In How Jesus Became Christian, Barrie Wilson Ph.D. confronts one of the simplest—yet undiscovered—questions of religious history: How did a young, well-respected rabbi become the head of a cult that bore his name, espoused a philosophy he wouldn't wholly understand, and possessed a clear streak of anti-Semitism that has sparked hatred against the generations of Jews who followed him? Vividly recreating the Hellenistic world into which Jesus was born, Wilson looks at the rivalry of the "Jesus movement", informed by Matthew and adhering to Torah worship, and the "Christ movement," headed by Paul which shunned Torah. Suggesting that Paul's movement was not rooted in the teachings of historical Jesus, but a mystical vision of Christ, he further proposes Paul founded the new religion through anti-semitic propaganda, crushing the Jesus Movement. Sure to be controversial, this is an exciting, well-written popular religious history that cuts to the heart of the differences between Christianity and Judaism. How Jesus Became Christian looks at how one of the world's great religions prospered and grew at the cost of another and focuses on one of the fundamental questions that goes to the heart of way millions worship daily: Who was Jesus Christ --a Jew or a Christian?
Winner of the Joe and Faye Tanenbaum Prize in History
Shortlisted for the Cundill Award
“Wilson’s How Jesus Became Christian represents a much-needed sea change in our understanding of how one moves from the historical Jesus to the religion called Christianity. It is beyond doubt one of the most significant works on early Christianity to appear in decades. It is bound to stir controversy, but Wilson’s sober and carefully documented assessment of the evidence is as challenging as it is compelling. Wilson writes with an engaging style, accessible to the nonspecialist while thoroughly academic in quality. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and secularists will all find much of fascination and value in this provocative and important work.”--- James D. Tabor, chair of the department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and author of The Jesus Dynasty
"Barrie Wilson has produced a significant and sensational work of scholarship. And it is truly religious dynamite."-Canada's Globe and Mail
“Wilson’s learned foray into the great debate over Christian origins is to be heartily welcomed. Agree or disagree, the eager reader will be gripped---and at times possibly shocked---by the author’s bold investigation of one of the greatest mysteries of all time: How did the Christianity of the earliest Church become the orthodox “churchianity” of the mid-fourth and all succeeding centuries?”--- Tom Harpur, author of The Pagan Christ
“Wilson, in an immensely readable and and informative book, has put the pieces together in a compeling way to reveal a startling conspiracy. This conspiracy is soundly developed out of real historical evidence...the suppression of Jesus’ real message and his real Jewishness in favor of Paul’s message about a Christ for the Roman world, the remarkaby successful cover-up story provided by the Book of Acts, and the roots of the anti-Semitism endemic to the new religion of Christianity....A groundbreaking and highly controversial work that is sure to provoke considerable attention.”---Patrick Gray, professor at York University and Toronto School of Theology
"Provokes new thoughts about Jesus' identity. Wilson helpfully surveys the political, social and religious contexts of ancient Palestine, demonstrating that the religion of James, the brother of Jesus, was much closer to the religious practice of Jesus himself, but that the followers of Paul suppressed Jesus' teachings in favor of their own leader. Wilson's instructive book introduces important questions about early Christianity for those unfamiliar with the debates about the historical Jesus."—Publishers Weekly