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Barrie A. Wilson is Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Humanities and Religious Studies, York University, Toronto, where he has taught since 1974. Throughout the 1990s he was Chair, Religious Studies, Atkinson College, York University. He previously taught Ancient Philosophy and Logic at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri from 1969 to 1974.


Wilson was born in Montreal in November 1940 and attended Bishop's University, Lennoxville, Quebec, majoring in Philosophy and Psychology, graduating with a B.A. magna cum laude. He completed an M.A. in Philosophy at Columbia University, New York City, and took courses at Union Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Church's General Theological Seminary, both in New York City. He earned a degree in Biblical Studies (S.T.B.) from the Anglican Church's Trinity College, University of Toronto, studying with Dr. Frank Beare, a noted biblical scholar and Dr. Eugene Fairweather, an Anglican historian of early Christianity and Dr. Norman Pittenger, a well-regarded Episcopalian process theologian.

Wilson completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto in 1975. His dissertation was on biblical hermeneutics, the logic of textual interpretation, and evidence for making sense of texts.

As a historian Wilson is interested in evidence-based reasoning about biblical texts. As he writes on his website, "My passion has been the new historical puzzles and 'disconnects' created by recent explorations into the foundations of early Christianity."

Major publications and researchEdit

How Jesus Became Christian (2008)Edit

In 2008 Wilson published How Jesus Became Christian (New York: St. Martin's Press; Toronto, Random House; London, Orion Publishing Group). Wilson advanced "the Jesus Cover-Up" hypothesis, claiming that the theology of Paul of Tarsus covered over the teachings of Jesus and those of his first followers, the Jesus Movement led by Jesus' brother James. Wilson shows in detail how Paul's theology differs from them in terms of "origin, teaching and practices" (akin to the earlier opinions held by Ferdinand Christian Baur and Professor S. G. F. Brandon).

Moreover, the New Testament Book of Acts, Wilson claims, represents an influential work of historical revisionism, noting that it is the one work of the Bible that we can compare to something else to judge accuracy. In this case, we can compare what Paul says about himself with what the unknown author of the Book of Acts says about him.

How Jesus Became Christian was shortlisted for the prestigious Cundill Prize in History and was awarded the Joseph and Faye Tanenbaum Prize for History at the 2009 Canadian Jewish Book Awards. Wilson has spoken in many churches and synagogues throughout North America.

The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdalene (2014)Edit

Co-authored with Simcha Jacobovici. The Lost Gospel claims to decode an ancient Syriac manuscript and, in so doing, explores the social and family side of Jesus' life including his marriage, plots on his life, and attempted abduction and the politics behind the crucifixion. While meeting with some positive remarks,[1] most academics rejected the book as nonsense and lacking any scholarly foundation. The book has been dismissed by mainstream biblical scholarship.[2][3] and compared to The Da Vinci Code in 2003, as a conspiracy theory[4]

Professor Ross Shepard Kraemer complained that her book When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife, Reconsidered [5] was distorted by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson (revised preface to the 2015 paperback edition).

Earlier publicationsEdit

Earlier publications built upon Wilson's interests in textual interpretation. These include About Interpretation: An Anthology of Readings in Hermeneutics from Plato to Dilthey (New York and Munich: Peter Lang, 1989). This publication included readings on textual interpretation arranged chronologically: Plato and Greek philosophers; Allegorical Hermeneutics; Reformation and post-Reformation approaches to textual interpretation; Romanticist Hermeneutics; and modern issues in interpretation theory of religious texts.

Hermeneutical Studies: The Virtue of Interpretive Practice (New York: Mellon) was published in 1991. This volume included scholarly papers on Plato, Sophocles' play Oedipus the King, the Syriac philosopher Bar-Daisan, Rudolf Bultmann's influential proposal to de-mythologize New Testament writings, and the American literary critic E. D. Hirsch.

Wilson also published two book on logic, Anatomy of Argument (1980) and To the Point (1989).

Other publicationsEdit

Wilson has written a variety of articles on Paul. These include "If we only had Paul, what would we know of Jesus?",[6] as well as "Taking Paul at his Word".[7] A mini-book, "The Hidden Scroll" [8] represents an attempt to visualize the world of early Christianity, the way in which the followers of James would not – and could not – have interacted with those of Paul. Other writings include a discussion on how to fix the contents of the New Testament.[9]

Wilson has appeared in a variety of documentaries, including several on the popular series, The Naked Archeologist, Secrets of Christianity episode #4; National Geographic UK Ancient X-files episode on Mary Magdalene and Gnostic Christianity; The Last Days of Jesus (2014 - PBS).

A member of the Toronto Psychoanalysis and Film Study Group, Wilson contributes a paper annually exploring the psychological interpretation of films. These can be found at his website.[10]


  • The Lost Gospel, co-authored with Simcha Jacobovici, November 2014 (Canada: HarperCollins; USA: Pegasus)
  • How Jesus Became Christian (USA: St. Martin's Press; Canada: Random House; UK, Australia, NZ: Orion Publishing, March 2008; paperback 2009)
  • Hermeneutical Studies: The Virtue of Interpretive Practice (New York: Mellon, 1991).
  • About Interpretation: An Anthology of Readings in Hermeneutics from Plato to Dilthey (New York and Munich: Peter Lang, 1989).
  • To The Point (Boston: Christopher, 1988).
  • Interpretation, Meta-Interpretation, and Oedipus Tyrannus (Berkeley: Center for Hermeneutical Studies, 1981).
  • The Anatomy of Argument (Washington DC: University Press of America, 1986 revised edition, and 1980).

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Nir, Rivka (Fall 2016). "Book Review, "The Lost Gospel"". Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. 14: 296.
  2. ^ Markus Bockmuehl, Ancient Apocryphal Gospels, page 21 (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017. ISBN 9780664263058)
  3. ^ Assessing the Lost Gospel by Richard Bauckham
  4. ^ Lost Gospel claims Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children, by Victoria Ward, The Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2014
  5. ^ Ross Shepard Kraemer,When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife, Reconsidered (Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-511475-2)
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