Thursday, January 10, 2008

Jesus Christ - also known as 'Jesus of Nazareth'

What is happening now to your belief in Jesus?

Much of what is known about Jesus and his life had come from the four Gospels of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are not biographies but framed theologically the accounts of his ministry, death and resurrection. Other New Testament books added some plug-ins and add-ons.

The Gospel of Luke and Mathew contain narratives of his birth and infancy of which disagree in many points but concur in asserting that he was the miraculously conceived son of Mary, the wife of Joseph, and that he was born at Bethlehem in Judaea. All these four Gospels agree in dating his call to public ministry from the time of his baptism at the hands of John "the baptizer," after which he took up the life of an itinerant preacher, teacher, and healer, accompanied by a small band of disciples.

The central theme of Jesus' teaching, often conveyed in the form of a parable, was the near advent of God s Reign or Kingdom, attested not merely by his words but by the wonders or signs that he performed. The chronology of this period in Jesus' life is entirely uncertain; what seems clear is that his activities evoked scepticism and hostility in high quarters, Roman as well as Jewish. After perhaps three years in Galilee, he went to Jerusalem to observe Passover. There he was received enthusiastically by the populace, but was eventually arrested and, with the cooperation of the Jewish authorities, executed under Roman law as a dangerous messianic pretender. The Gospels give relatively detailed and lengthy accounts of his last days, suggesting that the story of Jesus' Passion was a central element in early Christian oral tradition. They close with accounts of his empty tomb, discovered on the third day, and of his later appearances to Mary and Mary Magdalene and to the circle of his disciples as risen from the dead.

The sources of his life and teaching are these four canonical Gospels received by the church. Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of the Christian religion. Some critics speculate that that the synoptic gospels used an existing Q-Source, and possibly L and M sources along with the Oral tradition. Also important are several apocryphal gospels.

Some writers, citing the lack of external evidence, argue that no such person as Jesus ever existed. Others, however, predominantly E.P. Sanders, Geza Vermes, Paula Fredricksen, John Dominic Crossan and John Meier, maintain that the source documents, on which the four canonical Gospels are based were written within living memory of Jesus’ lifetime. They therefore consider that the accounts of the life of Jesus in those Gospels provide a reasonable basis of evidence for the historical existence of Jesus and the basic facts of his life and death. Even among those who do believe in his existence there are divisions over the extent of historicity of the Gospels' accounts. Some say that the Gospel accounts are neither objective nor accurate, since they were written or compiled by his followers. Those who have a naturalistic view of history believe in neither divine intervention nor miracles without any evidence for them, such as the resurrection of Jesus mentioned by the Gospels.

There are many similarities between stories about Jesus and myths of Pagan Godmen such as Mithras, Apollo, Attis and Osiris Dionysus, leading to conjectures that the pagan myths were adopted by early accounts of Jesus. Devout Christian thinkers, such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, believed that such myths were created by ancient pagans with vague and imprecise knowledge of Gospel truth.

Benjamin Urrutia, a modern scholar, contends that Rabbi Yeshua Bar Abba was the historical Jesus of Nazareth and was the leader of the successful non-violent Jewish resistance to Pilate's attempt to place Roman Eagles; symbols of the worship of Jupiter; on Jerusalem's Temple Hill. This episode is found in Josephus, who does not say who the leader of this resistance was, but shortly afterwards, in a passage whose authenticity is heavily disputed, states that Pontius Pilate had Jesus crucified.

It is a common thought that Jesus preached for a period of three years, yet this is never mentioned explicitly in any of the gospels. However, much of the synoptic gospels' interpretations suggest only one year, and to achieve consistency with the Gospel of John, one theory suggests that the last gospel describes a timeline which depicts a ministry time period of approximately one year. This one year theory, Passover to Passover, ministry would coincide with the type and shadow of the Passover lamb being a yearling lamb. This, however, is not commonly taught, and thus is not a widespread theory in general.

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