Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity

Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity

by James D. Tabor


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439123324
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/26/2013
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 290,160
Product dimensions: 5.74(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Map: The World of Paul ix

Timeline of Major Events and Figures xi

Preface: Discovering Paul xv

Introduction: Paul and Jesus 1

1 Christianity Before Paul 23

2 Rethinking Resurrection of the Dead 48

3 Reading the Gospels in the Light of Paul 68

4 Last but Not Least 91

5 A Cosmic Family and a Heavenly Kingdom 108

6 A Mystical Union with Christ 130

7 Already But Not Yet 157

8 The Torah of Christ 176

9 The "Battle of the Apostles" 203

Appendix: The Quest for the Historical Paul 227

Acknowledgments 239

Notes 241

Index 267

What People are Saying About This

John Shelby Spong

"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.”

From the Publisher

"Highly recommended to all interested in the historic roots of Christianity, whether or not they are believers. After Tabor, you will never read the NT in quite the same way." —-Library Journal Starred Review

Barrie Wilson

“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.”

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Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This superb, well written book carefully shows just how different Paul’s religion was from that of Jesus and his first followers. Paul, of course, never met the Jesus of history and his unique theology was built upon an on-going mystical relationship with the Christ figure who, he said, spoke in and through him. In accordance with what Christ conveyed to him, Paul abandoned Judaism and embraced a universal perspective. He saw in Christ’s death the makings of a new humanity. As Tabor writes, “At the core of the mystery announcement that Paul reveals is God’s secret plan to bring to birth a new heavenly family of his own off-spring.” That’s a major contribution to our understanding of Paul’s message. Those seriously interested in understanding how Christianity developed will find the chapters on Resurrection, the Cosmic Family and the Torah of Christ particularly fascinating. Resurrection, for instance, has been much misunderstood. It isn’t a matter of physical resuscitation, not a coming back to life of this body and certainly not immortality of the soul. As Paul sees it, resurrection is nothing less than a whole new creation, a new embodiment, a creative act by God who restores life to a reconstituted person after death. Don’t miss the Appendix -- the Quest for the Historical Paul -- which contrasts the Paul of his own letters with the historical revisionism of the much later Book of Acts. We now have a number of quests on our hands ... the long-standing one, for the historical Jesus, and now for the historical Paul and his contemporaries, the James and Peter of history. A fascinating book, packed with illuminating insights. Highly recommended. Barrie Wilson, PhD., Professor, Humanities and Religious Studies, Toronto, author How Jesus Became Christian.
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