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From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries and Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith

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The path from Jesus to Christianity is not as straight as we might think. Now, for the first time, L. Michael White, one of the world's foremost scholars on the origins of Christianity, provides the complete, astonishing story of how Christianity grew from the personal vision of a humble Jewish peasant living in a remote province of the Roman Empire into the largest organi The path from Jesus to Christianity is not as straight as we might think. Now, for the first time, L. Michael White, one of the world's foremost scholars on the origins of Christianity, provides the complete, astonishing story of how Christianity grew from the personal vision of a humble Jewish peasant living in a remote province of the Roman Empire into the largest organized religion in the world. Many take for granted that the New Testament is a single book representing God's coherent, unwavering word on Jesus and his church. A closer reading reveals not one story, but many. The New Testament is a collection of books -- the result of a variety of influences on a number of faithful but very human visionaries, preachers, and storytellers. The texts contain a wealth of biographies, histories, novels, letters, sermons, hymns, church manuals, and apocalypses, providing a spectrum of views of Jesus, his message, and his movement. Given this diversity of people, stories, and drastically different points of view, how did Christianity ever become what we know it as today? White draws on the most current scholarship to bring alive these ancient people and their debates, showing in depth how their stories were formed into what the world has come to know as the New Testament. Rather than reading the New Testament straight through in its traditional order -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and so on -- White takes a historical approach, looking at the individual books in the sequence in which they were actually written. He explores what these books divulge about the disagreements, shared values, and unifying mission of the earliest Christian communities. White digs through layers of archaeological excavations, sifts through buried fragments of largely unknown texts, and examines historical sources to discover what we can know of Jesus and his early followers. It is this early, hidden history that shaped Christianity as it grew from an errant, messianic movement to a state religion and then into a world religion that has lasted for over two thousand years. White shows how the early debates spurred the evolution of Christianity as we know it. He delves into the arguments over how to understand Jesus as both human and divine, the role of women in the church, the diversity of beliefs among Christian communities, the Gnostic influences, and the political disputes that raged over which books would ultimately be included in the New Testament. Complete with illustrations, photos, charts, and maps, From Jesus to Christianity presents the fullest picture yet of the beginnings of what became the most popular religion on earth.  


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The path from Jesus to Christianity is not as straight as we might think. Now, for the first time, L. Michael White, one of the world's foremost scholars on the origins of Christianity, provides the complete, astonishing story of how Christianity grew from the personal vision of a humble Jewish peasant living in a remote province of the Roman Empire into the largest organi The path from Jesus to Christianity is not as straight as we might think. Now, for the first time, L. Michael White, one of the world's foremost scholars on the origins of Christianity, provides the complete, astonishing story of how Christianity grew from the personal vision of a humble Jewish peasant living in a remote province of the Roman Empire into the largest organized religion in the world. Many take for granted that the New Testament is a single book representing God's coherent, unwavering word on Jesus and his church. A closer reading reveals not one story, but many. The New Testament is a collection of books -- the result of a variety of influences on a number of faithful but very human visionaries, preachers, and storytellers. The texts contain a wealth of biographies, histories, novels, letters, sermons, hymns, church manuals, and apocalypses, providing a spectrum of views of Jesus, his message, and his movement. Given this diversity of people, stories, and drastically different points of view, how did Christianity ever become what we know it as today? White draws on the most current scholarship to bring alive these ancient people and their debates, showing in depth how their stories were formed into what the world has come to know as the New Testament. Rather than reading the New Testament straight through in its traditional order -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and so on -- White takes a historical approach, looking at the individual books in the sequence in which they were actually written. He explores what these books divulge about the disagreements, shared values, and unifying mission of the earliest Christian communities. White digs through layers of archaeological excavations, sifts through buried fragments of largely unknown texts, and examines historical sources to discover what we can know of Jesus and his early followers. It is this early, hidden history that shaped Christianity as it grew from an errant, messianic movement to a state religion and then into a world religion that has lasted for over two thousand years. White shows how the early debates spurred the evolution of Christianity as we know it. He delves into the arguments over how to understand Jesus as both human and divine, the role of women in the church, the diversity of beliefs among Christian communities, the Gnostic influences, and the political disputes that raged over which books would ultimately be included in the New Testament. Complete with illustrations, photos, charts, and maps, From Jesus to Christianity presents the fullest picture yet of the beginnings of what became the most popular religion on earth.  

