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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:

fleshing out the historical views section[edit]

There's lots more to say than we have, so I'm hitting the books and trying to make sure that the basics are covered. I think I can find a couple good summaries to draw from. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 22:43, 14 July 2016 (UTC)

Added historical information about the disciples. Can anyone find a reference for the socio-economic status of the disciples? Should we mention their connection to the Gospels, epistles, and Revelation? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 13:44, 17 July 2016 (UTC)

Fleshed out his teaching. It's a lot to cover, and so right now it's just the highlights. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 19:38, 28 July 2016 (UTC)

Added Transfiguration w information from two sources. Can I predict that not all editors will be happy that we tell the reader the historical opinion on the Transifguration? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 13:30, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

Added more information about Jesus' fateful week in Jerusalem. More could be said. On Jesus' last supper and his messianic entry into Jerusalem, I'm more skeptical than the mainstream sources I'm citing. But our job as WP editors is to represent the opinions of experts, not our own opinions. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 22:30, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

Added material about the birth narratives and was instantly reverted. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 15:44, 3 September 2016 (UTC)

best sources and notable sources[edit]

St Anselm says that his sources are as good as mine. He cites scholars I never heard of to make claims that I've never run across before. For my part, I cite the field's best scholars to promote the mainstream view. Is anyone else interested in comparing sources and really seeing which ones are best, which are notable, and which are forgettable? I can put my notes together if people want to see why I keep saying that Sanders, Vermes, and Theissen are better than Keener and whoever else St Anselm cites. But if St Anselm is the only one interested, it might not be worth the work. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 19:15, 28 July 2016 (UTC)

Anything that makes Wikipedia a better encyclopedia is a worthwhile endeavor. Lipsquid (talk) 19:22, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
As far as citing scholars you've never heard of, I can't help your ignorance. You said you had reliable sources that cited Sanders, Vermes, and Theissen as the top scholars, but you were not able to produce them. StAnselm (talk) 19:50, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
  • Could I point out that the term "best scholar" is not applicable. We can see who the most cited scholar are (notability), but that is not by definition the same as the 'best'. Any scholar that holds a position at a recognized university, publishes with respectable publishers, and is cited by others is a notable scholar. Jeppiz (talk) 20:02, 28 July 2016 (UTC)
OK, are folks interested in the references I have marking out certain works and scholars as notable or especially notable? Lipsquid, you're in. St Anselm, it sounds like you're curious, if skeptical. Jeppiz? Interested? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 13:17, 31 July 2016 (UTC)

Here's a table where we can compare evidence of notability from one scholar to another. I could add Vermes, Crossan, Theissen, and others to the table, but first I'd like to see St Anselm's evidence that Keener is notable.

Scholar Evidence of notability
Keener @StAnselm:, here's where you write your evidence that Keener is on Sanders' level.
Sanders Powell gives top billing. Britannica tapped him to write their biography of Jesus. That alone verifies him a great mainstream source. Theissen & Merz list his work among frequently cited literature, they name him as an important voice in contemporary scholarship, and they cite him by name for his formulation that Jesus' sect was a "renewal movement within Judaism". Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church lists two of his books among their list of important sources for their "Jesus Christ" entry (not their historical Jesus entry). The Jesus Seminar scholars include him on their list of suggestions for additional study even though they disagree with Sanders (and everyone else) about Jesus being apocalyptic. Sanders is possibly the world's most respected source on this topic.
Theissen Powell gives 2nd billing. Theissen & Merz cite Theissen and his mentor Burchard as an important voice in modern scholarship (for what that's worth), and they name seven of his works as frequently cited sources. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church lists his textbook among their list of important sources for their "Jesus Christ" entry (not their historical Jesus entry).
Vermes Powell gives 2nd billing. Britannica gives him an entry with a named author (not by "staff"). Theissen & Merz list his work among frequently cited literature. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church lists one of his books among their list of important sources for their "Jesus Christ" entry (not their historical Jesus entry). The Jesus Seminar scholars include him on their list of suggestions for additional study even though they disagree with him (and everyone else) about Jesus being apocalyptic.
Wright Powell gives top billing. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church lists one of his works among their list of important sources for their "Jesus Christ" entry (not their historical Jesus entry). Not in Britannica. Not in Theissen & Merz. Not in Jesus Seminar
I see that Theissen thinks that Theissen is an important voice... StAnselm (talk) 02:21, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

@Jonathan Tweet: you said you had multiple reliable sources that cite "Sanders, Vermes, and Theissen" as being the top scholars. I am still waiting for you to provide those. StAnselm (talk) 00:57, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

