Jesus[e] (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ,[f] was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.
Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically,[g] although the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus.[h][i] Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was baptized by John the Baptist and subsequently began his own ministry, preaching his message orally and often being referred to as "rabbi". Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. He was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and was subsequently crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. After his death, his followers believed he rose from the dead, and the community they formed eventually became the early Church.
The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually on December 25th (or various dates in January by some eastern churches) as a holiday known as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on Good Friday, and his resurrection is celebrated on Easter. The widely used calendar era "AD", from the Latin anno Domini ("in the year of the Lord"), and the equivalent alternative "CE", are based on the approximate birth date of Jesus.[j]
Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Most Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. A minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural.
Jesus also figures in non-Christian religions and new religious movements. In Islam, Jesus (commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of God's important prophets and the Messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was a bringer of scripture and was born of a virgin, but was not the Son of God. The Quran states that Jesus himself never claimed divinity. Most Muslims do not believe that he was crucified, but believe that he was physically raised into Heaven by God. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill Messianic prophecies, and was neither divine nor resurrected.
|Born||c. 4 BC[a]|
|Died||c. AD 30 / 33[b] |
|Cause of death||Crucifixion[c]|
|Home town||Nazareth, Galilee|
A typical Jew in Jesus' time had only one name, sometimes followed by the phrase "son of <father's name>", or the individual's hometown. Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is commonly referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth"[k] (e.g., Mark 10:47). Jesus' neighbors in Nazareth refer to him as "the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon" (Mark 6:3), "the carpenter's son" (Matthew 13:55), or "Joseph's son" (Luke 4:22). In John, the disciple Philip refers to him as "Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth" (John 1:45).
Jesus, pronounced "Jeshua" in Hebrew, is equivalent to the Hebrew name Joshua, the biblical name of Moses' assistant and of a Jewish high priest. The name Jesus is derived from the Latin Iesus, a transliteration of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iesous). The Greek form is a rendering of the Hebrew ישוע (Yeshua), a variant of the earlier name יהושע (Yehoshua), or in English, "Joshua". The name Yeshua appears to have been in use in Judea at the time of the birth of Jesus. The 1st-century works of historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote in Koine Greek, the same language as that of the New Testament, refer to at least twenty different people with the name Jesus (i.e. Ἰησοῦς). The etymology of Jesus' name in the context of the New Testament is generally given as "Yahweh is salvation".
Since early Christianity, Christians have commonly referred to Jesus as "Jesus Christ". The word Christ was a title or office ("the Christ"), not a given name. It derives from the Greek Χριστός (Christos), a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (משיח) meaning "anointed", and is usually transliterated into English as "Messiah". In biblical Judaism, sacred oil was used to anoint certain exceptionally holy people and objects as part of their religious investiture (see Leviticus 8:10–12 and Exodus 30:29).
Christians of the time designated Jesus as "the Christ" because they believed him to be the Messiah, whose arrival is prophesied in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament. In postbiblical usage, Christ became viewed as a name—one part of "Jesus Christ". The term "Christian" (meaning a follower of Christ) has been in use since the 1st century.
The four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the foremost sources for the life and message of Jesus. However, other parts of the New Testament also include references to key episodes in his life, such as the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23. Acts of the Apostles (Acts 10:37–38 and Acts 19) refers to the early ministry of Jesus and its anticipation by John the Baptist. Acts 1:1–11 says more about the Ascension of Jesus (also mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:16) than the canonical gospels do. In the undisputed Pauline letters, which were written earlier than the gospels, the words or instructions of Jesus are cited several times (1 Corinthians 7:10–11, 9:14, 11:23–25, 2 Corinthians 12:9).[l]
Some early Christian groups had separate descriptions of the life and teachings of Jesus that are not included in the New Testament. These include the Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, and Gospel of Judas, the Apocryphon of James, and many other apocryphal writings. Most scholars conclude that these are written much later and are less reliable accounts than the canonical gospels.
The canonical gospels are four accounts, each written by a different author. The authors of the gospels are all anonymous, attributed by tradition to the four evangelists, each with close ties to Jesus: Mark by John Mark, an associate of Peter; Matthew by one of Jesus' disciples; Luke by a companion of Paul mentioned in a few epistles; and John by another of Jesus' disciples, the "beloved disciple".
One important aspect of the study of the gospels is the literary genre under which they fall. Genre "is a key convention guiding both the composition and the interpretation of writings". Whether the gospel authors set out to write novels, myths, histories, or biographies has a tremendous impact on how they ought to be interpreted. Some recent studies suggest that the genre of the gospels ought to be situated within the realm of ancient biography. Although not without critics, the position that the gospels are a type of ancient biography is the consensus among scholars today.
Not everything contained in the New Testament gospels is considered to be historically reliable. Views range from their being inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus to their providing little historical information about his life beyond the basics. According to a broad scholarly consensus, the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and not John, are the most reliable sources of information about Jesus.
According to the Marcan priority, the first to be written was the Gospel of Mark (written AD 60–75), followed by the Gospel of Matthew (AD 65–85), the Gospel of Luke (AD 65–95), and the Gospel of John (AD 75–100). Furthermore, most scholars agree that the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source when writing their gospels. Matthew and Luke also share some content not found in Mark. To explain this, many scholars believe that in addition to Mark, another source (commonly called the "Q source") was used by the two authors.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels, from the Greek σύν (syn "together") and ὄψις (opsis "view"). They are similar in content, narrative arrangement, language and paragraph structure. Scholars generally agree that it is impossible to find any direct literary relationship between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. While the flow of some events (such as Jesus' baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion and interactions with the apostles) are shared among the Synoptic Gospels, incidents such as the transfiguration do not appear in John, which also differs on other matters, such as the Cleansing of the Temple.
|Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels||Jesus in the Gospel of John|
|Begins with Jesus' baptism or birth to a virgin.||Begins with creation, with no birth story.|
|Baptized by John the Baptist.||Baptism presupposed but not mentioned.|
|Teaches in parables and aphorisms.||Teaches in long, involved discourses.|
|Teaches primarily about the Kingdom of God, little about himself.||Teaches primarily and extensively about himself.|
|Speaks up for the poor and oppressed.||Says little to nothing about the poor or oppressed.|
|Exorcises demons.||Does not exorcise demons.|
|Attends one Passover festival.||Attends three or four Passover festivals.|
|Cleansing the Temple occurs late.||Cleansing the Temple is early.|
|Jesus ushers in a new covenant with a last supper.||Jesus washes the disciples' feet.|
The Synoptics emphasize different aspects of Jesus. In Mark, Jesus is the Son of God whose mighty works demonstrate the presence of God's Kingdom. He is a tireless wonder worker, the servant of both God and man. This short gospel records few of Jesus' words or teachings. The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's will as revealed in the Old Testament, and he is the Lord of the Church. He is the "Son of David", a "king", and the Messiah. Luke presents Jesus as the divine-human savior who shows compassion to the needy. He is the friend of sinners and outcasts, come to seek and save the lost. This gospel includes Jesus' most beloved parables, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
The prologue to the Gospel of John identifies Jesus as an incarnation of the divine Word (Logos). As the Word, Jesus was eternally present with God, active in all creation, and the source of humanity's moral and spiritual nature. Jesus is not only greater than any past human prophet but greater than any prophet could be. He not only speaks God's Word; he is God's Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals his divine role publicly. Here he is the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the True Vine and more.
In general, the authors of the New Testament showed little interest in an absolute chronology of Jesus or in synchronizing the episodes of his life with the secular history of the age. As stated in John 21:25, the gospels do not claim to provide an exhaustive list of the events in the life of Jesus. The accounts were primarily written as theological documents in the context of early Christianity, with timelines as a secondary consideration. In this respect, it is noteworthy that the Gospels devote about one third of their text to the last week of the life of Jesus in Jerusalem, referred to as the Passion. Although the gospels do not provide enough details to satisfy the demands of modern historians regarding exact dates, it is possible to draw from them a general picture of the life story of Jesus.
Jesus was Jewish, born by Mary, wife of Joseph (Matthew 1; Luke 2). The Gospels of Matthew and Luke offer two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew traces Jesus' ancestry to Abraham through David (1:1–16). Luke traces Jesus' ancestry through Adam to God (3:23–38). The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but differ radically from that point. Matthew has twenty-seven generations from David to Joseph, whereas Luke has forty-two, with almost no overlap between the names on the two lists.[m] Various theories have been put forward seeking to explain why the two genealogies are so different.[n]
Matthew and Luke each describe Jesus' birth, especially that Jesus was born by a virgin named Mary in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy. Luke's account emphasizes events before the birth of Jesus and centers on Mary, while Matthew's mostly covers those after the birth and centers on Joseph. Both accounts state that Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary, his betrothed, in Bethlehem, and both support the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, according to which Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb when she was still a virgin. At the same time, there is evidence, at least in the Lukan Acts of the Apostles, that Jesus was thought to have had, like many figures in antiquity, a dual paternity, since there it is stated he descended from the seed or loins of David.
In Matthew, Joseph is troubled because Mary, his betrothed, is pregnant (Matthew 1:19–20), but in the first of Joseph's three dreams an angel assures him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because her child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 2:1–12, wise men or Magi from the East bring gifts to the young Jesus as the King of the Jews. They find Jesus in a house in Bethlehem and not a barn and Jesus is now a child and not an infant. Matthew focuses on an event after the Luke Nativity where Jesus was an infant. In Matthew Herod the Great hears of Jesus' birth and, wanting him killed, orders the murders of male infants in Bethlehem under age of 2. But an angel warns Joseph in his second dream, and the family flees to Egypt—later to return and settle in Nazareth.
In Luke 1:31–38, Mary learns from the angel Gabriel that she will conceive and bear a child called Jesus through the action of the Holy Spirit. When Mary is due to give birth, she and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Joseph's ancestral home in Bethlehem to register in the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. While there Mary gives birth to Jesus, and as they have found no room in the inn, she places the newborn in a manger (Luke 2:1–7). An angel announces the birth to some shepherds, who go to Bethlehem to see Jesus, and subsequently spread the news abroad (Luke 2:8–20). After the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Joseph, Mary and Jesus return to Nazareth.
