Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity
Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity  -     By: James D. Tabor
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Simon & Schuster / 2013 / Paperback
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Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity

Simon & Schuster / 2013 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW123324


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Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 8.38 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1439123322
ISBN-13: 9781439123324

Publisher's Description

In this “compulsively readable exploration of the tangled world of Christian origins” (Publishers Weekly), religious historian James Tabor illuminates the earliest years of Jesus’ teachings before Paul shaped them into the religion we know today.

This fascinating examination of the earliest years of Christianity reveals how the man we call St. Paul shaped Christianity as we know it today.

Historians know almost nothing about the two decades following the crucifixion of Jesus, when his followers regrouped and began to spread his message. During this time Paul joined the movement and began to preach to the gentiles. Using the oldest Christian documents that we have—the letters of Paul—as well as other early Chris­tian sources, historian and scholar James Tabor reconstructs the origins of Christianity. Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James to introduce his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached.

Paul and Jesus illuminates the fascinating period of history when Christianity was born out of Judaism.

Author Bio

James D. Tabor is chair of the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He holds a PhD in biblical studies and is an expert on Christian origins. He is the author of several books, among them The Jesus Dynasty. Visit him online at JamesTabor.com.

Editorial Reviews

“James Tabor is a meticulous historian who carefully and convincingly lays out the actual Jewish theology of earliest Christianity which lies shrouded in the New Testament. . . . Tabor’s thorough yet succinct writing style brings a welcome new clarity to our understanding of the development of Christianity.”
"Tabor does a particularly fine job of explaining Paul's unique view of Jesus. . . . The crisp, clear writing gives readers much to consider—especially the fact that it is a Pauline Christianity that most Christians practice today. . . . The depth of his scholarship shows, but he also makes this an enjoyable read for those who want to know more about one of history's great mysteries."
"A fresh, imaginative and insightful treatment of the original years of the Christian faith. It is not as we have been taught through the centuries. It is infinitely more complex and infinitely more exciting. James Tabor makes this clear.”
“This superb, well written book carefully shows just how different Paul’s religion was from that of Jesus and his first followers. . . .A fascinating book, packed with illuminating insights. Highly recommended.”
“In this compulsively readable exploration of the tangled world of Christian origins, Tabor vividly recreates the frenetic and fraught attempts by the earliest followers of Jesus to maintain his teachings and keep his memory alive. . . . Although Paul has long been acknowledged as the founder of Christianity, Tabor weaves a fascinating story out of close readings of Paul’s letters and the book of Acts, which contains an idealized history of the early movement as well as Paul’s earliest activities on behalf of his teachings, and compellingly illustrates the ways that Christianity is Paul and Paul is Christianity.”
Paul and Jesus is overdue, and stands as one of the few books willing to push back assumptions…Digging beneath the acceptable, scholars like Tabor…break through assumptions — even the sacred ones — and give rise to new perspectives and stories.”

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  1. Skotiad
    Gender: male
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    If you want the real Paul, read his letters
    July 8, 2013
    Skotiad
    Gender: male
    Quality: 2
    Value: 2
    Meets Expectations: 2
    Although this author's writing style is not too academic, he seriously distorts the life and message of Paul, even though he claims to be revealing the "real" Paul. He claims that almost the entire New Testament is the result of a conspiracy of Paul's admirers, who "suppressed" the simple religion of Jesus so that Paul's "distorted" religion of Jesus-as-Savior would be the dominant religion. Putting it bluntly, the author spins a very elaborate conspiracy theory, not that different from The Da Vinci Code, except that Da Vinci Code was a work of fiction, and here the author is a scholar who nonetheless plays very fast and loose with the Bible in order to convince the reader that Paul has been an harmful influence on Christianity for 2000 years. He claims that only the Letter of James retains the "real" teaching of Jesus, while all the other parts of the New Testament, including all four Gospels, were under the influence of Paul and his party, though he has no explanation about how the "suppressed" Letter of James managed to makes its way into the New Testament. But the worst part of the book is this core idea: Christians today are on the wrong track, following the Paul religion instead of the Jesus religion - an outrageous claim that never occurred to anyone for two millennia.

    Books like this can do a great deal of harm. If people really wanted to know the real Paul, the obvious thing is: read his letters, which take up about 50 pages in the New Testament, whereas this book runs more than 200 pages and will leave the reader with a very twisted view of the great apostle. The book may appeal to people like the author, who grew up in conservative churches, lost their faith at some point, and need books like this to confirm their suspicion that Christians today are on the wrong track.
  2. Plesion
    Gender: male
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    The old Paul versus Jesus business
    July 3, 2013
    Plesion
    Gender: male
    Quality: 2
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 2
    There is a large market for books about "real" Christianity, and one popular subject for such books is based on a very old (and ridiculous) claim: that the "good" religion of Jesus was changed by the wicked apostle Paul into the "bad" Christianity that now exists. In other words, Paul (whose writings make up a large part of the New Testament) was history's great Distorter-in-Chief, and wouldn't it have been wonderful had he never existed, since the "real" Jesus religion would have suffered instead of this nasty Christianity?

    It's all old stuff, ground that has been gone over a thousand times. Believing that Paul was the great Distorter requires believing that a gaggle of non-Christian scholars living in the 21st century understand Paul and Jesus better than the Christians living in the 1st century. The early Christians had some harsh disagreements, including debates about which writings went into the New Testament. However, they did NOT see any conflict between Paul's writings and the Gospels which contain the words of Jesus. And, for the vast majority of Christians who have ever lived, there was no conflict. Numerically, the skeptics like this author are in a tiny minority, but, given that most people today know nothing of the Bible or Christian history, they can speak with an authoritative voice and find an audience, particularly since they are preaching a message the audience is eager to hear: Christians are bad people who aren't even practicing their religion the right way.

    In this book and its various clones (one recent one is by theophobe Marcus Borg), Paul is a bad and disturbed man, one prone to "ecstatic visions." In pressing this, the author is assuming that the readers are people like himself: skeptics, cynics, people who mock any sort of supernatural experience and believe in nothing that lies outside their own narrow experience. Obviously earlier generations of Christians really did believe that Paul had an encounter with the risen Jesus. For the modern cynic, Paul was either a liar or mentally ill, or both. Painting Paul as an "ecstatic" and "visionary," the author expects the reader to believe that Paul was what we would politely call a "nut." And what is the point of studying the writings of a nut?

    The Book of Acts show Paul acting harmoniously with the apostles ministering in Jerusalem. However, the author doubts this harmony and insists Paul was "doing his own thing," hence distancing himself from the "real" apostles of Jesus, such as Peter.

    This is definitely NOT a book that will enrich a person's faith, nor is it intended to. If the reader believes all (or even half) of the author's claims, he will find himself doubting everything Paul wrote or, even worse, doubting Christianity itself.
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