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Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea [Paperback]

By Stanley E. Porter (Author) & Stephen J. Bedard (Author)
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Item Number 280778  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   172
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.57 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   Clements Publishing
ISBN  1894667719  
EAN  9781894667715  

Availability  66 units.
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Item Description...
Rabbi or Messiah? Prophet or the Son of God? People have debated the identity of Jesus of Nazareth since the first century. But what if there was no Jesus? What if there was no Mary or Joseph, no twelve apostles? What if the story of Jesus was no more than a myth to convey spiritual truth? These claims have been around for hundreds of years and have become more prominent with well-known religion columnist Tom Harpur's recent book, The Pagan Christ. Harpur claims that Jesus was not a historical figure, but was one version of an ancient myth that can be traced from ancient Egyptian religion to the Roman mystery cults. Stanley Porter and Stephen Bedard tackle this radical claim by looking at the roots of the "pagan Christ idea," examining the supposed pagan parallels and presenting the evidence for the historical Jesus. The authors demonstrate that the suggestion of pagan origins for the Gospel story is not based on historical or textual evidence, but rather on a desire to create a universalistic spirituality revolving around a "Cosmic Christ" within each person. A fair examination of both the mythological and biblical texts reveal that the traditional understanding of an actual historical figure known as Jesus of Nazareth appearing two thousand years ago is indeed the only logical conclusion. Stanley E. Porter is President and Dean, and Professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Porter has M.A. degrees from Claremont Graduate School and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the Ph.D. from the University of Sheffield. He has written widely on issues of concern in study of the New Testament, such as Jesus, Paul, the book of Acts, and John. He has a passion for education in the church, and preaches and teaches regularly. Stephen J. Bedard is the pastor of Woodford Baptist Church and First Baptist Church, Meaford, Ontario, Canada. He holds the M.Div. and M.Th. degrees from McMaster Divinity College, and is actively engaged in further graduate study. Bedard is an advocate of informed preaching and teaching, and is devoted to the ministry of the local church.

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More About Stanley E. Porter & Stephen J. Bedard

Stanley E. Porter Stanley E. Porter is president, dean, professor of New Testament, and holder of the Roy A. Hope Chair in Christian Worldview at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario.

Jason C. Robinson is assistant professor in Contemporary Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario, and coeditor of Philosophical Apprenticeships: Contemporary Continental Philosophy in Canada.

Stanley E. Porter currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Stanley E. Porter was born in 1956 and has an academic affiliation as follows - McMaster Divinity College, Canada McMaster University, Ontario McMaste.

Stanley E. Porter has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology
  2. Biblical Languages: Greek
  3. IVP Bible Dictionary
  4. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement (Hardcover
  5. Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies
  6. Library of Pauline Studies
  7. McMaster New Testament Studies
  8. Pauline Studies
  9. Sheffield Reader
  10. Society of Biblical Literature Symposium
  11. Spectrum Multiview Book
  12. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism (Formerl

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > New Testa   [1782  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General   [10297  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Christology   [2037  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Well done, concise, to the point.  Oct 22, 2007
A quick overview of the weaknesses, and there are many, involved with the pagan Christ idea. Reads at a level suitable for the general public and also for scholars looking for a broad sweep. Well documented with footnotes. A suitable rebuttal of Harpur.
Worth checking into.  May 22, 2007
This little book isn't great, but it's not too bad either. It's largely a polemic against Tom Harpur's view of Christ, or rather non-Christ I should say. Plenty of the book is taken up with debunking Harpur, but there is a fair deal of material in the book that does deal with comparing certain Jesus motifs with that of supposed Egyptian parallels. I think the book basically holds it's ground, but it falls short of even a medium length study that one could bank on. Still, it has just enough good tidbits and insight to be worth checking out and pondering through.
No food for thought here  Jan 21, 2007
Having read the other reviews, I wonder if we are reading the same book. I suppose if one fervently wanted to discredit Harpur's "The Pagan Christ," this book would be viewed as wonderful in the extreme. But for unimpassioned readers looking for a constructive discussion of the not-really-original thesis in Harpur's work, it falls far short. If Porter and Bedard were really up to the task, they could have tried to explain why Paul didn't know any of the wonderful stories about Jesus that only later cropped up in the Gospels, and why many of the other would-be gospels that were rejected often had significantly different "historical" versions of events (take the Gospel of Peter, for instance). There is also the basic issue of the lack of consistency between the accepted Gospels themselves. Clearly, resolving these issues must be the first step in any defense of the notion of an "historic" Jesus. Personally, there are many problems and errors in Harpur's work, which I would hope to see resolved in future editions. But none of them proves fatal to the core thesis. This is an issue that can not be resolved, by either side, without some lucky archaeological find that supports one side or the other. But to argue about the veracity of historical events based solely on works of literature is to invite an unending debate. Sadly, this book by Porter and Bedard adds little to the debt itself, and is mostly poorly argued rhetoric. For serious students of religion, I would give it a pass unless you are interested in something about the "true believers" retort.
Bouncing the Rubble of a Discredited Idea  Aug 26, 2006
This book is a readable and short response to Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ, which argues that Jesus never existed except as an allegorical understanding of true spirituality. New Testament scholars and historians usually avoid such marginal ideas, but - as Porter and Bedard explain - Harpur has garnered more attention than most advocates of the Jesus Myth (the notion that Jesus did not really exist). Given the vacuity of Harpur's ideas, the only explanation for the attention is his credentials. Harpur seems to be an otherwise smart fellow, being a Rhodes Scholar and having taught Greek and New Testament at Wycliffe College.

