The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity

by Hyam Maccoby

Hardcover, 1986




New York : Harper & Row, c1986.


"Who was the founder of Christianity? The answer seems obvious--Jesus Christ. Yet for the Talmudic scholar Hyam Maccoby, this answer is wrong. In The Mythmaker--a work of revolutionary import to New Testament scholarship--Maccoby contends that Jesus was no more the founder of Christianity than the historical Hamlet was the author of Hamlet. Rather, Christianity was the invention of St. Paul, who used elements of Judaism, Gnosticism, and pagan mystery cults as his materials, fusing them around the story of Jesus' crucifixion. Throughout The Mythmaker, Maccoby wages warfare on time-honored beliefs about the origins of Christianity. He holds that Jesus--in the Gospels a fierce opponent of the Pharisees--was himself a Pharisee; that the self-proclaimed Pharisee Paul never was one; that Jesus' disciples never had any thought of founding a new church; that they never embraced such ideas as Jesus' divinity and the Eucharist, which were brainchildren of Paul; and that the heretical Ebionite sect was really a continuation of the "Jewish Christianity" against which Paul had rebelled. In progressing from failed rabbinical student to self-appointed apostle, Maccoby's Paul displays the wiliness and, often, the unscrupulousness of a picaresque hero. Yet Maccoby grants Paul a rich, indeed mythmaking, religious imagination. As exciting in its revelations as it is exacting in its methods, The Mythmaker is essential reading for anyone interested in the problematic historical origins of Christianity."--Jacket.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Devil_llama
The author posits that Paul, not Jesus, was the founder of Christianity, and that Jesus was a Pharisee. He also presents evidence that he says suggests that Paul was NOT a Pharisee, did not engage in persecutions of Christians, and did not come from Tarsus. An interesting read, though not as original or radical as the author claims.… (more)
LibraryThing member justine
A great book. Very well-presented claims of Paul as the author of the Christianity we know, rather than it springing from the historical Jesus.
LibraryThing member chersbookitlist
A fascinating alternative view to the orthodox dogma and mythology around Paul and his role in Christianity.
LibraryThing member MagusLEN
Explores one alternative for the origin of what is now known as Christianity. Thought provoking and engaging. Well worth the read.
LibraryThing member izze.t
Wow. This one shakes my "reasonable doubt" into the slot of "Christianity = Evil-esque". I will countinue to pick and choose the aspects of this cult that I can admire and hope to forgive those who fall prey to the evil. Be with god.
LibraryThing member ecw0647
Abandoned. Yawn.
LibraryThing member Poetgrrl
he makes interesting arguments and it leads me to dig even more.


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