Jesus' childhood home is identified in the gospels of Luke and Matthew as the town of Nazareth in Galilee, where he lived with his family. Although Joseph appears in descriptions of Jesus' childhood, no mention is made of him thereafter. His other family members—his mother, Mary, his brothers James, Joses (or Joseph), Judas and Simon and his unnamed sisters—are mentioned in the gospels and other sources.
The Gospel of Mark reports that Jesus comes into conflict with his neighbors and family. Jesus' mother and brothers come to get him (Mark 3:31–35) because people are saying that he is crazy (Mark 3:21). Jesus responds that his followers are his true family. In John, Mary follows Jesus to his crucifixion, and he expresses concern over her well-being (John 19:25–27).
Jesus is called a τέκτων (tektōn) in Mark 6:3, traditionally understood as carpenter but could cover makers of objects in various materials, including builders. The gospels indicate that Jesus could read, paraphrase, and debate scripture, but this does not necessarily mean that he received formal scribal training.
When Jesus is presented as a baby in the temple per Jewish Law, a man named Simeon says to Mary and Joseph that Jesus "shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul. Then the secret thoughts of many will come to light" (Luke 2:28–35). Several years later, when Jesus goes missing on a visit to Jerusalem, his parents find him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions, and the people are amazed at his understanding and answers; Mary scolds Jesus for going missing, to which Jesus replies that he must "be in his father's house" (Luke 2:41–52).
The Synoptic accounts of Jesus' baptism are all preceded by information about John the Baptist. They show John preaching penance and repentance for the remission of sins and encouraging the giving of alms to the poor (Luke 3:11) as he baptizes people in the area of the Jordan River around Perea and foretells (Luke 3:16) the arrival of someone "more powerful" than he. Later, Jesus identifies John as "the Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:14, Mark 9:13–14), the prophet who was expected to arrive before the "great and terrible day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5). Likewise, Luke says that John had the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).
In Mark, John baptizes Jesus, and as he comes out of the water he sees the Holy Spirit descending to him like a dove and he hears a voice from heaven declaring him to be God's Son (Mark 1:9–11). This is one of two events described in the gospels where a voice from Heaven calls Jesus "Son", the other being the Transfiguration. The spirit then drives him into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12–13). Jesus then begins his ministry after John's arrest (Mark 1:14). Jesus' baptism in Matthew is similar. Here, before Jesus' baptism, John protests, saying, "I need to be baptized by you" (Matthew 3:14). Jesus instructs him to carry on with the baptism "to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). Matthew also details the three temptations that Satan offers Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3–11). In Luke, the Holy Spirit descends as a dove after everyone has been baptized and Jesus is praying (Luke 3:21–22). John implicitly recognizes Jesus from prison after sending his followers to ask about him (Luke 7:18–23). Jesus' baptism and temptation serve as preparation for his public ministry.
The Gospel of John leaves out Jesus' baptism and temptation. Here, John the Baptist testifies that he saw the Spirit descend on Jesus (John 1:32). John publicly proclaims Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and some of John's followers become disciples of Jesus. In this Gospel, John denies that he is Elijah (John 1:21). Before John is imprisoned, Jesus leads his followers to baptize disciples as well (John 3:22–24), and they baptize more people than John (John 4:1).
The Synoptics depict two distinct geographical settings in Jesus' ministry. The first takes place north of Judea, in Galilee, where Jesus conducts a successful ministry; and the second shows Jesus rejected and killed when he travels to Jerusalem. Often referred to as "rabbi", Jesus preaches his message orally. Notably, Jesus forbids those who recognize him as the Messiah to speak of it, including people he heals and demons he exorcises (see Messianic Secret).
John depicts Jesus' ministry as largely taking place in and around Jerusalem, rather than in Galilee; and Jesus' divine identity is openly proclaimed and immediately recognized.
Scholars divide the ministry of Jesus into several stages. The Galilean ministry begins when Jesus returns to Galilee from the Judaean Desert after rebuffing the temptation of Satan. Jesus preaches around Galilee, and in Matthew 4:18–20, his first disciples, who will eventually form the core of the early Church, encounter him and begin to travel with him. This period includes the Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus' major discourses, as well as the calming of the storm, the feeding of the 5,000, walking on water and a number of other miracles and parables. It ends with the Confession of Peter and the Transfiguration.
As Jesus travels towards Jerusalem, in the Perean ministry, he returns to the area where he was baptized, about a third of the way down from the Sea of Galilee along the Jordan River (John 10:40–42). The final ministry in Jerusalem begins with Jesus' triumphal entry into the city on Palm Sunday. In the Synoptic Gospels, during that week Jesus drives the money changers from the Second Temple and Judas bargains to betray him. This period culminates in the Last Supper and the Farewell Discourse.
Near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus appoints twelve apostles. In Matthew and Mark, despite Jesus only briefly requesting that they join him, Jesus' first four apostles, who were fishermen, are described as immediately consenting, and abandoning their nets and boats to do so (Matthew 4:18–22, Mark 1:16–20). In John, Jesus' first two apostles were disciples of John the Baptist. The Baptist sees Jesus and calls him the Lamb of God; the two hear this and follow Jesus. In addition to the Twelve Apostles, the opening of the passage of the Sermon on the Plain identifies a much larger group of people as disciples (Luke 6:17). Also, in Luke 10:1–16 Jesus sends seventy or seventy-two of his followers in pairs to prepare towns for his prospective visit. They are instructed to accept hospitality, heal the sick and spread the word that the Kingdom of God is coming.
In Mark, the disciples are notably obtuse. They fail to understand Jesus' miracles (Mark 4:35–41, Mark 6:52), his parables (Mark 4:13), or what "rising from the dead" would mean (Mark 9:9–10). When Jesus is later arrested, they desert him.
In the Synoptics, Jesus teaches extensively, often in parables, about the Kingdom of God (or, in Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven). The Kingdom is described as both imminent (Mark 1:15) and already present in the ministry of Jesus (Luke 17:21). Jesus promises inclusion in the Kingdom for those who accept his message (Mark 10:13–27). Jesus talks of the "Son of Man," an apocalyptic figure who would come to gather the chosen.
Jesus calls people to repent their sins and to devote themselves completely to God. Jesus tells his followers to adhere to Jewish law, although he is perceived by some to have broken the law himself, for example regarding the Sabbath. When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replies: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind ... And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37–39). Other ethical teachings of Jesus include loving your enemies, refraining from hatred and lust, turning the other cheek, and forgiving people who have sinned against you (Matthew 5–7).
John's Gospel presents the teachings of Jesus not merely as his own preaching, but as divine revelation. John the Baptist, for example, states in John 3:34: "He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure." In John 7:16 Jesus says, "My teaching is not mine but his who sent me." He asserts the same thing in John 14:10: "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works."
Approximately thirty parables form about one third of Jesus' recorded teachings. The parables appear within longer sermons and at other places in the narrative. They often contain symbolism, and usually relate the physical world to the spiritual. Common themes in these tales include the kindness and generosity of God and the perils of transgression. Some of his parables, such as the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32), are relatively simple, while others, such as the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26–29), are sophisticated, profound and abstruse. When asked by his disciples about why he speaks in parables to the people, Jesus replies that the chosen disciples have been given to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven", unlike the rest of their people, "For the one who has will be given more and he will have in abundance. But the one who does not have will be deprived even more.", going on to say that the majority of their generation have grown "dull hearts" and thus are unable to understand (Matthew 13:10–17).
In the gospel accounts, Jesus devotes a large portion of his ministry performing miracles, especially healings. The miracles can be classified into two main categories: healing miracles and nature miracles. The healing miracles include cures for physical ailments, exorcisms, and resurrections of the dead. The nature miracles show Jesus' power over nature, and include turning water into wine, walking on water, and calming a storm, among others. Jesus states that his miracles are from a divine source. When Jesus' opponents suddenly accuse him of performing exorcisms by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, Jesus counters that he performs them by the "Spirit of God" (Matthew 12:28) or "finger of God", arguing that all logic suggests that Satan would not let his demons assist the Children of God because it would divide Satan's house and bring his kingdom to desolation; furthermore, he asks his opponents that if he exorcises by Beel'zebub, "by whom do your sons cast them out?"(Luke 11:20). In Matthew 12:31–32, he goes on to say that while all manner of sin, "even insults against God" or "insults against the son of man", shall be forgiven, whoever insults goodness (or "The Holy Spirit") shall never be forgiven; he/she carries the guilt of his/her sin forever.
In John, Jesus' miracles are described as "signs", performed to prove his mission and divinity. However, in the Synoptics, when asked by some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees to give miraculous signs to prove his authority, Jesus refuses, saying that no sign shall come to corrupt and evil people except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Also, in the Synoptic Gospels, the crowds regularly respond to Jesus' miracles with awe and press on him to heal their sick. In John's Gospel, Jesus is presented as unpressured by the crowds, who often respond to his miracles with trust and faith. One characteristic shared among all miracles of Jesus in the gospel accounts is that he performed them freely and never requested or accepted any form of payment. The gospel episodes that include descriptions of the miracles of Jesus also often include teachings, and the miracles themselves involve an element of teaching. Many of the miracles teach the importance of faith. In the cleansing of ten lepers and the raising of Jairus' daughter, for instance, the beneficiaries are told that their healing was due to their faith.
At about the middle of each of the three Synoptic Gospels are two significant events: the Confession of Peter and the Transfiguration of Jesus. These two events are not mentioned in the Gospel of John.
In his Confession, Peter tells Jesus, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus affirms that Peter's confession is divinely revealed truth. After the confession, Jesus tells his disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22)
In the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2–8, and Luke 9:28–36), Jesus takes Peter and two other apostles up an unnamed mountain, where "he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white." A bright cloud appears around them, and a voice from the cloud says, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him" (Matthew 17:1–9).
The description of the last week of the life of Jesus (often called Passion Week) occupies about one third of the narrative in the canonical gospels, starting with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending with his Crucifixion.
In the Synoptics, the last week in Jerusalem is the conclusion of the journey through Perea and Judea that Jesus began in Galilee. Jesus rides a young donkey into Jerusalem, reflecting the tale of the Messiah's Donkey, an oracle from the Book of Zechariah in which the Jews' humble king enters Jerusalem this way (Zechariah 9:9). People along the way lay cloaks and small branches of trees (known as palm fronds) in front of him and sing part of Psalms 118:25–26.
