THE MESSIAH MYTH: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David

Thomas L. Thompson, Author . Basic $35 (414p) ISBN 978-0-465-08577-4

Were David and Jesus fictional or historical figures? Do their stories actually report history, or are they simply tales that use familiar mythic elements about heroic figures to turn David and Jesus into heroes for a new generation? Thompson, who challenged conventional understandings of the history of Israel in The Mythic Past , answers these and other questions in this provocative but often pedantic study. Drawing on the wealth of tales of kings and saviors in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Roman literature, he demonstrates that the biblical stories of David's military successes and Jesus' moral teaching are simply fictions weaving these earlier traditions into new hero stories. In addition, he reveals that the story of Jesus' resurrection was fashioned almost exclusively from the story of the dying and rising god, Dionysus. For Thompson, Jesus and David emerge merely as characters in stories that reveal the value of the good king. Although Thompson provides a valuable service by situating the Jesus and David tales in the context of other ancient Near Eastern literature, his argument that the biblical writers used such literature to write their fictions of David and Jesus is neither new nor startling. In addition, the lack of a coherent structure and a definitive conclusion lessens the effectiveness of Thompson's book. (Apr. 12)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-7126-6843-9
Hardcover - 414 pages - 978-0-224-06200-8
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4464-2585-5
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