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.
In this compulsively readable exploration of the tangled world of Christian origins, Tabor (The Jesus Dynasty) vividly recreates the frenetic and fraught attempts by the earliest followers of Jesus to maintain his teachings and keep his memory alive. The followers of James, who was the brother of Jesus and likely the author of the New Testament letter that bears his name, continued to live as Jews, observing Torah and worshipping in the Jerusalem Temple while honoring Jesus as their martyred Teacher and Messiah. This group was quickly displaced by Paul, whose theological teachings on the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ; the gift of eternal life guaranteed by faith in Jesus' resurrection from the dead; and a glorified heavenly reign with Christ when he returns reached a larger, non-Jewish audience because of the more philosophical language and nature. 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.