30 review for From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries and Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith

  1. 4 out of 5

    John David

    If anyone out there is looking for a one-stop introduction to early Christianity, this might well be it. In fact, I usually use an index card to try to organize what I want to say in reviews, but about one hundred pages into the book, I realized that there was just so much information here that I would never be able to do justice to everything “From Jesus to Christianity” has to offer. Don’t let the “By The Featured Expert on the PBS Special ‘From Jesus to Christ’” sticker on the front fool you, If anyone out there is looking for a one-stop introduction to early Christianity, this might well be it. In fact, I usually use an index card to try to organize what I want to say in reviews, but about one hundred pages into the book, I realized that there was just so much information here that I would never be able to do justice to everything “From Jesus to Christianity” has to offer. Don’t let the “By The Featured Expert on the PBS Special ‘From Jesus to Christ’” sticker on the front fool you, either. I haven’t seen the PBS special, but I can certainly assure you that this book has more scholarly rigor and vastly more detail than any television program ever could. I found the first quarter of this book which includes a rich, detailed account of the ways in which ancient Judaism informed both the thought and practice of nascent Christianity (or, as White calls it, the “Jesus cult,” since Christianity wasn’t a word available to the earliest Christians). We get a quick history of post-Davidic Israel with an emphasis on the cultural, social, and political strife that was occurring at the time, including a history of the various imperial occupations with which Jesus dealt, and the radical politics this occasionally spawned. White then goes on try to construct the historical person of Jesus by looking at the four Gospels and the Pauline corpus. This is where White starts to include a little more rigor than even the more interested readers might want. We get charts detailing the intricacies of the synoptic problem, including the “Two-Source Hypothesis,” “the Two-Gospel Hypothesis (the Griesbach hypothesis,” and the “Farrar-Goulder Hypothesis.” There is another detailed table on page 136-137 discussing the content of the Q source, a.k.a. the “synoptic sayings source.” What are the Two-Source Hypothesis and the Q source? Before reading the book, I couldn’t have told you in any real detail, but White lays it all out beautifully and in context. I don’t mean any of this to say that the book is hopelessly obscure. It’s not. White gives a detailed account of Paul’s Aegean travel, and an analysis of his letters to various new Christian communities (again, replete with numerous charts). There is a wonderful discussion of the Jewish apocalyptic tradition and Jewish sectarianism and how people dealt with the Gospels in the first century A.D. Thankfully, White includes not just canonical texts, but also non-canonical ones like the Gospel of Thomas. In later generations, White discussions the development of various Christological controversies and the rise of what he calls “normative self-definition.” How did Christian communities define themselves in relationship to their (often) Jewish past? In relation to Hellenism? For interesting questions to these questions answered through the spectrum of morality and ethics, I heartily recommend another book I recently reviewed for this site, namely Wayne Meek’s “The Origins of Christian Morality: The First Two Centuries.” I tried to think of some aspect of New Testament history, ancient Christian society, or the literature that White didn’t at least touch on, but couldn’t find one. The material is presented in chronological, which makes things extraordinarily easy to find. This might not be exhaustive for someone interested in the minutiae in, say, the dating controversies of certain books or hermeneutic approaches, but this book provides a more than solid introduction, and has the virtue of having thirty-five pages of endnotes. If there is one thing this book is missing, it’s a chapter-by-chapter reading list, although some of the aforementioned charts do have recommended ancillary reading material. All in all, you can’t really go wrong with using this book as a stepping stone to studying this material.

  2. 5 out of 5

    AB

    From Jesus to Christianity is a great starting point to learning about new testament scholarship. I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. The only issue I had with the book was the breezy pace in which it ran through the material. However, given the context of a pop history book, I can forgive it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    TheBookWarren

    4.75 Stars - Ridiculously comprehensive & astonishingly well researched, this seemingly hidden rare high clarity stone is indeed worthy of its subject. Broken down into strategic & carefully orchestrated chapters & sub-sections, the book acts as a detailed easy to reference road-map for the last 2000 years of Christianity and does quite perfectly what the author appears to set out to do, chart the slow deliberate progression from the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth through to modern day Chris 4.75 Stars - Ridiculously comprehensive & astonishingly well researched, this seemingly hidden rare high clarity stone is indeed worthy of its subject. Broken down into strategic & carefully orchestrated chapters & sub-sections, the book acts as a detailed easy to reference road-map for the last 2000 years of Christianity and does quite perfectly what the author appears to set out to do, chart the slow deliberate progression from the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth through to modern day Christianity! However the really good stuff is in-between the main plot points, the finer detail this is where the book really shines & whether read in succession or by going back and forth in a customised manner the content shines & the magnitude and sheer epic nature of the research pays dividends by engaging the reader in rich but easy to read sections that seem to fly by such is the level of enjoyment to be had in these words.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hank

