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One Jesus, Many Christs : How Jesus Inspired Not One True Christianity, but Many [Paperback]

By Gregory J. Riley (Author)
Our Price $ 15.30  
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Item Number 145586  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.44" Height: 0.63"
Weight:   0.73 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2000
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  0800632427  
EAN  9780800632427  


Availability  0 units.


Item Description...
Overview
In this exciting volume, Riley reveals that from the beginning there was not just one true Christianity, but many different Christianities. United by passionate allegiance to Jesus as Hero, these early, doctrinally diverse Christianities have led to the development of many different kinds of Christian churches among us today. Riley shows that early Christianity harbored major doctrinal differences about all aspects of Jesus ife, death, resurrection, and divinity. This book provides not only a whole new understanding of the nature of earliest Christianity, but it also conveys a vital message for today about what Christian faith is really about. Riley reveals the authentic character of Christianity as inherently pluralistic and tolerant of diverse ideas while passionately centered in Jesus.

Publishers Description
In this exciting volume, Riley reveals that from the beginning there was not just one true Christianity, but many different Christianities. United by passionate allegiance to Jesus as Hero, these early, doctrinally diverse Christianities have led to the development of many different kinds of Christian churches among us today. Riley shows that early Christianity harbored major doctrinal differences about all aspects of Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and divinity.This book provides not only a whole new understanding of the nature of earliest Christianity, but it also conveys a vital message for today about what Christian faith is really about. Riley reveals the authentic character of Christianity as inherently pluralistic and tolerant of diverse ideas while passionately centered in Jesus.

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More About Gregory J. Riley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Gregory Riley, Ph.D., educated at Harvard University, is professor of NewTestament and Early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology in California and the author of the acclaimed One Jesus, Many Christs.

Gregory J. Riley currently resides in the state of California. Gregory J. Riley was born in 1947.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Jesus Wins in the End  Jul 12, 2007
Professor Gregory Riley's "One Jesus, Many Christs" (2001, 228 paperback) attempts to presents a first century classical view of Jesus of Nazareth. The book's scholarship is apparent and well documented with the helpful in-the-text style referencing.

Riley basic premise is that the world of late antiquity (roughly Jesus' era) was replete with heroes and "Christs" ("Messiah's" for Jews). He presents a fascinating study of ancient world heroes.

He compares Jesus to Achilles, parallels Hesiod's narrative with the Nazarene's, equates Oedipus to Job, introduces Elysium (similar to the Testamental "Heaven") as the post life heroic abode, and compares Jesus' movement to the Greeks' adoration for the god Asclepius. In the end, the Jesus movement wins.

Hercules' and Hermes' origins in Grecian schools of thought are thoroughly explained. From this background Riley suggests Jesus as a "classical hero" with "cosmic destiny" (page 81). One wonders why the Hebrew concept of "Messiah" is not also considered?

Riley offers plenty of fuel for thought: God's destruction of Palestine (presumably by the Romans of AD 70) is the result of divine revenge for killing Jesus and the martyrs (page 86), Jesus' passion and trial show his character (page 87), and early Christianity's most radical, and unique, claim was the eternal promise for everyone, not just heroes (page 93).

Although Riley quotes the Bible extensively (with a 2-page "Biblical Citations" index) the book reads like an ancient Greek world primer. The book is interesting and helpful, but it fails to fulfill the expectation presented by its title. (A better title might be: "Jesus and the Greeks" or "Jesus as Olympian".) This text needs less Grecian recovery and more New Testament discovery.

This book is recommended to all students of ancient Greece, mythology buffs, classical scholars, and those already biblically well read.
 
Interesting comparison of Graeco-Roman ideas with Jesus and Christianity  Sep 9, 2006
This book provided me with a useful overview of some of the Graeco-Roman stories of heroes and gods, and how they compared with the story of Jesus. Riley argues that a large component of how early Christians understood Jesus was as a hero. They then followed Jesus by imitating him, themselves becoming heroes in a way.

He also outlines some doctrinal differences between early Christian sects that may have been due to different cultural understandings of Jesus. Included in this is how different sects considered Jesus to be mere man, semi-god, angel or an emanence of God. Towards the end of the book is some discussion of the persecution of the early church, and how the ideals of heroes, atheletes, gladiators and martyrs gave courage to the early Christians and led to the growth of Christianity. But this latter discussion seemed to me less useful than the first parts, perhaps because it covered some material I alread knew.

I was relatively unfamiliar with Graeco-Roman ideas of the gods and heroes when beginning this book, so I found it very interesting. This was the reason I purchased it. My only complaint is that some statements are not referenced, and he does cites only ancient sources.

On the whole, though, I found it thought provoking. It was a useful and insightful discussion of Greaco-Roman and Semetic concepts about the gods to aid in understanding the ideas expressed in the New Testament and by the early Christians. It is well worth a read if you wish to investigate this topic.
 
Interesting but inaccurate  Aug 5, 2002
While I find Riley's thesis interesting and relatively entertaining, I am not impressed with his scholarship. He makes statements that do not withstand scrutiny, for example he writes: Jesus was opposed to many Jewish traditions.
Actually Jesus affirms that he has not come to change the Law but to fulfill it, where he does go beyond Mosaic Law it is in employing that old rabbinical device of 'building a fence round the Torah'. By exceeding the demands of the Law he ensures that the circumstances where the Law is broken can never arise.

Riley also misquotes, for example in Chapter 4 - The Story of Jesus, the section titled 'The Genetics of the Hero and the virgin birth' he quotes Isaiah 7:14 RSV as:
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
when it actually reads:
Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

A very critical difference that has kept theologians in gainful employment for centuries. (But the passage Riley ascribes to Isaiah comes from Matthew)

I can't judge whether this is sloppy or deliberate but it undermines the authority with which he writes.

 
Strong argument for Christian diversity  Jul 15, 2000
The Kirkus review above gives a good description of the book. The author, Gregory Riley, is a professor at Claremont College in California. He provides a good history of Greek and Jewish legends, along with the details of how they could have affected early Christian writers. He also shows the development of dualistic and Hellenistic beliefs (body-soul and God-Satan) in the late Old Testament and New Testament writers. I would also mention Riley's emphasis on the diversity of early Christianity (which was lost for the most part in the 4th Century when Constantine took over the church and imposed uniformity, and which was regained again in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century). What Riley might have ignored is the intense, often bloody rivalries between Christian sects, then and now. As Garry Wills mentions in "Papal Sin," there is evidence that Peter and Paul were fingered by a rival Christian group as instigators of the burning of Rome, resulting in their execution. Christians--and members of all religions--will find diversity and harmony difficult as long as they are committed to the idea of absolute truth.
 
Er..  Nov 9, 1999
Actually has some useful material,though nothing you won't see in other books.Good in the readable sense,but seems to pander to political correctness more than history.Does get a few things right though. One would be far better off reading Historical Jesus material by NT Wright,EP Sanders,or Gregory Boyd.
 

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