@StAnselm:, as a show of good faith, would you please just put in at least one reference for Keener so I know that you are serious about this process? Do unto others, love your enemies, etc. Alternatively, you could say that you acknowledge Sanders to be Keener's superior, and I'll do Theissen or Vermes next, your choice. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:05, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
OK, here is my reference: Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History, Second Edition: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee (2nd ed., Westminster John Knox, 2013). Powell has a chapter each on the Jesus Seminar (Robert Funk), John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, E. P. Sanders, John Meier, and N. T. Wright. He then has a chapter dealing with Richard Horsley, Geza Vermes, Morton Smith, Ben Witherington III, F. Gerald Downing, Gerd Theissen, Dale Allison, Bruce Chilton, and Paula Fredriksen; and an appendix (in the revised edition only) dealing with Darrell Bock and Craig Keener. So based on this, I think we can classify the top scholars as follows:
  • Top tier: Funk, Crossan, Borg, Sanders, Meier, Wright
  • Second tier: Horsley, Vermes, Smith, Witherington, Downing, Theissen, Allison, Chilton, Fredriksen, Bock, Keener
StAnselm (talk) 01:36, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
(Of course, this is relating to "Historical Jesus" studies only - not New Testament studies, which would have a very different set of names, though with some overlap. As I've said before, in this article we shouldn't be privileging "historical Jesus" scholars over NT scholars.) StAnselm (talk) 01:43, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the show of good faith. Your source is Christian, and its "top scholars" are suspiciously heavy with Christians: Crossan, Borg, Meier, and Wright. It sounds like you concur that Keener is less notable than Sanders. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 02:13, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I wouldn't use the word "notable" - that means something very different here in Wikipedia. All these scholars are notable, and it's probably something someone either is or isn't. Perhaps we're talking about who is the most "significant", but that might have only limited value here. (E.g. a scholar with very idiosyncratic ideas may be highly significant - everyone quotes him, and everyone disagrees with him.) In any case, to be frank, I think your suspicion comes from an anti-Christian bias. StAnselm (talk) 02:19, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

St Anselm, here are other scholars who you think are reliable sources when it comes to doubting the mainstream historical view on Jesus' virgin birth. Can you also provide backup for these sources? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 02:33, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

  • Bromiley, Geoffrey (1995) International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8028-3784-4, p. 991.
  • Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans 2009 ISBN 978-0-8028-6498-7), p. 83
  • Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1-13 (Paternoster Press 1993 ISBN 978-0-8499-0232-1), pp. 14-15, cited in the preceding
  • Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Baker Academic 1998 ISBN 978-0-8010-2182-4), p. 761
  • Fritz Allhoff, Scott C. Lowe, Christmas – Philosophy for Everyone: Better Than a Lump of Coal (Wiley-Blackwell 2010 ISBN 978-1-4443-3090-8), p. 28
  • Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: The Christbook (Eerdmans 2004 ISBN 9780802811189), p. 41
That's not what I said in reponse to the list when it was posted earlier - but yes, most of these fulfil WP's criteria of reliable sources (which is very different to what you've been talking about, which is more about significance). They are mostly books published by reputable publishers, by recognised experts. Some - e.g. Erickson - are not experts in the field of "historical Jesus studies", but of related fields - in Erickson's case, Christian theology (which certainly involves study of the virgin birth, which was the particular topic under discussion.) Bruner and Hanger are authorities regarding what Matthew said and meant; Bromiley is a general expert on matters of the Christian faith, etc. StAnselm (talk) 03:01, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
You say I'm biased? I cited top-notch Christian and secular sources. You cited a Christian scholar I've never heard of, writing for a Christian publisher, writing mostly about other Christian scholars. Start citing some secular sources, then tell me all about how I'm biased. Maybe start by citing top-notch Christian scholars instead of second-rate ones. I'm a pro-history editor. The historical view of Jesus is the mainstream academic view, so it's the view that should take precedence on our page. Being pro-history doesn't make me anti-Christian. Personally, I have plenty of respect for Christianity. I even have a WWJD plaque on my car. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 15:38, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Once again, I can't help it if you've never heard of certain scholars. In this particular case, however, the particular author wasn't all that important - the book is giving a survey of the scholarship. And a book like that is far more useful and reliable than the further reading list of an encyclopedia article. StAnselm (talk) 18:52, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Could you please provide some evidence that your scholar of choice, Powell, is to be taken seriously as an authority on this topic? He seems pretty unremarkable. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:05, 12 August 2016 (UTC)
@StAnselm:, looks like you have no evidence that Powell is notable. You said that if I put effort into this exercise, you would take it seriously. Please live up to your promise and concede that my sources are better than yours. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 14:51, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Of course he's notable - he has a wikipedia article. Clearly passes WP:PROF #5. StAnselm (talk) 19:32, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
The sum total of your evidence is a WP article? You said you would take this exercise seriously, so please live up to your promise. Can you concede that my sources are more notable than Powell? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:34, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

historical, probable, and legendary events in the Gospels[edit]

