Author of How Jesus became Christian surprised by reaction to Kosher Jesus

Joanne Hill

TORONTO – Barrie Wilson, the Canadian author of the 2008 book, How Jesus Became Christian, is surprised by the reaction to Kosher Jesus, which he intends to read soon.

“It surprises me because my book received positive reviews from almost everyone, except for evangelical Christians: they hated it,” said Wilson, explaining that evangelicals could not accept the premise that “[the Apostle] Paul was the originator” of their religion.

After Jesus’ death, his followers were forced to either come to terms with his failure to be the hoped-for messiah, or accept Paul’s version of his life’s purpose.

“Jesus’s message was that, ‘the Kingdom of G-d is coming soon,’” said Wilson, “and it didn’t happen.”

Wilson, who is a convert from Christianity to Judaism, said, “Scholarship supports the view that Jesus was an Orthodox Jew.”

Jewish readers of his and Boteach’s books may be surprised by what they learn, said Wilson. “He was a failed prophet but he was a Torah-observant failed prophet and that’s surprising.”

He added, “Another reason why it is important that Jews read Kosher Jesus and similar books is that, by knowing the differences between the Jewish Jesus and Paul, one is thereby less likely to be converted to Christianity….

“The deification of a human, the rejection of Torah, and the creation of a separate infrastructure all placed Paul’s religion outside the Jewish family, right from the outset. This contrasts with the teachings of Jesus’ first followers, those led by his brother James in Jerusalem, who regarded him as Jewish, worshipped in the Temple and who followed the path of Torah.”

Wilson spoke to the Jewish Tribune by phone and email while en route from Rome to Tel Aviv. He said he had spoken to a number of priests at the Vatican and none complained about his book.

“I find it very strange that a rabbi would condemn [Kosher Jesus]…. The pope hasn’t condemned [How Jesus Became Christian]. I wish he would; it would have increased the sales.”

How Jesus Became Christian received the 2009 Canadian Jewish Book Award in the history category.

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