    At first, the amount of information that L. Michael White packed into each page made me think this could be an insurmountable read. But soon enough the material became so fascinating that I just rolled with it and sped through the numerous names, dates, places, historical events, philosophical concepts, and various religious sects and scriptures with great enjoyment. If you are not relatively well-read in history, my advice for you is to not let yourself get overwhelmed since L. Michael White's a At first, the amount of information that L. Michael White packed into each page made me think this could be an insurmountable read. But soon enough the material became so fascinating that I just rolled with it and sped through the numerous names, dates, places, historical events, philosophical concepts, and various religious sects and scriptures with great enjoyment. If you are not relatively well-read in history, my advice for you is to not let yourself get overwhelmed since L. Michael White's approach, underneath it all, is fairly straightforward and matter-of-fact. It simply outlines the development of Christianity into a religion and the creation of the New Testament as it is known today. White also takes a neutral stance on matters of theology, he doesn't "go there" - he merely does his job as a historian, laying out what is known among Biblical scholars such as himself and what it tell us. Without a doubt, this book has made a huge impression on my understanding of Christianity. My copy of the book contains underlined marks in pen to remind myself of the many things I want to further research.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Roberson

    Impressively streamlined presentation of a massive conglomeration of scholarly material. Uses lots of effective charts and includes plenty of interesting details of geography, culture, and art, thanks to White's background in archaeology. Unfortunately, it doesn't really trace its historical reconstruction out from Jesus, as the title promises, and that has a very significant impact on the rest of the book. Impressively streamlined presentation of a massive conglomeration of scholarly material. Uses lots of effective charts and includes plenty of interesting details of geography, culture, and art, thanks to White's background in archaeology. Unfortunately, it doesn't really trace its historical reconstruction out from Jesus, as the title promises, and that has a very significant impact on the rest of the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Bedard

    I was disappointed with this book. I found it overly critical and thought his dating of New Testament books in relation to other early Christian works to be way off. There are other perspectives, and not just from conservative evangelicals. There are better books on Christian origins out there.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Juli Sarris

    Well written discussion and analysis of the early years of Christianity. I learned a lot, and I greatly enjoyed the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Millo

    This fascinating book documents the evolution of Christianity from a Jewish Jesus messiah faith (Paul’s authentic letters, Matthew) to an anti-Jewish Christ as son of God faith. For example, the book of Hebrews midrash developed a theology in which Christ, and thus Christianity, superseded Moses, the temple and the law as a means of approach to God. Although written 30-50 years after Paul’s letters, when the Hebrews was placed in the collection of Paul’s letters immediately following Romans, it This fascinating book documents the evolution of Christianity from a Jewish Jesus messiah faith (Paul’s authentic letters, Matthew) to an anti-Jewish Christ as son of God faith. For example, the book of Hebrews midrash developed a theology in which Christ, and thus Christianity, superseded Moses, the temple and the law as a means of approach to God. Although written 30-50 years after Paul’s letters, when the Hebrews was placed in the collection of Paul’s letters immediately following Romans, it became more difficult for later Christians to read Paul’s very Jewish theology on its own terms. Prior to this book I had read about eight works on early Christian history and literature (Elaine Pagels, Bart Ehrman, Dale Martin). From Jesus to Christianity is the most complete and best organized. It discusses the real author, attributed author, location, audience and occasion of each New Testament book in the approximate date it was composed. It likewise discusses the many writings that were influential in the early church but were not included in the NT. I was introduced to many early Christian writings. One example is the Didache, a 100-140 C.E. document on church order and practice which was lost and not rediscovered unti 1873. I also learned how the pseudepigraphic literature, widespread from the second century onward, influenced development of the Christian church even though it was not incorporated into the New Testament. A third example is the popular literature which began to develop in the second century in the form of novels about the travels, miracles, preaching, and deaths of individual apostles. Each novel produced a local hero and patron apostle for a particular stream of Christianity. In the final section, the author describes how the growth of heresies, such as docetism and Gnosticism, and the rise of influential heretics such as Marcion and Montanus, forced church leaders to work toward the scriptural canon that was to eventually form the New Testament. Highly recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Terry Tucker

