Barrie Wilson, PhD

scholar, educator, author, speaker.


How Jesus Became Christian by Barrie Wilson

Barrie speaks about his book:



Barrie with noted Israeli archeologist, Avnor Goren, at the historic Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt.
Barrie with noted Israeli archeologist, Avnor Goren, at the historic Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt.

Barrie Wilson is Professor, Humanities and Religious Studies, York University, Toronto. As an academic historian and philosopher of religion, he specializes in three centuries: the 1st century BCE and the first two centuries CE.

Research Interests

Barrie writes, "My passion has been the new historical puzzles and "disconnects" created by recent explorations into the foundations of early Christianity. My recent book, How Jesus Became Christian examined how the image of Jesus was transformed within the early Church, from Jewish human teacher and prospective Messiah to a God-human Savior. It builds upon the differences between James and Paul with respect to the origins, beliefs and practices of their respective religious expressions.

Selected Publications

Barrie has written a variety of academic publications, books and articles, but How Jesus Became Christian is his first book intended for a general audience. Reviews have been superb. Canada’s Globe and Mail wrote, "Barrie Wilson has produced a significant and sensational work of scholarship. And it is truly religious dynamite." The Boston Globe and the Times of London both said, "This book is certainly controversial." James Tabor, chair of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte wrote simply that it is "...beyond doubt one of the most significant works on early Christianity to appear in decades." Simcha Jacobovici, the noted Producer/Director of The Lost Tomb of Jesus and many other biblical documentaries calls it "A tour de force."

2008 How Jesus Became Christian. Toronto: Random House; New York: St. Martin’s Press; London: Orion
2006 "Paul: A Radical Reassessment," American Academy of Religion Conference Proceedings, Quebec City
1991 Hermeneutical Studies. New York: Mellon. Papers on Plato, Sophocles, Bar-Daisan, Rudolf Bultman, Hirsch
1989 About Interpretation: Anthology of Readings in Hermeneutics from Plato to Dilthey. New York and Munich: Peter Lang.

Selected Presentations

2010 "A New Model of Christian Origins," European International Conference on the Humanities, Malta, February 2010. Also presented: Annual Clergy Conference Rochester NY, March 2010; Annual Lay Workshop Guelph ON March 2010; Vanier College, Toronto, March 2010.
2009. Keynote speaker, "Understanding Early Christianity," Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Boca Ratan, January 2009.
2008 "If We Only had Paul, What would we Know of Jesus?" January 2008, Sixth International Conference on the Humanities
2008 "Big Fish: Understanding Historical Narrative," Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 2008.
2007 "What’s a Messiah To Do?" Fifth International Conference on the Arts and Humanities, January, 2007.
2005 Keynote speaker, "Five Spiritualities that Have Shaped the World," - 2-day session at the Annual Meeting of the World Presidents’ Organization, Toronto Chapter.

Barrie has appeared on a number of radio and television shows in the US, Canada and the UK including the provocative television series, The Naked Archeologist.

The Western Wall: where Judaism, Christianity and Islam intersect.

Barrie was educated at the University of Toronto (PhD in Philosophy and Near Eastern Studies), Columbia University (MA, Philosophy of Religion) and Bishop's University, Quebec (BA Honors, Philosophy and Psychology), with theological studies at Union Theological Seminary (New York), The General Theological Seminary (New York) and Trinity College, Toronto (STB, Toronto). He has taught at Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri as well as at York University, Toronto, where he was chair of Religious Studies, Atkinson College, for over 10 years.

A noted lecturer, Barrie received an Award for the Province's Best Educator. Several years ago, along with a colleague, Patrick Gray, Barrie took 29 students from York University to Israel and the Sinai, to see firsthand the archeological and historical sites studied in class. This trip was York University's largest course trip ever.