Jesus next expels the money changers from the Second Temple, accusing them of turning it into a den of thieves through their commercial activities. Jesus then prophesies about the coming destruction, including false prophets, wars, earthquakes, celestial disorders, persecution of the faithful, the appearance of an "abomination of desolation," and unendurable tribulations (Mark 13:1–23). The mysterious "Son of Man," he says, will dispatch angels to gather the faithful from all parts of the earth (Mark 13:24–27). Jesus warns that these wonders will occur in the lifetimes of the hearers (Mark 13:28–32). In John, the Cleansing of the Temple occurs at the beginning of Jesus' ministry instead of at the end (John 2:13–16).
Jesus comes into conflict with the Jewish elders, such as when they question his authority and when he criticizes them and calls them hypocrites. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, secretly strikes a bargain with the Jewish elders, agreeing to betray Jesus to them for 30 silver coins.
The Gospel of John recounts of two other feasts in which Jesus taught in Jerusalem before the Passion Week (John 7:1–10:42). In Bethany, a village near Jerusalem, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. This potent sign increases the tension with authorities, who conspire to kill him (John 11). Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus' feet, foreshadowing his entombment. Jesus then makes his Messianic entry into Jerusalem. The cheering crowds greeting Jesus as he enters Jerusalem add to the animosity between him and the establishment. In John, Jesus has already cleansed the Second Temple during an earlier Passover visit to Jerusalem. John next recounts Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples.
The Last Supper is the final meal that Jesus shares with his 12 apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is mentioned in all four canonical gospels; Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (11:23–26) also refers to it. During the meal, Jesus predicts that one of his apostles will betray him. Despite each Apostle's assertion that he would not betray him, Jesus reiterates that the betrayer would be one of those present. Matthew 26:23–25 and John 13:26–27 specifically identify Judas as the traitor.
In the Synoptics, Jesus takes bread, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you". He then has them all drink from a cup, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" (Luke 22:19–20). The Christian sacrament or ordinance of the Eucharist is based on these events. Although the Gospel of John does not include a description of the bread-and-wine ritual during the Last Supper, most scholars agree that John 6:22–59 (the Bread of Life Discourse) has a eucharistic character and resonates with the institution narratives in the Synoptic Gospels and in the Pauline writings on the Last Supper.
In all four gospels, Jesus predicts that Peter will deny knowledge of him three times before the rooster crows the next morning. In Luke and John, the prediction is made during the Supper (Luke 22:34, John 22:34). In Matthew and Mark, the prediction is made after the Supper; Jesus also predicts that all his disciples will desert him (Matthew 26:31–34, Mark 14:27–30). The Gospel of John provides the only account of Jesus washing his disciples' feet after the meal. John also includes a long sermon by Jesus, preparing his disciples (now without Judas) for his departure. Chapters 14–17 of the Gospel of John are known as the Farewell Discourse and are a significant source of Christological content.
In the Synoptics, Jesus and his disciples go to the garden Gethsemane, where Jesus prays to be spared his coming ordeal. Then Judas comes with an armed mob, sent by the chief priests, scribes and elders. He kisses Jesus to identify him to the crowd, which then arrests Jesus. In an attempt to stop them, an unnamed disciple of Jesus uses a sword to cut off the ear of a man in the crowd. After Jesus' arrest, his disciples go into hiding, and Peter, when questioned, thrice denies knowing Jesus. After the third denial, Peter hears the rooster crow and recalls Jesus' prediction about his denial. Peter then weeps bitterly.
In John (18:1–11), Jesus does not pray to be spared his crucifixion, as the gospel portrays him as scarcely touched by such human weakness. The people who arrest him are Roman soldiers and Temple guards. Instead of being betrayed by a kiss, Jesus proclaims his identity, and when he does, the soldiers and officers fall to the ground. The gospel identifies Peter as the disciple who used the sword, and Jesus rebukes him for it.
After his arrest, Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish judicial body. The gospel accounts differ on the details of the trials. In Matthew 26:57, Mark 14:53 and Luke 22:54, Jesus is taken to the house of the high priest, Caiaphas, where he is mocked and beaten that night. Early the next morning, the chief priests and scribes lead Jesus away into their council. John 18:12–14 states that Jesus is first taken to Annas, Caiaphas' father-in-law, and then to the high priest.
During the trials Jesus speaks very little, mounts no defense, and gives very infrequent and indirect answers to the priests' questions, prompting an officer to slap him. In Matthew 26:62 Jesus' unresponsiveness leads Caiaphas to ask him, "Have you no answer?" In Mark 14:61 the high priest then asks Jesus, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus replies, "I am", and then predicts the coming of the Son of Man. This provokes Caiaphas to tear his own robe in anger and to accuse Jesus of blasphemy. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus' answer is more ambiguous: in Matthew 26:64 he responds, "You have said so", and in Luke 22:70 he says, "You say that I am".
The Jewish elders take Jesus to Pilate's Court and ask the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to judge and condemn Jesus for various allegations, accusing him of blasphemy, perverting the nation, forbidding the payment of tribute, inciting sedition against Rome, sorcery, claiming to be the King of the Jews, the Son of God, and a savior to the world. The use of the word "king" is central to the discussion between Jesus and Pilate. In John 18:36 Jesus states, "My kingdom is not from this world", but he does not unequivocally deny being the King of the Jews. In Luke 23:7–15 Pilate realizes that Jesus is a Galilean, and thus comes under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea. Pilate sends Jesus to Herod to be tried, but Jesus says almost nothing in response to Herod's questions. Herod and his soldiers mock Jesus, put an expensive robe on him to make him look like a king, and return him to Pilate, who then calls together the Jewish elders and announces that he has "not found this man guilty".
Observing a Passover custom of the time, Pilate allows one prisoner chosen by the crowd to be released. He gives the people a choice between Jesus and a murderer called Barabbas (בר-אבא or Bar-abbâ, "son of the father", from the common given name Abba: 'father'). Persuaded by the elders (Matthew 27:20), the mob chooses to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Pilate writes a sign in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek that reads "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (abbreviated as INRI in depictions) to be affixed to Jesus' cross (John 19:19–20), then scourges Jesus and sends him to be crucified. The soldiers place a Crown of Thorns on Jesus' head and ridicule him as the King of the Jews. They beat and taunt him before taking him to Calvary, also called Golgotha, for crucifixion.
Jesus' crucifixion is described in all four canonical gospels. After the trials, Jesus is led to Calvary carrying his cross; the route traditionally thought to have been taken is known as the Via Dolorosa. The three Synoptic Gospels indicate that Simon of Cyrene assists him, having been compelled by the Romans to do so. In Luke 23:27–28 Jesus tells the women in the multitude of people following him not to weep for him but for themselves and their children. At Calvary, Jesus is offered a sponge soaked in a concoction usually offered as a painkiller. According to Matthew and Mark, he refuses it.
The soldiers then crucify Jesus and cast lots for his clothes. Above Jesus' head on the cross is Pilate's inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Soldiers and passersby mock him about it. Two convicted thieves are crucified along with Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, both thieves mock Jesus. In Luke, one of them rebukes Jesus, while the other defends him. Jesus tells the latter: "today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). In John, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the beloved disciple were at the crucifixion. Jesus tells the beloved disciple to take care of his mother (John 19:26–27).
The Roman soldiers break the two thieves' legs (a procedure designed to hasten death in a crucifixion), but they do not break those of Jesus, as he is already dead (John 19:33). In John 19:34, one soldier pierces Jesus' side with a lance, and blood and water flow out. In the Synoptics, when Jesus dies, the heavy curtain at the Temple is torn. In Matthew 27:51–54, an earthquake breaks open tombs. In Matthew and Mark, terrified by the events, a Roman centurion states that Jesus was the Son of God.
On the same day, Joseph of Arimathea, with Pilate's permission and with Nicodemus' help, removes Jesus' body from the cross, wraps him in a clean cloth, and buries him in his new rock-hewn tomb. In Matthew 27:62–66, on the following day the chief Jewish priests ask Pilate for the tomb to be secured, and with Pilate's permission the priests place seals on the large stone covering the entrance.
Mary Magdalene (alone in the Gospel of John, but accompanied by other women in the Synoptics) goes to Jesus' tomb on Sunday morning and is surprised to find it empty. Despite Jesus' teaching, the disciples had not understood that Jesus would rise again.
Jesus' ascension into Heaven is described in Luke 24:50–53, Acts 1:1–11 and mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:16. In the Acts of the Apostles, forty days after the Resurrection, as the disciples look on, "he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight". 1 Peter 3:22 states that Jesus has "gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God".
The Acts of the Apostles describes several appearances of Jesus after his Ascension. In Acts 7:55, Stephen gazes into heaven and sees "Jesus standing at the right hand of God" just before his death. On the road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul is converted to Christianity after seeing a blinding light and hearing a voice saying, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:5). In Acts 9:10–18, Jesus instructs Ananias of Damascus in a vision to heal Paul. The Book of Revelation includes a revelation from Jesus concerning the last days.
After Jesus's life, his followers, as described in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, were all Jews either by birth or conversion, for which the biblical term "proselyte" is used, and referred to by historians as Jewish Christians. The early Gospel message was spread orally, probably in Aramaic, but almost immediately also in Greek. The New Testament's Acts of the Apostles and Epistle to the Galatians record that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included Peter, James, the brother of Jesus, and John the Apostle.
After the conversion of Paul the Apostle, he claimed the title of "Apostle to the Gentiles". Paul's influence on Christian thinking is said to be more significant than that of any other New Testament author. By the end of the 1st century, Christianity began to be recognized internally and externally as a separate religion from Judaism which itself was refined and developed further in the centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple.
Numerous quotations in the New Testament and other Christian writings of the first centuries, indicate that early Christians generally used and revered the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) as religious text, mostly in the Greek (Septuagint) or Aramaic (Targum) translations.
Early Christians wrote many religious works, including the ones included in the canon of the New Testament. The canonical texts, which have become the main sources used by historians to try to understand the historical Jesus and sacred texts within Christianity, were probably written between 50 and 120 AD.
Prior to the Enlightenment, the gospels were usually regarded as accurate historical accounts, but since then scholars have emerged who question the reliability of the gospels and draw a distinction between the Jesus described in the gospels and the Jesus of history. Since the 18th century, three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during the quest that applied them. While there is widespread scholarly agreement on the existence of Jesus,[g] and a basic consensus on the general outline of his life,[o] the portraits of Jesus constructed by various scholars often differ from each other, and from the image portrayed in the gospel accounts.