    This is the story of the storytellers. Books preserve the story. Books make possible for later generations to encounter a bygone era. In books, the medium of communication is complex and the reader bears a burden to understand the story and the culture of its time. to place it in the proper context. This book is the story of the origin and development of the Christian movement as told by the people who lived it. It took place roughly two thousand years ago and covers a span of several centuries. This is the story of the storytellers. Books preserve the story. Books make possible for later generations to encounter a bygone era. In books, the medium of communication is complex and the reader bears a burden to understand the story and the culture of its time. to place it in the proper context. This book is the story of the origin and development of the Christian movement as told by the people who lived it. It took place roughly two thousand years ago and covers a span of several centuries. It is a history of Israel, Jews, Greece and Rome. This is the story of the development of the New Testament. Many Readers may have a hard time thinking of the New Testament as an ancient work, but all of the New Testament was originally written in Greek. it was assembled over time, copied and recopied. This book looks mostly at the four stories of Jesus as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The author suggests that because of the complexity and composite nature the New Testament cannot be read like a novel but each author should be read and analyzed in its own context because of these works represent a different genre of literature - history, sermons, letters and apocalypse. Although they were all written in Greek, the language, tone nd style are noticeably different. This is the journey that the author embarks on - a review and comparison of each of these individual books. I have consequently learned a lot of new things about each author and their audience. This is a highly readable book packed with detail and i found hard to put down.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Steve Majerus-Collins

    I have no doubt that L. Michael White is a solid scholar of the origins of Christianity, with a true command of all the early writings and every scrap of evidence that sheds light on how the teachings of a poor Jew in an obscure province grew to astonishing prominence in just a few centuries. This book is chock full of examples of his mastery of the subject. Regrettably, though, White doesn't have the literary skills to match his historical ability. His book has tons of information, but too litt I have no doubt that L. Michael White is a solid scholar of the origins of Christianity, with a true command of all the early writings and every scrap of evidence that sheds light on how the teachings of a poor Jew in an obscure province grew to astonishing prominence in just a few centuries. This book is chock full of examples of his mastery of the subject. Regrettably, though, White doesn't have the literary skills to match his historical ability. His book has tons of information, but too little storytelling. It has substance but not shape. That said, I came away from it with a far better understanding of the strange, twisted tale of how the life, death and message of Jesus spread in those first centuries, of what got written and why, and what vanished down the memory hole where uncomfortable or alternative versions so easily disappear. I can see that someday someone will use this information to write a great book, maybe even one that changes our worldview. This is not that book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rene Fomby

    Amazing scholarship on the origins of the faith. So much of what we Christians think we know about our religion is false, and this book places the Bible in a temporal and geographic matrix that makes the internal contradictions within the Old and New Testaments that have always bothered me suddenly very clear. I even now have discovered a newfound respect for Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles. My mostly agnostic daughter took a college class from Dr. White and was enraptured. Now I know why. Amazing scholarship on the origins of the faith. So much of what we Christians think we know about our religion is false, and this book places the Bible in a temporal and geographic matrix that makes the internal contradictions within the Old and New Testaments that have always bothered me suddenly very clear. I even now have discovered a newfound respect for Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles. My mostly agnostic daughter took a college class from Dr. White and was enraptured. Now I know why. Mandatory reading for anyone who thinks they understand Jesus Christ.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Goncalves

    The author offers an outstanding documentation of the evolution of Christianity from a Jewish Jesus messiah faith to an anti-Jewish Christ as son of God faith. He also describes how the growth of heresies, such as docetism and Gnosticism, and the rise of influential heretics such as Marcion and Montanus, forced church leaders to work toward the scriptural canon that was to eventually form the New Testament. Highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dustin DuFort Petty

    A scholarly history of the timeline from before the birth of Christ to the end of the second century C.E. The author gives backgrounds on all the gospels, epistles, and the books and letters that contributed to early Christianity but didn’t make the “final cut” of the New Testament. It leaves me wanting to learn more about the development of rabbinic Judaism, life after the second temple, and the happenings at the Council of Nicea.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    I learned a great deal that I had no idea I didn't even know prior to reading this book. Very informative and well written I learned a great deal that I had no idea I didn't even know prior to reading this book. Very informative and well written

