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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q 1
What should this article be named?

A: To balance all religious denominations this was discussed on this talk page and it was accepted as early as 2004 that Jesus, rather than Jesus Christ, is acceptable as the article title. The title Christ for Jesus is used by Christians, but not by Jews and Muslims. Hence it should not be used in this general, overview article. Similarly in English usage the Arabic Isa and Hebrew Yeshua are less general than Jesus, and can not be used as titles for this article per WP:Commonname.

Q 2
Why does this article use the BC/AD format for dates?

A: The use of AD, CE or AD/CE was discussed on the article talk page for a few years. The article started out with BC/AD but the combined format AD/CE was then used for some time as a compromise, but was the subject of ongoing discussion, e.g. see the 2008 discussion, the 2011 discussion and the 2012 discussion, among others. In April 2013 a formal request for comment was issued and a number of users commented. In May 2013 the discussion ended and the consensus of the request for comment was to use the BC/AD format.

Q 3
Did Jesus exist?

A: Based on a preponderance of sources, this article is generally written as if he did. A more thorough discussion of the evidence establishing Jesus' historicity can be found at Historicity of Jesus and detailed criticism of the non-historicity position can be found at Christ myth theory. See the policy on the issue for more information.

Q 3a
Is "virtually all scholars" a term that can be used in Wikipedia?

A: The issue was discussed on the talk page:

  • The term is directly used by the source in the article, and is used per the WP:RS/AC guideline to reflect the academic consensus.
Q 3b
What about asking on the reliability noticeboard?

A: Yes, people involved in the page can discuss matters, but an independent opinion from the reliable source noticeboard can further clarify and confirm the sources. An outside opinion was requested on the noticeboard. The outside opinion there (by user:DGG) stated that the issue has been discussed there many times and that the statement in the article (that virtually all scholars of antiquity hold that Jesus existed) represents the academic consensus.

Q 3c
What about the books that claim Jesus never existed?

A: The internet includes some such lists, and they have been discussed at length on the talk page, e.g. a list of over 20 such books was addressed in this talk page discussion. The list came from a non-WP:RS website and once it was analyzed it became clear that:

  • Most of the authors on the list were not scholars in the field, and included an attorney, an accountant, a land surveyor, a film-maker, as well as a number of amateurs whose actual profession was less than clear, whose books were self-published and failed the WP:RS requirements. Some of the non-self-published authors on the list were found to just write popular books, have no academic position and not scholars, e.g. Christopher Hitchens.
  • Some of the books on the list did not even deny the existence of Jesus, e.g. Burton Mack (who is a scholar) holds that Jesus existed but his death was not due to his challenge to Jewish authority, etc. Finkelstein and Silberman's work is about the Old Testament and not really related to Jesus. Tom Harpur holds that Jesus existed but mythical stories were later added to the gospel narratives about him.

The analysis of the list thus indirectly shed light on the scarcity of scholars who deny the existence of Jesus.

Q 3d
Do we have to survey the scholars ourselves?

A: The formal Wikipedia guidelines require us not to do our own survey. The Wikipedia guideline WP:RS/AC specifically states: "The statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view." Given that the guideline then states: "statement in Wikipedia that academic consensus exists on a topic must be sourced rather than being based on the opinion or assessment of editors." we should not rely on our own surveys but quote a scholar who states the "academic consensus".

Q 3e
Why even mention the existence of Jesus in the article lead?

A: This was discussed on the talk page. Although scholars at large see existence as a given, there are some self-published, non-scholarly books which question it, and hence non-scholars who read this article need to to have that issue clarified. And note that the statements regarding existence and other attributes need to be kept separate and stating that "Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus was from Galilee" would not be accurate, because scholarly agreement on existence is much stronger than on other items.

Q 4
Are the scholars who study Jesus all Christian?

