Book of the Week: How Jesus Became Christian, Barrie Wilson, Ph.D.

10 December, 2013

“Jesus was thoroughly Jewish. Mary, his mother was Jewish an Judaism was the religion he practiced throughout his life.  Jesus’ teachings focused on the important Jewish issues of the day.  But what happened?  How did Jesus become a Gentile Christ?”

In How Jesus Became Christian,” religious scholar Barrie Wilson tries to answer that seemingly simple question.  How did a young, HC Frontwell-respected rabbi become the head of a new religion that bears his name, one that he would not have wholly understood and one that has also sparked anti-Semitism against generations of Jews that followed him. The result is a provocative and illuminating work that recreates the world into which Jesus was born.  In the process, Professor Wilson explores the rivalry between the “Jesus Movement,” led by James, informed by the teachings of Matthew and adhering to Torah worship, and the “Christ Movement,” headed by Paul, which shunned the Torah.  Wilson suggests that Paul’s movement was not rooted in the actual teachings of the historical Jesus, a man who Paul never met, but solely in Paul’s mystical vision of Christ.  He argues that Paul stoked the seeds of anti-Semitism in order to create a new religion.

“Forget about Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code… Barrie Wilson has produced a significant and sensational work of scholarship.  And it is truly religious dynamite.”  (The Globe and Mail)