|Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
Jesus (Aramaic: Yeshua bar Yehosef, Greek: Iesous uiou tou Ioseph, Arabic: al-Masih E´esa ibn Maryam), otherwise known as Jesus Christ ("Jesus the Messiah") is the central figure of Christianity and a prophet in Islam. In Christian theology, Jesus is the son of God, born to the Virgin Mary, and was sacrificed to atone for humanity's sins. And became a zombie in the process, as well as conjuring a zombie army (Matthew 27:52). The Quran views Jesus as a Muslim and the predecessor of Muhammad.
 Jesus' life
The Bible gives two distinct lineages for Jesus, both an attempt to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah would be of King David's lineage. The first lineage claims that he was the direct male line descendant of David through Joseph, who was not his father. The second account traces the lineage through Mary's father, actually tracing Jesus to "Adam and Eve" (Luke 3:1).
According to Christian mythology, Jesus was born to a virgin mother, impregnated by the Holy Spirit without any of that nasty sex stuff having to be involved. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (written many decades after his purported crucifixion), Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Judea) to Mary, who at the time was a virgin; the pregnancy was initiated by the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Luke relates that the angel Gabriel visited Mary in order to announce to her that she had been chosen to bear the Son of God (Luke 1:26–38). More likely, his father may have been Joseph. Alternatively according to some poorly supported accounts from the 2nd century CE his father may have been a depraved, lecherous Roman soldier called Pantera, or his father may have been some other human male who managed to find happy time with Mary.
The story goes that Caesar Augustus ordered a survey (for taxation) of the Roman Empire forcing Mary and Joseph to go to the home of Joseph's forebears - to the house of King David although there are no records of such a survey taking place. The story of the travel to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph to take part in a survey is almost certainly fictitious. Mary and Joseph would not have to take part in a survey of the Roman Empire, as living in a client kingdom and not a province, and a census asking people to travel from where they live to their hometown would be effectively worthless for taxation purposes. The reason for this particular fabrication is that Hebrew prophesy foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
According to children's Christmas songs the world over, for Jesus' birth, they were forced to use a manger for a crib because the town's inn was full. According to Luke 2:8–20, an angel spread word of Jesus' birth to several shepherds who came to visit the newborn. Matthew, on the other hand, tells of the Magi, who brought many gifts to the infant Jesus (among which were gold, frankincense and myrrh after following a star which they believed was an indication that the Messiah, or King of the Jews, had been born).
Jesus was probably born in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee. However, this has been disputed by claims that there was no settlement at that location at that time, and that the title 'Nazarene' is instead a mistranslation of Nazarite (meaning a Jewish holy man who sacrifices a lamb and does not cut his hair). Jesus' early home is stated to have been Nazareth, and except for an escape to Egypt in early childhood, to avoid Herod's massacre of the other male infants (another event that history does not record), all other events in the Gospels take place in ancient Israel. Luke's Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52), where Jesus impressed the priests by discoursing in scripture with them, is the only detailed event between Jesus' infancy and adult life mentioned in any of the canonical Gospels.
The Gospel of Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, which appears to be the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. Jesus came to the River Jordan, where John was preaching and baptizing people in the crowd. After John baptized Jesus and Jesus rose up out of the water, Mark states Jesus "saw the heavens torn apart and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased'" (Mark 1:10–11). Luke adds the chronological anchor that John the Baptist began preaching in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, approximately in 28 CE (Luke 3:1) and that Jesus was thirty years old when he was baptized (Luke 3:23).
After this baptism, according to Matthew, God brought Jesus into the desert where he fasted for forty days and nights. During this period, Satan appeared before Jesus and tried three times to tempt Jesus into demonstrating his supernatural powers as a proof of his divine status; Jesus refused each temptation with a scriptural quote from the Book of Deuteronomy.
Jesus then began to preach. The Gospel of John describes three different passover feasts that Jesus attended, thus implying that his ministry lasted three years.
The larger part of this was directed towards his closest followers, the Apostles. At the highest point of his ministry, Jesus attracted disciples and audiences numbering in the thousands, in particular in the area of Galilee. Many of Jesus' most well-known teachings were given in the Sermon on the Mount, such as the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Jesus often used parables in his rhetorical technique rather than clear, unambiguous speech (which would have been much more helpful to mankind), such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats; these teachings encouraged unconditional self-sacrificing love for God and for all people (someone should tell the fundamentalists about that bit), and in fact eternal punishment for non-belief in Jesus. During these sermons, he also discussed service and humility, forgiveness of sins, how faith should be applied, the Golden Rule, and the necessity of following the spirit of the law as well as its wording.