The issue of historical criticism has come up again, so here's a table that might be of interest. A while back I added this table to the historical views section, but opponents of the historical view deleted it. What do folks think? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:26, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

Event in the Synoptics Mainstream historical opinion
Birth in Bethlehem to a virgin, Luke's Christmas story, Matthew's nativity Legendary[1]
Baptism for repentance under John Virtually certain[2]
Taught in arresting parables about the Kingdom of God (e.g., likening the Kingdom of God to a mustard seed or to leaven) Probable[3]
Taught that an apocalyptic revelation was imminent Probable but disputed[4]
Taught an ethic of radical forgiveness with pithy aphorisms (e.g., "turn the other cheek") Probable[3]
Scandalous ministry, feasting with sinners, drinking, fraternizing with women, plucking grain on the Sabbath Probable[3]
Exorcist and healer Probable[3]
Nature miracles Legendary[3]
Taught that he was the Messiah who would die and rise again. Transfiguration. Legendary[5]
Gathered twelve disciples Probable, a symbolic act[6]
Triumphal entry into Jerusalem Probable, a symbolic act[7]
Caused an incident at the Temple Probable, a symbolic act[7]
Symbolic "Last Supper" with disciples Probable[7]
Leaders of the Temple turned him over to the Romans Probable[7]
Crucified under Pontius Pilate Virtually certain[2]
Followers have visions of Jesus after death his death Probable.[8]
  1. ^ Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Birth & Infancy Stories" p. 497-526.
  2. ^ a b Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. "Mark," p. 51-161
  3. ^ a b c d e Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. "Introduction," p 1-30.
  4. ^ Theissen & Merz 1998, pp. 1-15.
  5. ^ Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. "Mark," p 39-127.
  6. ^ Sanders 1993, pp. 184–187.
  7. ^ a b c d Sanders 1993, pp. 249-275.
  8. ^ Sanders 1993, p. 11.
One problem here is the label "Mainstream historical opinion". Do Funk and co. say this is "mainstream historical opinion" or do the sources just provide assessment of the events? If it's the latter, we still need to find a source that this is the mainstream opinion. StAnselm (talk) 18:49, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
My question would be, do the sources use the exact word "legendary?" But I do think that is a useful table.Smeat75 (talk) 22:37, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
@Smeat75:, Theissen & Merz refer to the birth stories and transfiguration as buried in myth and all of Matthew's birth narrative as legendary. Not every source uses the term "myth" or "legend" for all these items. Sometimes they're "pious frauds". We could use another term, such as "ahistorical". Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:41, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
Also, the Jesus Seminar is not mainstream: "Thus, the Jesus Seminar, rather literally, moved out of the mainstream of American New Testament scholarship, to become, instead, more of a group of dissidents." StAnselm (talk) 22:58, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
I, too, support the addition of this table. It seems that it would effectively and completely clarify things about the mainstream historical opinions about Jesus for our readers. I agree with StAnselm though, the Jesus seminar shouldn't be cited.Gonzales John (talk) 06:15, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
The table states Followers have visions of Jesus after death his death however, should't you add about the resurrection, and add a historicity view about it? Ḉɱ̍ 2nd anniv. 23:42, 9 August 2016 (UTC)
My big problem with this is that its sourced to Jesus Seminar stuff. That is not mainstream in exactly the same way Intelligent Design is not mainstream. As has been explained to you numerous times, Jonathan, what you call mainstream is not and has never been the mainstream scholarly view on the subject. Your repetitive attempts to insert this stuff into the article shot past useful into abusive and problematic several months ago. IMO, you should have a topic ban for your dogged refusal to accept consensus in this article and bring up essentially the same issue over and over and over and over and over and over again. We're trying to be productive. Please stop wasting our time.Farsight001 (talk) 02:41, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I have no problems with the table in principle, but it would be pretty useless to approve it if we are going to exclude Funk and demand citations for references to "mainstream" opinion - it would look so very different to what it does now. StAnselm (talk) 03:01, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Anyway, to take a concrete example, the "Taught that he was the Messiah who would die and rise again" entry is flat wrong: "This tradition is no longer summarily dismissed as inauthentic". In other words, the "mainstream historical opinion" is not that it's legendary. StAnselm (talk) 03:16, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Personally, I would view single-sentence statements on the reliability of specific passages as verging on oversimplification and argument from authority. We do not need to know that scholar A states this, and scholar B states that. We need summaries of their arguments on the subject, the methodology they use to reach this conclusion, and some context. Some of this material should probably be covered in more detail in other articles, but overstating the significance of a "consensus" in an area disputed for a couple of centuries does not help the reliability of the article. Compare to the article on Historiography of the fall of the Western Roman Empire, where we cover several contradictory theories by historians from various eras and fields and try to summarize their views on the topic. And it concerns an open historical question, debated since at least the 18th century. Dimadick (talk) 06:51, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Well said. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 20:26, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia is based almost entirely on argument from authority. We cite what the experts say. Is there any policy against argument from authority? WP is primrarily about presenting mainstream scholarship, and this page violates that policy by downplaying mainstream scholarship in favor of Christian Scripture. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 14:42, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

