Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity by James D. Tabor, Robertson Dean
Historians know virtually nothing about the two decades following the crucifixion of Jesus, when his followers regrouped and began to spread his message. During this time the man we know as the apostle 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 reveals that the familiar figures of James, Peter, and Paul sometimes disagreed fiercely over everything from the meaning of Jesus' message to the question of whether converts must first become Jews. Tabor shows how Paul separated himself from Peter and James and introduced his own version of Christianity, which would continue to develop independently of the gospel message that Jesus, James, and Peter preached.Paul and Jesus gives us a new and deeper understanding of Paul as it illuminates the fascinating period of history when Christianity was born out of Judaism and became the religion we recognize today.
James D. Tabor is chair of the department of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. An expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christian origins, James holds a Ph.D. in biblical studies and early Christianity from the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, among them Restoring Abrahamic Faith and The Jesus Dynasty. Robertson Dean has recorded hundreds of audiobooks in most every genre. He's been nominated for several Audie Awards, won nine Earphones Awards, and was named one of AudioFile magazine's Best Voices of 2010. He lives in Los Angeles, where he records books and acts in film, TV, and (especially) on stage.
Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity 4.7 out of 5based on
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.