How Jesus became God

Three questions guide Geza Vermes’s ambitious account of Christian beginnings. How did the charismatic movement of Jesus, based in the countryside, evolve into an institutional religion that garnered imperial favor? How did this movement, thoroughly Jewish in its participants and its emphases, morph into a predominantly gentile religion shaped by Greek philosophy and culture? As for Jesus himself, how did this charismatic figure, easily recognizable in the line of Israelite holy men from Moses to Elijah to Hanina ben Dosa, become the second person of the Trinity, consubstantial with the Father? In short, how did “the piety of Jesus, consisting of a total surrender to God and a constant search for his Kingdom,” produce a religion “primarily governed by intellectual and indeed philosophical assent”?


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