  15. 5 out of 5

    Frank Ogden

    This book was used as a textbook in an adult education class at local university. Highly recommended, covered in detail the development of Christianity. Very complete and well organized text.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ross Wilcox

    Super interesting overview of Gospel and New Testament authorship - who wrote what, why, when, and where.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jim Swike

    Returned by Kindle. A Great read and resource on this era in History. Enjoy!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    A very slow read for me. Academic history of the “books” that eventually became the Bible.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Justinian

    2008-06 - From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith. by L. Michael White. 2004. 528 pages. The author teaches Christian origins at the University of Texas at Austin. His prose at time belies his academic training and experience. Though the text at times seemed hairsplitting and a bit ponderous I did enjoy this book. I found it to be stimulating in terms of thinking about the early church and the interplay between o 2008-06 - From Jesus to Christianity: How Four Generations of Visionaries & Storytellers Created the New Testament and Christian Faith. by L. Michael White. 2004. 528 pages. The author teaches Christian origins at the University of Texas at Austin. His prose at time belies his academic training and experience. Though the text at times seemed hairsplitting and a bit ponderous I did enjoy this book. I found it to be stimulating in terms of thinking about the early church and the interplay between oral and written documents and how they affect life, theology, and our perception of “what is was like”. Many devout readers my how ever roll their eyes and be distracted as the author routinely references Common Era and Before Common Era instead of the more traditional Ad and BC. He also makes reference to “The Historical Jesus”. It must be pointed out that there was a historical Jesus a real man who was born, who died, and who existed with in the confines of history. No I do recognize that term has developed other shadings as well. The book does a good job at setting the stage for the birth and growth of the early church. The focus here is on written texts. The primary written texts are those in what is called the New Testament. He does use other texts including patristic writings to bring in oral histories and further meaning and use of the documents included in the Bible. While many people start with and focus primarily on the Gospels the author here puts the epistles and letters squarely in the front. His contention for this is that the gospels came later and the letters came first. Each of the letters and the gospels do receive an extensive history and background. What I found intriguing about the approach was that the gospels factor little at all in the letters of Paul and others as they had not been codified and as such remained oral transmissions at best or partially known at best. In this regards the gospels were not a significant force or authority in the earliest Christian communities. This stands the practice of giving the gospels pride of place on end. It also causes the reader to ponder the content and message of the gospels apart from the letters. How much did the experience of these early communities and their travails color the content or message of the gospels? How much of the gospels area direct retelling of the story without the intervening years affect them or were they fully integrated with the experience. Did this experience factor into the structure, selection of content etc of the gospels? None of these issues are addressed in this text and they are hardly alluded to. The text does not dabble in much speculation preferring the classical historian’s approach of sticking to the sources with as little conjecture as possible. Included in the documents is the evolution of the formation of the Bible. Documents which were considered by some communities as part of holy scriptures such as the Didache and the letters of Ignatius as well as others are discussed as well. There is more pastoral treasure, in my opinion, in the letters than in the gospels. We see in the letters real life issues and solutions. Granted that there needs to be a full understanding of cultural context and situational events that go with it, but we can see the process. Too often there are literalists who want to take the direct words or teachings of Paul and apply them with no consideration of context. At the end of the book I had many more questions which the content of the book raised. This is probably the real strength of the book, its ability to stimulate inquiry and curiosity. The form of the book providing summaries and references in a graphic format help.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This is a book of contradictions. The author clearly is not of the faith, so therefore can't seem to rely on the sources that he cites to create his entire argument. There was some useful information in there, but I was looking for a history, not a "these are all clearly wrong, because everyone says so," type of tale. I can't imagine what the tv documentary was like, more boring or less disjointed? There was a large focus by the author on the texts that came out of the time period, but while the This is a book of contradictions. The author clearly is not of the faith, so therefore can't seem to rely on the sources that he cites to create his entire argument. There was some useful information in there, but I was looking for a history, not a "these are all clearly wrong, because everyone says so," type of tale. I can't imagine what the tv documentary was like, more boring or less disjointed? There was a large focus by the author on the texts that came out of the time period, but while the author points out that none, according to him, are authentic, he spares little time on the history of the time period. He could not seem to compare the texts or explain very well what made them not authentic besides dating and "some scholars say these may be real," etc. etc. This thing just did not flow very well at all. I came out of this book with few new enlightements and disgusted with the authors knowledge and credibility on anything but general information on the subject. If I can say anything nice, I liked the pictures. Unimpressive. Someone told me I should've just read the Book of Acts instead. Maybe I'll read that in the Brick Bible and see if I get a better understanding of the early church from that! I just wanted to read a history of the early christian church. I could have saved myself the headache and time completing this sucker and just googled it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This books was pretty much everything I ever wanted to know about Christianity when I was growing up. The details and stories cleared up a lot of confusion that was rightly there, considering I stopped going to Sunday School when I was ten. It runs full circle however. If they had taught this I most likely would have attended. Instead, all the hackneyed elementary fables they taught only kept me long enough to enjoy a Shipley's doughnut. Of course, then I fled accordingly, avoiding the 7/11 Chri This books was pretty much everything I ever wanted to know about Christianity when I was growing up. The details and stories cleared up a lot of confusion that was rightly there, considering I stopped going to Sunday School when I was ten. It runs full circle however. If they had taught this I most likely would have attended. Instead, all the hackneyed elementary fables they taught only kept me long enough to enjoy a Shipley's doughnut. Of course, then I fled accordingly, avoiding the 7/11 Christian "rock" anthems in lieu of the melodic offerings of Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead with Casey while we drove through the surrounding neighborhoods. But I trail...I'd hate to say it, but I've found myself less tolerant of the whole Christian philosophy after reading this. It seems where before I rationalized certain unappetizing aspects of the religion away, now I can't help but ponder them and think, wow, what an idiotic idea. But whatever, God bless us all, right? Fantastic read if you are into legally blind speculations regarding the history behind it all. The author makes great use of what scant details exist in archaeological evidence today. Plus, he's a Longhorn! Alright!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    This is probably the best, most comprehensive book I've read on how Christianity started and what led to the writing of the New Testament. People often say that you have to understand the culture and political atmosphere of the Scriptures in order to fully understand why certain things were written. To me, this book has shed all the light I need in that area. Beginning before Christ and moving through the time when the Canon was put together, each character and each book in the New Testament is s This is probably the best, most comprehensive book I've read on how Christianity started and what led to the writing of the New Testament. People often say that you have to understand the culture and political atmosphere of the Scriptures in order to fully understand why certain things were written. To me, this book has shed all the light I need in that area. Beginning before Christ and moving through the time when the Canon was put together, each character and each book in the New Testament is seamlessly historically explained in terms of culture, extra-Biblical sources, and recent scholarly research. This is a scholarly book, however. So you have to have an interest in the subject in order for the book to be interesting. It wasn't written, in my opinion, to "wow" the general public, though it may anyway. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially Christians - since, at least I believe, it is important to know the history of your faith.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Barros

