For him, Jesus lived, preached and died wholly within the Jewish tradition - a view that discomfited many Jews and Christians. Traditional Christianity also posits Judas Iscariot as an arch-villain, but Maccoby viewed him as a caricatured concoction, symbolising the eternal guilt that Jews supposedly bore for killing Christ. The central thesis of another work, The Mythmaker: Paul And The Invention Of Christianity , was that St Paul, not Jesus, created Christianity, being an adventurer who undermined the disciples who had actually known the living Jesus. It was Paul, said Maccoby, who turned Jesus into God and transformed the early Jewish Christian sect into a Gnostic mystery cult imbued with "Hellenistic schizophrenia".
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Historical Jesus Theories: Hyam Maccoby
Maccoby was[ when? In retirement[ when? Maccoby argued that the real Jesus was not a rebel against the Jewish law , but instead a Jewish Messianic claimant whose life and teaching were within the mainstream of first-century Judaism. He believed that Jesus was executed as a rebel against the Roman occupation of Judaea.
London Review of Books
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity. Take it! Read it! Much less was he, as he also claimed, an ex-Pharisee, or as the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament claim, a pupil of the great Rabbi Gamaliel. Maccoby promises to elaborate the scholarly foundations of his thesis in a forthcoming book, Paul, Pharisaism, and Gnosticism. Both of these aims are not merely laudable but indispensable for the sake of historical honesty and of interfaith understanding, and all of us are indebted to Hyam Maccoby for his willingness to take on the tough questions. And speaking both as a historical scholar and as a Christian, I am confirmed by my reading of The Mythmaker in my long-held belief that neither the solo flights of Christian scholars into talmudic territory nor the attempts by Jewish scholars to get at the status quo ante bellum behind the New Testament writings have been very successful, but that only the collaboration of critical investigators from various traditions can lead to the kind of historical insight and ecumenical understanding demanded both by scholarship and by faith.
The Mythmaker, by Hyam Maccoby