Hyam Maccoby
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
August 12, 2018 Comments.. 119
The Mythmaker Paul and the Invention of Christianity Maccoby a Talmudic scholar from London s Leo Baeck College will inflame many with his contention that Paul not Jesus was the true founder of Xianity Despite impressive research the author s needl

  • Title: The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
  • Author: Hyam Maccoby
  • ISBN: 9780062505859
  • Page: 480
  • Format: Paperback
  • Maccoby, a Talmudic scholar from London s Leo Baeck College, will inflame many with his contention that Paul, not Jesus, was the true founder of Xianity Despite impressive research, the author s needlessly pugilistic stance he comes off as one defending the honor of Judaism against pagan insurgents bleeds his argument of real force In sum, these are his beliefs Paul,Maccoby, a Talmudic scholar from London s Leo Baeck College, will inflame many with his contention that Paul, not Jesus, was the true founder of Xianity Despite impressive research, the author s needlessly pugilistic stance he comes off as one defending the honor of Judaism against pagan insurgents bleeds his argument of real force In sum, these are his beliefs Paul, who claimed to be a Pharisee rabbi, was in fact an adventurer of undistinguished background Jesus, portrayed by Gospel writers as opposing the Pharisees, was in fact one himself, a devout Jew who believed he d been chosen by God to overthrow Roman rule reign as King of Israel the earliest Xians didn t preach the divinity of Christ until Paul rejected the Torah replaced it with a pagan myth of a dying resurrected god When it comes to asserting the Jewishness of Jesus, he stands on firm ground alongside most contemporary scholars His work will probably strengthen the belief that Jesus was to some extent an anti Roman political revolutionary, Paul a Hellenistic interloper However, it s difficult to take seriously the charge that Paul sought fame by founding a new religion because he was disappointed in his hopes of advancement By making Paul out as a sort of carnival huckster, he ignores the apostle s religious profundity by making of Paul a spiritual Svengali who misled many of Jesus closest followers, he ll seem to some to be promulgating his own religious myth His arguments simply confirm the observation that when it comes to the early years of Xianity, documentary material is so scarce fragmentary that the few available texts can, have, been used to bolster every conceivable viewpoint Like other debunkers, he sometimes lets polemic get in the way of prudence many of his assertions stand unsubstantiated by quote or other reference A historical brief of questionable reliability but undeniably fascinating Elegantly argued, this should ruffle feathers for years to come Kirkus edited

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    1 Blog on “The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

    1. Charity says:

      I'd like to give it 5 stars; it's very close, but since it made my mom cry, I'll leave it at 4. This is a fascinating history about something that so many people take for granted. It's not even taking for granted, so much as needing to believe it in order for their worlds not to crumble beneath them. Even if you don't believe what he says, I think it's an important book because it gives you something (very big) to think about. As someone who grew up resenting Paul for his misogynistic views, I w [...]

    2. Maya Bohnhoff says:

      I was impressed with Maccoby's attempts to manipulate the reader's perceptions, but disappointed in his scholarship. His book is full of what I refer to as "sleight of tongue." This is a rhetorical device by which the writer posits a hypothetical situation of what “might have happened,” then subtly changes the language from the conditional or theoretical (“might have,” “could have”) to the positive until they are speaking of the hypothetical incident or situation as if it had actuall [...]

    3. Anna says:

      The Mythmaker is a profound book. Maccoby uses biblical and other ancient texts to support his argument that Jesus, a man who lead a group of political dissidents, was just a man, and that it was Paul who later infused pagan and gnostic mysticism into the story to create the Jesus myth. He provides a lot of evidence for his case, though I thought it was a bit too much when he started to explain Paul's motivations. I don't think the evidence exists to do that, one can only speculate. Perhaps he w [...]

    4. Meen says:

      One reviewer said it made her mom cry (and not for warm-fuzzy reasons). Recommendations don't get much better than that!

    5. Vegantrav says:

      What drew me to The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity was an interest in seeing how Christianity is viewed by an academic from another religion--in this case, a Jewish Talmudic scholar, Hyam Maccoby.Maccoby utilizes the normal canons of contemporary New Testament scholarship to suss out the evolution of early Christianity and to analyze just who Paul really was.One of Maccoby's major arguments--and one that has wide currency among non-dogmatic, non-fundamentalist scholars, even C [...]

