"The gospel writers were storytellers, and the stories they told about Jesus and his followers have shaped the beliefs of almost two-and-a-half billion people. Scripting Jesus explains how the gospel writers "honed their pitch" about the life of Jesus and the birth of Christianity for the greatest dramatic effect. For centuries, in their attempt to discover the real, historical Jesus, people have wrestled with the contradictory stories in the Gospels. For instance, in Jesus' birth narrative, there is no mention of a stable in Matthew and Luke, there are no wise men in Luke, and no shepherds in Matthew. In several gospels and Pauline letters, Jesus has brothers (and sometimes sisters), but to preserve the virginity of Mary, the Catholic Church insists James was only the "half-brother" of Jesus--and the Protestants snicker. These sorts of questions and confusions are addressed in Scripting Jesus, arguing that not only do we moderns read into Jesus's story what we want to see, but even the ancient gospel writers, like any circuit preacher or stand-up comedian, saved the material that got the best response, and cut whatever fell flat--essentially retelling Jesus's story to serve their own theological agenda and for greatest effect. With his usual engaging style which he perfected on several PBS series, Early Christianity scholar L. Michael White uses all the tools of criticism for better understanding all four gospels. In his previous, successful book From Jesus to Christianity, the author offered an introduction to the New Testament and the historical and cultural background of a burgeoning religious movement. In Scripting Jesus, White focuses on the gospels, revealing the agendas of the "handlers" who made a man into a messiah"--Provided by publisher.