Geza Vermes, translator and editor of The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls and worldwide expert on the life and times of Jesus, tells the enthralling story of early Christianity and the origins of a religion. The creation of the Christian Church is one of the most important stories in the development of the world's history, but also one of the most enigmatic and little understood, shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding. With a forensic, brilliant re-examination of all the key surviving texts of early Christianity, Geza Vermes illuminates the origins of a faith and traces the evolution of the figure of Jesus from the man he was - a prophet fully recognisable as the successor to other Jewish holy men of the Old Testament - to what he came to represent: a mysterious, otherworldly being at the heart of a major new religion. As Jesus's teachings spread across the eastern Mediterranean, hammered into place by Paul, John and their successors, they were transformed in the space of three centuries into a centralised, state-backed creed worlds away from its humble origins. Christian Beginnings tells the captivating story of how a man came to be hailed as the Son consubstantial with God, and of how a revolutionary, anti-conformist Jewish sub-sect became the official state religion of the Roman Empire. Reviews: 'A beautiful and magisterial book' Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Guardian 'An exciting and challenging port of call, sweeping aside much of the fuzzy thinking and special pleading that bedevils the study of sacred scripture ... courteously expressed and witty' Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Times 'A challenging and engaging book that sets out to retrace the route by which a Jewish preacher in 1st-century Israel came to be declared as consubstantial and co-equal with the omnipotent, omniscient only God' Stuart Kelly, Scotsman 'A major contribution to our understanding of the historical Jesus' Financial Times 'A very accessible and entertaining read' Scotland on Sunday Books of the Year 'A magnum opus of early Christian history and one of the year's most significant titles' Bookseller
"This work brings together the insights of a range of distinguished scholars on a fresh and important task . . . The work is sound, imaginative, and original" (Howard Clark Kee). Contributors include Christopher Burchard, Carsten Colpe, Karl Loening, John K. Riches, and others. Translation by Annemarie S. Kidder and Reinhard Krauss.
The rise of early Christianity has been examined from a myriad of perspectives, but until recently ritual has been a neglected topic. Ritual and Christian Beginnings: A Socio-Cognitive Analysis argues that ritual theory is indispensable for the study of Christian beginnings. It also makes a strong case for the application of theories and insights from the Cognitive Science of Religion, a field that has established itself as a vigorous movement in Religious Studies over the past two decades. Risto Uro develops a 'socio-cognitive' approach to the study of early Christian rituals, seeking to integrate a social-level analysis with findings from the cognitive and evolutionary sciences. Ritual and Christian Beginnings provides an overview of how ritual has been approached in previous scholarship, including reasons for its neglect, and introduces the reader to the emerging fields of Ritual Studies and the Cognitive Science of Religion. In particular, it explores the ways in which cognitive theories of ritual can shed new light on issues discussed by early Christian scholars, and opens up new questions and avenues for further research. The socio-cognitive approach to ritual is applied to a number of test cases, including John the Baptist, the ritual healing practiced by Jesus and the early Christians, the social life of Pauline Christianity, and the development of early Christian baptismal practices. The analysis creates building blocks for a new account of Christian beginnings, highlighting the role of ritual innovation, cooperative signalling, and the importance of bodily actions for the generation and transmission of religious knowledge.
While scholars of the New Testament and its Roman environment have recently focused attention on ethnicity, on the one hand, and gender on the other, the two questions have often been discussed separately-and without reference to the contemporary critical study of race theory. This interdisciplinary volume addresses this lack by drawing together new essays by prominent scholars in the fields of New Testament, classics, and Jewish studies. These essays push against the marginalization of race and ethnicity studies and put the received wisdom of New Testament studies squarely in the foreground.
Although none of the author-editors of the four canonical gospels walked with Jesus, embedded clues point to written source materials emanating from disciples who did: particularly the found Gospel of Thomas, the lost Gospel of Q1 and an inferred lost Gospel of Early John. While used and changed radically by the later evangelists, especially Mark and John, embedded source elements permit a surprising new reconstruction of the life of Jesus. After his crucifixion by the Romans, three divergent streams of belief represented by Judas Thomas the Twin, James brother of Jesus, and Paul of Tarsus progressed and collided, culminating in the scriptural ascendancy of the Pauline viewpoint following the Roman-Jewish War. For more information and a detailed summary of the book, visit www.christianbeginningsrevisited.com
In this challenging and vividly written book Dr. Wilken shows that there never was a golden age in the Christian past. Christian hope did not come to fulfillment in the age of apostles, nor in the time of Constantine, nor in the Middle Ages, nor during the Reformation, nor in the revivals of the 19th century, nor in the movements of renewal in our own time. The history of Christianity is a story of imperfection and fragmentation, but also a history of hoping and striving for an end that cannot be seen yet bears on the present. With lively examples from the Christian past Wilken shows that change has been an abiding feature of Christian tradition. Often those who proposed new ways of thinking and acted in unexpected ways turned out to be more faithful than those who repeated the old formulas. As much as the past may give specificity and concreteness to renewal in the present Christian hope is set on things that are yet to be.