Hugh J. Schonfield

Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield was a British Bible scholar specializing in the New Testament and the early development of the Christian religion and church. He was born in London, and educated at the University of Glasgow. He was one of the founders of the pacifist organization Commonwealth of World Citizens.

Schonfield was a Jew who termed himself a "Nazarene," meaning that he believed, as a Jew, that the Messiah, as predicted in Judaism's Hebrew Bible, had come in the person of Jesus. He believed, furthermore, that Jesus was aware of and believed in himself as born to fulfill the role of the Jewish Messiah, and consciously made the effort to see that the prophecies were fulfilled in his daily life (and death); that Jesus did not intend to found a new religion, but intended instead to lead to the fulfillment of God's covenant with the Jewish people as documented in the Hebrew Bible; that Christianity, the religion, was the product of Jesus's followers, especially as proclaimed to non-Jewish people, at which point the connection to Jesus's original purpose was lost.

This disconnection from the original message occurred over a period of time, under great distress (wars, loss of nationhood, slavery, exile from Jerusalem and Palestine), and for a multitude of reasons. Among those who are mentioned as having distorted the message is St. Paul who Schonfield depicts as mentally ill and as believing himself to be the Messiah. Schonfield believes that Jesus, himself, had nothing but good intentions in living his life out as predicted for the Messiah; Schonfield questions the result of the distortion at the hands of some of his followers, and at the hands of some who used this burgeoning new religion for less than honourable purposes.

Schonfield encourages believers in Jesus to take a critical view of what is told to them about him, and to endeavor to learn about the historic Jesus, how he fit into his times and land, and what was the purpose of his original message— faith in the Scriptures, living the exemplary life according to them, and for the purpose of alleviating misery, and making a difference to humanity.

Schonfield wrote commercially successful books in the fields of history and biography as well as religion, and he wrote a new translation of the New Testament entitled The Authentic New Testament. In 1965 he published the controversial The Passover Plot, a book whose thesis is that the Crucifixion was part of a larger, conscious attempt by Jesus to fulfill the Messianic expectations rampant in his time, and that the plan went unexpectedly wrong.

Schonfield followed The Passover Plot with a sequel in 1968, Those Incredible Christians; this was also termed a "shocker", but had less impact than the earlier one.


  • (trilogy)
    • Jesus a Biography
    • Saints Against Caesar, the Story of the First Christian Community
    • The Jew of Tarsus, a life of Paul
  • The Authentic New Testament, a modern translation of the New Testament
  • The Bible Was Right
  • The Song of Songs
  • A Popular Dictionary of Judaism
  • The Passover Plot, New Light on the History of Jesus
  • Those Incredible Christians
  • Letters to Frederick Tennyson
  • The New Hebrew Typography
  • The Authentic Photograph of Christ
  • For the Train: Five Poems and a Tale
  • The Book of British Industries
  • The History of Jewish Christianity from the First to the Twentieth Century
  • Richard Burton, Explorer
  • Ferdinand De Lesseps
  • According to the Hebrews
  • Travels in Tartary and Thibet
  • Travels and Researches in South Africa
  • The Suez Canal
  • Jesus A Biography
  • The Treaty of Versailles
  • Readings from the Apocryphal Gospels
  • Italy and Suez
  • Judaism and World Order
  • This Man Was Right.Woodrow Wilson Speaks Again
  • The Jew of Tarsus: An unorthodox portrait of Paul
  • Lost Book of Nativity of John
  • The Suez Canal In World Affairs
  • Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Studies Towards their Solution
  • The Bible was right. An astonishing examination of the New Testament
  • A History of Biblical Literature
  • Readers' A To Z Bible Companion
  • Suez Canal in Peace and War
  • Politics of God
  • The Jesus Party
  • For Christ's Sake
  • The Shroud of Turin
  • The Original New Testament
  • The Essene Odyssey
  • After the Cross
  • Proclaiming the Messiah
  • The Mystery of the Messiah
  • Jesus: Man and Messiah

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