JESUS: The Evidence by Ian Wilson

JESUS: The Evidence

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A readable but amateurish view of the ""historical Jesus."" Wilson is an English journalist trained in history and interested in religion (with books on the Shroud of Turin and reincarnation). In this generously illustrated volume he surveys all the usual sources, from the references to Jesus in Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny to the New Testament and the Shroud. He argues (in line with contemporary Jewish scholars like Gexa Vermes and selectively appropriating the radical Protestant Reimarus-Strauss-Bultmann tradition) that Jesus was a tremendously gifted but essentially orthodox rabbi whom later generations of Christians transmogrified into God. This is, obviously, a credible thesis, but Wilson simply doesn't have the knowledge to present it effectively. He begins by wasting time on the thoroughly exploded notion that Jesus never existed. He sets about disproving the historicity of the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke, as if scholars hadn't long since determined that these are primarily composed of haggadic midrash and not meant as history. He erroneously claims that ""no gospel regarded Jesus as God.""(John?) He follows dubious experts like Hugh Schonfield and Morton Smith off on idle tangents (Jesus the hypnotist). He anachronistically applies terms like plagiarism and fabrication to the story of the Flood and the Pastoral Epistles. He calls the Greek of John's gospel ""fluent,"" while failing to explain where James, ""the brother of the Lord,"" got the truly fluent Greek in the Epistle attributed to him. Well-meant but inept.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row