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About Jesus and Modern Day Religion
As a man, Jesus was commonly referred to as Jesus from the town of Nazareth. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name, Yeshua, which in turn is a contraction of the name "Yehoshua," translated to mean "God (Jehovah) saves". The English equivalent is Joshua.
Christ is a title, which means the anointed one of God. In Greek, Christos = Christ = the Anointed. In Hebrew, Mashiah = Messiah = the Anointed. Anointed can be translated to mean set apart by God for a sacred purpose. Hence, Jesus the Christ is equivalent to Jesus the Messiah.
Together, the two terms, Jesus Christ, hence can be translated, "Set apart by God, as God, for the sacred purpose of saving man."
Jesus went through six trials before his execution. The Jewish High Priest and the Jewish High Court (the Sanhedrin) effectively asked Jesus two questions: 1) Are you the Messiah? and 2) Are you the Son of God? To both of these, Jesus answered, "I AM". This was enough to condemn Jesus for blaspheming God by claiming to be God.
Jesus was most controversial in his day for reports of supernatural spectacles and healings. Jewish traditions recorded in the Talmud depict Jesus as a rabbi (teacher), list his disciples and allude to his condemnation for ‘practicing sorcery and leading Israel astray’, as well as his execution on the eve of the Passover feast. Although most of his life, Jesus practiced his healing works away from the center of attention, in his later years, he practiced these healings in the face of religious leaders in and near Jerusalem, the nation’s center. These unprecedented acts included healing the lifelong blindness of a central figure and opening a tomb to raise a dead man. As these unexplainable events were witnessed by local masses, it resulted in swarms of new followers and led the established religious order to panic. Jesus’ ultimate controversial miracle was himself rising from the dead three days after his execution.
Witnesses had no question that Jesus was truly dead, because the Roman soldiers performed their final step in execution, which is piercing a spear through the body and heart. Jesus was publicly executed and buried, but then surprisingly the tomb was discovered open and empty. Skeptics have posed many reasons for how the tomb may have become empty, such as the theft of the body.
most convincing fact in the mind of 1st century followers of Jesus was
the testimony of a large number of people who claimed to have seen
Jesus alive after his death. In fact, Jesus’ followers would repeat
a statement that is also included in Paul’s letter to people in the city
of Corinth between 55 AD and 57 AD. He wrote, "Jesus appeared to Cephas
(Peter), then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than
500 brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive" Apparently,
Jesus’ followers were so convinced about Jesus’ return from the dead (resurrection),
that many chose to be killed rather than deny their belief in Jesus’ resurrection.
ABOUT CONTENT SELECTION
The recorded quotes of Jesus were first collected, and then the quotes were sorted into appropriate logical categories or topics. The logical categories most frequently mentioned or emphasized were selected. The objective was to identify and highlight Jesus’ bias and to avoid/minimize editorial bias.
The recorded quotes about Jesus from the eyewitnesses were first collected, and then sorted into logical categories or topics. The logical categories most frequently mentioned or emphasized were selected. Many of the eyewitnesses repeated similar themes in their description of Jesus. The objective was to represent the eyewitness themes correctly and to avoid/minimize editorial bias.
ABOUT THE SOURCES
Primary sources include the following categories:
Primary sources do not include the following:
The most trustworthy records of the events and statements of Jesus were of either direct or indirect eyewitness testimony. Four biographies about Jesus have withstood the test of scrutiny and time. To read brief descriptions about the biographical authors, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, see: (Authorship). Mark, an interpreter for Jesus’ disciple Peter, scribed his biography of Jesus likely between 50 and 70 AD. Jesus’ disciple, Matthew, wrote his biography of Jesus in Hebrew around 80 AD, intended for Jewish audiences. Luke, a Greek-educated physician, starts his biography of Jesus with a preamble to his sponsor, Theophilus:
"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught."
The last written of the primary four biographies was by Jesus’ disciple, John, who sought to be more unique in his content rather than merely repeating the other three biographies. John was living at Ephesus in Asia when he wrote his work.