    6. Erik Graff says:

      This book was given me as a gift by Chris Meyers when he was still working on his philosophy dissertation at Loyola University Chicago. For the most part it is old hat despite the author's treatment of familiar arguments as if they were new and earthshattering. The is no debate, excepting, of course, biblical inerrancists who stand outside of any scholarly pale, that Christianity as we think of it bears little resemblance to what Jesus and his brothers and the later Ebionites believed. Nor is th [...]

    7. Katy says:

      I will start off by saying I never much cared for Paul, nor for the fact that his writings - all dated decades after the death of Jesus - were the ones that made up most of the New Testament. His misogynistic teachings and dogmatic approach to the system of philosophy created by Jesus would undoubtedly cause that good man to shudder and be shamed.I found this text to be most illuminating and it helped me to revise my opinions of Paul slightly - from a raving misogynistic fanatic to a very sad ma [...]

    8. Mohamed Reda says:

      ترجمة غير امينة للأسف

    9. Andrew Lucas says:

      Early Christianity is a topic most classical historians shy away from, the pool having been muddied by centuries of devotional presupposition. 'The Mythmaker' was my first exposure to the work of Macoby and I found it both accessible and enlightening. His particular Jewish perspective on Jesus, Paul and earliest Christianity was a revelation. Almost everything in this book runs counter to conventional wisdom; for instance, his conclusions that Jesus was probably a Pharisee or that Paul almost ce [...]

    10. Jengordon says:

      Maccoby does a thorough, and mostly believable*, job of demonstrating that Paul was not the man he says he is in his New Testament writings, and that the Jesus of Christianity is a mythical figure made up by Paul out of whole cloth. He uses close analysis of the N.T. text itself, noting contradictions with other places in the text, with history, and with common sense, to suggest places that the text is corrupted by a Pauline editor. In the process, he builds an image of what the Gospel texts (sy [...]

    11. Rob says:

      This is an angry little book that takes everything that Christianity has ever claimed about Paul at face value and then dissects its improbability using Talmudic arguments against Paul's own. I think Macoby's book is an excellent insight into how Jews in Paul's own time period might have responded to his poaching of God-fearers from their synogogues with what they saw as half-baked, pseudo-Jewish arguments. There is still an excellent framework of Paul's life and ministry, granted viewed through [...]

    12. Rita says:

      How can this be chocking news? Doesn't everybody know that Christianity as we know it was primarily founded on his teachings and writings? Or is this common knowledge for those of us who actually bothered to study Religion at the university?

    13. Matt says:

      I really enjoyed this book, but I think that there are many people who would not. This is a pretty trenchant critique of one of the founding figures of Christianity. It uses history and pragmatic literary interpretation to try to explain many of the inconsistencies that surround Paul in the biblical literature. I found its arguments clear and convincing, but I suspect that those devoted to the teachings of the Christian church might be more apt to find fault in its claims.One of the main focuses [...]

    14. David Buhler says:

      The author, a Jew and Talmudic scholar, gives an impressive show of imaginative scholarship in his account of Paul as a man of tremendous religious imagination himself having invented 'Christianity.' It would have been a more convincing book if Mr. Maccoby did not so strongly give the impression that he carried a grudge against Paul and his new invention of this mystical Christianity which caused the Jews a lot of trouble. I doubt if anyone understands the complicated apostle Paul; however, this [...]

    15. Matt Mart says:

      Maccoby makes some great points but fails to follow them up with good footnotes which makes his points dubious. His works cited list is impressive, but a little digging makes me wonder how much he actually uses his sources at all. In making an argument of such weight, I would have preferred he chose fewer points of contention and stuck to those he could backup easily with research. Overall, this book seems to lack scholarly attributes, though raises important questions I would like to see handle [...]

    16. Christina Maria says:

      Starts off with an interesting premise, but then loses stem and the second half of the book seems like a rant. Paul is an interesting character because everything that contradicts between the Old and New Testament is connected to Paul (like telling women not to talk and throwing away the Kosher laws). He's the one whose story doesn't add up historically compared to the other apostles. It is impossible to read the New Testament and take Paul seriously after finishing this.

