The Jesus Illusion

Finding the Man by Revealing the Myth

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
248 Pages
Reviewed on 06/19/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite

The Jesus Illusion: Finding the Man by Revealing the Myth is a meticulously referenced, in-depth study. Within it, Tony Sunderland seeks the essence of Jesus. Was he Christ the Saviour, the Son of God, and part of the Holy Trinity? There are no contemporary writings attesting to his birth, life, and death. “Jesus of Nazareth” was born in poverty and those who knew him were uneducated. Others had their own political agenda. The earliest recording of Jesus the man was written thirty years after his death and attributed to Mark. His gospel was taken as the basis for Matthew and Luke. John took a different stance. There are questions raised over the method and timing of the crucifixion –and so it goes on. Based entirely on facts, some of them recently discovered, this is a book worth reading.

In The Jesus Illusion, Tony Sunderland questions the accuracy of historical “facts” and the roots of beliefs at the heart of the powerful Catholic Church. For me, and I am an Anglican Christian, he has swept away doubts that nibbled relentlessly at my faith. To state those reservations would let potential readers guess too much without reading the complete book. This is a captivating account of life in many societies over two thousand years ago and how language and customs developed over the centuries, and it does indeed, logically and convincingly, find the man who was Jesus. Tony Sunderland is to be congratulated for making an intellectual subject easy to read and impossible to put down.

Foluso Falaye

The Jesus Illusion: Finding the Man by Revealing the Myth examines historical records and clues to discover who Jesus was as a human and how his influence was spread to the people that lived in his time and for generations after his death. Unlike several other researchers who focus on his supernatural and religious image, Tony Sunderland depicts Jesus as a normal human who died and was not resurrected as the Bible portrays. The book covers various writings and views outside Christian religious texts and different extracts from the Gospels and the rest of the Bible. What view did Jesus have of himself and his mission? Is he completely convinced about his purpose, and how much did he inform his disciples about his mission? How did Jesus gain his unique and dedicated followers - the disciples? The book explores these and other questions and concepts about the human Jesus and his legacy.

I was seriously appreciative of Tony Sunderland's book because its thought-provoking questions and conclusions about Jesus helped me realize that my previous knowledge about him was based on questionable sources. I can now see how vague and unoriginal the four Gospels appear. Academic scholars and intellectual readers will appreciate the book's thorough and well-researched information. It includes several notable academic works and thoughts from interesting individuals such as Tacitus, who lived a hundred years after Jesus's death and argued that "Nero deliberately blamed Christians" for Rome's wreckage. Written in a neutral, candid tone, The Jesus Illusion is perfect for open-minded and inquisitive readers who wish to discover the most logical truths about Jesus as a human. It is one of those books you read and wish you had read much earlier, and I loved the epic, historical pictures!

Astrid Iustulin

We all know Jesus as the founder of a religion, Christianity. Many have also read the Gospels and reflected on how the Church has used his image. But how many of us have wondered who Jesus was and what was his life like? In The Jesus Illusion, Tony Sunderland reveals who Jesus was by eliminating the supernatural and the dogmatic and looking for clues in the sources to give us his historical portrait. He guides us through a detailed analysis of the Gospel of Mark (and the Messianic Secret) and the Dead Sea Scrolls; he also introduces us to the Qumran community that wrote them and traces a link with the Essenes, a Jewish sect. Will we eventually find out who Jesus really was?

The Jesus Illusion is a fascinating search for the historical and human Jesus that opens new horizons to those who read it. Tony Sunderland gave the reader a well-documented picture, and it was enjoyable and inspiring to read his explanations of the Gospel of Mark and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I also found very interesting the part dedicated to the Essenes, their link with the Qumran Community, and the possibility that Jesus and John the Baptist were both Essenes. Sunderland's thesis that Jesus wanted to live a life aimed at welcoming those whom Judaism relegated to the margins of society puts the (involuntary) founder of Christianity in a positive and hopeful light. It is now up to the curious reader to discover the valuable information in The Jesus Illusion. I believe no one will be disappointed with this exceptional book.