Book review: Gospel Fictions

by Randel Helms


Helms begins his book by claiming that he writes as a literary critic of the four Gospels, not as a debunker … then he proceeds with a thorough debunking.

This is a good mix of original ideas and established scholarship. Helms’ message is clear: that the Gospels are artful, fictional variations of a common theme, individualized by each author’s motives. He treats separately the birth narratives, miracles, passion story, and resurrection appearances, showing how each is often related to the Old Testament in order to lend artificial authority, or derived from pagan myths or contemporary miracle claims.

I found the book thought-provoking, though a little disturbing in tone. It’s short, not meant to be an in-depth study. Recommended as a starting point for research in the development of the Gospels.


  1. Out of curiosity, how would you say this book compares to my book, “The Gospel of Mark as Reaction and Allegory”?

  2. Your thesis was directed and clear, if a bit overstated. This book’s emphasis is a bit more traditional, that Jesus was honored in story and that any critical reader should be able to detect the unoriginality of the honoring stories. The tone was sort of “get real, guys, the Gospels are all just fiction.” It did have a lot of interesting facts and conclusions, though, it was fun reading.


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