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When they arrived at the place which God had indicated to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son . . . " --The Book of Genesis
After 2,000 years of flawed history, here at last is a magnificent new biography of Mary Magdalene that draws her out of the shadows of history and restores her to her rightful place of importance in Christianity. Throughout history, Mary Magdalene has been both revered and reviled, a woman who has taken on many forms--witch, whore, the incarnation of the eternal feminine, the devoted companion (and perhaps even the wife) of Jesus. In this brilliant new biography, Bruce Chilton, a renowned biblical scholar, offers the first complete and authoritative portrait of this fascinating woman. Through groundbreaking interpretations of ancient texts, Chilton shows that Mary played a central role in Jesus' ministry and was a seminal figure in the creation of Christianity. Chilton traces the evolving images of Mary Magdalene and the legends surrounding her. He explains why, despite her prominence, the Gospels actually say so little about her and why the Catholic Church for thousands of years has sought to marginalize her importance. In a probing look at the Church's attitudes toward women, he investigates Christian misogyny in the ancient world, including the suppression of women priests who patterned their activities on Mary's; explores the impact of Gnostic ambivalence toward women on its depictions of Mary; and shows that these traditions still influence modern portrayals of her. Chilton's descriptions of who Mary Magdalene was and what she did challenge the male-dominated history of Christianity familiar to most readers. Placing Mary within the traditions of Jewish female savants, Chilton presents a visionary figure who was fully immersed in the mystical teachings that shaped Jesus' own teachings and a woman who was a religious master in her own right. From the Hardcover edition.
Beginning with the Gospels, interpretations of the life of Jesus have flourished for nearly two millennia, yet a clear and coherent picture of Jesus as a man has remained elusive. InRabbi Jesus, the noted biblical scholar Bruce Chilton places Jesus within the context of his times to present a fresh, historically accurate, and revolutionary examination of the man who founded Christianity. Drawing on recent archaeological findings and new translations and interpretations of ancient texts, Chilton discusses in enlightening detail the philosophical and psychological foundations of Jesus' ideas and beliefs. His in-depth investigation also provides evidence that contradicts long-held beliefs about Jesus and the movement he led. Chilton shows, for example, that the High Priest Caiaphas, as well as Pontius Pilate, played a central role in Jesus' execution. It is, however, Chilton's description of Jesus' role as a rabbi, or "master," of Jewish oral traditions, as a teacher of the Cabala, and as a practitioner of a Galilean form of Judaism that emphasized direct communication with God that casts an entirely new light on the origins of Christianity. Seamlessly merging history and biography, this penetrating, highly readable book uncovers truths lost to the passage of time and reveals a new Jesus for the new millennium. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A brilliant new biography of Saint Paul, whose interpretations of the life and teachings of Jesus transformed a loosely organized, grassroots peasant movement into the structured religion we know today Without Paul, there would be no Christianity. His letters to various churches scattered throughout the Roman Empire articulated, for the first time, the beliefs that make up the heart of Christian practice and faith. In this extraordinary biography, Bruce Chilton explains the changing images of Paul, from the early Church period when he was regarded as the premiere apostle who separated Christianity from Judaism to more recent liberal evaluations, which paint him as an antifeminist, homophobic figure more dedicated to doctrine than to spiritual freedom. By illuminating Paul's thoughts and contributions within the context of his time, Chilton restores him to his place as the founding architect of the Church and one of the most important figures in Western history. Rabbi Paulis at once a compelling, highly readable biography and a window on how Jesus' message was transformed into a religion embraced by millions around the world. Drawing on Paul's own writings as well as historical and scholarly documents about his life and times, Chilton portrays an all-too-human saint who helped to create both the most beautiful and the most troublesome aspects of the Church. He shows that Paul sought to specify the correct approach to such central concerns as sexuality, obedience, faith, conscience, and spirit, to define religion as an institution, and to clarify the nature of the religious personality--issues that Christians still struggle with today.
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