Approaches to the historical reconstruction of the life of Jesus have varied from the "maximalist" approaches of the 19th century, in which the gospel accounts were accepted as reliable evidence wherever it is possible, to the "minimalist" approaches of the early 20th century, where hardly anything about Jesus was accepted as historical. In the 1950s, as the second quest for the historical Jesus gathered pace, the minimalist approaches faded away, and in the 21st century, minimalists such as Price are a very small minority. Although a belief in the inerrancy of the gospels cannot be supported historically, many scholars since the 1980s have held that, beyond the few facts considered to be historically certain, certain other elements of Jesus' life are "historically probable". Modern scholarly research on the historical Jesus thus focuses on identifying the most probable elements.
In AD 6, Judea, Idumea, and Samaria were transformed from a client kingdom of the Roman Empire into an imperial province, also called Judea. A Roman prefect, rather than a client king, ruled the land. The prefect ruled from Caesarea Maritima, leaving Jerusalem to be run by the High Priest of Israel. As an exception, the prefect came to Jerusalem during religious festivals, when religious and patriotic enthusiasm sometimes inspired unrest or uprisings. Gentile lands surrounded the Jewish territories of Judea and Galilee, but Roman law and practice allowed Jews to remain separate legally and culturally. Galilee was evidently prosperous, and poverty was limited enough that it did not threaten the social order.
This was the era of Hellenistic Judaism, which combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Hellenistic Greek culture. Until the fall of the Roman Empire and the Muslim conquests of the Eastern Mediterranean, the main centers of Hellenistic Judaism were Alexandria (Egypt) and Antioch (now Southern Turkey), the two main Greek urban settlements of the Middle East and North Africa area, both founded at the end of the 4th century BCE in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Hellenistic Judaism also existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period, where there was conflict between Hellenizers and traditionalists (sometimes called Judaizers). The Hebrew Bible was translated from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic into Jewish Koiné Greek; the Targum translations into Aramaic were also generated during this era, both due to the decline of knowledge of Hebrew.
Jews based their faith and religious practice on the Torah, five books said to have been given by God to Moses. The three prominent religious parties were the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Sadducees. Together these parties represented only a small fraction of the population. Most Jews looked forward to a time that God would deliver them from their pagan rulers, possibly through war against the Romans.
New Testament scholars face a formidable challenge when they analyze the canonical Gospels. The Gospels are not biographies in the modern sense, and the authors explain Jesus' theological significance and recount his public ministry while omitting many details of his life. The reports of supernatural events associated with Jesus' death and resurrection make the challenge even more difficult. Scholars regard the gospels as compromised sources of information because the writers were trying to glorify Jesus. Even so, the sources for Jesus' life are better than sources scholars have for the life of Alexander the Great. Scholars use a number of criteria, such as the criterion of independent attestation, the criterion of coherence, and the criterion of discontinuity to judge the historicity of events. The historicity of an event also depends on the reliability of the source; indeed, the gospels are not independent nor consistent records of Jesus' life. Mark, which is most likely the earliest written gospel, has been considered for many decades the most historically accurate. John, the latest written gospel, differs considerably from the Synoptic Gospels, and thus is generally considered less reliable, although more and more scholars now also recognize that it may contain a core of older material as historically valuable as the Synoptic tradition or even more so.
The non-canonical Gospel of Thomas might be an independent witness to many of Jesus' parables and aphorisms. For example, Thomas confirms that Jesus blessed the poor and that this saying circulated independently before being combined with similar sayings in the Q source. Other select non-canonical Christian texts may also have value for historical Jesus research.
Early non-Christian sources that attest to the historical existence of Jesus include the works of the historians Josephus and Tacitus.[p] Josephus scholar Louis Feldman has stated that "few have doubted the genuineness" of Josephus' reference to Jesus in book 20 of the Antiquities of the Jews, and it is disputed only by a small number of scholars. Tacitus referred to Christ and his execution by Pilate in book 15 of his work Annals. Scholars generally consider Tacitus's reference to the execution of Jesus to be both authentic and of historical value as an independent Roman source.
Non-Christian sources are valuable in two ways. First, they show that even neutral or hostile parties never evince any doubt that Jesus actually existed. Second, they present a rough picture of Jesus that is compatible with that found in the Christian sources: that Jesus was a teacher, had a reputation as a miracle worker, had a brother James, and died a violent death.
Archeology helps scholars better understand Jesus' social world. Recent archeological work, for example, indicates that Capernaum, a city important in Jesus' ministry, was poor and small, without even a forum or an agora. This archaeological discovery resonates well with the scholarly view that Jesus advocated reciprocal sharing among the destitute in that area of Galilee.
Jesus was a Galilean Jew, born around the beginning of the 1st century, who died in 30 or 33 AD in Judea. The general scholarly consensus is that Jesus was a contemporary of John the Baptist and was crucified by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who held office from 26 to 36 AD.
The gospels offer several clues concerning the year of Jesus' birth. Matthew 2:1 associates the birth of Jesus with the reign of Herod the Great, who died around 4 BC, and Luke 1:5 mentions that Herod was on the throne shortly before the birth of Jesus, although this gospel also associates the birth with the Census of Quirinius which took place ten years later. Luke 3:23 states that Jesus was "about thirty years old" at the start of his ministry, which according to Acts 10:37–38 was preceded by John the Baptist's ministry, itself recorded in Luke 3:1–2 to have begun in the 15th year of Tiberius' reign (28 or 29 AD). By collating the gospel accounts with historical data and using various other methods, most scholars arrive at a date of birth from 6 to 4 BC for Jesus, but some propose estimates that lie in a wider range.[q]
The years of Jesus' ministry have been estimated using several different approaches. One of these applies the reference in Luke 3:1–2, Acts 10:37–38 and the dates of Tiberius' reign, which are well known, to give a date of around 28–29 AD for the start of Jesus' ministry. Another approach uses the statement about the temple in John 2:13–20, which asserts that the temple in Jerusalem was in its 46th year of construction at the start of Jesus' ministry, together with Josephus' statement that the temple's reconstruction was started by Herod the Great in the 18th year of his reign, to estimate a date around 27–29 AD. A further method uses the date of the death of John the Baptist and the marriage of Herod Antipas to Herodias, based on the writings of Josephus, and correlates it with Matthew 14:4 and Mark 6:18. Given that most scholars date the marriage of Herod and Herodias as AD 28–35, this yields a date about 28–29 AD.
A number of approaches have been used to estimate the year of the crucifixion of Jesus. Most scholars agree that he died in 30 or 33 AD. The gospels state that the event occurred during the prefecture of Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea from 26 to 36 AD. The date for the conversion of Paul (estimated to be 33–36 AD) acts as an upper bound for the date of Crucifixion. The dates for Paul's conversion and ministry can be determined by analyzing the Pauline epistles and the Acts of the Apostles. Astronomers have tried to estimate the precise date of the Crucifixion by analyzing lunar motion and calculating historic dates of Passover, a festival based on the lunisolar Hebrew calendar. The most widely accepted dates derived from this method are April 7, 30 AD, and April 3, 33 AD (both Julian).
Roman senator and historian Tacitus mentioned the execution of "Christus" (Jesus) by Pilate in a passage describing the Great Fire of Rome and Nero's persecution of Christians in the Annals, a history of the Roman Empire during the 1st century.
Scholars have reached a limited consensus on the basics of Jesus' life.
Many scholars agree that Joseph, Jesus' father, died by the time Jesus began his ministry. Joseph is not mentioned at all in the gospels during Jesus' ministry. Joseph's death would explain why in Mark 6:3, Jesus' neighbors refer to Jesus as the "son of Mary" (sons were usually identified by their fathers).
According to Theissen and Merz, it is common for extraordinary charismatic leaders, such as Jesus, to come into conflict with their ordinary families. In Mark, Jesus' family comes to get him, fearing that he is mad (Mark 3:20–34), and this account is likely historical because early Christians would not have invented it. After Jesus' death, many members of his family joined the Christian movement. Jesus' brother James became a leader of the Jerusalem Church.
Géza Vermes says that the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus arose from theological development rather than from historical events. Despite the widely held view that the authors of the Synoptic Gospels drew upon each other (the so-called synoptic problem), other scholars take it as significant that the virgin birth is attested by two separate gospels, Matthew and Luke.
According to E. P. Sanders, the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are the clearest case of invention in the Gospel narratives of Jesus' life. Both accounts have Jesus born in Bethlehem, in accordance with Jewish salvation history, and both have him growing up in Nazareth. But Sanders points that the two Gospels report completely different and irreconcilable explanations for how that happened. Luke's account of a census in which everyone returned to their ancestral cities is not plausible. Matthew's account is more plausible, but the story reads as though it was invented to identify Jesus as like a new Moses, and the historian Josephus reports Herod the Great's brutality without ever mentioning that he massacred little boys.
Sanders says that the genealogies of Jesus are based not on historical information but on the authors' desire to show that Jesus was the universal Jewish savior. In any event, once the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus became established, that tradition superseded the earlier tradition that he was descended from David through Joseph. Luke reports that Jesus was a blood relation of John the Baptist, but scholars generally consider this connection to be invented.
Most modern scholars consider Jesus' baptism to be a definite historical fact, along with his crucifixion. Theologian James D. G. Dunn states that they "command almost universal assent" and "rank so high on the 'almost impossible to doubt or deny' scale of historical facts" that they are often the starting points for the study of the historical Jesus. Scholars adduce the criterion of embarrassment, saying that early Christians would not have invented a baptism that might imply that Jesus committed sins and wanted to repent. According to Theissen and Merz, Jesus was inspired by John the Baptist and took over from him many elements of his teaching.
Most scholars hold that Jesus lived in Galilee and Judea and did not preach or study elsewhere. They agree that Jesus debated with Jewish authorities on the subject of God, performed some healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. Jesus' Jewish critics considered his ministry to be scandalous because he feasted with sinners, fraternized with women, and allowed his followers to pluck grain on the Sabbath. According to Sanders, it is not plausible that disagreements over how to interpret the Law of Moses and the Sabbath would have led Jewish authorities to want Jesus killed.
