Book review: How Jesus Became Christian

by Barrie Wilson, Ph.D.


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 “Christ movement” of Paul—makes for fascinating reading. Paul experienced a mystical vision of the Christ, and everything he teaches flows from that deep, spiritual, ongoing connection between Christ and Paul. What used to be so simple became a complex theology, Paul’s message that all could be saved in Christ resounding throughout the Roman world.

Wilson discusses the book of Acts and its “revisionist history,” entwining Paul’s world with the Jesus movement as if they are one and the same, and concludes that there is simply no corroborating evidence for the Acts version. Instead, Paul’s letters betray an entirely different atmosphere. The Book of Acts invented history, and the version of Christianity we know today is better labeled “Paulinity.” The Jesus movement slowly faded away. In effect, the Jesus Cover-Up Thesis contends that early Christianity effectively killed off the historical Jesus. In the epilogue, Wilson encourages recovering the human Jesus and rediscovering his Jewish roots.

A thought-provoking and well-written book, definitely worth reading.


  1. I think that those who think Paul created a non-Jewish Christ rely far too much on the misinterpretations of Paul’s words by non-Jews (and especially post-enlightenment Protestants) many centuries later. Paul’s Jesus is a Jewish Jesus, and I believe that Paul’s gospel of Christ (understood in its Jewish context and not removed from history) is the same gospel depicted by the authors of the gospels.


  1. Galations 1:11-12, Paul’s Authority | The Dubious Disciple - [...] books that deal with Paul’s accomplishment from two different directions: Barrie Wilson’s How Jesus Became Christian and Tom Holland’s …

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