Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior

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There are few individuals in history who have had the cultural and spiritual impact of Jesus. For millennia, his actions and teachings have shaped religions and influenced generations. But it raises the question: how did these stories come to be?

Jesus Before the Gospels accepts the most unenviable of tasks: trying to unravel fact from invention, false memories, and wholesale fiction with regards to the life of Jesus. With so many variations on his experiences and lessons — often different, sometimes contradictory — the idea of winnowing down all this material becomes quite a daunting task.

But it’s one Ehrman tackles with gusto. As he explores the religious and historical materials, he answers other questions along the way — like who were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and how did the gospels come to be named for them? — bringing a skeptical yet hopeful perspective to the task at hand.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book is Ehrman’s dual concepts of the historical Jesus and the remembered Jesus, and the impact of both. The idea that the remembered Jesus, not the factual one, is the one that made history, is just one of many worthwhile concepts to be found in these pages.


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Author Bart D. Ehrman
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 336 pages
Publisher HarperOne
Publish Date 2016-03-01
ISBN 9780062285201
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2016
Category Religion
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