We often forget the undeniable fact that Jesus was Jewish. He lived and died a Jew, teaching the religion of his forbears and living by the Torah. After his death there was a 'Jesus movement' led by Jesus's brother James in Jerusalem and a 'Christ movement' led by Paul (who never met Jesus) in the Diaspora. The beliefs and practices of the Jesus movement have become clearer to us from the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Christ movemernt deliberately sought to replace and destroy the Jesus movement, later aided by such masterpieces of spin as 'The Acts of the Apostles' and the New Testament Gospels. At the same time the battles of the Jewish community against the Romans, and the chaos after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, helped Paul and his party to seduce Jesus's followers away from the strictures of Judaism. Having killed off the historical Jesus, the new Christians turned the religion away from a traditional emphasis on behaviour into the most successful personality cult in recorded history. Anti-Semitism was the milk on which Christianity fed in its infancy and that allowed it to grow strong.
Having appropriated so much of the Jewish tradition, Christianity could not abide the existence of another group with an older claim to be the one true faith, the chosen people of God. This is the origin of centuries of virulent Christian anti-Semitism.
Barrie Wilson has been Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at York University, Toronto, since 1985. He is a historian of religion, specialising in Early Christianity and Gnostic writings. This is his first book for the general reader.