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The Lost Christianity of Jesus

How the Early Church Chose Paul over Jesus

How can something be lost if it never existed? Jesus was not the person many Christians make him out to be. He was never a Christian so how can we speak of the Christianity of Jesus? The historic Jesus must be understood as a first century Jew. He was born and raised, lived and died as a Jew. So not only was Jesus not a Christian but there was no such thing as Christianity during his lifetime. Although some claim that Jesus was the first Christian, he was not. He was a first-century Jew.

Christianity, as we know it today, is the indirect product of Paul and not Jesus. Although Paul did not intend to form a new religion, he can rightly be called the founder of Christianity, for his doctrines and theology, as developed in his seven authentic letters, are the basis and core of contemporary Christian beliefs. By selecting and canonizing the letters of Paul, the early church used them for the core beliefs of Christianity. The sacrificial death of Christ for our sins, Christ’s resurrection, and his coming again all come from the ideas of Paul.


Darrell Woomer’s research spins our brains in fascinating ways. This former university chaplain makes his case for a new Christianity based not on Paul but on the original Jewish context. He uses the work of Amy Jill Levine, James Tabor, and the work of the Jesus Seminar, three fine sources to validate his premise. It is a stunning work. I commend it to you! —John Shelby Spong, author, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today.

In his book, Darrell Woomer lays out a cogent and compelling argument not only about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus in the earliest days, but also what this might mean for Christianity today. It calls the reader to rethink the legacy of Paul, the Jerusalem Movement and forgotten role of James the Just, and more broadly the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. —Jeffrey W. Robbins, Chair of the Westar Institute’s seminar on “God and the Human Future” and author of Radical Theology: A Vision for Change

Darrell Woomer’s new book is a most valuable addition to the growing corpus of works aimed at recovering what the original Jesus movement was truly like prior to Paul’s reinterpretation of the teachings of Jesus. What is especially valuable is that Woomer breaks new ground in examining the practical implications of what current research into the “Jewish Jesus” means for the growing number of Christians trying to recover a more authentic Christianity–true to the religion that Jesus himself practiced. —The Rev. Jeffrey Butz, Penn State University, author of The Brother of Jesus

About the Author

The Reverend Dr. D. Darrell Woomer earned a BA in Classics from Juniata College, A MDiv and ThM in Hebrew Scripture from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and his MA and PhD in Spirituality from Duquesne University. He has served churches in Pennsylvania and Ohio and for twenty years was Chaplain at Lebanon Valley College and Campus Minister at Millersville University. He is the author of A Reasonable Christianity.

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