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Christian History Scholar L. Michael White Examines Gospel Stories at The University of Texas at Austin

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posted: Monday October 25, 2010

Event: L. Michael White, the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Christian Origins, will discuss his book "Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite," at a faculty book celebration party hosted by The University of Texas at Austin's Department of Religious Studies.

When: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29

Where: The University of Texas at Austin, Mezes Hall Auditorium. A campus map is available online.

Background: The gospel stories of Jesus have shaped the beliefs of billions of Christians and deserve to be studied seriously. In his recently published book "Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite," L. Michael White proposes to do just that -- to take them seriously as stories. He argues that in order to understand the earliest gospels one must look at them the way they were originally intended, rather than newspaper-like historical accounts in any modern sense. Instead, they were intended to be read aloud or performed as stories of faith, which were told and retold, edited and reedited, for the greatest effect.

In "Scripting Jesus," White examines what the gospel stories meant to people in ancient times and offers insights for how people can read the stories today. Carefully examining the complex and sometimes-conflicting narratives of the gospels, White explains how the gospel writers of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John had a specific audience in mind and a particular perspective to advance.

"White's hands-on knowledge of archaeology, his broad knowledge of the literature of the Greco-Roman world and his mastery of scholarship in several different areas all combine to make this a rich and illuminating book," says Wayne A. Meeks, the Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Yale University.

White is the director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of "From Jesus to Christianity" and was featured in two award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries, "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" and "Apocalypse!," for which he also was principal historical consultant and co-writer.

In celebration of White's book, the Department of Religious Studies will host a panel discussion featuring commentary from Steve Friesen, the Boyer Chair in Biblical Studies, and Martha Newman, chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

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