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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
Jesus
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on 12 April 2017
Fully satisfied.
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on 2 May 2011
There have been so many complimentary reviews of A N Wilson's "Jesus" that I can do little more than say I agree with them. Except, that is when they suggest that it is a page-turner. On the contrary, it seems to me to need many pauses for thought. It is full of stimulating insights. Doubters are more likely to like it than believers, I should think.
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on 28 August 2003
I read this book from the viewpoint of an atheist fascinated by religions. It's unlikely a Christian will enjoy this book, with its fundamental predication (not unreasonable from a non-religious viewpoint) that the gospels are not accurate and indeed contain very little information on his life. Rather Wilson takes the approach of presuming jesus to be a rather typical jewish religious leader, and then draws on the canonical gospels (amongst others) for hints as to his life and character.
Where the book is truly fascinating is in its exposition of jewish society of the time. For instance, the Jews almost never persecuted heresies, and reported resurrections were actually quite common.
the book does have flaws. The author's obvious passion makes it readable, but there's an argumentative style that can lead to self-contradiction, eg the book refers to Jesus as a carpenter only pages from explaining that the aramaic word is ambiguous and could just as well mean scholar. It seems to me the author doesn't always stick to describing a credible historic persona but often seems content simply demonstrating errors in the gospels.
still a very rewarding read, and I did come away with an understanding of how a man could (largely unwittingly, it seems) become the keystone of one of the world's major religions.
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on 1 August 2009
I found 'Jesus' by AN Wilson as intriguing as a thriller. I did not agree with every one of the auhor's stated theories but it was illuminating about life in the Holy Land at that time. He addressed questions which have been asked by open-minded Christians concerned to find the truth of Jesus, his life against that background
Never a harsh iconoclast, as so many aetheists seem to be; Wilson is never callous or destructive in his assessments.
Also, the book throws much light on the roots of anti-semitism and its terrible harvest of persecution.
The revelation that the twelve apostles were a modley band including
knife-carryng disciples, terrorists, tax-collectors for the Romans - quite unlike the holy pictures we see of them with halos - is recognizable as being like our own contemporary scene
Although uncompromising, never balking at stating his opinions,he
manages to be moderate, respectful even, and unlikely to offend
any believer with an open mind and the love of truth which Jesus had.

One of the most exciting writers on the subject of religion that I've
read.

M Kerr
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VINE VOICEon 1 July 2003
A N Wilson's Jesus is a deeply intellectual and intelligent appraisal of Jesus in history, and in faith. I suggest that readers, like me, with an interest in Jesus the man and an assessment of the New Testament as an historical document, and NOT as a book of faith, will gain most from this book.
Doubtless it has much to upset the staunch Christian, simply because Wilson attempts to break down the substance of the fact, but at least acknowledging that any "true" reading is largely down to an interpretation of faith. We learn that the Gospels were a self-fulfilling prophecy of the Scriptures, so hardly an account of history. That Jesus was an enigmatic man whose personal quest and meaning is shrouded in unanswered questions.
The Sciptures foretold of the Messiah, was the time just right for Him to fit the bill? Jesus himself would not even acknowledge it. The Navity scene as we know it, manger, star, three kings, is a fiction. There is no such reference in the New Testament. Just a few gems of interest amongst many that one can take away from this book.
The fact is, that neither Wilson or I, can detract from the fact that the NT is beyond any literal reading or basis in history. Faith is all. Which is why this an intelligent read that should not be blinded by mere dogma.
Above all, it is clear that the Gospels in all their four contradictions, should not be relied upon by the historian. That Jesus lived, well there is little doubt. Whether he was who he has became, we will never know.
Fascinating. A well written interpretation to continue the thinking.
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on 11 January 2014
I think Wilson's book is a good starting point and paints a vivid picture of how life at the time of jesus, the motives of people around him and how gospels can be read is very good. Some points I don't see how he came to his conclusions at all. But generally the tableau he presents is reasonable to me.

If you come to this book as a Christian it may be interesting to see how the gospels could be viewed without unquestioning faith but I doubt Christians would want to read it except to try and discredit it. For anyone interested in the political environment around the gospels this is a pretty good start.

