Spirit Possession and the Origins of Christianity by Stevan Davies

51WSGvybZtL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Stevan Davies argues that the historical Jesus of Nazareth had little to do with the initial foundation and spread of Christianity, rejecting the standard views that the Christian movement was initiated by the teachings of Jesus, or by stories that Jesus had been seen alive after his death. It was Jesus’ experience of Holy Spirit possession, and then the Holy Spirit possession experiences of Jews and Gentiles throughout the Roman empire, that gave rise to the Christian religion. In addition to the entire text of Jesus the Healer this book contains important new essays on the Pentecostal origins of Christianity, and the apocryphal Odes of Solomon as evidence of a pre-Christianity.

Praise for Jesus the Healer:

“Stevan Davies offers a fascinating reading of the Gospels that takes serious account of their description of Jesus as a spirit-filled exorcist and healer.” Elaine Pagels, Princeton University, author of The Gnostic Gospels

“The Jesus-quest has spawned a number of seminal studies of late, but none more brilliant, surprising, and engaging than this one. Purely on the basis of secular anthropology and psychology, Davies makes a persuasive case for Jesus as a Spirit-possessed healer and exorcist  . . . The work is a tour de force that opens a whole new vista on Jesus and the forces he unleashed.” Walter Wink, Auburn Theological Seminary

“Jesus emerges not only as a healer and exorcist of demon-possessed sufferers, but as one who is, at times, himself spirit-possessed. The resulting picture brings Jesus and his people into a world of healers and prophets, sufferers and followers consistent with what we know of colonial peasant societies.” Erika Bourguignon, Ohio State University, author of Religion, Altered States of Consciousness, and Social Change

“What about Stevan Davies’s recent hypothesis that Jesus was an ecstatic healer who taught others how to meet God in ecstasy? Jesus himself spoke Johannine-like when in ecstasy and synoptic-like when not in ecstasy. That explains both these traditions as equally primitive and also explains that wide swath of Spirit-possessed trance in the primitive church.” John Dominic Crossan, author of Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography and The Historical Jesus.

Stevan L. Davies is Professor of Religious Studies at Misericordia University and the author of several books on early Christianity, including Revolt of the Widows, The Gospel of Thomas and Christian Wisdom, The Gospel of Thomas: Annotated & Explained, and The Secret Book of John: the Gnostic Gospel Annotated & Explained.