A: No. According to Bart D. Ehrman in How Jesus Became God (ISBN: 978-0-06-177818-6, page 187), "most New Testament scholars are themselves Christian". However, scholars of many faiths have studied Jesus. There are 3 aspects to this question:

  • Some of the most respected late 20th century scholars involved in the study of the historical Jesus, e.g. Amy-Jill Levine, Geza Vermes, Paula Fredriksen, etc. are Jewish. This trend is discussed in the 2012 book "Soundings in the Religion of Jesus: Perspectives and Methods in Jewish and Christian Scholarship by Bruce Chilton Anthony Le Donne and Jacob Neusner (ISBN 0800698010 page 132). While much of the older research in the 1950-1970 time frame may have involved Christian scholars (mostly in Europe) the 1980s saw an international effect and since then Jewish scholars have brought their knowledge of the field and made significant contributions. And one should note that the book is coauthored by the likes of Chilton and Neusner with quite different backgrounds. Similarly one of the main books in the field "The Historical Jesus in Context by Amy-Jill Levine, Dale C. Allison Jr., John Dominic Crossan 2006 ISBN 0691009929" is jointly edited by scholars with quite different backgrounds. In the late 20th and the 21st century Jewish, Christian and secular agnostic scholars have widely cooperated in research. The Muslim Reza Aslan wrote the #1 Bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Regarding the existence of a historical Jesus, the article lead quotes Ehrman who is an agnostic and Price who is an atheist. Moreover, G. A. Wells who was widely accepted as the leader of the non-existence movement in the 20th century, abandoned that position and now accepts that the Q source refers to "a preacher" on whom parts of the gospels were based - although he believes that the supernatural claims were just stories that were then attributed to that preacher. That is reflected in his 2004 book "Can we Trust the New Testament", pages 49-50. While scholars continue to debate the historicity of specific gospel narratives, the agreement on the existence of Jesus is quite global.
  • Finally, Wikipedia policies do not prohibit Buddhist scholars as sources on the history of Buddhism, Jewish scholars on Judaism, or Muslim scholars as sources on the history of Islam provided they are respected scholars whose works meet the general WP:RS requirements in terms of publisher reputation, etc.
Q 5
Why are some historical facts stated to be less certain than others?

A: The difference is "historically certain" versus "historically probable" and "historically plausible". There are a number of subtle issues and this is a somewhat complicated topic, although it may seem simple at first:

  • Hardly any scholars dispute the existence of Jesus or his crucifixion.
  • A large majority of scholars agree that he debated the authorities and had "followers" - some scholars say there was a hierarchy among the followers, a few think it was a flat organization.
  • More scholars think he performed some healings (given that Rabbinic sources criticize him for that etc., among other reasons) than those who say he never did, but less agreement on than the debates with authorities, etc.

As the article states Amy-Jill Levine summarized the situation by stating: "Most scholars agree that Jesus was baptized by John, debated with fellow Jews on how best to live according to God's will, engaged in healings and exorcisms, taught in parables, gathered male and female followers in Galilee, went to Jerusalem, and was crucified by Roman soldiers during the governorship of Pontius Pilate." In that statement Levine chose her words very carefully. If she had said "disciples" instead of followers there would have been serious objections from other scholars, if she had said "called" instead of "gathered", there would have also been objections in that some scholars hold that Jesus preached equally to all, never imposed a hierarchy among his followers, etc. Scholars have very specific positions and the strength of the consensus among them can vary by changing just one word, e.g. follower to disciple or apostle, etc.

Q 6
Why is the info box so brief?

A: The infobox is intended to give a summary of the essential pieces of information, and not be a place to discuss issues in any detail. So it has been kept brief, and to the point, based on the issues discussed below.

Q 6a
Was Jesus Jewish?

A: Yes, as mentioned in the article, but not in the infobox. An RfC at the Village Pump says to include religion in the infobox only if it's directly related to the subject's notability and there's consensus. Some editors want to include his religion in the infobox and others do not. With no consensus, the default is to leave the religion out of the box.

Q 6b
Why is the birthplace not mentioned in the infobox?

A: The question came up in this discussion and there is no solid scholarly agreement on Bethlehem, so the infobox does not address that.

Q 7
Why is there no discussion of the legacy/impact of Jesus?

