According to those religions
conventionally designated as "
The sole source of
A minority of historians argue from the
internal features of, and inconsistencies
between, the Gospels and other canonical and
non-canonical Christian and Gnostic writings
that Jesus was a mythical figure. The
paucity of non-Christian sources that
corroborate Christian writings also lends
some support to this position. See, for
example, the writings of
Most discussions about Jesus, including this one, involve a conflict between contrasting, and in some ways incompatible, views of the world and of how humans acquire knowledge (this subject is discussed in the disciplines
Christians believe that humans can have
direct personal knowledge of
Historians meanwhile make statements about historical events or persons based on more pragmatic standards of empirical evidence. They look at scripture not as divinely inspired but as the work of fallible humans, who wrote in the light of their culture and time. However, most historians accept that the accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels and from other sources provide a reasonable basis of evidence, by the standards of ancient history, for the historical existence of Jesus.
Furthermore, Jesus is a still more
controversial figure because there are
different accounts of Jesus within
There is a paucity of accepted contemporaneous sources and of direct empirical evidence. Therefore, it is difficult for representatives of the different religious and secular traditions of knowledge and faith to reach agreement on a "biography" of Jesus.This article therefore offers the differing views and beliefs.
This section provides a historical view of Jesus, based on empirical evidence that is considered satisfactory by the majority of historians.
Jesus is derived from the
Christ is a title, and comes,
via Latin, from the Greek Christos
(Χριστος), which means
Most historians do not dispute the existence of a person named Jesus; evidence for Jesus' existence two thousand years ago is by historical standards actually fairly strong. Jesus is obviously mentioned extensively within the New Testament, but is also considered a historical figure within the traditions of Judaism, Islam, Mandeanism and alternative Christian traditions like Gnosticism. Jesus also gets a passing mention within historical accounts of the period, though the reliability of these accounts is disputed.
Moreover, historians generally agree that at least some of the source documents on which the Gospels are based were written within living memory of Jesus. These historians therefore accept that the accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels, excepting certain miraculous claims and the details that surround them, provide a reasonable basis of evidence by the standards of ancient history, for the basic narrative of Jesus' life and death.
The exact month or day or even the year
of Jesus's birth cannot be exactly
ascertained. Due to a mistaken calculation
based on the Roman Calendar by
The Gospels are problematic, because they
offer two seemingly incompatible accounts.
Matthew states that Jesus was born while
On the other hand,
In recent years,
Based on inferences from gospel accounts,
Jesus was executed by crucifixion on a
Friday, and on the 14th day of the Jewish
Possibly born in Bethlehem, Jesus was brought up in Galilee. Gospel accounts state he brought up in
Jesus' mother was
The Gospel of Mark reports that Jesus had brothers, that he was "Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon," and also suggests that Jesus had sisters. The Jewish historian Josephus and the Christian historian Eusebius(who wrote in Fourth century but quoted much earlier sources now unavaliable to us) refer to James the Just as Jesus' brother. Some churches reject this interpretation, saying that they were Jesus' cousins, which the Greek word for "brother" used in the Gospels would allow. Other churches suggest that these were half brothers, children of Joseph and a previous wife who died before Mary was betrothed to him. This tradition probably originates with the Protevangelion of James, traditionally ascribed to James the Just and certainly dated sometime in the late first to middle of the second century.
Jesus began his public ministry some time
after he was baptized by
Jesus did preach the imminent end of the
current era of history, in some sense a
literal end of the world as people of his
time knew it; in this sense he was an
Jesus increasingly gained followers as
his fame grew, though within his lifetime
Jesus' core following remained no more than
a small religious sect. Jesus had by the
time of his death taught a number of his
In his role as a social reformer Jesus
threatened the status quo. He was unpopular
with many Jewish religious authorities, not
least because he criticised them; but also
because some of Jesus' followers held the
controversial and inflammatory view that he
Jesus came with his followers to
Jerusalem during the
Jesus was crucified by the Romans on the
All the gospel accounts agree that
According to the Christian Gospels, Jesus' disciples encountered him again on the third day after his death, raised to life. He met them in various places over a period of forty days before "ascending into heaven".
Some historians have disputed the actual existence of Jesus, claiming his existence was either an invention or he was a figure further removed in history.
There are many items that are purported
to be authentic relics of the Gospel
account. The most famous alleged relic of
Jesus is the
Christianity is centered on the belief
that Jesus is the savior of man. According
to Christians, Jesus was born in Bethlehem
to Mary. He preached the new covenant across
Judea, which angered traditional Jews and
disturbed the Romans as he was seen as a
threat to public order. One of his twelve
apostles, Judas, betrayed him; and later
committed suicide in remorse. Jesus was
crucified by the Romans. However, he
Jesus Christ is deemed a false prophet in
most sects of Judaism, and religious Jews
are still awaiting the arrival of the
Muslims believe that Jesus, or Isa in
Arabic, was a prophet and Messiah. However,
they do not consider him to be a son of
Jesus is considered as a manifestation of
God by the
Sizeable minorities of
Jesus Christ has been featured in many films and media, sometimes as a serious portrayal, and other times as satire.
This Jesus Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub