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Old 07-20-2001, 08:01 AM   #1
Vorkosigan
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Join Date: Jan 2001
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Post Book Review: Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ

Book Review

Alvar Ellegard
Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ: A Study in Creative Mythology
1998
This is an excellent work, and a ready companion to The Jesus Puzzle and The Jesus Mysteries

Ellegard argues in this well-written, highly accessible work that Christianity grew out of the Essene beliefs, and that Jesus is a historicized myth. Some of his arguments are novel and depend on word usage traditions in the various NT writings, which he shows can be exploited to place the various writings in their proper chronological order.

In support of his theory. Ellegard manages to find tantalizing evidence that there were proto-Christian communities in the Jewish Diaspora prior to the supposed existence of Jesus on earth. He redates two groups of writings, moving the gospels into the second century, where it is increasingly looking like they belong, and moving some of the letters back into the first. The letters of James and Peter he argues, were actually written by those two men, and the lack of personal details about Jesus' life in them reflects the fact that those men did not know a historical Jesus. He also goes over the by-now familiar arguments for the lack of Jesus' life in Paul, and shows that the gospels, based on their word usage, could not belong to the first century Christian tradition. Finally, he argues, based on some evidence, that Ignatius is the originator of the gospel myth-tradition (the crucifixion under Pilate, Mary, and other details). Ellegard, like many others, sees the gospels as a reply to the gnostics and an attempt by the orthodox church to assert its power over those communities.

This is a very useful book, and if you are going to spend the $$ on new books, this is one you should have. I was fortunate to have found a copy at the local used bookstore.

Michael
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