A: That issue is inherently controversial, and has been discussed on the talk page for many years, e.g. see the 2006 discussion, the June 2010 discussion, the Nov 2010 discussion, etc. One user commented that it would turn out to be a discussion of the "impact of Christianity" in the end; because all impact was through the spread of Christianity in any case. So it has been left out due to those discussions.

Q 8
Why is there no discussion of Christian denominational differences?

A: Christianity includes a large number of denominations, and their differences can be diverse. Some denominations do not have a central teaching office and it is quite hard to characterize and categorize these issues without a long discussion that will exceed the length limits imposed by WP:Length on articles. The discussion of the theological variations among the multitude of Christian denominations is beyond the scope of this article, as in this talk page discussion. Hence the majority and common views are briefly sketched and hyper-links are provided to other articles that deal with the theological differences among Christians.

Q 9
What is the correct possessive of Jesus?

A: This article uses the apostrophe-only possessive: Jesus', not Jesus's. Do not change usage within quotes. That was decided in this discussion.

Featured article Jesus is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on December 25, 2013.
This article has been mentioned by multiple media organizations:

Mention of "Jesu"[edit]

I am surprised that in an article of this size there is no sentence (probably in etymology section since this is also an etymology of how Middle English Jesu changed to Jesus) explaining that "Jesu" commonly encountered in older hymns and poems is an English vocative or genitive form? In ictu oculi (talk) 09:07, 28 January 2017 (UTC)

I note that it has a section in Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament. StAnselm (talk) 20:05, 28 January 2017 (UTC)
@StAnselm: only because I just added that. Although I have no way of knowing that en.wp didn't once mention "Jesu" and had edited it out. Seems a little incongruous that "Jesu" refers to Jesus in Google Books, but refers to Justin Broadrick in Wikipedia. In ictu oculi (talk) 21:00, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
Your chances of finding a modern internet warrior capable of recognising a Vocative at 40 paces, and distinguishing him from a Vogon, are decidedly slim.PiCo (talk) 22:01, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Nazareth Inscription[edit]

What do you guys think about this edit? I'm not familiar with the Nazareth Inscription. However, reading the article, it doesn't seem like the inscription is good evidence for the empty tomb, considering that its origin and date is unknown.--FutureTrillionaire (talk) 17:38, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

Hmm, interesting. I have never heard of it either. As stated, the edit is factual, though if it is retained, a link to Nazareth Inscription should be added, and a counter-sentence along the lines of "Modern scholars consider any connection between the Inscription and Jesus to be tenuous at best.". I am weakly in favor of retention. Jtrevor99 (talk) 21:10, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
Definitely needs to be linked if retained, and should not be worded "evidence from the famous Nazareth Inscription" as it isn't famous enough for the three of us to have heard of it and there is nothing to say that it was set up in Nazareth, as the article says. I think the connection with Jesus is so conjectural and tenuous that it doesn't belong in this article.Smeat75 (talk) 00:22, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
I agree. Also, the scholars mentioned in the sentence and in the source don't seem to be very notable.--FutureTrillionaire (talk) 00:33, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
That's fine; I don't see sufficient reason to argue in favor of retention. Jtrevor99 (talk) 16:29, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
Hello.Gaetano De Sanctis is considered the greatest Roman historian of the 20th century-he was Arnaldo Momigliano's professor. Leopold Wenger was the best Roman law scholar of the first half of the 20th century. Bruce Metzger wrote a book on the Nazareth Inscription. It has been important to the greatest scholars and deserves to be in the Jesus Wikipedia article. I am asking that my Nazareth Inscription sentence be restored.Buckrogers24 (talk) 20:09, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
The problem is that there's not enough evidence to show that the inscription has anything to do with Jesus. We don't know where, when, or why the inscription was written.--FutureTrillionaire (talk) 00:51, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
Agreed. And Buckrogers24's sentence was also pov and would have, I think, led most readers to think it was related. I've noted a problem about our article on it at its talk page. Reading the article you'd think the debate was all about its relationship to Jesus. But a number of sources discuss its relationship to the alleged Hellenization or Romanization of the area.[1][2] or of ancestor worship.[3] I also see that The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus says it probably didn't originate in Nazareth.[4] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Doug Weller (talkcontribs) 09:15, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
However, many scholars, including De Sanctis, the preeminent Roman historian of the last century and Wenger, the preeminent Roman law historian, do indeed think the Nazareth Inscription has evidence to do with Jesus. I have given a reliable source to show this. It is not my pov but the view of some of the greatest historians. Therefore I am asking again that the Nazareth Inscription sentence be restored in accordance with Wikipedia policy;thank you. Buckrogers24 (talk) 17:17, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Gaetano De Sanctis died in 1957. The original volumes of his main work were published between 1907 and 1923. He is not exactly an up to date source on Roman history and archaeology.