According to author and journalist Lee Stroebel, in what he calls a "Journalist’s personal investigation of the evidence for Jesus," he concludes that the biographies of Jesus stand up to the same types of tests which are applied to evidence or testimony submitted in a courtroom:
The four primary biographies of Jesus are included in the Bible’s "new testament" section. As again described by Journalist Lee Stoebel, an unprecedented number of copies have survived compared to other works we consider trustworthy. According to documentary evidence, the new testament has survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, and in a purer form than any other great book. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the new testament, and if other languages are considered, there are about 24,000 manuscripts. Next to the new testament, the greatest amount of manuscript testimony is of Homer’s Iliad, which was the bible of the ancient Greeks, composed in 800 BC. There are fewer than 650 manuscripts of the Iliad, dating from the second- and third-century AD. With regard to first-century historian, Josephus, we have 9 Greek manuscripts of his work, the Jewish War, and these copies were written in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries.
Like all ancient manuscripts, to preserve important materials, copies were made,
first in Papyrus manuscripts and later in more sturdy parchment, made of
skins. The earliest known papyrus fragment about Jesus is from the
biography of John, dated from 100 to 150 AD.
Yes, historians starting from the time of Jesus have included references to Jesus within their historical references. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) wrote in his "Jewish Antiquities":
there was about this time Jesus, a wise
man, (if it be lawful to call him a man,) for he was a doer of wonderful
works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew
over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. (He was the
Christ;) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst
us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did
not forsake him, (for he appeared to them alive again the third day,) as
the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful
things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him,
are not extinct to this day."
Also, the first century Roman historian, Tacitus (56-120 AD), wrote:
fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class
hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.
Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty
during the reign of Tiberias at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius
Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment,
again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even
QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS AND MODERN DAY RELIGION
The Bible is the compilation of 66 different smaller books or sections. The term old testament refers to the 39 books that were written before Jesus, and contains many of the Jewish holy scriptures. The term, new testament, refers to the 27 books written after Jesus, and contains the four primary biographies of Jesus and documents relating to the growth of the early followers of Jesus.
The cross is the mechanism that Romans used to execute Jesus. Jesus’ hands were nailed to opposite sides of a beam. Then this beam was attached to a vertical stake, forming the shape of a cross. Jesus’ execution on the cross is considered of superlative significance by followers, because it represents the penalty paid by Jesus on behalf of mankind, so that mankind could bypass such penalty and maintain an eternal relationship with the living God. Because followers also believe that Jesus rose from the dead, the empty cross represents a symbol of hope, victory over death and eternal life.
As a Jew, most of Jesus’ religious practices were dictated by his Jewish tradition. The biographies of Jesus record that Jesus participated in such practices as taking the Passover meal (a.k.a. Eucharist/communion), Baptism, Silent Prayer, Fasting, Reading Scripture, Visiting the Synagogue (church), etc.
Jesus did not initiate new religious practices, since as a Jew, most of Jesus’ religious practices were dictated by his Jewish tradition. However, at one point, Jesus’ disciples (pupils) asked for assistance in learning how to pray to God. Jesus offered a simple, model prayer, sometimes called "The Lord’s Prayer," which is often repeated in religious services today:
"Our Father in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever."
churches and religious groups have numerous interpretations and responses
to this question. An excellent place for primary research is to study
Jesus’ direct statements as to what he commanded of his own disciples (see
"Jesus’ Command’s to Followers."). According to Jesus’ early follower
Paul, in a letter to people in Rome, becoming a follower of Jesus starts
with the act of being "saved" or forgiven by God. This required only
a simple prayer to God stating that, "if you confess with your mouth that
Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
then you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
of Jesus today base their belief in Jesus’ sometimes on study of historical
fact, but ultimately make a decision to follow Jesus based on sheer faith.
It is an interesting and completely appropriate activity to ask a follower
of Jesus why they believe Jesus is alive today, especially since this belief
is one of the few requirements to actually become a follower of Jesus.
The varied answers may include such statements (testimonies) as, "I feel
him", "I sense his presence in my life", "the Bible promises and assures
me so", "God’s Spirit in my heart gives me the conviction", "I can see
the results of his working in my life or someone else’s life", "I can hear
his voice" or "he has offered silent guidance in my life". The rare
response may include "I have seen him" or "He has healed me."