Posted: Sep 26, 2022 1:33 am
by RealityRules

    The Christian Fallacy: The Real Truth About Jesus and the Early History of Christianity
    by Paul McGrane

    published August 2017 (& may be out of print)

The publisher's summary from both goodreads and from Amazon:

It offers a completely new and comprehensive answer to the question, 'Who exactly was Jesus and how does that relate to what Christians came to believe after his death?' This new paradigm provides a revised chronology for events in the first half of the 1st century AD; identifies who all the key players really were at the time, including the 'historical' figure of Jesus himself; and shows how the religion we call Christianity evolved from Roman misunderstanding of Jewish messianic belief.

Two of the five reviews on the Amazon page (one of these is also on the goodreads page)

    The premise of the book is that the biblical Jesus (written in italics) did not exist but is an amalgam of several people one of them is the high priest at the Jewish temple (written without italics), as well religious marketing by Paul and those who wrote the Christian Bible for Rome.

    I really enjoyed that the author didn’t just look at historical contexts, but also at political and social contexts at the time the texts were written. Mr. McGrane analyzes the old texts and realizes that the traditional chronology must be rejects and rearranged to make sense.

    I don’t know if he’s right, but it sure makes an interesting read and food for thought.

    The author wrote about a very sensitive subject but did a good job at it.
    Would he convince a believing Christian that they’re wrong?
    Probably not, I’m sure many are well aware of the inconsistencies in the texts and those that are not are clearly like to be blissfully ignorant

    The Christian Fallacy is a well-written, generally easy-to-read, and thought-provoking book that attempts to provide an alternative view of the origin of Christianity.

    The author has a grand goal - to debunk Christianity – and claims that Christianity has “no basis in historical fact, is misguided, and wrong.” In his view, the early Christians were followers of a “Jesus Movement”, which developed not from Jesus’ teachings but from John the Baptist’s. They took ancient Biblical prophecies – particularly from the book of Zechariah – and reshaped and re-imagined them, inventing a first century person called Jesus to fulfil those prophecies. In other words, the Jesus of the Gospels was a figment of the imagination of the early Christians.

    Generally, the author presents his arguments clearly and logically, marshals his facts well, and argues his case with clarity. He is more difficult to follow when he comes up with very complex and tortuous arguments to shift the chronology of first century events.

    A big complaint I have about the book is that McGrane bases his arguments on two main texts: the works of the Jewish historian Josephus, and the Bible itself. However, while he quotes Josephus from a 21st century translation, for the Bible, he uses the original 1611 King James Version, which is so full of “thou” and “verily” and “hast” and “thy” to make it almost intelligible.

    I can only assume that he uses such an old translation because either (a) by ignoring four centuries of Biblical scholarship since 1611, McGrane is also ignoring discoveries that do not support his new paradigm, or (b) he is deliberately obfuscating, by making the Biblical texts seem obscure and unclear.

    Interestingly, in his book, McGrane suggests that the writer of the Book of Acts “deliberately obfuscated his account to fit a preconceived myth.”

Another of the reviews on the goodreads page

    The central thesis of this book is that the Jesus we are familiar with from traditional Christian teachings did not exist, but is an invention based on another Jesus from an earlier time.

    Paul McGrane takes historical documents including books of the old and new testaments and subjects them to rigorous literary analysis. He attempts to establish when they were written, who wrote them - and who the intended audience was. The historical and political context of the time of the writing has a huge influence on what we know about the past - history, as they say, is written by the victors. His analysis has led him to reject the traditional chronology and brought him to the conclusion that the Jesus of the gospels was not a historical figure.

    You don't need an in-depth knowledge of Christianity or the bible to follow the reasoning, although a familiarity does help. Is he cherry-picking the sections that support his theory? It certainly doesn't seem so - he takes care to only use texts where the translations are undisputed and he is thorough in explaining each event, where it fits in his revised chronology and why

And there's this review:

... Mr McGrane maintains that Christ as we know him, did not even exist. Therefore, since all we are left with is a fiction or a myth, we may as well substitute the Bible for Homer.

The premise of this book: that the story of the life of Christ was invented to gratify a need, will shock many people. Of course, there is no hard and fast evidence, but there is no hard and fast evidence behind the Gospels either, as McGrane damningly maintains. Worse still, the Gospels are apparently riddled with errors, misconceptions and falsehoods. If, writes McGrane with reference to the Bible,

    “we are told that God will consign humanity to eternal bliss or damnation on the basis of what these texts say (…) the least He could do is make sure they are clear and unambiguous and free of mistakes. A perfect God cannot (presumably) endorse a less than perfect revelation.”
The Gospels then, are not historical truth or any truth at all, and should not be read as such. We have been, for the past 2000 years, “mistaking fiction for fact”. The argument that the New Testament has been basically mostly plagiarised from the Old Testament is convincingly put.

Sometimes, as McGrane demonstrates, even the story of Moses appears to have been re-hashed to fill in the fiction of the story of Jesus, its details cobbled together to satisfy the variety of contradictory ‘prophecies’ in the Old Testament relating to the Nativity. And all done so effectively that “we still have our children re-enact the story every Christmas without pausing to notice how completely unlikely the whole narrative is.” But what about the teachings of Jesus, believers may ask; what about the Sermon on the Mount? McGrane, in typically dry tone, delivers the reality check. The Sermon on the Mount, he writes, owes much to pagan influences. The fictitious Jesus was not so much delivering fresh ideas as reusing old Greek ones. The material was there, waiting.

But all this does not mean that McGrane refutes the existence of a man called Jesus. According to his analysis of sacred texts, the character of Jesus was modelled on a Jewish priest who lived some four hundred years before the Jesus Christ of the Gospels – although he was not the Son of God and he did not die on a cross. To find out why the real historical figure called Jesus became the Jesus of the Bible, you will have to read Mr McGrane’s book ... McGrane’s justification for the paradigm he exposes, however, is undeniably right. In his preface he says,

    “With the rise of religious fundamentalism of all kinds, that threatens to curtail the hard-won liberal freedoms that we all enjoy, we need secularism in our societies now as never before. Only that way can those of religious faith and those with none, live and work together in mutual tolerance and peace.”
So much of the chronology and historical accuracy of the Bible is called into question that the implications for the Christian Church are jaw dropping. But what is particularly fascinating is the way McGrane takes the Acts of the Apostles to pieces; as he tries to shift past the allegorical meaning back to the real sense (even though at times the Acts are so muddled that analysis is a painstaking challenge), it is hard not to see his point: the Gospels were written by people who needed to believe in the fiction they created. It was not, he maintains, that they were “setting out to deceive people right from the start, but ‘unfortunately, for more than 2000 years, that is what (they) did.’ As McGrane succinctly puts it: “Isn’t it about time we woke up?” ... l-mcgrane/