    “From Jesus to Christianity” is an outstanding book. Very well organized and packed with information, reflecting the latest scholarship in the subject. Highly recommended. It is a great review for those of us who already have prior knowledge of early Christian history. It is not really good as an introduction to early Christian history. To the novice contemplating reading this book, I would recommend first reading 1) the New Testament, 2) some of the gnostic gospels – there are some good compilat “From Jesus to Christianity” is an outstanding book. Very well organized and packed with information, reflecting the latest scholarship in the subject. Highly recommended. It is a great review for those of us who already have prior knowledge of early Christian history. It is not really good as an introduction to early Christian history. To the novice contemplating reading this book, I would recommend first reading 1) the New Testament, 2) some of the gnostic gospels – there are some good compilations of those available in most book stores 3) a shorter narrative of the history of early Christianity, such as Henry Chadwick’s history “The Early Church” (vol. 1 of “The Penguin History of the Church”). There is also a very good PBS series titled “From Jesus to Christ - the First Christians “ (Frontline PBS) and another titled “The Lost Gospels” (a BBC documentary).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Group_Captain_Lionel_Mandrake

    I thought that this was a very idea intense book. Very well written. I enjoyed learning how the texts of the original Gospels come from a very few oral traditions that are thought to have had different schools of thought behind them. I also enjoyed discovering that not all letters attributed to Paul were written by Paul. There are other things that surprised me when reading this. All in all the book answers some very interesting questions I have had in my journey of faith and has raised new ones I thought that this was a very idea intense book. Very well written. I enjoyed learning how the texts of the original Gospels come from a very few oral traditions that are thought to have had different schools of thought behind them. I also enjoyed discovering that not all letters attributed to Paul were written by Paul. There are other things that surprised me when reading this. All in all the book answers some very interesting questions I have had in my journey of faith and has raised new ones. That is good. Faith is supposed to be hard. I encourage all people to read this work. It is most definitely worth the effort.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Morton

