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How Jesus Became Christian

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Jesus was thoroughly Jewish. Mary, his mother, was Jewish and 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 the Jew become a Gentile Christ? So begins Barrie Wilson in How Jesus Became Christian where Wilson confronts one of the simplest questions of religiou ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Barrie Wilson's "Jesus Cover Up Thesis" is both groundbreaking and provocative. This thesis consists of three components. First, that the original religion of Jesus has been switched for a different religion altogether. Second, that this switch involved an important switch from the teachings of Jesus to those aboutthe Christ. And Third, that this switch is of crucial importance for understanding the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Wilson presents his book as a detective story: using the ...more
Dec 20, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although Wilson offers an intriguing point of view, I found his tone so bitter that the entire book came across sour. Before progressing further, I should note that I am not a Bible scholar, and I like to keep my religious beliefs to myself. I was a Classics major in college, so I'm familiar with the time period and can pick my way through New Testament Greek, but that's the end of my qualifications.

Wilson starts strongly with a solid look at the political and religious context of the historical
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this book more than 3 stars had the tone of it been different and had it been a monograph or essay of about 100 pages.

I read the first half of the book really quickly, as the book, in essence, is non-academic and therefore extremely readable for the everyday audience. However, the author was so bloody repetitive and belabors his points, causing me great ire and frustration at times (especially throughout the second half of the book).

Furthermore, even though I agreed with the a
Jul 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readable account of the Christification of Jesus. The book takes a look at why the Christianity we know today won out over rival claims. Wilson describes the historical and political context in which Yeshua, rabbi and leader of the Jesus movement, becomes Christ the Savior of modern day Christianity.

Wilson, a convert from Episcopalian to Judaism, writes from a less than neutral position. He speaks of the Proto-Orthodoxy (early Christianity) pillaging Judaism of its culture and history and promot
Akis Kalaitzidis
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it
A nice review of Early Christianity written for the layperson. Enjoyed it.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a 'must read!' It gives a reminder that the Jesus we understand today is a view given by St Paul, a man who did not meet Jesus, and whose view of him was rejected by Jesus' brother James.
A worthwhile investment of time.
Aurélien Thomas
Apr 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
How Jesus, a Jewish rabbi preaching the Torah and thinking of himself as the Messiah, came to be turned into Christ that is, a cosmic leader and core to a whole new religion (Christianity as we know it) that has
rejected Judaism to the point of fuelling anti-Semitism throughout its history? The question -baffling, we have to admit- is far from new. In fact, anybody interested enough in early Christianity should fully know by now how crucial in such a twist was, not only Paul's own mysticism but,
Lee Harmon
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a long overdue review of a great new book. Wilson highlights the tension of Christianity’s founding movement, and asks the question: Was Jesus a Jew or a Christian? Paul’s brand of Christianity, especially, Wilson finds anti-Semitic, in stark contrast to the Gospel of Matthew and its reliance upon Torah. Paul, Wilson theorizes, hijacked Jesus for himself, turning Christianity into a Gentile religion.

Wilson’s portrayal of conflicting religions—the “Jesus movement” of the Jews, and the “Ch
Nov 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I am so happy to have found this book! This paradox has plagued me throughout my life: "how did Jesus the Jew become the Gentile Christ?"
Just as I suspected, it has to do with powerful people rewriting history to their advantage and stealing someone else's popularity for their own gain.
Stay tuned; will let you know what I learn. So far, Paul apparently has a lot to answer for. (Interestingly, I have never liked or trusted that man!) I will also learn how and why Christians first started sprea
Rene Carlos
May 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
There are authors who are worth reading on this subject; authors who are recognized as authorities within the academy. I suggest the following: Bart D. Ehrman, Dale B. Martin, Elaine Pagels, and L. Michael White. When one quotes from The DaVinci Code in order to help make or substantiate an idea, then one should begin looking elsewhere.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting exploration of how a radical Jewish preacher and Messiah claimant from Galilee was transformed into a divine figure and putative 'saviour' of all mankind in the centuries following his dramatic rise to prominence and even more sudden death at the hands of the Roman occupiers. Wilson explores how that essentially Jewish prophet was transformed into something very different by those seeking a complete break with Jesus/Yeshua's own Jewish heritage and teachings. Wilson explores how i ...more
Kealan O'ver
Oct 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Written simply and the author has a tendency to repeat himself and clearly has an axe to grind.
It does however give a pretty good overview of Judaism around the time of Jesus and the murky early history of Christianity and that's what I was looking for.

Some of the reviews unnecessarily comment on the fact it quotes the Da Vinci Code. It doesn't quote it, it mentions the fact that the theory of Jesus' lineage was popularised in the early 00's because of it. This is a fact. The Da Vinci Code most
Kristi Duarte
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research, historicl
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the historicity of Jesus and Christianity. Barrie Wilson delves into the political and religious context of the historical Jesus' time, and provides a solid argument of why St. Paul hijacked Jesus's character and fabricated his own religion (now called Christianity.)

