From a celebrated classicist and author of The Darkening Age (“[a] ballista-bolt of a book”—New York Times Book Review), a group biography of the many, diverse Jesuses who thrived in early Christian traditions—and how they were killed off until just one “true” Christ survived.
Contrary to the teachings of the church today, in the first several centuries of Christianity’s existence, there was no consensus as to who Jesus was or why he had mattered. Instead, there were many different Christs. One had a twin brother and traveled to India; another consorted with dragons. One particularly terrifying Christ scorned his parents and killed those who opposed him. Why do we know so little about these early versions of Jesus? Because, starting in the fourth century AD, the orthodox form of Christianity that had become preeminent set about systematically wiping out every other variation, denouncing their gospels as apocryphal and their followers as heretics. These unfortunate Christians lost their rights, their property, their churches—in some cases, even their lives.
Heretic unearths the different versions of Christ who existed in the minds of early Christians, and the process of evolution—and elimination—by which Jesus became the singular figure we know today.