According to Ehrman, Jesus taught that a coming kingdom was everyone's proper focus, not anything in this life. He taught about the Jewish Law, seeking its true meaning, sometimes in opposition to other traditions. Jesus put love at the center of the Law, and following that Law was an apocalyptic necessity. His ethical teachings called for forgiveness, not judging others, loving enemies, and caring for the poor. Funk and Hoover note that typical of Jesus were paradoxical or surprising turns of phrase, such as advising one, when struck on the cheek, to offer the other cheek to be struck as well (Luke 6:29).
The Gospels portray Jesus teaching in well-defined sessions, such as the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew or the parallel Sermon on the Plain in Luke. According to Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz, these teaching sessions include authentic teachings of Jesus, but the scenes were invented by the respective evangelists to frame these teachings, which had originally been recorded without context. While Jesus' miracles fit within the social context of antiquity, he defined them differently. First, he attributed them to the faith of those healed. Second, he connected them to end times prophecy.
Jesus chose twelve disciples  (the "Twelve"), evidently as an apocalyptic message. All three Synoptics mention the Twelve, although the names on Luke's list vary from those in Mark and Matthew, suggesting that Christians were not certain who all the disciples were. The 12 disciples might have represented the twelve original tribes of Israel, which would be restored once God's rule was instituted. The disciples were reportedly meant to be the rulers of the tribes in the coming Kingdom (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30). According to Bart Ehrman, Jesus' promise that the Twelve would rule is historical, because the Twelve included Judas Iscariot. In Ehrman's view, no Christians would have invented a line from Jesus, promising rulership to the disciple who betrayed him. In Mark, the disciples play hardly any role other than a negative one. While others sometimes respond to Jesus with complete faith, his disciples are puzzled and doubtful. They serve as a foil to Jesus and to other characters. The failings of the disciples are probably exaggerated in Mark, and the disciples make a better showing in Matthew and Luke.
Sanders says that Jesus' mission was not about repentance, although he acknowledges that this opinion is unpopular. He argues that repentance appears as a strong theme only in Luke, that repentance was John the Baptist's message, and that Jesus' ministry would not have been scandalous if the sinners he ate with had been repentant. According to Theissen and Merz, Jesus taught that God was generously giving people an opportunity to repent.
Jesus taught that an apocalyptic figure, the "Son of Man", would soon come on clouds of glory to gather the elect, or chosen ones (Mark 13:24–27, Matthew 24:29–31, Luke 21:25–28). He referred to himself as a "son of man" in the colloquial sense of "a person", but scholars do not know whether he also meant himself when he referred to the heavenly "Son of Man". Paul the Apostle and other early Christians interpreted the "Son of Man" as the risen Jesus.
The title Christ, or Messiah, indicates that Jesus' followers believed him to be the anointed heir of King David, whom some Jews expected to save Israel. The Gospels refer to him not only as a Messiah but in the absolute form as "the Messiah" or, equivalently, "the Christ". In early Judaism, this absolute form of the title is not found, but only phrases such as "his Messiah". The tradition is ambiguous enough to leave room for debate as to whether Jesus defined his eschatological role as that of the Messiah. The Jewish messianic tradition included many different forms, some of them focused on a Messiah figure and others not. Based on the Christian tradition, Gerd Theissen advances the hypothesis that Jesus saw himself in messianic terms but did not claim the title "Messiah". Bart Ehrman argues that Jesus did consider himself to be the Messiah, albeit in the sense that he would be the king of the new political order that God would usher in, not in the sense that most people today think of the term.
Around AD 30, Jesus and his followers traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem to observe Passover. Jesus caused a disturbance in the Second Temple, which was the center of Jewish religious and civil authority. Sanders associates it with Jesus' prophecy that the Temple would be totally demolished. Jesus had a last meal with his disciples, which is the origin of the Christian sacrament of bread and wine. Jesus' words are recorded in the Synoptics and in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians. The differences in the accounts cannot be completely reconciled, and it is impossible to know what Jesus intended, but in general the meal seems to point forward to the coming Kingdom. Jesus probably expected to be killed, and he may have hoped that God would intervene.
The Gospels say that Jesus was betrayed to the authorities by a disciple, and many scholars consider this report to be highly reliable. He was executed on the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judaea. Pilate most likely saw Jesus' reference to the Kingdom of God as a threat to Roman authority and worked with the Temple elites to have Jesus executed. The Sadducean high-priestly leaders of the Temple more plausibly had Jesus executed for political reasons than for his teaching. They may have regarded him as a threat to stability, especially after he caused a disturbance at the Second Temple. Other factors, such as Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, may have contributed to this decision. Most scholars consider Jesus' crucifixion to be factual, because early Christians would not have invented the painful death of their leader.
After Jesus' death, his followers said he rose from the dead, although exact details of their experiences are unclear. According to Sanders, the Gospel reports contradict each other, which, according to him, suggests competition among those claiming to have seen him first rather than deliberate fraud. On the other hand, L. Michael White suggests that inconsistencies in the Gospels reflect differences in the agendas of their unknown authors. The followers of Jesus formed a community to wait for his return and the founding of his kingdom.
Modern research on the historical Jesus has not led to a unified picture of the historical figure, partly because of the variety of academic traditions represented by the scholars. Given the scarcity of historical sources, it is generally difficult for any scholar to construct a portrait of Jesus that can be considered historically valid beyond the basic elements of his life. The portraits of Jesus constructed in these quests often differ from each other, and from the image portrayed in the gospels.
Jesus is seen as the founder of, in the words of Sanders, a '"renewal movement within Judaism." One of the criteria used to discern historical details in the "third quest" is the criterion of plausibility, relative to Jesus' Jewish context and to his influence on Christianity. A disagreement in contemporary research is whether Jesus was apocalyptic. Most scholars conclude that he was an apocalyptic preacher, like John the Baptist and Paul the Apostle. In contrast, certain prominent North American scholars, such as Burton Mack and John Dominic Crossan, advocate for a non-eschatological Jesus, one who is more of a Cynic sage than an apocalyptic preacher. In addition to portraying Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet, a charismatic healer or a cynic philosopher, some scholars portray him as the true Messiah or an egalitarian prophet of social change. However, the attributes described in the portraits sometimes overlap, and scholars who differ on some attributes sometimes agree on others.
Since the 18th century, scholars have occasionally put forth that Jesus was a political national messiah, but the evidence for this portrait is negligible. Likewise, the proposal that Jesus was a Zealot does not fit with the earliest strata of the Synoptic tradition.
Jesus grew up in Galilee and much of his ministry took place there. The languages spoken in Galilee and Judea during the 1st century AD include Jewish Palestinian Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, with Aramaic being predominant. There is substantial consensus that Jesus gave most of his teachings in Aramaic.
Modern scholars agree that Jesus was a Jew of 1st-century Palestine. Ioudaios in New Testament Greek[r] is a term which in the contemporary context may refer to religion (Second Temple Judaism), ethnicity (of Judea), or both. In a review of the state of modern scholarship, Amy-Jill Levine writes that the entire question of ethnicity is "fraught with difficulty", and that "beyond recognizing that 'Jesus was Jewish', rarely does the scholarship address what being 'Jewish' means".
The New Testament gives no description of the physical appearance of Jesus before his death—it is generally indifferent to racial appearances and does not refer to the features of the people it mentions. Jesus probably looked like a typical Jew of his time and according to some scholars was likely to have had a sinewy appearance due to his ascetic and itinerant lifestyle.
The Christ myth theory is the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, that he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels.[s] Stories of Jesus' birth, along with other key events, have so many mythic elements that some scholars have suggested that Jesus himself was a myth. Bruno Bauer (1809–1882) taught that the first Gospel was a work of literature that produced history rather than described it. According to Albert Kalthoff (1850–1906) a social movement produced Jesus when it encountered Jewish messianic expectations. Arthur Drews (1865–1935) saw Jesus as the concrete form of a myth that predated Christianity. Despite arguments put forward by authors who have questioned the existence of a historical Jesus, there remains a strong consensus in historical-critical biblical scholarship that a historical Jesus did live in that area and in that time period.
Apart from his own disciples and followers, the Jews of Jesus' day generally rejected him as the Messiah, as do the great majority of Jews today. Christian theologians, ecumenical councils, reformers and others have written extensively about Jesus over the centuries. Christian sects and schisms have often been defined or characterized by their descriptions of Jesus. Meanwhile, Manichaeans, Gnostics, Muslims, Baha'is, and others have found prominent places for Jesus in their religions. Jesus has also had detractors, both past and present.
Jesus is the central figure of Christianity. Although Christian views of Jesus vary, it is possible to summarize the key beliefs shared among major denominations, as stated in their catechetical or confessional texts. Christian views of Jesus are derived from various sources, including the canonical gospels and New Testament letters such as the Pauline epistles and the Johannine writings. These documents outline the key beliefs held by Christians about Jesus, including his divinity, humanity, and earthly life, and that he is the Christ and the Son of God. Despite their many shared beliefs, not all Christian denominations agree on all doctrines, and both major and minor differences on teachings and beliefs have persisted throughout Christianity for centuries.
The New Testament states that the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 15:12–20). Christians believe that through his sacrificial death and resurrection, humans can be reconciled with God and are thereby offered salvation and the promise of eternal life. Recalling the words of John the Baptist on the day after Jesus' baptism, these doctrines sometimes refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God, who was crucified to fulfill his role as the servant of God. Jesus is thus seen as the new and last Adam, whose obedience contrasts with Adam's disobedience. Christians view Jesus as a role model, whose God-focused life believers are encouraged to imitate.
Most Christians believe that Jesus was both human and the Son of God. While there has been theological debate over his nature,[t] Trinitarian Christians generally believe that Jesus is the Logos, God's incarnation and God the Son, both fully divine and fully human. However, the doctrine of the Trinity is not universally accepted among Christians. With the Protestant Reformation, Christians such as Michael Servetus and the Socinians started questioning the ancient creeds that had established Jesus' two natures. Nontrinitarian Christian groups include The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Christians revere not only Jesus himself, but also his name. Devotions to the Holy Name of Jesus go back to the earliest days of Christianity. These devotions and feasts exist in both Eastern and Western Christianity.
Judaism rejects the idea of Jesus being God, or a mediator to God, or part of a Trinity. It holds that Jesus is not the Messiah, arguing that he neither fulfilled the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh nor embodied the personal qualifications of the Messiah. Jews argue that Jesus did not fulfill prophesies to build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26–28), gather Jews back to Israel (Isaiah 43:5–6), bring world peace (Isaiah 2:4), and unite humanity under the God of Israel (Zechariah 14:9). Furthermore, according to Jewish tradition, there were no prophets after Malachi, who delivered his prophesies in the 5th century BC.