The writing builds well to a conclusion and the tragedy and beauty of the crucifixion is clear to se as Johns Gospel paints so clear a picture.

For me it just shows a man who had belief in a new way to reach god and how his execution and realisation of his abandonment by his god was so poetically sad as told in the gospels. I do not believe in a denominational God, I do not believe religions are anything other than man created with no divine influence other than can be created in the mind of people. But the story of Jesus....not the fantastical parts but the teachings and wishes of Jesus are fascinating.

I know Wilson is now a Christian again but I assume this is because he has decided that culturally he likes the practice of the religion. I find it hard to believe he suddenly decided that hey I now believe in the virgin birth to god, the trinity and resurrection. I will have to read wilson's explanation.
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on 21 March 2011
For believers or nonbelievers this is well worth reading. It traces the way in which the New Testament was put together and helped me with a lot of questions, such as "Is it true?". People of little faith who prefer to turn a blind eye to the biblical analysis and archaeological discoveries over the past 200 years or so may be a bit frightened because it slays a few sacred cows, but for someone of strong faith it sheds light on the New Testament. It is interesting to note that A.N. Wilson renewed his own faith after writing this book. There is nothing to be afraid of here - "The truth will set you free" and Christians today need to be aware of these arguments.
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on 29 May 2003
I am not an expert, but found this book an enjoyable read with significant, sincere, fascinating and serious material. Recommended for all Christians, Jews, and people interested in the historical Jesus. If you are close minded or dogmatic about your beliefs, then this book is too good for you. The book is intelligent, is not offensive to other faiths or non-believers, and gives particularly important insight about probable reasons why the New Testament writers added text that led to church driven anti-semitism up to the 20th century: to convince suspicious Romans that the first century church was not a threat to Rome. It boggles the mind to consider how such "small" additions added out of fear of the Romans contributed so much to two millenia of anti-semitism. This is only an example of the many interesting topics covered by the book.
A. N. Wilson makes it clear from the start that his conclusions are personal and he is the first to admit that they could be preceded with the words "perhaps, perhaps, perhaps". Without spoiling the wonderful ending, one can say that it relates to how the real Jesus would probably react to Christian churches as they have evolved.
What turned me off (which is not an argument against reading this book) was Wilson's illogical interpretation of how the evangalists misunderstood the gospel story comparing the prayer of a modest person and an arrogant Pharisee. I had other differences of opinion.
If you just want raw data about the historical Jesus without hypotheses, try Michael McCrum's "The Man Jesus, Fact and Legend" ISBN 1 85756 452 9. If you want another excellent, fascinating and very intelligent perspective, try Northrop Frye's "The Great Code, the Bible and Literature" - must reading for anyone who wants to understand how all human brains having any contact with the Western world have been hugely influenced by the Judeo-Christian-Islamic holy books.
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on 26 August 2009
A great and interesting look at what the bible actually tells us about Jesus.
It also gives an erudite critique on how to approach and interpret the bible: the bible is not a post-enlightenment biography, as AN Wilson puts it, it was never intended as a factual record of events. More, it was about the fulfilment of prophecy and reinforcing the bible's own creed to establish the belief in Jesus as the son of god.

One of the best books i've read in the last 20 years.

A book that all christians should read if they dare to test their beliefs!
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on 12 May 2001
"Bible-based" Christians are not going to like a book, like this, which reminds us that Christianity isn't based on the Bible, but rather, vice versa. Wilson draws together the strands of modern Bible criticism to create a very personal portrait of the Jesus of history, throwing up lots of fascinating anecdotes and insights along the way. He's well-informed, literate and capable of relating his subject to contemporary life. He's also (mercifully) discriminating enough to avoid the loonier fringes of recent Gospel-speculation. Ultimately, Wilson's own arguments collapse in on themselves under the sheer contradictory weight of the material, but he never fails to be entertaining and is, throughout, seriously engaged with the Person of Christ. Wilson is neither an undiscriminating Christian literalist nor a hostile atheist with an axe to grind and anyone with a thoughtful Christian faith or just a sympathetic interest in the Bible will find a lot of food for thought here. As for Wilson's theory that it was a young St Paul who arrested Jesus, well, less said about that the better.
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