Jesus also often conversed with social outcasts, such as the publican (Roman tax collectors who were unpopular for their practice of extorting money), and prostitutes.
During the trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin, a court-like body made up of Pharisees and Sadducees, highly orthodox and conservative members of the Jewish community, the high priests and elders asked Jesus, "Are you the Son of God?," and when he replied, "You say that I am," they condemned Jesus for blasphemy (Luke 22:70–71).
 Did Jesus have a sex life?
Recent discoveries, specifically the apocryphal Gospels of Mary, Judas, Thomas and Philip suggest to some that Jesus was romantically involved with Mary Magdalene. It would have been unusual for a Jew of his age to be unmarried in the first century; putting aside the absence of any description of this aspect of Jesus' life in the canonical books, as well as the traditional Christian theological perspective that he was celibate, the view that a human man residing in first century Judea was married is not so implausible.
Some speculate that Jesus was gay, given his comments about his relationship to his "most beloved disciple," traditionally associated with the young John, and his speech about two men in bed and two women grinding together (Luke 17:34-35), while others dismiss these claims as misinterpretations of the texts and of the epoch's customs.
Since the Gospels actually say nothing about Jesus being married or single, no one can authoritatively assert anything about Jesus' marital status. Valid arguments exist to both support and counter the idea that Jesus would have been married. If there were women disciples, they would likely have been attracted to Jesus as the leader of a religious movement and a prophet of God. (Who wouldn't be?) Certainly unless Jesus was in some way abnormal, women followers would have been willing to marry him and follow him on his wanderings, as Mary Magdalene supposedly did. Of course, he was 30 (give or take) at the time of his ministry, an age far past the age of a first marriage for a man. Also, in first century Israel, celibacy was disfavored and, in fact, Hebrew traditionalists assert that a man must "be fruitful and multiply" in order to fulfill God's will. Yet there were several groups, most specifically the Gnostics and Essenes, who, in pursuit of greater spirituality, eschewed physical contact (including marriage and sexual contact).
 Jesus' not-so-good deeds
|—Jesus (Luke 19:27)|
While Jesus preached some revolutionary ideas about being a decent person, he also said and did a few questionable things:
- One day, cranky and hungry, Jesus destroyed a fig tree simply because it did not bear fruit for him (out of season no less). While he later clarified that he destroyed the healthy fig tree in an attempt to display the power of faith (Matthew 21:21), one might ask why he didn't use his powers in a more productive manner.
- Jesus appears to demand total devotion from his followers, to the point that they need to turn their backs on every other aspect of their lives. In Luke 14:26 he tells potential followers that "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even their own life - such a person cannot be my disciple." He even went so far in Matthew 8:21-22 and Luke 9:59-60 as to insist a man follow him immediately rather than bury his dead father first (which would seem to contradict the Commandment to respect one's parents).
- In Luke 9:61-62, Jesus tells a man who wishes to follow him that "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God," and thus appears to put religious devotion before human community.
- In Matthew 15:1-6, Jesus replied to the Pharisees calling him out for breaking with tradition by accusing them of disobeying the mandate that "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death." Jesus thus appears, on the surface, to put following divine law before valuing human life.
- In Matthew 15:13, Jesus, quite opposite to today's increasingly popular Tree plantation attitude, said the trees which were not planted by god (the trees which did not grow naturally, but rather by people) will be uprooted.
- In Matthew 10:34-35, Jesus—quite opposite to his rather universal look as a complete pacifist—said he did not come to bring peace but a sword and said he would put one family member against another family member.
- In Mark 11:24, Jesus tells his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." This passage can be read as a justification for a particularly greed-centered approach to faith.
- In Matthew 15:22-26, Jesus compares a Canaanite woman, who begs him to heal her sick daughter, to a dog, because she is not an Israelite. (He did eventually heal the girl, though only after her mother offered a witty comeback.)
One author has provided a synopsis of Jesus as a moral teacher:
“”Jesus was no perfect man, no meek or wise messiah: in fact his philosophies were and are largely immoral, often violent, as well as shallow and irrational. There have been many proposed sons of god, and this Jesus person is no more valid or profound than his priestly precursors. In fact, his contemporary Apollonius was unquestionably the superior logician and philosopher. ...Christianity has caused more terror and torture and murder than any similar phenomenon.
 Reasons to like him
Jesus - according to the Gospels anyway - did a lot of good stuff, which would irritate some members of the Religious Right in America, if practiced today. Conservapedia is fighting hard, right now, to remove these offending verses from the Bible.
- He provided universal healthcare, and did not charge for services.
