Originally published in 2000, In Search of First Century Christianity contends that Christianity in the first century had no founder but rather evolved as a convergence of many forces: political disillusionment, cultural mutations, religious and theological motifs, psychosocial losses and new expectations. Moving on from an examination of the foundations of historical and literary criticism in the Renaissance, and a detailed study of two writers in antiquity,Thucydides and Chariton, to examine writings in the period between Plato and the Gospel of Mark, the authors then explore the writing of Paul and the stories told in the Gospels. With the early Christians drawing from both Greek and Hebrew sources, Barnhart and Kraeger propose that, like Plato, Paul and other Christians generated an "anti-tragic theatre" gospel with the Jesus figure being the creation of a culture steeped in an anthropomorphic, metaphysical view of the world. Focusing on Paul's letters and other Christian writings, and the political, intellectual, moral and emotional conflicts they addressed and their formulation of early views of Christ, this book explores the difficult question of whether Jesus was an historical figure or an image who first emerged within developing communities of visionaries. Through an exploration into how Christology developed in the early first century, the authors seek to show that Christianity's emerging theology was a venture in human problem solving and both Paul and the Gospels sought to relate a story in which goodness would ultimately triumph, in the person of Christ. Joe.E.Barnhart is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of North Texas, USA; Linda T. Kraeger is Lecturer in the Department of Literature and Language at Grayson County College, USA.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction. 2. The Renaissance and the Bible. 3. Thucydides' History and Chariton's Novel. 4. Paul the Apostle: Problems in the Paradigm. 5. Paul, the Hellenistic Jew. 6. Paul and Two Jews of Alexandria. 7. Paul and 2 Esdras. 8. Paul on Sinful Desires and Divine Providence. 9. An Apocalyptic Vision of Ultimate Power. 10. Versions of the Jesus Story. 11. Borg's Jesus, Anderson's Christ. 12. Jesus as King. 13. Is Jesus a Legend? 14. Tragedy and Gospel.