If you are at all interested in getting closer to the truth about Jesus's original faith and what happened to the disciples after the crucifixion, and if you have an open and inquisi
Keith McArthur
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, thought provoking on how the teachings of Jesus, as carried on by his brother James, was overshadowed by Paul’s Christian movement. Paul never met Jesus and bases his teachings on a vision he had - didn’t preach Jesus’s teachings (i.e. Sermon on the Mount). Virgin Birth and resurrection similar to other Roman/Greek beliefs of Mitheas and Dionysus. Says you should follow the ways of Jesus, his sermon on the mount lessons, parables, lord’s prayer - as taught by Jesus.
Peter Klok
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read lots of Bart Erhman and this is in the same category. Wilson has a way of writing that somehow helps you to remember what you have read.
If you do not want to lose your old-time religion, do not read it.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow - A very, very thought provoking book that says how the teachings of Jesus, as carried on by Jesus’s brother James(Jesus Movement) is very different from Christianity as known today and created by Paul and Bishops of Nicea to make the religion more attractive to non Jews.
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a very intriguing book. The main question that the author examines and answers throughout the book is the following.
"How did a young rabbi become the God of a religion he wouldn't recognize, one which was established through the use of calculated anti-semitism?"

Of course, at first glance, this question may seem quite loaded, filled with flawed assumptions. However, throughout the book, Wilson unlocks this question and decompresses it in order to convey his theory, which according to him
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Quite interesting, but limited. I had no idea of Barrie Wilson's personal faith choices when I started this book, but the tone of it left me searching for an answer to exactly that question. Let's start with what is good about it. The overall hypothesis - namely, that there were various competing 'Christianities' during the first 2 to 3 centuries, and that Paul represented a less than straight-arrow version of the beliefs of Jesus but ended up providing the skeleton for 'churchianity' and christ ...more
Matt Harding
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Wilson's thesis, while interesting, wasn't as compelling as I first assumed. He places far too much weight on the Ebionites as proto-Christians (or followers of the Jesus movement and therefore a remnant of an earlier Jewish-centered sect of rabbi Jesus) and his entire argument seems to hinge on the writings of Paul being central to the production of the gospels; however, Dunn and others suggest that while Mark's gospel doesn't predate Paul's writings, there are pre-Markean segments (Mark 2:11-3 ...more
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting area for me because I am interested in how ideas disseminate. I wasn't that interested in the theology.
That said, the book was interesting if a tad too repetitive. There is a more than pedagogical redundancy to his arguments and he beats on the same issues over and over.
The evolution that the author explains makes plenty of sense. There are basically two religions mixed into a hybrid to make Christianity as it is practised today: Judaism and the mystic Christ worship. Whil
Jane Walker
I have some background in formal theological study, and I'm not a believer in any religion. Whether that makes me an "ordinary reader" in Wilson's phrase, I don't know. But he doesn't seem to know who his readers are either, and his style is often irritating.
That "Paul invented Christianity" is hardly a new idea. But Wilson expands this into what he calls the "Jesus Cover-Up Thesis" - a phrase he uses over and over again, with increasing inaccuracy. Wilson is a convert to Judaism, and the first
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really wish this was better than it is. Dr. Wilson does a nice job of describing the world of ~100bce to 200ce Judaism. He also describes fairly well the various factions that made up what became Christianity during it 300+ year infancy and their relationship to diaspora Judaism and the Greco-Roman pagan world. Especially well described is the rift between the early Jewish Jesus following factions and the later, largely gentile, Christ-worshiping groups that mostly replaced them. However, the ...more
Bruno de Maremma
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, religion
Warning! I disliked the author's anecdotal style so much that I had a hard time reading to the end. However it is worth the effort.

I used to joke with friends that christianity was the most successful jewish cult in history.

However, as the author points out, the Jesus cult actually died out a long time ago. In his book he describes Jesus, quite rightly, as being a proselytizing teacher who taught strict observance of Torah and who believed that the Jewish god was coming within his lifetime to o
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lot of what Barrie Wilson has to say about the Jesus Movement vs. the Christ Movement has been presented in many other volumes by Biblical scholars. However, two things stood out for me in this book: Wilson uses repetition to make his points--the reader meets the same explanation about certain points several times throughout the chapters. It does make the points stick with the reader even though it is annoying at times. Secondly, Wilson portrays Paul in a much more venimous vein than other sch ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had tried reading Zealot instead. I think Wilson gives a pretty good summary of the state of Judaism in the run up to Jesus, and that's the most interesting part of the book. I just thought it was really weird what he considers history and what he considers fiction. He uses such strong language to basically accuse Paul of hijacking Jesus' message, but I don't see how he can make that point when so much of what we know about Jesus is subject to the same uncertainty.

I have a better unders
Gregory Klages
Wilson covers much the same territory as Bart Ehrman is better known for: critical analysis of how the texts selected for the Bible were written, how the messages of these texts co-relate, and how the various texts were selected for inclusion into the Biblical canon. These respected authors also consider some of the texts that were not included in the canon, exploring the history and themes within the texts, the arguments that raged around whether they should be included in the Bible.

Wilson off
David Cheshire
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A true revelation (no pun intended). Exposes how much theological Christianity should actually be called "Paulism". The "real" Jesus in this account really did see himself as a potential messiah but in the full-throttle Jewish sense. His teachings are therefore designed for the imminent Kingdom of God, hence the strangenes of some of them. As for the God's son sacrifice stuff, the Trinity, Paul and his successors added this as a bolt-on superstruuture. As this is the stuff I've always had most t ...more
Nov 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
Jesus wasn't Christian. Neither were his followers. A few generations after his death, Paul invented Christianity based on a revelation he had, not based on the teachings of Jesus. Okay, fine, but this author could have just written an essay. Instead, a big thick book where he repeats himself endlessly and bitterly.
Matthew Klippenstein
Jan 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: christianity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read enough of this to know that I don't want to read anymore. The author and I start in very different places and I don't see my worldview or my mind being enhanced by continuing to expose myself to his views. I happen to believe that the Bible is true and I accept as truth the things it says about itself.
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