Anderson reflects often upon contemporaries who did not embrace Jesus' teachings. (As minister, Anderson frequently impresses upon listeners the grave danger they put themselves in should their piety flag.) Those who question Jesus' claims are invariably evil, stupid and/or hypocritical; Anderson can envision no well-intentioned person--even a person reading the pastor's preferred narration--thinking, 'This is for the birds!'
You sense this cheers Anderson: People who reject Jesus' message are going to be severely tortured: Gentle Jesus' angels will one day 'sort the evil people from the righteous people, tossing the evil ones into the incinerator...' [p104] Skeptics are 'unbelieving enemies.' [p105] 'Just as the weeds are yanked up and burned in the incinerator, that's what will happen to evil unbelievers at the end of this age.' [p106]
Demonic possession, according to Anderson, is ubiquitous in the gospels. Crowd members are often thrust to Jesus to be exorcised, and Jesus never questions the accusation; due process apparently hadn't been invented yet. Accusations of possession are self-proving and require no consideration--indeed, an accusation against a mute person elicits no curiosity at all: It can only be true. A man possessed by numerous demons--Anderson considers 6,000 plausible--has his problem solved when Jesus transfers the spirits out of the man and into 2,000 unfortunate pigs, who promptly drown themselves. [p112]
Anderson sees all, identifying closely with Jesus the celebrity and Jesus the put-upon CEO. He understands Jesus' every wile, and can describe many subtle, regional swings in the redeemer's popularity:
What they didn't realize was that Jesus was deliberately avoiding Jerusalem...primarily because of threats against his life. They also didn't know that Jesus' popularity was already weakening in Galilee.Anderson's Jesus believes in collective reward and punishment. Jesus favors the credulous minority within one ethnicity--and will condemn whole cities en masse--with Anderson's strong approval. When Jesus does wretched stuff, Anderson cannot entertain criticism. It must be good.
Throughout Jesus, Anderson makes many ultra-dubious historical claims. One example: In a footnote on p148:
Jesus had witnessed a crucifixion when he was eleven years old. A man named Judas the Galilean led an insurrection against Roman rule. He attacked the imperial armory at Sepphoris, only four miles away from Jesus' home in Nazareth. The Roman response was swift and severe. Sepphoris was burned to the ground, and all of the citizens were sold into slavery. The two thousand rebels were crucified on the same day on crosses that lined the road near Nazareth. Jesus' memory had been etched with the horror of crucifixion.[Hyperlinks not in original, of course.]
Does any historian consider this credible?