Having been raised in a strict Catholic environment that included a private education, I was taught not to question the Church or the Bible. As I grew into adulthood, I found myself becoming more and more disillusioned because of the inappropriate behaviors of some of the priests and because I had so many unanswered questions regarding the Bible. The hypocrisy that I felt surrounded by was destroying my faith. This brought me to a place in my life where I stepped outside of a traditional belief system and began exploring the beliefs of others. I did not want anyone to try to coerce me into changing my views; I just wanted to learn about the various ways that other people believe so that I could come to my own conclusions.
Reading “Jesus: God, Man or Party Label?” allowed me to step outside of the box and look at an alternative view of the formation of Christianity. In this book, the author Chris Albert Wells addresses some inconsistencies that he feels are in the traditional Bible, that also have serious implications regarding the formation of Christianity. By supplying the reader with information of what was happening politically at that time, he provides a very convincing argument to back up his claims.
Wells presents information to support the idea that Jesus was not actually a man but literally a figure created to represent political parties during the time in which he was to have lived. He educates us about what was happening historically within various political groups that would lead them to create such a character to represent their belief system. These were incredibly rough times to be alive and people who were in opposition of ruling groups were brutally punished. These conflicts played a huge role in the organization and the leadership of the Church.
The Gnostics held influence over the Church’s creed. Christ was made divine and seen as the Son of God. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947, scholars found a connection between many of the beliefs of the Essene Scroll community and the early Christians. The discovery of the Scrolls stirred up a lot of issues regarding what were thought to be the original beliefs of the Church. In the Scrolls, Jesus appeared to be a reincarnated Qumran Master. This information was believed to show a link between Christianity and the Qumran Essene Community, which greatly differs from our traditional beliefs.
Somebody with a strict background in traditional Christianity will probably find his writing to be very unnerving and feel uncomfortable with having their beliefs being questioned. However, if such a person reads this book and can answer the arguments set forth with valid answers taken from their belief system, then in the long run they will find themselves feeling even more secure about their faith. For others, such as myself, “Jesus: God, Man or Party Label?” has stimulated my interest in wanting to learn more about the information that Wells presents. I even used Google and Wikipedia several times, for more information, while I was immersed in the text! I think that readers groups that read “Jesus: God, Man or Party Label?” will find themselves engaged in some stimulating conversations and debates.
Jesus: God, Man or Party Label?: The Dead Sea Scrolls' Messiah Code
Chris Albert Wells
Eloquent Books (2010)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (3/11)