This article meditates on the ambiguity of the concept of 'history' in Christian thought and in the historiography of Christian origins. After exploring the ambiguity of 'history', using Jesus as the illustrative case in point, it is argued that 'history' is itself the result of a complex process of historical production, a production of the kind that renders history, especially histories of highly valued origins, into narrative representations of believed-in imaginings, into mythographies that are nevertheless taken to be histories. Recognizing that history is fictioned to serve interests in the present turns history always into 'our' history, and recognizing, too, that this history is imagined to be history as it really was and the only history there can be- in effect turning the past into a simulacrum3/4. exposes 'history' as a mechanism for rationalising wordviews, social constitutions, and cultural preferences. Intellectually and morally, it exposes the fact that 'doing history' is never an innocent doing.
Exaggerating in the direction of truth so as to provoke historiographical thought, this article claims that formative Christianity was wholly an androcentric project. Oft-cited women-friendly texts (Luke, Galatians, Gospel of Thomas) are not exceptions to early Christian masculinised gender ideology. The article locates early Christian commitment to a piety of 'andreia' (manliness) within the similar hegemonic Graeco-Roman gender ideology. It concludes with some reflections on the effects ofa hegemonic ideology and raises questions on the possibility of emancipatory agency.
Burton Mack was the most influential and, perhaps, controversial scholar of the Christian bible and Christian origins of his generation. He exposed the conventional story of Christian origins as a myth that needed to be studied not on its own terms but in terms of a general theory of religion that would be useful also in the study of religions other than Christianity. This article provides a brief summary of the main features of Mack’s work for readers who are not familiar with it. Its purpose is also to be a setup for a set of essays that engage Mack in their own areas of specialization in the study of religion.