Ian Wilson wrote this seminal book and tries to take a fresh look at the Jesus data. For a man that wrote with insane bias in favour of the Turin Shroud, this book really is full of surprises.

The book notes that the early tradition says the first gospel Mark was written in Rome.

He speculates that Matthew was written in Alexandria.  He identifies its anti-Semitic elements.

He thinks it was Antioch for Luke.

He thinks possibly Ephesus for John.

We are looking at guesswork.  There are indications that the gospels MIGHT have been written in those places. That is all.

In a normal brain, the similarities between Mark, Matthew and Luke would make it very plausible that they were not that geographically separated at all.  Christian ideology needs to pretend that they emerged in places that were as distinct as the north and south pole to lend credibility to the lie that the whole Church then knew the story well and how right it was.  So when you have four records from clearly independent far apart places, you can argue that the narrative of Jesus thrived because it was true.

Wilson wonders if the alleged star of Bethlehem can help us tell when Jesus was born. He says Kepler identified the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in 7 BC as the star. And Halley's Comet could have been the star except it was visible in 12 BC. A nova that lasted for 70 days according to Chinese astronomers took place in 5 BC.

From that I see that these lights in the sky were nothing special and yet Matthew tells us of this amazing star that could guide wise men with gifts to the baby Jesus. He clearly thinks a star is a lamp hanging in the sky except this one didn’t stay in the one place.

Matthew should have been able to get access to accounts of this star.  After all he says all Jerusalem was disturbed when the wise men arrived so the star must have been seen by all.  Where are they?  He mentions nothing about a source.

Wilson says Mark and Luke declare how Jesus stays in Peter’s and then heals the leper while Matthew says he cured the leper first.

He points out that Mark contradicted Palestinian geography and goes out of its way to sympathise with the authority of Rome. Mark 7 errs on what direction Sidon is in. This is very serious for it is the first record of Jesus.

He points out that the anti-Semitism of John’s version of Jesus is so extreme that he tells them the law is “your law” as if it were no part of his belief. They are uncompromisingly evil with Satan as their father according to Jesus in John 8.

The book asks that if the gospels were written after 70 AD, then why did their writers say Jesus predicted the end of the world to his generation? Read Matthew 24:34-6/Mark 13:30-32/Luke 21:32-33.  Well if they as good as call Jesus a false prophet then they refute the case for his resurrection and authority from God.  If they are written too late then they still refute in the sense that we wouldn't believe any other "history" that just appears decades after the alleged events. One answer is that the gospel writers wanted people to think that members of that generation were directly involved in producing them.  So that generation, albeit in small numbers, was still around.

Wilson points out that Jesus thinks you can just banish anger in Matthew 5:22. He said analysts would be out of business if that were true.

Matthew 6:19-20, 24, 34 are clearly telling us that we are “not to provide for the future”. The people listening to that nonsense had children for heavens sake!

On Matthew 19 Wilson says it is “mere casuistry to say that Jesus told this particular young man to sell all his stuff. We might as well say that Jesus in general approved of leprosy but only cared for this or that particular leper.”

Jesus’ extremism is to be understood in the light of his fear that the end of the age was imminent. Or you may say he was hiding behind that excuse.

Wilson alerts us to how if you leave out the fasting for forty days and nights, everything in the gospels can fit into three weeks. This naturally leaves Jesus nearly totally unrecorded.

Jesus multiples food twice. The second time makes it clear nobody knew of the first for they were wondering how he could make food appear in the desert. It is more likely that these are two different versions of the one event.

I would add that the story says Jesus banned the waste of food for he demanded that the remains be picked up respectfully. But it shows he knew nothing of hygiene then. Who ate all that was left over? There was too much and nobody wanted it.

The book hints that in contradicting themselves in the resurrection stories, each gospel was indicating that it alone was the decisive one if not actually divinely inspired.

Wilson denies that John is right to say the Jews said at Jesus’ passion that they had no right to put a man to death and the Romans would have to do it. He argues they could execute for they delivered the death penalty to any Gentile who went into the Temple’s Jewish areas. He points to records that establish this.

Josephus wrote in Jewish Wars, that Titus a Roman commander during the Jewish Revolt, said, “You disgusting people. Didn’t you put up that balustrade [on the Temple] to guard your Holy House? Didn’t you at intervals along it place slabs inscribed in Greek characters your own forbidding anyone to go beyond the parapet? And didn’t we give you leave to execute anyone who did go beyond it, even if it was a Roman?”

To me the Jews could have set Jesus up as a trespasser if they wanted to get rid of him.  He had caused trouble in the Temple and all they needed were a few good well-coached witnesses.

Wilson hints that some kind of hypnosis was used for people to see the risen Jesus visions. The New Testament is aware of people who had false visions. To have them and to make your lies sound real you need to get yourself somehow to see something. Or to believe you did.  You need to simulate a reality to keep your account straight and to convince people.  Paul tells us of the false apostles in 2 Corinthians 11. Make no mistake, apostle at that time mean somebody reporting visions of Jesus. Wilson thinks these men were the apostles of Jerusalem! He thinks Peter, James and John reached agreement but Paul did not truly recognise them or they him.

The early Church had to grapple a lot with pagans and could have known of mysterious visionary techniques. No would.  Wilson writes, “Some Egyptian Papyri such as the Demotic Magical papyrus preserved in the British Museum describes hypnotic inductions to trance stances.” He declares how other wonder workers of the time, such as Hanina Ben Dosa and Honi the Circle Drawer, were adept hypnotists. Hanina reached great fame as an exorcist.   So it’s not too far-fetched to think the early Church used spiritual visionary techniques.

Wilson thinks that Jesus used hypnosis to do some miracles such as the curing of paralytics who may have been suffering hysteria rather than anything else.

After reading all that your faith in Jesus being God will weaker or null. But there is another aspect. Wilson sums it up thus, “There is absolutely no proof in the NT that Jesus claimed to be God.”


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