Synopses & Reviews
The creation of the Christian Church is one of the most important stories in the development of the world's history, but also one of the most enigmatic and little understood, shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding.
Through a forensic, brilliant reexamination of all the key surviving texts of early Christianity, Geza Vermes illuminates the origins of a faith and traces the evolution of the figure of Jesus from the man he was—a prophet recognizable as the successor to other Jewish holy men of the Old Testament—to what he came to represent: a mysterious, otherworldly being at the heart of a major new religion. As Jesus's teachings spread across the eastern Mediterranean, hammered into place by Paul, John, and their successors, they were transformed in the space of three centuries into a centralized, state-backed creed worlds away from its humble origins. Christian Beginnings tells the captivating story of how a man came to be hailed as the Son consubstantial with God, and of how a revolutionary, anticonformist Jewish subsect became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.
“Geza Vermes is the unchallenged doyen of scholarship in the English-speaking world on the Jewish literature of the age of Jesus, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is a beautiful and magisterial book.”—Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Guardian
“The subject is not exactly the Christian Church, which makes an appearance effectively only half way through the text; it is Jesus - what he was, what he said he was, and what Christians said about him after his crucifixion. For anyone puzzling over such questions, this is an exciting and challenging port of call, sweeping aside much of the fuzzy thinking and special pleading that bedevils the study of sacred scripture. . . [a] courteously expressed and witty little book.”—Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Times
“This book represents the summation of [Vermes’s] thinking about the early history of Christianity. It is a challenging and engaging book that sets out to retrace the route by which a Jewish preacher in 1st-century Israel came to be declared as consubstantial and co-equal with the omnipotent, omniscient only God.”—Stuart Kelly, Scotsman
“Over the course of his long, distinguished career, Geza Vermes, the first professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford university, has made a major contribution to our understanding of the historical Jesus. In this book, however, Vermes takes the story further, showing how the human figure of Jesus became increasingly other-wordly until, at the Council of Nicaea in 325, he was declared fully divine.”—Karen Armstrong, Financial Times
“A magnum opus of early Christian history and one of the year’s most significant titles’”—Bookseller
"Geza Vermes's brilliant new study of Christian origins, at once a summation and a culmination of his several earlier works on the Jewish milieu in which Jesus lived and moved, . . . is both highly readable and very persuasive."—Eric Ormsby, Standpoint
"A beautiful and magisterial book."—Rowan Williams, Guardian
In this deeply learned and beautifully written book, Geza Vermes tells the enthralling story of early Christianity’s emergence
In this deeply learned and beautifully written book, Geza Vermes tells the enthralling story of how a revolutionary, anticonformist Jewish subsect became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.
About the Author
Geza Vermes was born in Hungary in 1924. He studied in Budapest and Louvain, and was the first professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford. He is one of the world's greatest experts on early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls.