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They preached, however hardly made a difference to hardcore Jewry. Jews were waiting for the promised Messiah. It had been said that he would be from family of David. Generations had passed; the kingdom had ceased to exist. And, Jews were slaves. The Jewish king Herod was a nominal presence. Roman Governor exercised powers in the name of Roman Emperor. Roman colonization of Palestine was made easy as the Jewish society was fragmented.

Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, Galileans and Samaritans practiced sectarian belief. The divide was so deep enough to affect even the approach to their subjugators—the Roman colonizers. It was typical of places, where colonization thrives.

Sadducees formed the elite, inclined to preserve political and religious order. In Torah, they stuck to edicts of Moses only. Pharisees were vehement in opposition to prevailing political and religious order. Large in numbers, they hardly any political or religious influence, due to misplaced pride.

Essenes were reclusive naturalists, retiring to places of wilderness, exploring minerals and herbs to treat the sick. Considering obedience to Romans as an act bordering infidelity, they turned unruly. Samaritans were a mix of Jews and Assyrians, opposing traditional religious order. Jesus Christ was born and bred in this sectarian melee. Aged thirty, he started to preach. The elite-Sadducees opposed him, while Jesus criticized the misplaced pride of the majority- Pharisees. Massaging the body with olive oil was a sacred custom of Jews.

However it had a deeper implication.

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Jesus Christ

In Jewish days of glory, the King on coronation had had to have a massage of olive oil. The carpenter from Nazareth that Jesus was did not fit in the Jewish concept of Messiah. Undaunted, he continued to preach, earning followers during his three years as prophet. Scholars also debate about whether Jesus preached a spiritual or a worldly message. Was he concerned about peace, justice, equality and freedom in this world, or about salvation from sin for a life in paradise after death?

Was Jesus an apocalyptic preacher who believed that the end was near? Or was he a wisdom teacher giving truths for living in the present? It is no easy task to decide these questions, as features of the gospels support a variety of interpretations. In the Jesus Seminar, members used various techniques to authenticate Jesus' words, such as characteristic style of speech, what fits the context of a Jesus who was really a good Jew and who did not regard himself as divine, and what reflects later Christian theology.

The Real Jesus of Nazareth: From Galilee to Jerusalem | Smithsonian Channel

In its work, the members of the Jesus Seminar voted on whether they thought a verse was authentic or not. John's gospel attracted no positive votes. Many Christians regard Jesus as a pacifist, but the work of Horsley, among others, questions this, suggesting that Jesus did not reject violence. The primary sources about Jesus are the four canonical gospel accounts, Matthew , Mark , Luke and John.

Jesus spoke Aramaic and perhaps some Hebrew, while the gospels are written in koine common Greek. Dating of these texts is much debated but ranges from 70 C. The earliest New Testament texts which refer to Jesus are Saint Paul 's letters, usually dated from the mid-first century, but Paul never met Jesus in person; he only saw him in visions. Many modern scholars hold that the stories and sayings in the gospels were initially handed down by oral tradition within the small communities of Christian believers, then written down decades later.

Hence, they may mix genuine recollections of Jesus' life with post- Easter theological reflections of Jesus' significance to the church. The first three gospels are known as the synoptic gospels because they follow the same basic narrative. If Mark was the earliest as many scholars contend , Matthew and Luke probably had access to Mark, although a minority of scholars consider that Matthew was the earlier.

Each writer added some additional material derived from their own sources. The Gospel of John has a different order. It features no account of Jesus' baptism and temptation, and three visits to Jerusalem rather than one. Considered less historically reliable than the synoptic gospels with its longer, more theological speeches, John's treatment of the last days of Jesus is, however, widely thought to be the more probable account. In addition to the four gospels, a dozen or so non-canonical texts also exist. Among them, the Gospel of Thomas is believed by some critics to predate the gospels and to be at least as reliable as they are in reporting what Jesus said.

However, the Gospel of Thomas was preserved by a Gnostic community and may well be colored by its heterodox beliefs. Finally, some point to Indian sources, such as the Bahavishyat Maha Purana [3] for an alternative account. This is said to date from C. Traditional Christian theologians doubt the reliability of this extra-biblical material. Much popular and some scholarly literature also uses the Qumran Community's Dead Sea Scrolls , discovered in a cave by the Dead Sea in or to interpret the life of Jesus. The canonical gospels focus on Jesus' last one to three years, especially the last week before his crucifixion, which, based upon mention of Pilate, would have been anywhere from the years 26 to 36 in the current era.

The earlier dating agrees with Tertullian d. A faulty sixth century attempt to calculate the year of his birth which according to recent estimates could have been from 8 B. The choosing of December 25 as his birthday was almost certainly because it corresponded with the existing winter solstice, and with various divine birthday festivals.

The Eastern Church observes Christmas on January 6. Clement of Alexandria d. The Gospel of John depicts the crucifixion just before the Passover festival on Friday, 14 Nisan, whereas the synoptic gospels describe the Last Supper , immediately before Jesus' arrest, as the Passover meal on Friday, 15 Nisan. The Jews followed a mixed lunar-solar calendar, complicating calculations of any exact date in a solar calendar. According to John P.

Meier's A Marginal Jew , allowing for the time of the procuratorship of Pontius Pilate and the dates of the Passover in those years, his death can be placed most probably on April 7, 30 C. Some scholars, notably Hayyim Maccoby, have pointed out that several details of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem —the waving of palm fronds, the Hosanna cry, the proclamation of a king—are connected with the Festival of Sukkot or Tabernacles, not with Passover. It is possible that the entry and subsequent events, including the crucifixion and resurrection in historical reality took place at this time—the month of Tishri in autumn, not Nisan in spring.

There could have been confusion due to a misunderstanding, or a deliberate change due to doctrinal points. The traditional account of Jesus' life is that he was born at the beginning of the millennium, when Herod the Great was king. His birth took place in Bethlehem during a census and was marked by special signs and visitations. His mother, Mary , became pregnant without any sexual contact with her husband, Joseph Matt. Jesus' birth had been announced to her by an angel. News that a king of the Jews had been born who was of the lineage of David reached Herod, who ordered the execution of all newborn male babies.

Some recognized Jesus as the one who had been promised, who would bring salvation to the world Luke Matthew often cites Hebrew Bible passages, saying that they have been fulfilled in Jesus. Angelic warning enabled Joseph, Mary , and Jesus to flee to Egypt , where they remained for an unspecified period. They later returned to Nazareth in Galilee, their hometown Matt. At age 12, Jesus visited the Temple of Jerusalem Luke , where he confounded the teachers with his wisdom.

Several difficulties beset this account, beginning with the virgin birth. The notion of human parthenogenesis is scientifically implausible and ranks as perhaps the greatest miracle surrounding his life. It is commonplace for Christian believers to accept this claim at face value—especially given its theological import that Jesus was literally the "son" of God compare pagan stories of heroes being fathered by Zeus coupling with mortal women. For those seeking a naturalistic explanation, candidates for his human father include the priest Zechariah , in whose house Mary lived for three months before her pregnancy became known Luke , Yet the mere fact that the gospels proclaimed the virgin birth suggests that there were widespread rumors that Jesus was an illegitimate child—attested to by Mark where his neighbors call him the "son of Mary"—not the son of Joseph.

There is even a Jewish tradition asserts that he was fathered by a Roman soldier. These rumors undoubtedly caused many problems for Jesus and for Mary. The relationship between Mary and Joseph may have suffered, and as they had more children for whom parentage was not at issue, Jesus became an outcast even in his own home. As Jesus remarked, "A prophet is not without honor, except The above mentioned story of Jesus teaching in the Temple also hints at the strain between Jesus and his parents.

His parents brought the boy to Jerusalem, but on the return trip they left him behind and did not know he was missing for an entire day. When they later found him, instead of apologizing for their neglect they upbraided Jesus for mistreating them Luke As a boy, he made a clay bird fly and According to the Infancy Gospel of Thomas [7] these childhood miracles caused great friction between Jesus' family and the other villagers.

He must have suffered great loneliness. The prophetic verses of Isaiah hint at the suffering of his childhood: "He grew up In those days it was customary for Jewish males to marry around age 18 to 20, with the match arranged by the parents. Yet Jesus did not marry —a very unusual situation in the society of his day.

Did Jesus refuse to permit his mother to find him a wife for providential reasons? Or did his stained reputation make it difficult for his mother to find a suitable mate for him? At the marriage at Cana, when his mother asked Jesus to turn water into wine, he replied in anger, "O woman, what have you to do with me? Was he reproaching his mother for wanting him to help with the marriage of another when she did not provide him with the marriage he desired?

Jesus had a cousin, John. He started to preach, calling for people to prepare themselves for the coming of he who would judge and restore Israel Luke He baptized many as a sign that they were ready for the "Lord. John then testified to Jesus John John is traditionally honored on account of this testimony, yet evidence points to only half-hearted support for Jesus.

There is no record that John ever cooperated with Jesus, and they seem to have founded rival groups.

The church and its history

Quarrels broke out between John's disciples and Jesus' disciples John , and while John obliquely praised his greatness, he kept his distance: "He must increase, but I must decrease" John John went his own way and ended up in prison , where he voiced his doubts, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another? Jesus answered in disappointment, "Blessed is he who takes no offense at me" Matt. The Baptist movement remained a separate sect, continuing on after John's death.

A small population of Mandaeans exists to this day; they regard Jesus as an impostor and opponent of the good prophet John the Baptist—whom they nonetheless believe to have baptized him. According to Matthew's account, Jesus had assigned a role to John, that of Elijah the prophet , whose return Jews believed was to presage the Messiah Matt.

The absence of Elijah was an obstacle to belief in Jesus Matt. John the Baptist was highly thought of by the Jewish leadership of his day. It must have disappointed Jesus greatly when John did not accept that role—he even denied it John —because it made his acceptance by the religious leaders of his day that much more difficult. Jesus may have sought to overcome this setback by taking the role of the second coming of Elijah on himself, not least by performing miracles similar to what Elijah had done. Apparently this impression of Jesus was believed by some of his contemporaries—that he was the return of Elijah Mark ; Matt.