Harpur's main thesis is that Jesus did not exist as a real person, but only as a symbolic representation of universal spiritual principles based on pagan dying and rising savior figures. According to Harpur, Egyptian myth and religion as well as Mithraism (a pagan cult) are the true roots of Christianity. But as Porter and Bedard demonstrate in the first two-thirds of their book, Harpur's argument rests on misrepresentations of the nature of the forerunning Egyptian beliefs, the couching of very different ideas and events in inapplicable Biblical terms, unsourced references to primary sources, dependence on secondary sources who themselves were even more wrong than Harpur, reversed chronologies (such as seeing Mithraic influences on Christianity when the reverse is much more likely) and a no-doubt genuine desire to fashion a universal religious ethic out of the world's different religions.

After reading these chapters, the term "not even wrong" comes to mind as an apt description of Harpur's reconstruction. Scientists use it to refer to theories that are so bad, so erroneous, so far off, that they are not even worthy of being called wrong. The notion that Jesus' virgin birth, miracles, death & resurrection are just recast Egpytian myths is so baseless it is not even wrong.

While performing their destructive work, Porter and Bedard provide a nice nutshell of Egyptian history and religious belief. The origins of development of the pertinent Egyptian myths are well-covered, though they could have been even more effective by highlighting the Jewish origins of so much that Harpur claims is pagan. However, given the effectiveness of what they do argue, perhaps they were just showing mercy.

The last few chapters discuss the non-Christian evidence for Jesus, as well as a Harpur's use of the Apostolic Fathers. The latter is fine and probably would have better served their purposes had it been moved up in the book. The discussion of non-Christian evidence for Jesus is very basic. It will be helpful for new comers to the debate, but anyone looking for more substantive discussion of these sources will best be served by reading Robert Van Voorst's Jesus Outside the New Testament or even some of the online discussions at apologetics websites.

But the refutation is so easy despite some missed opportunities that it comes across to the informed reader like picking the low-lying fruit. Still, it is nice to see genuine New Testament scholars turning their attention to marginal but popularized theories about Jesus and early Christianity. I would like to see more, and more in-depth, books so doing.

I give it 4 stars because of its effectiveness in refuting the target. But this is kind of like giving 4 stars for accurately shooting fish in a barrel. Probably 3 and 1/2 would be more appropriate.
Bonzer book sends Harpur spinning!  Aug 18, 2006
I give it only 4 stars rather than 5 because I wish it were LONGER.

In this volume, two NT scholars give Tom "I Threw My Common Sense Away" Harpur the thrashing in print he's deserved since he exported the toxic waste titled The Pagan Christ from his pen. Porter and Bedard survey the positive evidence for the historical Christ and also briefly undermine the credibility of Harpur's fave sources, Kuhn and Massey. I wish they'd have done more on these guys, but having done a few numbers on them myself I can understand why they wouldn't want to. Too much of nut like Massey and Kuhn can make your stomach turn.

Buy it for two reasons: To counter Harpur's role as Nut in Chief, and to show your support for MORE stuff like this to be on the market.

Write your own review about Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea

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