just that. It is stripping away the myths of that time and showing how these myths were built one on top of the other. And it was done by scholars, not theologists. So there is no religious bias going on.

A very interesting find for those who are looking for the truth. And there are more truths to find about where all religions came from in Laura Knight-Jadczyk's book "Secret History of the World".
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on 7 August 2015
Very thought provolking book
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on 15 November 1997
The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q & Christian Origins Burton L. Mack Perhaps there should be a disclosure as a preface to all books discussing the New Testament and early Christian development. The author should state their own perspective be it, atheist, conservative, liberal, Catholic, Jewish, etc. It would make it easier for the reader to critically evaluate the text. I realize that some authors genuinely attempt an objective evaluation but most appear to have a theological or philosophical axe to grind. Such a disclosure would be an aid for the general reader such as myself. Therefore the reader should know that my comments are colored by my faith, Catholicism. I will let the reader judge whether in spite of my faith I have judged this book fairly. Although I do not agree with the thesis of the book, I found it provocative and stimulating. Mack's description of the development of New Testament analysis since the enlightenment to the present day was particularly informative. Scholars noted the similarity among Mark, Matthew & Luke. How the gospels related to one another, specifically which one was written first became known as the synoptic problem. Mt historically had the position of first gospel. Upon critical analysis scholars noted almost all of Mk appeared in both Mt & Lk therefore it must have been written first. After all why would the later gospels delete gospel material, but it made much more sense to add material. Thus developed the two-source theory. Mt & Lk each had available two written sources that they each used in their own way. One was Mk. The other was Q. Q represents a body of gospel material that does not appear in Mk, but does appear in Mt & Lk. Although scholars are not in total agreement, the common explanation is that Q is an abbreviation for quelle, German for source. This may have been derived from Redenquelle (sayings source). Or the designation may have been an arbitrary one. In any event this source material is distinctive in that it for the most part consists of short sayings of Jesus. Some of the sayings are difficult to accept since they are demanding imperatives and anti social. Also, there is no mention of the death or resurrection in Q. In the realm of current biblical scholarship the Q theory is middle of the road. Deviating from the middle of the road are scholars who have attempted not only a reconstruction of the Q text, but also theorized its development in various stages. In my opinion Mack falls off the road when he starts from this point to conceptualize the type of community, who would have listened to the sayings, remembered them and transmitted them as a collection of sayings. Essentially, Mack's thesis is that since the sayings made no mention of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the resurrection never happened. The community was attracted to Jesus because they related to the anti social and unconventional tenor of the sayings. He was, and we have heard this before, just a teacher specifically a Cynic. As noted earlier the sayings are difficult to take and Mack may be right in that they probably appealed to the marginal and unconventional in society. Who could have been attracted to prescriptions such as, "leave to dead to bury the dead" or "whoever does not hate his father and mother will not be able to learn from me". Mack refers to the early movement as the Jesus movement, since there was no hint of the divinity of Jesus and therefore the community was not Christian. Later the Christians appropriated Q for there own use as appears in the canonical gospels. Mack's book is dangerous in that it appears to be a scholarly analysis of the early church, but it makes little attempt to be objective. It will appeal to the anti Christian. I think of it as tabloid scholarship or multi cultural apologetics. By the way I would have preferred at least some footnotes. I will indulge myself and state simply the fundamental flaw of Mack's thesis is that he takes Q as gospel. The title of Lost Gospel should have been an early warning sign. Q is not a gospel it is a theory. The reconstructed text is speculation and the layers of development more speculation. If we did not have Marks Gospel what kind of reconstructed text would scholars like Mack construct? But we do have Mark and we can see how both Mt & Lk changed, adapted, and redacted his written gospel. We are not even sure whether Mt & Lk had the same version of Q available to them. Perhaps there is no mention of the resurrection or death of Jesus in the Q sayings because it was taken for granted as an article of faith. Or maybe it was part of the early sayings but in each case the evangelist disregarded references to it because it would be dealt with later in the narrative. Q was a building block each evangelist used for there own respective literary and theological purpose. Mack ignores these possibilities. Now my Catholicism will show through. I accept the resurrection as fact. Assuming for arguments sake that some gospel material was the creation of the early church, what historical facts can we rely? Mack would probably say none. I offer the following. Jesus lived and taught. He died a scandalous death. His close friends deserted him at the cross and cowered in the upper room. Who can blame Peter for his denial, after all he may have thought he was next. The early church would not have painted such an unflattering portrait of its leader Peter and the disciples unless it was true. Also these facts are attested in several traditions. But we know that Peter did come out of the upper room and eventually died, as did James, Stephen and others for the faith. What could have made such a radical change in their behavior? I believe that each one experienced the Risen Jesus in a way we refer to as the resurrection. After the resurrection, they each began to recall remember and evaluate the teaching of Jesus. From its beginning the gospel proclaimed was Christian. Now there was reason to remember and transmit those weird Q sayings because they were from Jesus, not because of their intrinsic value. Or to put it another way, how many persons would have died for an everyday Cynic. If one examines the earliest layer of the sayings source Q1, there doesn't appear to be that much that would have been worth remembering. Not much to have distinguished Jesus from any other itinerant teacher. This is more compelling when one assumes that Mack is correct when he describes the Q community as anti social and rootless. Why would they have bothered to remember the sayings and why even transmit them? Jesus was crucified ( I assume Mack would acknowledge that if not based on the canonical gospels at least based on Josephus and Tacitus) but Mack offers no compelling explanation why he was crucified if he was a Cynic philosopher and appealed only to the marginal Q community. The only thing that makes sense for me is that the sayings were remembered because of the death and resurrection. Not only do I reject the thesis, but I am offended by the pretense of scholarship. A good scholarly text acknowledges the level of uncertainty about facts upon which the scholar will use in arguing their position. Each fact is critically evaluated and a reasoned judgment is made as to its utility in the thesis. Mack simply asserts facts to support his position with no mention that the fact itself is subject to some dispute. For example, my Harper Collins Study NRSV Bible, introductory notes to Mark state it was most likely written in the late 60's. Mack dates it 75- 80 AD based solely upon his dating of the hypothetical Q3. Most of what I have read dates the Gospel of Thomas 2nd century. Mack asserts it was written 90 AD because it fits his theory. It is one thing to explore the Hellenistic influence in Galilee, but to totally ignore the Jewish roots of Jesus is ludicrous. When Mack looks for a model that best explains the anti social sayings of Q1, he ignores the model of OT prophet and adapts the model of Cynic sage. When he needs to explain the "kingdom of God"
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on 21 April 2011
Can I recommend you read the 1 star reviews on amazon.com ? And do a little research from evangelical scholars (i.e., those who believe the New Testament). You might think it's THEY who have an agenda, but, in reality, Mack's thesis, for that is what it is, is so left field as to be invisible to the vast majority of scholarly research, whether from believing theologians or atheistic theologians, in theological academia.
Allan Clare, Bristol, UK.
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