Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ

Overview

It is commonly believed that the story of Jesus as told in the Gospels contains elements of fiction and myth, but in this ground-breaking and controversial book, Alvar Ellegard argues that even those ideas agreed to be the basic facts about the life of Jesus are fictional: Jesus was not born in the time of Augustus Caesar (27B.C. - 14A.D.). He was not baptized by John. He was not sentenced to death by Pilate. And he never roamed Palestine as a wandering preacher and miracle worker. In fact, none of Jesus' ...
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Overview

It is commonly believed that the story of Jesus as told in the Gospels contains elements of fiction and myth, but in this ground-breaking and controversial book, Alvar Ellegard argues that even those ideas agreed to be the basic facts about the life of Jesus are fictional: Jesus was not born in the time of Augustus Caesar (27B.C. - 14A.D.). He was not baptized by John. He was not sentenced to death by Pilate. And he never roamed Palestine as a wandering preacher and miracle worker. In fact, none of Jesus' supposed contemporaries ever saw him in the flesh but only through visions, as the Christ raised by God to heaven.

This closely researched and argued study takes the reader through the earliest Christian writings, including Paul's Letters and various other biblical and non-biblical texts, and presents the provocative argument that not one of these writers had ever met Jesus or refer to anyone who had. Indeed, Ellegard postulates, even the earliest Christians describe Jesus as a great Jewish prophet and teacher, who had already become a figure of mythology-not a contemporary crucified before their eyes, but a historical figure, on a par with the Old Testament prophets. Readers will surely be fascinated by this purely historical, non-theological approach to Christianity's origins.

"Deserves a serious look not just for its ingenuity but also for the questions it raises." (The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"The reading is close, full of references in the main text as well as in endnotes...anyone interested in the argument will easily grasp and just as easily devour it." (Booklist)

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These two books offer an enormous contrast. While Fredriksen provides a balanced, carefully reasoned, scholarly study of the historical Jesus, Ellegard's conclusions can only be described as preposterous. Ellegard (formerly dean, Univ. of G teburg, Sweden) is clearly familiar with some mainline biblical scholarship, but he always opts for the minority view and stretches it beyond reason. For example, he believes that the Gospels were written in the second century C.E. and traces the origin of Christianity to "a group of pious Jews called the Essenes" (the Dead Sea Scrolls group). Then, based on this highly questionable and twisted "evidence," he leaps to several unjustified conclusions: that Jesus lived long before he was supposed to have and that his disciples had only "ecstatic visions" of him and never knew him in the flesh. The Gospel writers, he suggests, then mistook their visions for real events and created fictitious accounts of Jesus' life. Fredriksen (scripture, Boston Univ.), on the other hand, explores the conundrum of a well-established historical fact--namely, that Jesus was executed by the Roman prefect Pilate as a political insurrectionist while his followers were not. She concludes that it was the volatile mix of excited pilgrims in Jerusalem for Passover and their acclaim of Jesus at a time when Pilate was especially interested in keeping the peace that led to his death. Her balanced, well-written work could serve as a kind of introduction to the content and methodology scholars use in the study of the historical Jesus and is highly recommended for any library. Ellegard's work would only be useful as an example of the false conclusions that result when questionable opinion is stretched beyond reasonable limits.--David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585672523
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 322
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Until recently Alvar Ellegard was Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Goteburg. In addition to books and articles concerning language and linguistics, Ellegard has written extensively in the international scholarly press on historical and anthropological themes, as well as on the history of ideas.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Recovering First-Century Christianity
1 Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ 13
2 The Church of God in the Jewish Diaspora 31
3 Egypt, Philo and the Gnostics 79
4 The Essene Church of God 96
5 More Essene Writings 125
6 The Letters of James, Peter and Jude 139
7 Colossians and Ephesians 148
Pt. II Deconstructing the Gospels and Acts
8 The Heavenly and the Earthly Jesus 163
9 Beginnings of the Gospel literature 180
10 Ignatius - Halfway Between Paul and the Gospels 202
11 The Jesus Story Takes Shape 215
12 John, Paul and Gnosticism 242
13 Overview 257
Epilogue 267
Bibliography 270
Notes 291
Index 315
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