- He told people not to pursue vast riches (Luke 12:15), because it would make them unhappy, and that the "love of money is the root of all sorts of evil." (Contrast with Name it and claim it.)
- He did not praise the rich, and said that they should give their money to the poor. (Matthew 19:21)
- He told people to forgive rather than punish, because they themselves were guilty of many things.
- He told us that "peacemakers," not hawks or warmongers, were blessed. (Matthew 5:9). He made up for it later, though, by saying that he came not to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
- In Luke 14:13, he told people to bring the poor and maimed around for dinner.
- He did not believe in strict enforcement of the Sabbath, if it was bad for people. (Mark 2:27.)
- He denounced big public displays of religion, which would presumably include televangelism today. (ooh don't tell some of the funds that -oh no) (Matthew 6:7)
 Jesus' death and resurrection
A central tenet of the mainstream Christian faith is that Jesus Christ died and rose again, as we all shall. Unfortunately, there's scant evidence for this.
 Alternate perceptions
Many non-canonical Gospels present Jesus from an alternative perspective, and the apostles as well. For example, in Matthew 10:34, Jesus claims to bring not peace, but "fire and a sword." The same line is duplicated in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, in which Jesus is presented as a wise teacher of neo-Platonist, Gnostic Judaism. It is hard to reconcile this line with the popular modern perception of Jesus, leading most to believe that the real person Jesus, and his real ministry, were likely much more complicated than modern Christianity maintains, and interpreted differently by different people.
Similarly, the acts that Jesus inspired in his followers differ according to different tales. Christianity emerged, as a result of Pauline leadership, as a steady-state religion that could weave subtly into the fabric of the Roman Empire. Other tales of Jesus and his followers, though, make him out to be much more of a revolutionary. For example, a tale exists called the Acts of Paul & Thecla, in which Paul treats a Roman woman as his equal and fellow in Christ, leading her to oppose the Roman way of life and seek spiritual peace in a much more Gnostic sense. In this tale, Paul also appears as much more of a social revolutionary than we have come to know him. Acts was a popular story in the early Roman world. However, it has largely vanished, as a result of its lack of incorporation into the canon.
It is possible that this revolutionary, original personality of the Jesus movement was deliberately abandoned by Paul in his attempt to popularize the religion. Also abandoned by Paul were the strong Jewish roots of Christianity.
 Ideas about the nature of Jesus
The nature of Jesus has caused much debate over the years:
- Jesus had only one, divine nature. (Monophysitism)
- Jesus existed as two different persons, the mortal man and the divine Logos, which co-existed in one body. (Nestorianism)
- Sort of a compromise between the two, decided at a conference called the Council of Nicaea (325 CE) and the later Council of Chalcedon (451 CE), resulting in the Chalcedonian or orthodox Christian view.
- Jesus was a divine being, but separate from, created by and subservient to God the Father. (Arianism, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses)
- Jesus was wholly God and his human form an illusion. (Docetism)
- Jesus had two natures in one person, a human and a divine, but only one will. (Monothelitism)
- Jesus was a prophet of God, but not divine in any way. (Ebionitism, Islam)
- Jesus was a psychic man.
- Jesus was some kind of guru who'd been to India, Tibet, etc.
- Jesus never existed - which suggests that Jesus was more of a concept than a person and that there were numerous people called Jesus in the first century CE
- Jesus was just this guy, you know. This version does get a nice consolation prize.
 Alien Jesus
There are people who appear to believe that Jesus was an alien or that aliens brought Jesus to Earth. Many websites are devoted to this idea, although they appear to have crossed over the Poe Line.
Raëlism claims that Jesus is an alien-human hybrid, and that the "virgin birth" actually refers to in vitro fertilization. They also claim that Jesus currently lives on another planet, that their leader Raël met him when he visited this planet, and that Raël and Jesus are half-brothers (their father Yahweh is the President of the aliens' government).
If it was God-the-Father, or even the Holy-Spirit who impregnated Mary, mother of Jesus, and if all three, Father, Son and Holy Ghost are in fact the same being, it raises some troubling questions about exactly who did what to whom.
That Jesus was a human sacrifice is the most basic tenet of Christianity. It is the foundation of the entire religion.
That Jesus is advocating either real or symbolic cannibalism when he says, " "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed" is pretty hard to deny.
 Alternative lineage
The followers of Jesus, many years later, came up with a more complicated lineage of Jesus (the Nicene Creed), that either Jesus is his own father (if the three entities of the Holy Trinity are each other) or God the Father isn't exactly the father of Jesus (if the three entities of the Trinity are not each other). Hence, when Jesus said "Father", it can refer to any one of Joseph, Himself, God the Father, or the Holy Spirit.