    17. Susan says:

      A great clarification of Paul's role in myth making of the Christian religion which is vastly different from the Judaism Jesus and James were part of. Jesus never defined himself as a god; he understood Messiah in the normal terms of someone who would restore the Jewish monarchy, drive out the Roman invaders and establish a Jewish state. This book echoes other books I have read particularly Zealot and The Evolution of God.

    18. Andreas says:

      Maccoby is obviously pursuing an agenda of his own (i.e. proving that anti-semitism is deeply rooted in the very origins of Christianity, while also argumenting that Christianity is based on the delusions of a fraud/failed Pharisee), but in doing so he builds up his argumentation in a superb manner. You should appreciate this book like you would appreciate the work Freud - not for its claims of holding truth, but for the sake of the argument and the author's inventiveness and erudition.

    19. Matt says:

      Mythmaker provided some interesting and necessary context to the world of first century Middle East. Maccoby's hypothesis is that Christianity as a separate religion didn't exist until Paul invented it; that Jesus himself never intended to found a church separate from Judaism. He writes in narrative style and provides plenty of research to back up his claim. I thought it was well worth the read.

    20. Wolf says:

      If you want to know how Saul completely changed what we call Christianity, and why it isn't what Joshua of Nazareth started, find a copy of this work. In other words, don't read the New Testament past the Gospels.

    21. Terelyn says:

      Talmudic scholar has Pharisee bias: he argues that Rabbi Jesus was Pharisee, that Paul was an ambitious converted Gentile priest thug, & New Testament authors disguised truth for Roman political gain.

    22. Charlie says:

      A very interesting premise that Paul created christianity to fulfill his own religious desires and shortcomings.excellent scholarship, presenting a new and unique view of the current mythos of christianity.

    23. Rose Anderson says:

      Very thought-provoking, paradym-changing book.

    24. Eric Fritz says:

      It presents some great information about the historical Jesus and Paul figures, but the author's bias towards Judaism and against Christianity and Gnosticism hurts his point.

    25. Andy Caffrey says:

      Great book! Fast moving and thorough. Should be of interest to everyone concerned about the historical reality behind the Bible, Biblical-era Judaism, and Paul's corruption of the life of Jesus and his relationships with the Pharisees, to birth a corrupted Pauline church and destroy the "Jerusalem Church," which was the original Jewish "church of the apostles" and the utopian political movement for which Jesus was both a prophet and messiah (political leader). Demystifies the life of Jesus, a ma [...]

    26. Pabgo says:

      Christianity=Paul (Saul). Pure and simple. One of the greatest cons, EVER. Propagated by a self serving, megalomaniacal, narcissistic, (probably epileptic), greedy, ruthless,well, toddler? Yeah, right guy, at the right place, at the right time, fomenting a con that desperate, uninformed, paranoid and fearful people buy, even today, (and victimize [their children] others with). These are the details. A well done piece of research.

    27. Shiva Seven says:

      plausible, implausible who really knows.

    28. Tom Hill says:

      I found this book by Hyam Maccoby very interesting. As a person who grew up Catholic, I have always asked the question, "If Jesus came back today and saw what the religion created in his name evolved into, would he say, yeah, that is what I meant". This book helps me better understand the underpinnings of the Christian church and the dominance of the Apostle Paul in creation of Christian dogma. For the most part I felt Hyam came to very logical conclusions and supported his positions well. The w [...]

    29. Hovig Isgenian says:

      كإنسان لا ديني شدني العنوان من النظرة الأولى، لا سيما و أنني كنت قد قرأت عن بولس و تأثيره على النصرانية الحقيقية التي تلت موت يسوع و قيامته الجدلية.لكن الكاتب هنا حاول أن يلفت انتباه القارئ إلى ناحية أخرى من عمل بولس، و هو ربطه ربطاً مباشراً بالرومان و الديانات القديمة التي ت [...]

    30. Monday says:

      one of the most interesting books i've ever read. probably very offensive to most christians though. it suggests that jesus never claimed to be anything more than the messiah, which at the time meant literally "new king". it suggests he was a great politician and public figure who wanted to bring about big change in the world but he never meant for it to be taken as a religious movement. according to some of these ideas, paul was the one who turned his teachings from political to religious. VERY [...]

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