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How Did Christianity Begin?

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How Did Christianity Begin? brings you two contrasting perspectives on the history of early Christianity. Co-authors from different backgrounds—one, Michael Bird, a conservative Christian; the other, James Crossley, secular—bring contrasting views to various Christian-origin topics. These topics include the historical Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, the Apostle Paul, the Gospels, and the early church. Each author examines these subjects and lays out his historical arguments concerning their origin and meaning.

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Top Highlights

“Christian origins are perfectly explicable in terms of normal this-worldly historical explanation and Jesus plays a small part in such developments.” (Page 1)

“this does not negate the crucial historical, cultural and social factors that enabled Christians to survive and thrive” (Page 159)

“ not think there were any claims made that were too out of the ordinary in Jesus’ first-century context” (Page 1)

“Second, in the ancient world a woman’s testimony did not carry much weight” (Page 42)

“I am genuinely interested in history and truth in its own right.” (Page xvi)

How did Christianity Begin? is a lively and engaging dialogue between two stars of the new wave of New Testament scholarship, with very different takes on the beginnings of Christianity. Bird and Crossley discuss a wide range of topics, and their sharp yet good-humored exchanges are utterly absorbing. This book makes a contribution to ongoing scholarly debates and also serves as an excellent primer on Christian origins.

—Edward Adams, senior lecturer in New Testament studies, King’s College, London

Two rival accounts of Christian origins are here set side by side, with response and critique, both from the two main authors and from two other scholars, Maurice Casey and Scot McKnight. The result is a welcome provocation to readers to weigh the contrasting proposals, to reassess their own views on such matters, and to consider how far their religious and historical convictions shape their perspective on Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity.

—David G. Horrell, professor of New Testament studies, University of Exeter

Bird and Crossley go head-to-head in this provocative debate about the nature and essence of Christian origins. The arguments on both sides are marshaled with skill, insight, and thoughtful reflection . . . Crossley and Bird present the evidence for their respective viewpoints strongly and then press each other where they see weaknesses in the opposing position. For readers, this respectful debate brings about much clarity and shows why the question of Christian origins remains vital.

—Paul Foster, senior lecturer in New Testament, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

  • Title: How Did Christianity Begin?
  • Authors: Michael F. Bird and James G. Crossley
  • Publisher: SPCK
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 240

Michael F. Bird is a lecturer in theology at the Bible College of Queensland. His research interests include the Gospel of Mark, Pauline theology, New Testament theology, and evangelical ecclesiology.

James G. Crossley is a lecturer in New Testament at the University of Sheffield.


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    Digital list price: $19.99
    Save $4.00 (20%)