Judaic criticism of Jesus is long-standing. The Talmud, written and compiled from the 3rd to the 5th century AD, includes stories that since medieval times have been considered to be defamatory accounts of Jesus. In one such story, Yeshu HaNozri ("Jesus the Nazarene"), a lewd apostate, is executed by the Jewish high court for spreading idolatry and practicing magic. The majority of contemporary scholars consider that this material provides no information on the historical Jesus. The Mishneh Torah, a late 12th-century work of Jewish law written by Moses Maimonides, states that Jesus is a "stumbling block" who makes "the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the Lord".
Medieval Hebrew literature contains the anecdotal "Episode of Jesus" (known also as Toledot Yeshu), in which Jesus is described as being the son of Joseph, the son of Pandera (see: Episode of Jesus). The account portrays Jesus as an impostor.
A major figure in Islam, Jesus (commonly transliterated as ʾĪsā) is considered to be a messenger of God (Allah) and the Messiah (al-Masih) who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (Bani Isra'il) with a new scripture, the Gospel (referred to in Islam as Injil). Muslims regard the gospels of the New Testament as inauthentic, and believe that Jesus' original message was lost or altered and that Muhammad came later to restore it. Belief in Jesus (and all other messengers of God) is a requirement for being a Muslim. The Quran mentions Jesus by name 25 times—more often than Muhammad—and emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human who, like all other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God's message. While the Qur'an affirms the Virgin birth of Jesus, he is considered to be neither the incarnation nor the son of God. Islamic texts emphasize a strict notion of monotheism (tawhid) and forbid the association of partners with God, which would be idolatry. Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim.
The Quran describes the annunciation to Mary (Maryam) by an angel that she is to give birth to Jesus while remaining a virgin. It calls the virgin birth a miracle that occurred by the will of God. The Quran (21:91 and 66:12) states that God breathed his spirit into Mary while she was chaste. Jesus is called the "Spirit of God" because he was born through the action of the Spirit, but that belief does not imply his pre-existence.
To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles, by permission of God rather than by his own power. Through his ministry, Jesus is seen as a precursor to Muhammad. According to the Quran, Jesus was not crucified but was merely made to appear that way to unbelievers by Allah, who physically raised Jesus into the heavens. To Muslims, it is the ascension rather than the crucifixion that constitutes a major event in the life of Jesus. Most Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth at the end of time and defeat the Antichrist (ad-Dajjal) by killing him in Lud.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has several distinct teachings about Jesus. Ahmadis believe that he was a mortal man who survived his crucifixion and died a natural death at the age of 120 in Kashmir, India and is buried at Roza Bal.
Bahá'í teachings consider Jesus to be a manifestation of God, a Bahá'í concept for prophets—intermediaries between God and humanity, serving as messengers and reflecting God's qualities and attributes. The Bahá'í concept emphasizes the simultaneous qualities of humanity and divinity; thus, it is similar to the Christian concept of incarnation. Bahá'í thought accepts Jesus as the Son of God. In Bahá'í thought, Jesus was a perfect incarnation of God's attributes, but Bahá'í teachings reject the idea that "ineffable essence" of the Divinity was contained within a single human body because of their beliefs regarding "omnipresence and transcendence of the essence of God".
Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, wrote that since each manifestation of God has the same divine attributes, they can be seen as the spiritual "return" of all previous manifestations of God, and the appearance of each new manifestation of God inaugurates a religion that supersedes the former ones, a concept known as progressive revelation. Bahá'ís believe that God's plan unfolds gradually through this process as mankind matures, and that some of the manifestations arrive in specific fulfillment of the missions of previous ones. Thus, Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the promised return of Christ. Bahá'í teachings confirm many, but not all, aspects of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels. Bahá'ís believe in the virgin birth and in the Crucifixion, but see the Resurrection and the miracles of Jesus as symbolic.
In Christian Gnosticism (now a largely extinct religious movement), Jesus was sent from the divine realm and provided the secret knowledge (gnosis) necessary for salvation. Most Gnostics believed that Jesus was a human who became possessed by the spirit of "the Christ" at his baptism. This spirit left Jesus' body during the crucifixion, but was rejoined to him when he was raised from the dead. Some Gnostics, however, were docetics, believed that Jesus did not have a physical body, but only appeared to possess one. Manichaeism, a Gnostic sect, accepted Jesus as a prophet, in addition to revering Gautama Buddha and Zoroaster.
Some Hindus consider Jesus to be an avatar or a sadhu. Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian guru, taught that Jesus was the reincarnation of Elisha and a student of John the Baptist, the reincarnation of Elijah. Some Buddhists, including Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, regard Jesus as a bodhisattva who dedicated his life to the welfare of people. The New Age movement entertains a wide variety of views on Jesus. Theosophists, from whom many New Age teachings originated, refer to Jesus as the Master Jesus, a spiritual reformer, and they believe that Christ, after various incarnations, occupied the body of Jesus. Scientologists recognize Jesus (along with other religious figures such as Zoroaster, Muhammad, and Buddha) as part of their "religious heritage". Atheists reject Jesus' divinity, but have differing views on Jesus' moral teachings. For example, Richard Dawkins has called him "a great moral teacher".
Some of the earliest depictions of Jesus at the Dura-Europos church are firmly dated to before 256. Thereafter, despite the lack of biblical references or historical records, a wide range of depictions of Jesus appeared during the last two millennia, often influenced by cultural settings, political circumstances and theological contexts. As in other Early Christian art, the earliest depictions date to the late 2nd or early 3rd century, and surviving images are found especially in the Catacombs of Rome.
The depiction of Christ in pictorial form was highly controversial in the early church.[u] From the 5th century onward, flat painted icons became popular in the Eastern Church. The Byzantine Iconoclasm acted as a barrier to developments in the East, but by the ninth century, art was permitted again. The Protestant Reformation brought renewed resistance to imagery, but total prohibition was atypical, and Protestant objections to images have tended to reduce since the 16th century. Although large images are generally avoided, few Protestants now object to book illustrations depicting Jesus. The use of depictions of Jesus is advocated by the leaders of denominations such as Anglicans and Catholics and is a key element of the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
The Transfiguration was a major theme in Eastern Christian art, and every Eastern Orthodox monk who had trained in icon painting had to prove his craft by painting an icon depicting it. Icons receive the external marks of veneration, such as kisses and prostration, and they are thought to be powerful channels of divine grace. The Renaissance brought forth a number of artists who focused on depictions of Jesus; Fra Angelico and others followed Giotto in the systematic development of uncluttered images.
Before the Protestant Reformation, the crucifix was common in Western Christianity. It is a model of the cross with Jesus crucified on it. The crucifix became the central ornament of the altar in the 13th century, a use that has been nearly universal in Roman Catholic churches since then.
Jesus appears as an infant in a manger (feed trough) in Christmas creches, which depict the Nativity scene. He is typically joined by Mary, Joseph, animals, shepherds, angels, and the Magi. Francis of Assisi (1181/82–1226) is credited with popularizing the creche, although he probably did not initiate it. The creche reached its height of popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries in southern Europe.
The total destruction that ensued with the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 made the survival of items from 1st-century Judea very rare and almost no direct records survive about the history of Judaism from the last part of the 1st century through the 2nd century.[v] Margaret M. Mitchell writes that although Eusebius reports (Ecclesiastical History III 5.3) that the early Christians left Jerusalem for Pella just before Jerusalem was subjected to the final lock down, we must accept that no first hand Christian items from the early Jerusalem Church have reached us. Joe Nickell writes, "as investigation after investigation has shown, not a single, reliably authenticated relic of Jesus exists."[w]
However, throughout the history of Christianity a number of relics attributed to Jesus have been claimed, although doubt has been cast on them. The 16th-century Catholic theologian Erasmus wrote sarcastically about the proliferation of relics and the number of buildings that could have been constructed from the wood claimed to be from the cross used in the Crucifixion. Similarly, while experts debate whether Jesus was crucified with three nails or with four, at least thirty holy nails continue to be venerated as relics across Europe.
Some relics, such as purported remnants of the Crown of Thorns, receive only a modest number of pilgrims, while the Shroud of Turin (which is associated with an approved Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus), has received millions, including popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Jesus of Nazereth, or Jesus Christ (As Christians call him), is undoubtedly the best known and most influential human person in world history...
Etymology: Medieval Latin, in the year of our Lord
The New Testament contains twenty-seven books, written in Greek, by fifteen or sixteen different authors, who were addressing other Christian individuals or communities between the years 50 and 120 C.E. (see box 1.4). As we will see, it is difficult to know whether any of these books was written by Jesus' own disciples.
The terms anno Domini (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The term anno Domini is Medieval Latin and means "in the year of the Lord", but is often presented using "our Lord" instead of "the Lord", taken from the full original phrase "anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi", which translates to "in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ".
This calendar era is based on the traditionally reckoned year of the conception or birth of Jesus of Nazareth, with AD counting years from the start of this epoch, and BC denoting years before the start of the era. There is no year zero in this scheme, so the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. This dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor, but was not widely used until after 800.The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world today. For decades, it has been the unofficial global standard, adopted in the pragmatic interests of international communication, transportation, and commercial integration, and recognized by international institutions such as the United Nations.Traditionally, English followed Latin usage by placing the "AD" abbreviation before the year number. However, BC is placed after the year number (for example: AD 2019, but 68 BC), which also preserves syntactic order. The abbreviation is also widely used after the number of a century or millennium, as in "fourth century AD" or "second millennium AD" (although conservative usage formerly rejected such expressions). Because BC is the English abbreviation for Before Christ, it is sometimes incorrectly concluded that AD means After Death, i.e., after the death of Jesus. However, this would mean that the approximate 33 years commonly associated with the life of Jesus would neither be included in the BC nor the AD time scales.Terminology that is viewed by some as being more neutral and inclusive of non-Christian people is to call this the Current or Common Era (abbreviated as CE), with the preceding years referred to as Before the Common or Current Era (BCE). Astronomical year numbering and ISO 8601 avoid words or abbreviations related to Christianity, but use the same numbers for AD years.Apostles
In Christian theology and ecclesiology, the apostles (Greek: ἀπόστολος, translit. apóstolos, lit. 'one who is sent away'), particularly the Twelve Apostles (also known as the Twelve Disciples or simply the Twelve), were the primary disciples of Jesus, the central figure in Christianity. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus.
