Jesus of Wikipedia
Using Christ’s page as a guide to the online encyclopedia’s ten-year history.
By Chris Wilson
At 1:12 a.m. on March 3, 2001, Jimmy Wales created a page for Jesus on a three-month-old site called Wikipedia. “Jesus Christ is a central figure in Christianity,” he wrote. The site’s co-founder followed with a petition to his fellow first-generation editors: “I fear great controversy if this encyclopedia entry isn’t written well, and so I think we should all plunge in and duke it out quickly.” Four months later, a user called “Hiram” answered the call, changing “a central figure” to “the central figure” and writing a respectable four-paragraph summary of the Biblical story of Jesus. “Added some details. Not enough, I know,” he noted in the comments to his edit.
Wikipedia turned 10 years old this week, and perhaps no entry better captures its chaotic ascendency than that of Jesus Christ. What follows is a brief history of Wikipedia Jesus—his test, trials, and the chaotic world into which he was born.
Jesus had a quiet adolescence, reared by well-behaved editors. Users fiddled with sentences and paragraphs, expanding on references and adding a broader accounting of his role in the Judaic religions. He was briefly promoted to the “most central figure in Christianity,” but was restored to mere centrality in the next edit. The “Jews for Jesus” made a brief appearance on his page in August of 2002, but were removed with a polite explanation as to why. Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger occasionally ducked in to brush up little disputes.