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 religious history and yet one that anyone rarely thinks about: How did a young, well-respected rabbi become the head of a cult that bears his name, espouses a philosophy that he wouldn't wholly understand and possesses a clear streak of anti-Semitism that has sparked hatred against the generations of Jews who followed him? Colorfully recreating the Hellenistic world into which Jesus was born - a theologically cacophonous world filled with a panoply of Greek philosophies, oriental religions such as Mithraism and the Egyptian cults of Isis and Osiris -- Wilson brings the answer to life by looking at 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 Torah. Wilson suggests that Paul's movement was not rooted in the teachings and sayings of the historical Jesus, a man Paul actually never met, but solely in Paul's mystical vision of Christ, . Wilson's persuasively then goes on to show how Paul established the new religion through anti-Semitic propaganda which ultimately crushed 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 Christianlooks 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?
BARRIE WILSON is Professor of Humanities & Religious Studies at York University in Toronto. A specialist in early Christian origins, this is his first book intended for a general audience. Building on contemporary critical scholarship, it addresses some of the major puzzles he has identified in teaching biblical studies over a twenty-year period. An award-winning educator, his previous academic books focused on textual interpretation.