 Jewish views of Jesus
Some Jews see Jesus as a false Messiah who did not achieve what the true Messiah should achieve.
According to Judaism the true Messiah must:
- Be an observant Jewish man descended from the house of King David
- Be an ordinary human being (as opposed to the biological Son of God)
- Bring peace to the world
- Gather all Jews back into Israel
- Rebuild the ancient Temple in Jerusalem
- Unite humanity in the worship of יהוה (Yahweh) and Torah observance
Further Jews interpret the Old Testament as saying that יהוה (Adonai) gave a complete Tanakh and everlasting covenant while Christians claim that Jesus gave a new covenant. The two views are incompatible. Jews interpret the First Commandment that having Jesus as well as the father is idolatry. Jews interpret Numbers 23:19 as indicating that God is neither a man nor a mortal. Messianic Judaism has tried to reconcile this.
 Islamic views of Jesus
Muslims, who refer to Jesus as "Isa," believe they take the middle ground on Jesus. Muslims consider Jesus one of the most important prophets, the Messiah as predicted in the Torah, and a precursor to Muhammad. They believe he was born of a virgin and performed miracles throughout his ministry. They do not believe he is God incarnate, and they believe that he ascended into heaven without being crucified or resurrected – the crucifixion was only an illusion created by God. Jesus also plays a prominent role in Islamic end times, returning to defeat evil once and for all. The Twelver Shi'a sect believes Jesus will return together with the Mahdi.
 Maimonides' view of Jesus
In Judaism, Jesus is generally not considered to be the Messiah. One understanding of the messiah is based on the writings of Maimonides (also known as Rambam). His views on the messiah are discussed in his Mishneh Torah, his fourteen-volume compendium of Jewish law. According to Maimonides:
“”As for Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Anointed One and was condemned by the Sanhedrin. Daniel had already prophesied about him, thus: 'And the children of your people's rebels shall raise themselves to set up prophecy and will stumble.' (Ibid. 14) Can there be a bigger stumbling block than this? All the Prophets said that the Anointed One saves Israel and rescues them, gathers their strayed ones and strengthens their mitzvot whereas this one caused the loss of Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant and humiliate them, and to change the Torah and to cause most of the world to erroneously worship a god besides the Lord. But the human mind has no power to reach the thoughts of the Creator, for his thoughts and ways are unlike ours. All these matters of Yeshu of Nazareth and of Muhammad who stood up after him are only intended to pave the way for the Anointed King, and to mend the entire world to worship God together, thus: 'For then I shall turn a clear tongue to the nations to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship him with one shoulder.' How is this? The entire world had become filled with the issues of the Anointed One and of the Torah and the Laws, and these issues had spread out unto faraway islands and among many nations uncircumcised in the heart, and they discuss these issues and the Torah's laws. These say: These Laws were true but are already defunct in these days, and do not rule for the following generations; whereas the other ones say: There are secret layers in them and they are not to be treated literally, and the Messiah had come and revealed their secret meanings. But when the Anointed King will truly rise and succeed and will be raised and uplifted, they all immediately turn about and know that their fathers inherited falsehood, and their prophets and ancestors led them astray.
Hercules was also the son of God and a mortal female but the Greeks simply acknowledged him as a demigod.
In some mythological traditions, Dionysus (a Phrygian god of drunkenness) whose cult was imported into the Roman Empire, is killed and then resurrected. This parallel was noted even in the ancient world, with YHVH being identified, via interpretatio romana, with Dionysus.
Many comparisons have been drawn between Jesus and the Egyptian gods Horus and Osiris, with Horus providing the Madonna-and-child symbolism and Osiris providing the death-and-rebirth narrative, common in multiple other religions. Some people speculate that death is relatively common in some human cultures which explains why death would be said to affect some deities without them having to rely on external myth sources for inspiration for a dying deity that is able to come back to life.
 Historical Jesus
There are few ancient sources on Jesus' life. All surviving mentions of Jesus in ancient times are in texts written decades or more after his supposed death. While later Roman and Jewish sources do mention him, the gospels contradict themselves and each other on the key events. The New Testament is factually incorrect on many historical events, such as the reign of Herod and the Roman census. Therefore, it is not clear whether Jesus was in fact a historical person.
