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The Quest for the Historical Jesus, by Dr. Burton Mack
The Quest for the Historical Jesus
and the Origins of the Christian Myth
The scholar’s quest for the historical Jesus has recently gone public, creating quite a stir. A new picture of Jesus is emerging as early Christian texts become known to the public. This portrait does not agree with the conventional image of Jesus in the New Testament gospels — a divine personage stepping forth to confront the Jewish establishment with its failures and announce a new world order. The historian’s Jesus did no such thing. He was a teacher of an alternative lifestyle, drawing heavily on the popular Cynic school of Greek philosophy.
What are the reasons for thinking that the historical Jesus must have been a popular philosopher in the Cynic tradition? How did the Christian Bible come to be? How were the earliest anonymous writings of divergent Christian groups, which were written at different times for different social purposes, transformed and reinterpreted? A major international effort to translate and study certain early Christian texts, such as the Gospel of Thomas and to recover the lost Book of Q, is central to this new historical view.
Dr. Burton L. Mack is one of the foremost authorities in early Christian studies. He received his Ph.D. in New Testament Studies and the History of Religions from the University of Gottingen in 1967. He is John Wesley Professor of the New Testament at the School of Theology at Claremont, and was a member of the famous Jesus Seminar. Dr. Mack also directs the Bible and Epic Project at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont. Dr. Mack has authored The Book of Q, The Lost Gospel, and his new book, Who Wrote the New Testament?
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