After this, Jesus spent forty days fasting and praying in the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan to use his gifts to serve himself, not others, and to gain worldly power. He completed this difficult condition victoriously. On that foundation, he began his ministry. Some of his early preaching sounded a lot like John the Baptist: God's kingdom was at hand, so people should repent of their sins. Then, entering the synagogue in Nazareth , he read from Isaiah to proclaim his role as the messiah —the word in Hebrew means "anointed one":.

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release of the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke Many regard the Sermon on the Mount Matt.

Jesus chose 12 men to be his disciples, who appear to have spent most of the time in his company. He instructed them to sell what they had and give to the poor Luke He sent them out to preach from town to town Matt. When they gave feasts, they should invite the poor and the sick and the blind, not the great and the good Luke Jesus loved his disciples and shared their sorrows John He also tried to educate them, yet they were simple people not schooled in religion. He may have been disappointed to have to work with such, according to the Parable of the Banquet, in which all the invited guests find excuses not to come, leaving the master to beat the bushes to bring in the blind and the lame Luke They did not fully grasp his teachings, as when James and John asked whether they would sit on thrones Mark Jesus even suggests that he had truths he could not reveal because his disciples were not ready to receive them John Jesus himself lived simply, accepting hospitality when it was offered.

He was critical of wealth accumulation and of luxurious living, of storing up treasure on earth Matt. He enjoyed eating meals with the despised and rejected, challenging social and religious conventions, for which he was criticized Mark ; Matt. According to the gospels, Jesus healed and fed people. He exorcised demons. Once he walked on water. He also calmed a storm.

He was especially sympathetic towards lepers. Yet while his miracles drew large crowds, they were not conducive to real faith. When he stopped performing them, the people melted away, leaving him alone with his few disciples John 6.

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Sometimes, he forgave sins Mark Once, he went to pray on a mountain top with three disciples, where Moses and Elijah appeared alongside him. The Messiah was the god-sent servant or leader whom many Jews expected would deliver them from Roman rule and reestablish the Davidic kingdom, restoring peace and justice. Shortly after these events, Jesus starts to travel towards Jerusalem and also speaks of the necessity of his own death; of being rejected like the prophets , even of the chief priests delivering him up to die Mark Jerusalem, he said, would be surrounded by enemies and destroyed Luke ; Mark which sounded threatening.

He is depicted as at odds with the religious leaders, who started to plot against him. They also tried to trick him in debate Mark ; ; ; They accused him of making himself God John As he drew closer to Jerusalem, his popularity with the common people increased—but so did opposition from the religious leaders. Jesus' charismatic preaching—his teaching that people could have direct access to God—bypassed the Temple and the trained, official religious leaders.

They challenged Jesus, asking on what or whose authority he did and said what he did Matt. Jesus had no Rabbinical training John He accused the religious leaders of loving the praise of people instead of God John and of rank hypocrisy, of being blind guides more fond of gold than of piety Matt. Yet many scholars note similarities between Jesus and the Pharisees, who were the direct ancestors of rabbinic Judaism.

His sophisticated discussion of historical method can teach us much about how different ancient peoples were from us and about the need to approach those differences with cultural sensitivity. The book raises many questions and objections; in this brief review I can summarily mention only five. Craffert argues that the shaman was a familiar social type in the world of Jesus and the early Christians.


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If so, why did they not have a name for this social type? And it surely counts against Craffert's claim that the only figures from Israelite history he identifies as possible shamanic figures are Moses and Elisha.

Craffert would subsume Jesus' parables and aphorisms as shamanic utterances based on Jesus' ASC, but it is doubtful whether this can account for their considerable verbal artistry and their sly subversive wisdom. Craffert surely does a service in exposing the lingering ethnocentrism in HJ research, even in the work of those who earnestly try to avoid it.

Yet Craffert's liberal application of the label "ethnocentric" an unmistakably polemical term seems overly broad. Is it necessarily ethnocentric to ask what objectively happened or whether Jesus actually said this or that saying? To be sure, these are modern interests, not those of the first century. But is it ethnocentric in a pernicious sense to ask and seek answers to questions that interest us - and modern readers, who care greatly about the "facts" of history - even if such questions might have been irrelevant to the ancients?

Deriding this desire as "positivism" another polemic term is unhelpful. Craffert's project operates outside the "authenticity paradigm" and proceeds without source criticism his references to Q are often qualified by "if it existed" , tradition history, or redaction criticism. Can HJ scholars be persuaded that such tools of the trade are irrelevant? Should an approach to the HJ be properly called historical if it agrees with Craffert to consider all gospel materials including John and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas as equally useful historically?

Craffert's acknowledges that his method cannot distinguish and Craffert seems uninterested in making the distinction between culturally plausible reports of events about Jesus that objectively happened in time and space and culturally plausible stories invented by Christian tradents.