An important tactic of conservative Christians in their attempts to dominate the world is to try to use science to prove that Jesus really did exist. Ironically, their attempts to do this are not blocked or dismissed by scholars, because many, if not most, scholars already accept the idea that Jesus was a real man who, in or around 30 CE, was acting as teacher, mystic, spiritualist, healer, political activist, or religious revolutionary. The scholarly claims are primarly made and backed up not by historical records, of which there are a precious few, but through accepted claims on the nature of mythology and new religions.
- It is traditionally accepted that myths generally do not derive from thin air, and that the characters and stories in these myths are exaggerations, deifications, or simple mischaracterizations of events and persons that really existed and did "something" of some kind of note.
- Within 10 years of each other, 10-20 churches "pop up" throughout Jerusalem and the Aramaic world which all name the Christ character "Jesus."
But fear not, good atheists, agnostics, and all those who routinely battle fundamentalist Christians or other pushy types. Just because a dude "likely existed" and was probably walking around saying loony things about mustard seeds, this in no way validates anything that is in the Biblical accounts of the mythic Christ character. That is to say, even if we could without a doubt prove the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, that hardly proves he died. Well he died, everyone dies. It hardly proves his daddy brought him back to life, holes in his hands and all.
In fact, some brave atheists contend that Christian mythology, like most mythology, is false or just plain silly if taken as fact about the natural universe (a claim that for centuries would have caused the Christians to burn the Heretics at the stake). Historian Dr. Richard Carrier is one such atheist who makes this claim in his academically published, double blind peer reviewed publication on the subject of the magic man held so dear to so many Christian (and Muslim) hearts. In On the Historicity of Jesus: Why we Might Have Reason for Doubt, Carrier estimates the odds that Jesus existed are less than 1 in 12,000 (p. 600). He does this by ascribing subjective numerical probabilities to the extraordinary claims that are so central to the beliefs of Christians. In their “walk with Christ”, Christians could be said, by Carrier's estimation, to be “walking with an imaginary friend”. One with as much relevance to actual historical reality as Harry Potter. Onward, HufflePuff soldiers! But please, keep your Hogwarts out of our schools and secular constitutional democracies, thanks!
Jesus was a Jew and likely olive-skinned, spoke Aramaic rather than some European language that would not exist for at least a thousand years, contrary to many popular depictions of Jesus as a Krazy Kracker with NordiK features. Assuming the historicity of Jesus, the fact that the historic Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew of Middle Eastern descent directly challenges many of the anti-Semitic attitudes that have characterized elements of Christianity since early times.
 See also
- The Passion of the Christ
- Jesus with erection
- Lying for Jesus
- Surviving crucifixion
- Jerusalem syndrome
- Genealogy of Jesus
- Priory of Sion - the supposed story of Jesus' family.
- Red-Letter Christians - Christians who care more for the words of Christ than being judgmental.
- The True Cross - the supposed cross Jesus was crucified on, pieces of which were sold to the gullible by con men over the centuries. If all the pieces of the "True Cross" were collected and assembled in their original configuration, it would form an ark.
- What Did Jesus Do? Reading and Unreading the Gospels by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
- The Jesus Puzzle, Earl Doherty
- ↑ Images of Jesus Christ in Islam: 2nd Edition - Page 48, Oddbjørn Leirvik - 2010
- ↑ We are not sure why the Holy Spirit refuses to do this more often to completely
forbideliminate the need for sex altogether.
- ↑ It should be noted, the word "virgin" may or may not have had anything to do with her sexual status, but rather her marital status.
- ↑ This has led to the incorrect assumption that three Magi were present, whereas the actual number is not given.
- ↑ Either that, or he was really ugly/nerdy/disgusting.
- ↑ http://www.petertatchell.net/religion/jesus.htm
- ↑ Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and homosexual practice (2001)
- ↑ Abraham Rihbany, The Syrian Christ (1916)
- ↑ http://www.religionfacts.com/da_vinci_code/jesus_married.htm
- ↑ http://blog.beliefnet.com/markdroberts/pages/series/was-jesus-married.html/
- ↑ http://biblehub.com/luke/19-27.htm
- ↑ Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 19-25
- ↑ Matthew 15:28
- ↑ Paulkovich, Michael (2012). No Meek Messiah (1st ed.). Spillix Publishing. pp. 274. ISBN 0988216116.
- ↑ See Jesus never existed
- ↑ This one shows Jesus as a "Green Man from Outer Space", for example
- ↑ http://judaism.about.com/od/judaismbasics/a/Jewish-View-Of-Jesus.htm
- ↑ http://judaism.about.com/od/jewishviewofjesus/a/jesus_nobel.htm
- ↑ http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/num/23.html#19
- ↑ http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9951/jewish/Chapter-23.htm
- ↑ Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus; J.D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus (ISBN-10: 0060616296)