The First Coming. Thomas Sheehan.

The First Coming
by Thomas Sheehan.
Vintage: 1986.

Subtitled, “How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity,” this book attemps to look underneath and through the surface of the Bible to find the original teachings of Jesus and the original meaning and sentiment of early Christians.

A scholarly book, it is obviously written by a professor (it happens to be of philosophy), yet readable by a general audience. Very convincing in most of its arguments, although there are a few minor assumptions which do not quite fit — though the author is honest enough to point out that they are speculation.

The main thrust of the argument is that although Jesus was an eschatological prophet, his message was that the Kingdom of God is love for one another, and this kingdom is at hand, but only if we live it. And if we do live the Kingdom of God, it would mean the end of organized religion. Early Christians betrayed Jesus by confusing the message with the messenger. Jesus used apocalyptic imagery, as was the custom, but Christians took it to mean he was literally coming back. Two thousand years later, modern liberal theologians are revealing his original message (says Sheehan.) Very good, need to reread later.