According to German Wikipedia, this Leopold Wenger, the historian, died in 1953. The English Wikipedia only has reference to a Leopold Wenger who served as an Oberleutnant of the Luftwaffe in World War II.

Bruce M. Metzger is a much more recent source, since he died in 2007. He was also the leader of the translating team behind the New Revised Standard Version (1989). Dimadick (talk) 22:20, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

De Sanctis and Wenger(Leopold Wenger Institute of the University of Munich) were geniuses and giants of Greco-Roman history -the best of the best. Their view on the Nazareth Inscription is still relevant. But Metzer also notes many other good scholars who agreed with them. They are probably right about the Nazareth Inscription's referral to the empty tomb of Jesus. You shouldn't exclude my Nazareth Inscription sentence because it states what many good scholars believed. The readers deserve to be informed about what these great scholars thought about the inscription.I am asking again that the sentence be restored.Buckrogers24 (talk) 18:47, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Your opinion of those scholars is not really relevant here. And no, readers don't deserve to be informed about what those particular scholars thought. If anything is going to be put in this article about the Nazareth inscription, and I don't think it should be, it should not represent just one point of view, that would be a violation of WP:NPOV. In the end no one knows where it was placed originally, not even if it was found in Nazareth. It really doesn't belong here. It probably does belong though at Historicity of Jesus. Doug Weller talk 19:08, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

Foreign names should be in the lead[edit]

The foreign names of this person (at least Greek and probably also Aramaic) should appear in the lead. At present, with the long length of the lead, they first appear way too far down the page. MOS:FORLANG encourages this practice, and if we added the most important details of the etymology section to the lead that would in theory free us up to move the etymology section itself around a bit. (At present the first section of the body doesn't stand by itself; just read the first sentence.) Hijiri 88 (やや) 01:34, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

  • Comment: Relegating the foreign names to a footnote was a relatively recent change, made by User:Bozzio here. StAnselm (talk) 01:57, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict)The Aramaic/Hebrew name should definitely be included, as the name was originally in Aramaic (derived from an identical Hebrew name). I can't imagine any reason not to include it. Greek also makes sense because many of the primary sources about Jesus were written in Greek, though I could imagine someone making the argument in good-faith that Jesus wouldn't have answered to the Greek form (which I grant as an irrelevant but far from guaranteed possibility). While this is up, I could also see including Latin on the grounds that "Jesus" in English (and even more obviously in many other languages) derives from Iesu(s), though I can imagine good-faith arguments to exclude these for the sake of tidiness. Beyond that, I can't imagine justification for other foreign names (e.g. Spanish Jesús), as this is the English Wikipedia. I think that's what we need to keep in mind when random passers-by from Armenia, Russia, or wherever drop in their own language's names (as I see too often in some other articles). Ian.thomson (talk) 02:01, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
@Ian.thomson: I assume by "originally" you mean "how Jesus likely referred to himself". I don't know exactly how old the name itself is, but if there was a historical Joshua then it goes back at least 1,000 or so years before Jesus, but although I don't know much about Hebrew specifically, it seems almost impossible that the name Joshua called himself was identical to the name Jesus called himself. We don't have any surviving Hebrew writing from the period during which a lot of people would likely say the name was in use, and I'd guess (but don't quote me!) that a lot of scholars would say the Israelites didn't even have writing at the time (our Paleo-Hebrew alphabet article implies such). This philology game is kind of off-topic, but my point is that detailed speculation about etymology does not belong in the lead. I would give priority to Greek, since the Greek name is the root for the names of Jesus in English and various other languages and is the name by which he is referred in all the earliest surviving historical texts except Thomas (I don't know if the Coptic spelling is identical to the Greek). Since I think the Aramaic/Hebrew is almost as important for this article I say include both. But I agree with Bozzio's sentiment about readability. FORLANG tells us that if we are going to give more than one foreign equivalent, we should not give them in the very first sentence, and even readers proficient in Greek and Hebrew would likely agree. Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:18, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
I can see two or three editors watching this page using the above to prove I am ignorant of early Christian literature. I know Thomas was originally in Greek. But the text as we have it is in Coptic. My point, however, is that that doesn't matter. The lead should give, at most, Greek and Aramaic/Hebrew. Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:22, 25 February 2017 (UTC)

