I recently finished reading Reza Aslan’s Zealot– a book that was on my radar for years. His theory is that the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels was not the true character Jesus of Nazareth. Aslan suspects that the Gospel writers were greatly influenced by the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE and, as a result, threw their wager with the Romans. The Jewish people, Aslan speculates of the authors, were undeserving of Jesus and, as a result, they got their punishment.
Thus, rather than portraying Jesus as a zealot working to overthrow the suffocating Roman occupation, the authors downplayed this and opted for the messiah theme. The anti-Jewish theme of the Gospels becomes more strident as the time moves farther from 70 CE to John’s writing 30 years later.
The Christian church of Jerusalem was sacrificed for the Christian churches in Greece, Rome and elsewhere. The church of James, the brother of Jesus, waned as the church of Paul rose to glory. This church would find favor with the Romans because, ironically, of its non-Jewish flavor!
Paul who never met Jesus won out over Jesus’s brother. Hard to imagine, but true.