    L. Michael White's command of NT backgrounds represents the strength of this study and of the book behind the PBS Special. His conclusions regarding the Jesus of the four Gospels stands at odds with the certainty behind much of what he writes. He neglects to tell his readers how he can be so sure of what he writes about the uncertainty of the Gospel records. As such he falls prey to one of the outstanding questions that face higher biblical criticism. Which should the reader believe? Academics 2 L. Michael White's command of NT backgrounds represents the strength of this study and of the book behind the PBS Special. His conclusions regarding the Jesus of the four Gospels stands at odds with the certainty behind much of what he writes. He neglects to tell his readers how he can be so sure of what he writes about the uncertainty of the Gospel records. As such he falls prey to one of the outstanding questions that face higher biblical criticism. Which should the reader believe? Academics 2000 years removed or the writings of individuals standing mere decades from dramatic events?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shane Wagoner

    How refreshing to finally read a book on early Christianity that isn't afraid to dive headfirst into almost every historical controversy and question that arises. White meticulously analyzes the first four generations (approx. 40 years per generation) with a scholar's mind and a teacher's exposition. While a few areas deserve more attention than they receive (Paul's theology, the theological aims of the gospels, and the historical Jesus were a little rushed in my opinion), the overall scope of t How refreshing to finally read a book on early Christianity that isn't afraid to dive headfirst into almost every historical controversy and question that arises. White meticulously analyzes the first four generations (approx. 40 years per generation) with a scholar's mind and a teacher's exposition. While a few areas deserve more attention than they receive (Paul's theology, the theological aims of the gospels, and the historical Jesus were a little rushed in my opinion), the overall scope of the book justifies its place on any student's reading list.

  27. 4 out of 5

    terry

    do you want to know how we arrived on the current christian plane, taking into account what each of the authors of the new testament were thinking (!) based on what was going on historically, politically, and in the arts as context? no one, anywhere, is as deep and wide as michael white...i don't know how many biblical languages he knows, but it's all usual ones plus 10 more...and he's personable on top of scholarly...if there were 6 stars available for rating him, i would ask for 7...got it? do you want to know how we arrived on the current christian plane, taking into account what each of the authors of the new testament were thinking (!) based on what was going on historically, politically, and in the arts as context? no one, anywhere, is as deep and wide as michael white...i don't know how many biblical languages he knows, but it's all usual ones plus 10 more...and he's personable on top of scholarly...if there were 6 stars available for rating him, i would ask for 7...got it?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Calvert

    JUST what I need to understand how this all happened. How did religion become what it is? Why did Jesus "stick" the way that he did? The history and perspective are entirely necessary to truly understand the climate that Christianity was born from. I really enjoy this book (even though it's currently covered in a 1/2 inch of dust). JUST what I need to understand how this all happened. How did religion become what it is? Why did Jesus "stick" the way that he did? The history and perspective are entirely necessary to truly understand the climate that Christianity was born from. I really enjoy this book (even though it's currently covered in a 1/2 inch of dust).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    This book gives a good comprehensive history of the context in which Christianity arose (overview of Jewish history), which I think is essential to understanding writings as old as those found in the Bible. It briefly discusses each of the books of the New Testament, as well as a number that didn't make it into the collection. This book gives a good comprehensive history of the context in which Christianity arose (overview of Jewish history), which I think is essential to understanding writings as old as those found in the Bible. It briefly discusses each of the books of the New Testament, as well as a number that didn't make it into the collection.

  30. 5 out of 5

    TheIron Paw

    This is an excellent book - but I didn't finish it. It's simply too comprehensive and detailed for my amateur reading. It would be an excellent resource for academics or serious students of the history of the initial formation of the Christian religion. The approach - history of the story and storytellers of Jesus - is an excellent and realistic way to approach the subject. This is an excellent book - but I didn't finish it. It's simply too comprehensive and detailed for my amateur reading. It would be an excellent resource for academics or serious students of the history of the initial formation of the Christian religion. The approach - history of the story and storytellers of Jesus - is an excellent and realistic way to approach the subject.

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