I originally made the change per the suggestion of two other users here. I think it clutters up the opening sentence, and the information is repeated with more more context in the etymology section, which is the first section in the article. ¡Bozzio! 05:31, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Thing is, I would call into question whether it should be the first section of the article. At present, this article violates the general rule that the body should stand independently of the lead, as the first sentence of the etymology section assumes the reader has read the lead. I think that's generally a fair assumption to make, but it's not apparently one we are supposed to make, especially with GAs and FAs. I can't actually think of another article on a person where the first section is "Etymology" -- Moses, Krishna, Muhammad, Confucius and Laozi all have some variation on "Names", and a section title like "Etymology" makes it sound like this is an article about a word (no pun intended).
And even if "Etymology" is the first section, it's still really far down the article. On my laptop I have to press PgDn three times before seeing it. It should also be somewhere in the lead (not the first sentence, but also not a footnote attached to the first sentence. If there weren't already thirty ledecites, maybe a single footnote would stand out more, but I honestly missed it when reading through the lead earlier.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 06:52, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

As a personal opinion, I might just include the Greek and maybe Latin forms of the name with a link to Joshua (name). I note that the New Catholic Encyclopedia has a very short article, less than half a column long, on "Jesus (the name)", but that article does include in its bibliography a reference to an article in volume three of the L. W. Foester and G. Kittel Theologisches Worterbuch zum Neuen Testament which apparently runs to over ten pages from page 284 to page 294 along with two other apparently shorter "articles" in two other encyclopedias. Taken together, they would seem, to my eyes, sufficient basis for a fully developed article on the name Joshua or Jesus. Given the choice between the two, I would opt for using Joshua, like the article I linked to currently uses, as it seems to me anyway to be a maybe slightly better transcription of the original name. John Carter (talk) 18:26, 8 March 2017 (UTC)

Discretionary sanctions?[edit]

A notice was added to the top of this page today -"The Arbitration Committee has permitted Wikipedia administrators to impose discretionary sanctions on any editor editing this page or associated pages." Is this correct? If so, can anyone refer me to the discussion where this was decided? And if it is correct, there are a lot of "associated pages" that need to have this notice added to their talk pages.Smeat75 (talk) 13:13, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

I don't see anything relating to Jesus or Christianity here [5], which is a list of topic areas currently under discretionary sanctions, so I am taking that notice off the top of this page.Smeat75 (talk) 13:23, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
Endorse removal. This seems like a case of an over-enthusiastic new editor overreaching and tagging articles with discretionary sanctions. --NeilN talk to me 15:44, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

Infobox image proposal[edit]

Mosaic from the holiest site in Christianity. I proposed this image a year ago and it was declined because it was too early for a new picture at that time and because of glare. Now that enough time has past and the glare is fixed I bring it up again. --Triggerhippie4 (talk) 19:23, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

  • Comment: The discussion that led to the current image is here. StAnselm (talk) 21:28, 24 March 2017 (UTC)