The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David

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Basic Books, Apr 20, 2009 - Religion - 432 pages
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Since the eighteenth century, scholars and historians studying the texts of the Bible have attempted to distill historical facts and biography from the mythology and miracles described there. That trend continues into the present day, as scholars such as those of the "Jesus Seminar" dissect the Gospels and other early Christian writings to separate the "Jesus of history" from the "Christ of faith." But with The Messiah Myth, noted Biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson argues that the quest for the historical Jesus is beside the point, since the Jesus of the Gospels never existed.Like King David before him, says Thompson, the Jesus of the Bible is an amalgamation of themes from Near Eastern mythology and traditions of kingship and divinity. The theme of a messiah-a divinely appointed king who restores the world to perfection-is typical of Egyptian and Babylonian royal ideology dating back to the Bronze Age. In Thompson's view, the contemporary audience for whom the Old and New Testament were written would naturally have interpreted David and Jesus not as historical figures, but as metaphors embodying long-established messianic traditions. Challenging widely held assumptions about the sources of the Bible and the quest for the historical Jesus, The Messiah Myth is sure to spark interest and heated debate.
 

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THE MESSIAH MYTH: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David

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Another volley in the historical Jesus game. In The Mythic Past (1999), Thompson (Biblical Studies/Univ. of Copenhagen) argued that the Bible is not a historical account, but a collection of riveting ... Read full review

The Messiah myth: the Near Eastern roots of Jesus and David

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In this highly controversial book, Thompson (biblical studies, Univ. of Copenhagen; The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel ) holds that such important biblical figures as King ... Read full review

Contents

Historicizing the Figure of Jesus the Messiah
3
The Figure of the Prophet
27
The Children and the Kingdom
67
The Song for a Poor Man
107
The Royal Ideology
132
The Myth of the Good King
139
The Myth of the Conquering Holy Warrior
171
The Myth of the Dying and Rising God
197
Good King Bad King
259
The Figure of David in Story and Song
285
Examples of the Songfor a Poor Man
323
Testimonies of the Good King
337
Notes
345
Bibliography
371
Index of Biblical Citations
381
Subject Index
397

Holy War
223

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About the author (2009)

Thomas L. Thompson is one of the leading biblical archaeologists in the world. He was awarded a National Endowment fellowship, has taught at Lawrence and Marquette Universities in Wisconsin, and currently teaches at the University of Copenhagen, which has one of the most prestigious Biblical Studies programs in the world. His book, The Early History of the Israelite People, a famously controversial book at the time, is now a standard text in the field. He lives in Denmark.

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