G.A. Wells

On this date in 1926, George Albert (G.A.) Wells was born in England. Wells, a freethought bible scholar, was emeritus professor of German at Birkbeck College, University of London. As a student, Wells roomed with the family of a Swiss Protestant clergyman who had been a pupil of Albert Schweitzer (author of The Quest of the Historical Jesus). This experience introduced Wells to major German scholars and the subject of the historicity of Jesus.

Wells’ books include The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971), The Historical Evidence for Jesus (1988), Did Jesus Exist? (1975), J.M. Robertson (1856-1933), edited by G.A. Wells (1987), Belief and Make-Believe: Critical Reflections on the Sources of Credulity (1991), The Jesus Legend, co-written with R. Joseph Hoffman (1996), The Jesus Myth (1998), Can We Trust the New Testament? (2005) and Cutting Jesus Down to Size (2009).

Wells in his early writings maintained that Jesus never existed, either as a person or a divine. He later offered more nuanced assessments and accepted that there is some historical basis for Jesus’ existence, but insisted that the Jesus of late-first-century gospel stories is different from the sacrificial Christ myth of Paul’s epistles and other early Christian documents.

Wells had been chair of the British Rationalist Press Association. He died at age 90. (D. 2017)

Freedom From Religion Foundation