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Lecture 26

MMW 12 Lecture Notes - Lecture 26: Burton L. Mack


Department
Making of the Modern World
Course Code
MMW 12
Professor
Richard Cohen
Lecture
26

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Paraphrase Burton Mack’s Argument
Burton Mack wants to understand the origins of Christianity outside the Gospels, which
are religious texts located in the New Testament of the Christian Bible that tell about the life of
Jesus and the deeds of his disciples after his death. Mack wants to encourage more cross-
cultural analysis of the texts as well as a focus more on the humanistic/anthropological side of
the texts rather than their religious function. He also calls for more discrimination in the sources
used to analyze the texts and to avoid religious bias as much as possible. He points to the gaps
of information in the Gospels as the main reason for wanting to reinvestigate the multifaceted
origins of Christianity (Mack).
Acts of the Apostles
Based on a close analytical reading of the text, what does Acts reveal about the
values/concerns of early Christians, or the social/theological development of this new religion?
Values: perseverance, universality, suffering, sharing, taking care of those in need,
acceptance, faith, resurrection, persecution, guilt
2-4: The Pentecost (Holy Spirit visits the people), performing a miracle, getting converts, getting
arrested unjustly and getting out of it because they are innocent of any actual crime, commune
life (sharing everything)
7: going back to the Jewish faith to prove a point, condemning people for killing Jesus, being
killed for the cause
9: Saul converts, Tabitha is resurrected
11: given the name Christians, there was a famine and the Christians helped
13+15: preaching, being driven out but not giving up, doing good deeds, accepting Gentiles
(don’t need to be circumcised), using arguments from the prophets to further their claims
26: the emperor tells Festus that Paul could’ve been saved had he not appealed to the emperor
because he didn’t do anything deserving of death (but now he’s gone and made a scene)
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