Burton Mack proposes that the Gospels are fictional mythologies created by different communities for various purposes and are only distantly related to the actual historical Jesus.
"Certainly Mack's book should take a place in the front ranks of the many fine introductions available to students of the New Testament in both academic and nonacademic settings. A comprehensive synthesis of New Testament scholarship that is nevertheless popularly accessible, it will make a particularly useful introductory text in an area where such texts are in great demand. But it is more than an excellent introduction. As the subtitle suggests, the book is also a critical account of the making of the Christian myth—an invitation to critical reflection on the social construction of a foundational epic that has shaped (and been shaped by) the history and behavior of the West since Constantine. That makes it an introduction to mythmaking that is more than a colonial criticism or classification of other people's myths; it is an invitation to cultural self-criticism, an invaluable contribution to liberal education that is a potentially important corrective to triumphalist practices as tempting in our multicultural age as they were in the multicultural matrix out of which Christian scripture emerged." Steve Schroeder
— Steve Schroeder, Booklist
"A powerful, compact, yet detailed introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity. Mack has sketched the panorama of early Christian literature and social development in a lucid, convincing, and magisterial performance."
— Robert W. Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar, co-author of The Five Gospels
"Burton Mack's lucid description of early Christian mythmaking and social formation clarifies how the Bible came to be, and why we should care. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in public discourse about the Bible and culture."
— Ron Cameron, Wesleyan University, author of The Other Gospels