The Founder of Christianity

by C. H. Dodd

C.H. Dodd is recognized as one of the great New Testament scholars of the twentieth century. Dr. Dodd was for many years Professor of New Testament at Cambridge University.

Published by the MacMillan Company, New York, 1970. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) Details about Jesus’ life, by one of the nineteenth century’s greatest New Testament scholars. First Century writings about Jesus, his personal traits, his teachings, the people around him, his concept of “Messiah,” his travels and final trip to Jerusalem, the crucifixion and responses thereafter.


  • Preface

    This books is based on the author’s four lectures given in February 1954 at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

    A brief history of the church’s dependence upon its founder for the last nineteen centuries.

  • Chapter 2: The Documents

    What the gospels say about the founder of Christianity and some of the problems in knowing the reality of the events chronicled.

  • Chapter 3: Personal Traits

    The sayings of Jesus indicate an individual mind. What is the nature of that mind — its style, its characteristics, its manner and mode?

  • Chapter 4: The Teacher

    Jesus’ teaching is oriented in a direction which differentiates it from rabbinic Judaism. His whole approach to morals was different from that which prevailed among Jewish teachers of his time. His critics rightly divined that his teaching threatened the integrity of Judaism as a system in which religion and national solidarity were inseparable.

  • Chapter 5: The People of God

    Violent convulsions had disturbed society for more than a century. Then Jesus came proclaiming, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is upon you!” This was interpreted as having revolutionary implications. This misunderstanding persisted to follow Jesus until the end. He was put to death as “King of the Jews.”

  • Chapter 6: The Messiah

    Jesus’ action towards his being called “Messiah,” and other symbol. “Christ,” or “Messiah,” is here neither a personal name nor a theological term, but an index to an historical role.

  • Chapter 7: The Story: (I) Galilee

    A chronicling of the events of Jesus life — his childhood, his occupation (learning his father’s trade), his baptism, various human aspects of his life in the turbulent history of first-century Palestine.

  • Chapter 8: The Story: (II) Jerusalem

    The travels of Jesus during his ministry after his baptism. He evidently left the Galilee area and probably did not return. Speculation of his various travels and confrontations is outlined leading to his final journey to Jerusalem.

  • Chapter 9: The Story: (III) The Sequel

    An evaluation of the beliefs, ideas and speculations about Jesus after the crucifixion. Clearly something had changed his followers. There is no answer as to what actually happened, but we do know that starting from there the church embarked on the far-reaching intellectual enterprise which is the building of a Christian theology, and philosophy of life, upon the foundation thus laid, and that is an unfinished story.