Who Created Christianity?: Fresh Approaches to the Relationship between Paul and Jesus

Who Created Christianity? is a collection of essays by top international Christian scholars who desire to reinforce the relationship that Paul had with Jesus and Christianity.

There is a general sense today among Christians in certain circles that Paul’s teachings to the early Christian church are thought to be “rogue,” even clashing at times with Jesus’ words. Yet these essays set out to prove that the tradition that Paul passes on is one received from Jesus, not separate from it.

The essays in this volume come from a diverse and international group of scholars. They offer up-to-date studies of the teachings of Paul and how the specific teachings directly relate to the earlier teachings of Jesus. This volume explores with even greater focus than ever before the tradition from which Paul emerges and the specific teachings that are part of this tradition. This collection of essays proposes a complementary work to the work of David Wenham and his thesis that Paul was indeed not the founder of Christianity or the creator of Christian dogma; instead, he was a faithful disciple and a conveyer of a prior Christian tradition.

The essayists who contributed to this volume bring a collective several centuries of scholarship to bear and the fruits of that experience glisten on every page.  Stanley Porter, Graham Twelftree, Rainer Riesner, Joan Taylor, Alister McGrath, Craig Evans, Sarah Harris, Mike Bird, Steve Walton, Greg Beale, and Holly Beers among other lesser known and nonetheless finely gifted academics have seen to it that critical issues facing New Testament scholarship are brilliantly addressed.

Jesus and Paul are the two most important persons in the history of Christianity.  How significant is well known but WHY is a question seldom enough asked.  This collection asks, and answers.

The volume is comprised of six parts (personally I would have gone for seven) and in those parts the discussion is framed, Gospel origins are looked into, the oral tradition and its connection to Jesus and Paul is examined, the main themes of research concerning Jesus and Paul are discussed, women according to Jesus and Paul are investigated, Paul’s relationship to the Gospels and Jesus in the letters of Paul are also grist for the academic mill.

The best essays, in my view, are those by Twelftree, Riesner, Taylor, Bird, and Walton.  They are incredibly informative and have the merit of not repeating what are well known details.

The honoree of this Festschrift, David Wenham, is both deserving of the honor and honored by the high quality of scholarship on display in this work.  And while there are more than enough books on Paul out and about these days and plenty on the historical Jesus, few bring the two together and none do it as brilliantly as is done here.

In his foreword Wenham concludes

My hope is that this book, for which I am very grateful. will encourage ongoing sane and fruitful study of the Paul and Jesus question.

From his lips to God’s ears, as we say down here.  With the abundance of insane monographs ranging from the lunacy of the Jesus mythicists to the virtual worshipers of Paul, it is refreshing to read a volume that actually takes us forward in quest of answers to serious issues.

I highly, highly, highly recommend this work.  If you only have time to read a few of the contributions, do read the five I note above.  But if you can make time for the whole work, you will not regret it.  Indeed, you will ‘redeem the time’ and it will be a far better use of your limited lifespan than hopping on the game machine to play the fortnite (or whatever time wasting frolic is popular these days).

Tolle, lege!

One thought on “Who Created Christianity?: Fresh Approaches to the Relationship between Paul and Jesus

  1. Jeremiah Lawson 13 Apr 2021 at 8:13 pm

    I read Graham Twelftree’s Jesus the Exorcist alongside Amanda Witmer’s Jesus the Galilean Exorcist in the last year and really enjoyed both books. They both did good jobs of explaining exorcism as a practice that spanned the ANE. Twelftree made an observation/suggestion that stuck with me about John’s Gospel–there aren’t any exorcisms in it like there are in the Synoptics and Twelftree’s proposal was that since the aim of the Gospel of John was to highlight that Jesus was the Christ the works were selected to emphasis that aim, whereas itinerant exorcists were just common enough in ancient Jewish and Hellenistic contexts that there would be nothing very special or unique about that those types of healings.

    So I came very, very belatedly to reading anything by Twelftree but now that I have I’ve appreciated his work (someone in college told me I should look into his work literally decades ago).


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