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Gospel Fictions by Randel Helms. Are the four canonical Gospels actual historical accounts or are they imaginative literature produced by influential literary artists to serve a theological vision? In this study of the Gospels based upon a demonstrable literary theory, Randel Helms presents the work of the four evangelists as the "supreme fictions" of our culture, self-conscious works of art deliberately Are the four canonical Gospels actual historical accounts or are they imaginative literature produced by influential literary artists to serve a theological vision?
In this study of the Gospels based upon a demonstrable literary theory, Randel Helms presents the work of the four evangelists as the "supreme fictions" of our culture, self-conscious works of art deliberately composed as the culmination of a long literary and oral tradition. Helms analyzes the best-known and the most powerful of these fictions: the stories of Christ's birth, his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, his betrayal by Judas, his crucifixion, death and resurrection.
In Helms' exegesis of the Gospel miracle stories, he traces the greatest of these - the resurrection of Lazarus four days after his death - to the Egyptian myth of the resurrection of Osiris by the god Horus. Helms maintains that the Gospels are self-reflexive; they are not about Jesus so much as they are about the writers' attitudes concerning Jesus. Helms examines each of the narratives - the language, the sources, the similarities and differences - and shows that their purpose was not so much to describe the past as to affect the present.
This scholarly yet readable work demonstrates how the Gospels surpassed the expectations of their authors, influencing countless generations by creating a life-enhancing understanding of the nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.
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Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Gospel Fictions. Apr 27, John rated it really liked it Shelves: bible-history. Gospel Fictions is a very informative book in which author Randel Helms takes us expeditiously through the gospels, educating his readers to the Jewish origins of the New Testament.
And the few that have, usually have no clue as to their origins. Bart Ehrman and Bishop John Shelby Spong have written many excellent, lay-accessible works on the history and origins of the New Gospel Fictions is a very informative book in which author Randel Helms takes us expeditiously through the gospels, educating his readers to the Jewish origins of the New Testament.
Bart Ehrman and Bishop John Shelby Spong have written many excellent, lay-accessible works on the history and origins of the New Testament, and Spong is excellent in drilling home the point that the New Testament is essentially and absolutely a Jewish work which cannot possibly understood when read literally through Western eyes.
Helms presents much of the same scholarly material in a very condensed little page, fast-paced work. The reader learns many of the essentials of New Testament history: the first books were written by Paul 20 to 40 years after Jesus left the earth. Next come Mark, about 70 CE, the shortest by far of the Gospels. Some years later Matthew and Luke incorporated virtually all of Mark into their works, editing and adding to Mark to fit their theological mandates and correcting what they saw as egregious errors by the writer of Mark.
Just at the end of the first century, the book of John is written by one or more authors. While John incorporates many of the legends of the synoptic gospels, the book of John is highly theologically evolved and comprehensive, reflecting the evolved theological complexity of the early Church at the turn of the second century and proclaiming the dogma eventually accepted by the Church as orthodox many others gospels failing to reflect this orthodoxy failed to make incorporation into the cannon.
Helms informs the reader of many of the basic facts of New Testament history which are taught in all seminaries and almost never mentioned from the pulpit. No one knows who wrote the Gospels, the book names were assigned rather arbitrarily decades and centuries later.
The Gospel authors had never met Jesus hardly possible since they were writing 40 to 70 years after Jesus departed the earth. The gospel writers possessed little or no written historical record of the life and deeds and teachings of Jesus and composed the gospels from verbal stories evolved over the early years of the church. Helms deftly shows us how each writer elucidates and conceives dramatic details of his story by going to the Greek Septuagint for inspiration.
Most importantly, Helms states what is obvious to Bible scholars: the writers of the Gospels never intended to be writing accurate history, they were delivering story and legend to support a theological message.
I recommend this book for all who wish to learn more about the sources, origins and history of the New Testament.
Again, Ehrman and Spong are also excellent and more detailed resources for those who wish to know the how and why the New Testament was delivered down through the past twenty centuries.
View 1 comment. Aug 20, Jason rated it it was amazing Shelves: biblical-studies , historical. This is a phenomenal little book that delves into the history and creation of the canonical gospels, and how competing sects of early Christianity each exerted their influence into the stories they wanted to tell from their own different, and sometimes opposing, theological perspectives.
While a relatively older, shorter read, Prof. Randel Helms packs a lot of info within the pages, expounding on the then popular pesher technique of reinterpreting Old Testament scriptures which the gospel au This is a phenomenal little book that delves into the history and creation of the canonical gospels, and how competing sects of early Christianity each exerted their influence into the stories they wanted to tell from their own different, and sometimes opposing, theological perspectives.
Randel Helms packs a lot of info within the pages, expounding on the then popular pesher technique of reinterpreting Old Testament scriptures which the gospel authors used to create new "mash-up" fictional stories for a new theology, and detailing the methods which the various multiple authors not just four of the canonical gospels changed and compiled the texts accordingly.