In modern usage, missionaries under Pentecostal movements often refer to themselves as apostles, a practice which stems from the Latin equivalent of apostle, i.e. missio, the source of the English word missionary. For example, Saint Patrick (AD 373–463) was the "Apostle of Ireland", Saint Boniface (680–755) was the "Apostle to the Germans", Saint José de Anchieta (1534–1597) was the "Apostle of Brazil" and Saint Peter of Betancur (1626–1667) was the "Apostle of Guatemala".
While Christian tradition often refers to the apostles as being twelve in number, different gospel writers give different names for the same individual, and apostles mentioned in one gospel are not mentioned in others. The commissioning of the Twelve Apostles during the ministry of Jesus is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. After his resurrection, Jesus sent eleven of them (minus Judas Iscariot, who by then had died) by the Great Commission to spread his teachings to all nations. This event is commonly called the Dispersion of the Apostles. There is also an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as 70 apostles during the time of Jesus' ministry. In early Christianity, Paul, is often referred to as an apostle, because he was directly taught and commissioned by a vision of Christ[Acts 9:4–5] during his journey to Damascus.
The period of early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostles is called the Apostolic Age. During the 1st century AD, the apostles established churches throughout the territories of the Roman Empire and, according to tradition, through the Middle East, Africa, and India.Christianity
Christianity is a Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Most Christians get baptized, celebrate the Lord's Supper, pray the Lord's Prayer and other prayers, have clergy, and attend group worship services.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their successors, the Apostolic Fathers, spread the religion across large parts of the Middle East, Europe, Ethiopia, Transcaucasia, and some other parts of Asia, despite initial persecution. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and decriminalized it in the Edict of Milan (313). He convened the First Council of Nicaea (325), where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the state religion of the Roman Empire (380). The council formulated the Nicene Creed (325), and the Church Fathers supervised the compilation of the Christian Bible (5th century). The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the Pope. Similarly, in 1521 Protestants were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation and other ecclesiological and theological disputes.Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly around Europe during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization.It is the world's most populous religious group, with over 2.4 billion followers, or 33% of the global population, comprising a majority of the population in about two-thirds of the countries in the world.
Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion), Protestantism (920 million), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million).Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea, most likely between AD 30 and 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, and is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although there is no consensus among historians on the exact details.According to the canonical gospels, Jesus was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin, and then sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally crucified by the Romans. Jesus was stripped of his clothing and offered wine mixed with myrrh or gall to drink after saying I am thirsty. He was then hung between two convicted thieves and, according to the Gospel of Mark, died some six hours later. During this time, the soldiers affixed a sign to the top of the cross stating "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" which, according to the Gospel of John, was written in three languages. They then divided his garments among themselves and cast lots for his seamless robe, according to the Gospel of John. According to the Gospel of John after Jesus' death, one soldier pierced his side with a spear to be certain that he had died, then blood and water gushed. The Bible describes seven statements that Jesus made while he was on the cross, as well as several supernatural events that occurred.
Collectively referred to as the Passion, Jesus' suffering and redemptive death by crucifixion are the central aspects of Christian theology concerning the doctrines of salvation and atonement.Gospel
Gospel originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out. The four canonical gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — were written between AD 70 and 100, building on older sources and traditions, and each gospel has its own distinctive understanding of Jesus and his divine role. All four are anonymous (the modern names were added in the 2nd century), and it is almost certain that none were written by an eyewitness. They are the main source of information on the life of Jesus as searched for in the quest for the historical Jesus. Modern scholars are cautious of relying on them unquestioningly, but critical study attempts to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors. Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four, and all, like them, advocating the particular theological views of their authors.Jesus in Islam
In Islam, ʿĪsā ibn Maryam (Arabic: عيسى بن مريم, lit. 'Jesus, son of Mary'), or Jesus, is understood to be the penultimate prophet and messenger of God (Allah) and al-Masih, the Arabic term for Messiah (Christ), sent to guide the Children of Israel with a new revelation: al-Injīl (Arabic for "the gospel"). Jesus is believed to be a prophet who neither married nor had any children and is reflected as a significant figure, being found in the Quran in 93 verses with various titles attached such as "Son of Mary" and other relational terms, mentioned directly and indirectly, over 187 times. He is thus the most mentioned person in the Quran by reference; 25 times by the name Isa, third-person 48 times, first-person 35 times, and the rest as titles and attributes.The Quran (central religious text of Islam) and most hadiths (testimonial reports) mention Jesus to have been born a "pure boy" (without sin) to Mary (مريم) as the result of virginal conception, similar to the event of the Annunciation in Christianity. In Islamic theology, Jesus is believed to have performed many miracles, several being mentioned in the Quran. Over the centuries, Islamic writers have referenced other miracles like casting out demons, having borrowed from some heretical pre-Islamic sources, and from canonical sources as legends about Jesus were expanded. Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is also called a Muslim, as he preached that his followers should adopt the "straight path". In Islamic eschatology, Jesus returns in a Second Coming to fight the Al-Masih ad-Dajjal or "False Messiah" and establish peace on earth.
In Islam, Jesus is believed to have been the precursor to Muhammad, attributing the name Ahmad to someone who would follow him. Islam rejects the divinity of Jesus and teaches that Jesus was not God incarnate, nor the Son of God, and—according to some interpretations of the Quran—the crucifixion, death and resurrection is not believed to have occurred, and rather that God saved him. Despite the earliest Muslim traditions and exegesis quoting somewhat conflicting reports regarding a death and its length, the mainstream Muslim belief is that Jesus did not physically die, but was instead raised alive to heaven.John the Baptist
John the Baptist (Hebrew: יוחנן המטביל Yokhanan HaMatbil, Ancient Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs or Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτίζων, Iōánnēs ho baptízōn, Coptic: ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲡⲓⲡⲣⲟⲇⲣⲟⲙⲟⲥ or ⲓⲱ̅ⲁ ⲡⲓⲣϥϯⲱⲙⲥ, Arabic: يوحنا المعمدان; Late 1st century BC – 28–36 AD) was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. John is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all of these faiths, and is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions. Other titles for John include John the Forerunner in Eastern Christianity and "the prophet John (Yaḥyā)" in Islam. To clarify the meaning of "Baptist", he is sometimes alternatively called John the Baptizer.John used baptism as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Some scholars believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John. The New Testament texts in which John is mentioned portray him as rejecting this idea, although several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John. John the Baptist is also mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism, although no direct evidence substantiates this.According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming. John is also identified as the spiritual successor of the prophet Elijah. John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas sometime between 28 and 36 AD after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife, Phasaelis, and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I.Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. The four canonical Gospels all state that the Last Supper took place towards the end of the week, after Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that Jesus and his Apostles shared a meal shortly before Jesus was crucified at the end of that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the Apostles present, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will deny knowing him.The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the institution of the Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to the Apostles, saying "This is my body given to you" (though the apostles are not explicitly mentioned in the account in First Corinthians). The Gospel of John does not include this episode, but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, giving the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you", and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the Apostles who follow his teachings "friends and not servants", as he prepares them for his departure.Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Eucharist traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st-century eucharistic practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s.Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the LDS movement, LDS restorationist movement, or Smith–Rigdon movement) is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 16 million members, although the vast majority of these—about 98%—belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The predominant theology of the churches in the movement is Mormonism, a form of Christianity usually categorized as Restorationist. A minority of Latter Day Saint adherents, such as members of the Community of Christ, believe in traditional Protestant theology, and have distanced themselves from some of the distinctive doctrines of the LDS Church. Other groups include the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which supports lineal succession of leadership from Smith's descendants, and the more controversial Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which defends the practice of polygamy.Mary, mother of Jesus
Mary was a 1st-century BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the New Testament and the Quran.
The gospels of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament and the Quran describe Mary as a virgin; according to Christian theology she conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit while still a virgin. The miraculous conception took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph. She accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.The Gospel of Luke begins its account of Mary's life with the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced her divine selection to be the mother of Jesus. According to canonical gospel accounts, Mary was present at the crucifixion and is depicted as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. According to Catholic and Orthodox teachings, at the end of her earthly life her body was raised directly into Heaven; this is known in the Christian West as the Assumption.Mary has been venerated since early Christianity, and is considered by millions to be the most meritorious saint of the religion. She is claimed to have miraculously appeared to believers many times over the centuries. The Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches believe that Mary, as mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God (Greek: Θεοτόκος, translit. Theotokos, lit. 'God-bearer'). There is significant diversity in the Marian beliefs and devotional practices of major Christian traditions. The Catholic Church holds distinctive Marian dogmas, namely her status as the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her perpetual virginity, and her Assumption into heaven. Many Protestants minimize Mary's role within Christianity, basing their argument on the relative brevity of biblical references. Mary also has a revered position in Islam, where one of the longer chapters of the Quran is devoted to her.Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene, sometimes called simply the Magdalene, was a Jewish woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles. Mary's epithet Magdalene most likely means that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The Gospel of Luke 8:2–3 lists Mary as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in the longer ending of Mark. In all four canonical gospels, she is a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she is also present at his burial. All four gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women, as the first witness to the empty tomb, and the first to testify to Jesus's resurrection. For these reasons, she is known in many Christian traditions as the "apostle to the apostles". Mary is a central figure in later apocryphal Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary. These texts, which scholars do not regard as containing accurate historical information, portray her as Jesus's closest disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene's closeness to Jesus results in tension with the other disciples, particularly Simon Peter.
During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was conflated in western tradition with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus's feet in Luke 7:36–50, resulting in a widespread but inaccurate belief that she was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Elaborate medieval legends from western Europe tell exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and beauty, as well as her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" was a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church used Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance.
In 1969, the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" was removed from the General Roman Calendar, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches—with a feast day of July 22. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions. Speculations that Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife or that she had a sexual relationship with him are regarded by most historians as highly dubious.Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle (Latin: Paulus; Greek: Παῦλος, translit. Paulos; Coptic: ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; c. 5 – c. 64 or 67), commonly known as Saint Paul and also known by his Jewish name Saul of Tarsus (Hebrew: שאול התרסי, translit. Sha'ūl ha-Tarsī; Greek: Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, translit. Saũlos Tarseús), was an apostle (although not one of the Twelve Apostles) who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. Paul is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age and in the mid-30s to the mid-50s AD he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. He took advantage of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to minister to both Jewish and Roman audiences.
According to writings in the New Testament and prior to his conversion, Paul was dedicated to persecuting the early disciples of Jesus in the area of Jerusalem. In the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles (often referred to simply as Acts), Paul was traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to "arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem" when the resurrected Jesus appeared to him in a great light. He was struck blind, but after three days his sight was restored by Ananias of Damascus and Paul began to preach that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. Approximately half of the book of Acts deals with Paul's life and works.
Thirteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul. Seven of the Pauline epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is not asserted in the Epistle itself and was already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It was almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries that Paul was the author of Hebrews, but that view is now almost universally rejected by scholars. The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul's surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive. Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.Today, Paul's epistles continue to be vital roots of the theology, worship and pastoral life in the Catholic and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East. Paul's influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as "profound as it is pervasive", among that of many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith. Augustine of Hippo developed Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law". Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide.Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilate (; Latin: Pontius Pīlātus [ˈpɔn.ti.ʊs piːˈɫaː.tʊs]; Greek: Πόντιος Πιλάτος, Pontios Pilatos) was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from AD 26/27 to 36/37. He is known for adjudicating on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.Among the sources for Pilate's life are an inscription known as the Pilate Stone, which confirms his historicity and establishes his title as prefect; a brief mention by Tacitus; Philo of Alexandria; and Josephus. Based on these sources, it appears that Pilate was an equestrian of the Pontii family, and succeeded Valerius Gratus as prefect of Judaea in AD 26. Once in his post he offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects, leading to harsh criticism from Philo, Josephus wrote around AD 93 that after harshly suppressing a Samaritan movement, Pilate was deposed by Lucius Vitellius and sent to Rome, where he arrived just after the death of Tiberius, which occurred on 16 March in AD 37. In Judea, Pilate was replaced by Marcellus.
Christian religious sources about Pilate include the four canonical gospels; the Acts of the Apostles; the First Epistle to Timothy; and other apocryphal works. In all four canonical gospel accounts, Pilate lobbies for Jesus to be spared his eventual fate of execution, and acquiesces only when the crowd refuses to relent. He thus seeks to avoid personal responsibility for the death of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate washes his hands to show that he is not responsible for the execution of Jesus and reluctantly sends him to his death. The Gospel of Mark, depicting Jesus as innocent of plotting against the Roman Empire, portrays Pilate as reluctant to execute him. In the Gospel of Luke, not only does Pilate agree that Jesus had not conspired against Rome, but Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, also finds nothing treasonable in Jesus' actions. In the Gospel of John, Pilate states "I find no guilt in him" [Jesus], and he asks the Jews if Jesus should be released from custody.Scholars have long debated how to interpret Pilate's portrayal in the sources. The wider significance and context of the Pilate Stone, an artifact discovered in 1961 and bearing a partially preserved inscription that names Pontius Pilate and his title, is similarly debated by scholars.Resurrection of Jesus
The resurrection of Jesus or resurrection of Christ is a central doctrine in Christianity. According to the New Testament, after being crucified by the Roman authorities and buried by Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus was raised from the dead by God and appeared to witnesses before ascending into heaven to sit at the right hand of God.
Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, two days after Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion. Easter's date corresponds roughly with Passover, the Jewish observance associated with the Exodus, that is fixed for the night of the full moon near the time of the spring equinox.Paul the Apostle declared that "Christ died for our sins" and that belief in both the death and resurrection of Christ is of central importance to the Christian faith: "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain."Saint Joseph
Joseph (Hebrew: יוֹסֵף, translit. Yosef; Greek: Ἰωσήφ, translit. Ioséph) is a figure in the Gospels who was married to Mary, Jesus' mother, and was Jesus's legal father. Joseph is venerated as Saint Joseph in the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and Methodism, and is also known as Joseph the carpenter. Some differing views are due to theological interpretations versus historical views.In both Catholic and Protestant traditions, Joseph is regarded as the patron saint of workers and is associated with various feast days. Pope Pius IX declared him to be both the patron and the protector of the Catholic Church, in addition to his patronages of the sick and of a happy death, due to the belief that he died in the presence of Jesus and Mary. In popular piety, Joseph is regarded as a model for fathers and has also become patron of various dioceses and places.
Several venerated images of Saint Joseph have been granted a canonical coronation by a Pope. In popular religious iconography he is associated with lilies or a spikenard. With the present-day growth of Mariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centers for studying it have been formed.In the Apocrypha, Joseph was the father of James, Joses, Jude, Simon, and at least two daughters. According to Epiphanius and the apocryphal History of Joseph the Carpenter, these children were from a marriage which predated the one with Mary, a belief that is accepted by some select Christian denominations.Saint Peter
Saint Peter (Syriac: ܫܸܡܥܘܿܢ ܟܹ݁ܐܦ݂ܵܐ, Šemʿōn Kēp̄ā; Hebrew: שמעון בר יונה Šimʿōn bar Yōnāh; Greek: Πέτρος, translit. Petros; Coptic: ⲡⲉⲧⲣⲟⲥ, translit. Petros; Latin: Petrus; r. AD 30; died between AD 64 and 68), also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon (, pronunciation ), or Cephas, according to the New Testament, was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, leaders of the early Christian Great Church. Pope Gregory I called him repeatedly the "Prince of the Apostles". According to Catholic teaching, Jesus promised Peter in the "Rock of My Church" dialogue in Matthew 16:18 a special position in the Church. He is traditionally counted as the first Bishop of Rome—or pope—and also by Eastern Christian tradition as the first Patriarch of Antioch. The ancient Christian churches all venerate Peter as a major saint and as the founder of the Church of Antioch and the Roman Church, but differ in their attitudes regarding the authority of his present-day successors (the primacy of the Bishop of Rome).
The New Testament indicates that Peter's father's name was John (or Jonah or Jona) and was from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee or Gaulanitis. His brother Andrew was also an apostle. According to New Testament accounts, Peter was one of twelve apostles chosen by Jesus from his first disciples. Originally a fisherman, he played a leadership role and was with Jesus during events witnessed by only a few apostles, such as the Transfiguration. According to the gospels, Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah, was part of Jesus's inner circle, thrice denied Jesus and wept bitterly once he realised his deed, and preached on the day of Pentecost.According to Christian tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus. Tradition holds that he was crucified at the site of the Clementine Chapel. His remains are said to be those contained in the underground Confessio of St. Peter's Basilica, where Pope Paul VI announced in 1968 the excavated discovery of a first-century Roman cemetery. Every 29 June since 1736, a statue of Saint Peter in St. Peter's Basilica is adorned with papal tiara, ring of the fisherman, and papal vestments, as part of the celebration of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. According to Catholic doctrine, the direct papal successor to Saint Peter is the incumbent pope, currently Pope Francis.
Two general epistles in the New Testament are ascribed to Peter, but modern scholars generally reject the Petrine authorship of both. The Gospel of Mark was traditionally thought to show the influence of Peter's preaching and eyewitness memories. Several other books bearing his name—the Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Judgment of Peter—are considered by Christian denominations as apocryphal, and are thus not included in their Bible canons.Second Coming
The Second Coming (sometimes called the Second Advent or the Parousia) is a Christian and Islamic belief regarding the future (or past) return of Jesus after his ascension to heaven about two thousand years ago. The idea is based on messianic prophecies and is part of most Christian eschatologies.
Views about the nature of Jesus's Second Coming vary among Christian denominations and among individual Christians.Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus (SJ; Latin: Societas Iesu) is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church which originated in sixteenth-century Spain. The members are called Jesuits (Latin: Iesuitae). The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.
Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque nobleman from the Pyrenees area of northern Spain, founded the society after discerning his spiritual vocation while recovering from a wound sustained in the Battle of Pamplona. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope in matters of mission direction and assignment. Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by a bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".
Ignatius was a nobleman who had a military background, and the members of the society were supposed to accept orders anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. Accordingly, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." Jesuits are thus sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's soldiers", "God's marines", or "the Company", which evolved from references to Ignatius' history as a soldier and the society's commitment to accepting orders anywhere and to endure any conditions. The society participated in the Counter-Reformation and, later, in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.
The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General. The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church.
In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, taking the name Pope Francis.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 16 million members and 67,000 full-time volunteer missionaries. In 2012, the National Council of Churches ranked the church as the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with over 6.5 million members reported by the church, as of January 2018. It is the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith during the period of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.
Adherents, often referred to as "Latter-day Saints" or, less formally, "Mormons", view faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement as fundamental principles of their religion. LDS theology includes the Christian doctrine of salvation only through Jesus Christ, though LDS doctrines regarding the nature of God and the potential of mankind differ significantly from mainstream Christianity. The church has an open canon which includes four scriptural texts: the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Other than the Bible, the majority of the LDS canon constitutes revelation received by Joseph Smith and recorded by his scribes which includes commentary and exegesis about the Bible, texts described as lost parts of the Bible, and other works believed to be written by ancient prophets. Because of some of the doctrinal differences, Catholic, Orthodox, and several Protestant churches consider the Church to be distinct and separate from mainstream Christianity.Under the doctrine of continuing revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that the church president is a modern-day "prophet, seer, and revelator" and that Jesus Christ, under the direction of God the Father, leads the church by revealing his will to its president. Individual members of the church believe that they can also receive personal revelation from God in conducting their lives. The president heads a hierarchical structure with various levels reaching down to local congregations. Bishops, drawn from the laity, lead local congregations. Male members, beginning in January of the year they reach age 12, may be ordained to the priesthood, provided they are living the standards of the church. Women are not ordained to the priesthood but do occupy leadership roles in some church auxiliary organizations.Both men and women may serve as missionaries and the church maintains a large missionary program that proselytizes and conducts humanitarian services worldwide. Faithful members adhere to church laws of sexual purity, health, fasting, and Sabbath observance, and contribute ten percent of their income to the church in tithing. The church also teaches about sacred ordinances through which adherents make covenants with God, including baptism, confirmation, the sacrament (holy communion), priesthood ordination, endowment, and celestial marriage (marriage blessings which extend beyond mortality)—all of which are of great significance to church members.