It is interesting to see how the authors of those texts awkwardly used pesher reading on the LXX texts rather than the Hebrew given that they probably couldn't read Hebrew , producing contradictions and sometimes embarrassing results, but Randel meticulously lays out how the exact language was lifted from the Greek OT text LXX for the new text creation the NT gospels. Filled with numerous examples supporting his thesis, and solid scholarship backing him up, Randel's book is an excellent read that anyone interested in gospel studies should add to their list.
In a world where most people don't even realize the gospels weren't written by anyone named Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and weren't even written until nearly two generations after the alleged events occurred, Randel Helm's older book is more needed than ever.
This delightful and insightful read would be an excellent compliment to Bart Erhman's, "Misquoting Jesus" and "Forged," as well as Dr. Suffice it to say, my highlighter got a workout as I read through the book. Sep 19, Vince rated it it was amazing Shelves: religion-and-atheism. I've had this short book recommended a couple times so I decided to finally give it a read. Helms examines the New Testament gospels from the point of view of a literary critic. His primary thesis is that before writing the New Testament the early Christians wrote another new book called the Old Testament which consisted of reinterpreting the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible as actually being a book about or foreshadowing in "hidden" ways Jesus.
They then used this new understanding of th I've had this short book recommended a couple times so I decided to finally give it a read. They then used this new understanding of the Hebrew Bible to either invent stories or fill in the details of stories in the New Testament. I already knew many New Testament stories were modeled on the Old Testament but it was surprising the extent to which this was so, often times even including the use of the exact same wording in both stories.
For example both Kings and Luke contain a story of the raising of a widow's son. The stories take place in Sarepta and Nain, respectively.
Both begin with the phrase "and it came to pass" and end with the prophet "giving him the son back to his mother". Both prophets are proclaimed by one of the crowd to be validated by the miracle as a prophet of God. But, the most interesting detail they share is that the prophet is met at the gates of the city by the weeping widow. The only problem is that archaeological digs have shown that Nain, in the Luke story, didn't have any city walls, so there would not have been a gate!
So whether Luke just invented this story as something a messiah would have to have done, or he had the bare bones of an oral tradition, when it came time to write it down he just opened the Old Testament and lifted the details from there. What the Christians did, was take the Old Testament and changed it from being a book on Jewish law and history, turned it into a predictive text for Jesus the Messiah.
Time and again, quotes and scenes from the Gospels are found to have their counterparts in the older books which the early Christian cult combed to show Jesus was foretold all along. What did Paul say in his letters? He didn't get anything about Jesus from any man but from the Lord himself Revelations and by the scriptures. That What the Christians did, was take the Old Testament and changed it from being a book on Jewish law and history, turned it into a predictive text for Jesus the Messiah.
That is the general conclusion of author, Randel Helms. This is not revolutionary. Scholars have known for a long time the New Testament is a re-write of earlier stories found in Exodus, Kings, Daniel, etc. The art of mimesis was very normal and expected in literature of those days. The only thing Helms doesn't touch on is the mimicking of Homer which author and scholar, Dennis MacDonald, so elegantly showed in his work. None-the-less, the take away is that the gospels and Acts are not histories.
They are fictive works, meant to show an allegory not record historical facts. One, to demonstrate where the stories come from and why each was used and two, to show that the authors of the New Testament weren't just some literate goat herders but rather well versed in the literature of their time.
The New Testament, as a work of literature, is rather impressive for its time and Helms does an excellent job showing how it came together. For me, another thing became very clear yet again.
In order to really analyze the New Testament, one must have an understanding of Koine Greek. Sometimes it comes down to a few words to understand a meaning and reference.
Tolkien and critical writer on the Bible. Helms studied at University of California, Riverside , B. Helm's writings on Tolkien include Tolkien's world and Tolkien and the Silmarils Helms has written a series of books using Higher Criticism to analyze the Bible.
The main premise of this book is that the writers of the Gospels are creators of fiction; more precisely, it is suggested, they took material from a variety of sources, mostly the OT but a few pagan sources as well, in order to compose fictional stories about Jesus of Nazareth. Before beginning the by-page analysis, we will lay out general replies to the major thesis of Gospel Fictions hereafter GF that the stories of the NT were stolen from the OT and sometimes other sources. Helms' chief tactic is to search for Greek terms found in NT stories and find what he thinks are parallels in the OT. The secondary key, and what is commonly offered as a strong proof of fictionalization, is that Greek words found in the Septuagint LXX , the Greek translation of the OT, are also found in the NT stories. Generally our replies are one of the following:. A conclusion is drawn from minimal evidence, a mere fingerful of words in the body of a text. In some cases these words are found in so many places that the correspondence in the two stories is statistically meaningless.