On this page, we diverge from standard practice by separating the Christian accounts from the mainstream scholarly accounts. That unprecedented structure makes it hard for readers to see what scholars think of the Gospel accounts. A table like this one addresses that problem by making it easier for a reader to see the highlights. Some editors oppose the mainstream, historical view of Jesus, and they don't want the reader to be able to easily learn the mainstream view. They opposed this table when I suggested it before, and they're not too keen on it now, either. So what do we do? We can address the issues people raised and do a table we like? But I don't want to put more effort into it is there's not enough support to overcome certain editors' entrenched resistance to the historical view. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 14:48, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

  • I oppose inclusion in this form: the issue was brought up a few months ago and consensus was against including the table (at least in that form). I can only repeat my comment: the main problem with the table are the sources. More precisely, we can't label X as "mainstream opinion" if there isn't an authoritative source ascertaining that "X is mainstream opinion/held by most scholars/etc.". Finding a single or few sources, however reliable and authoritative, holding "opinion X" (but not affirming if it's actually held by a majority), is insufficient and won't do because it doesn't show that the opinion X is actually mainstream. In practice, it would be inaccurate and misleading to label such an opinion as mainstream using sources who don't say that. BTW, it seems that Funk Roberts and the Jesus seminar, which source many of the entries, aren't even that reliable, but rather fringe. Bardoligneo (talk) 09:52, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
All of Wikipedia is founded on identifying the mainstream view on a topic. Lots of editors don't like the mainstream view on this topic, and lots of editors want you to think that it's really hard to identify the mainstream view. Editors who oppose the mainstream view on a given topic typically try to obscure the mainstream view or to portray it as just another POV. For example, if a textbook says something an editor doesn't like, the editor might attribute the statement to the textbook authors, as though they were a secondary source. But there's no magic to identifying the mainstream view. Read the top sources, accept what you read even if you don't like it, and that is the mainstream view. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:32, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
YOU are the one who doesn't like the mainstream view on this topic, Jonathan. You have been opposed to it since day one, adamantly calling "mainstream" what is actually fringe. How are you not getting that after all this time?Farsight001 (talk) 05:10, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Recent additions to the lead[edit]

There been some recent proposed additions to the lead - rather than edit warring, they should stay out until there is consensus to include. Personally, I was dubious about Jesus' scandalous behavior - why these three examples? Certainly, his dining with "sinners" was scandalous, but I don't think his acceptance of women is discussed to the same degree. On the other hand, there are other things, like his attitude towards his family[1] or his claims of authority[2] that are even more scandalous. StAnselm (talk) 02:40, 15 August 2016 (UTC)

They should be included because it has to be clear that not everything in the gospels is reliable ( to avoid possible confusion), and why Jesus would get arrested by Jewish authorities.Gonzales John (talk) 03:07, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
But why these particular reasons for getting arrested? Why not, for example, his blasphemy? StAnselm (talk) 03:11, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
They just happened to be the ones mentioned in the source.Gonzales John (talk) 07:27, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
This will possibly depend on which sources are consulted. This is a loaded subject. Please be careful. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 07:31, 15 August 2016 (UTC)
Why aren't we discussing whether or not the additions should be put back? That's what we should be doing here right? If we're not going to talk about it at all, we might as well resort to edit wars.Gonzales John (talk) 10:20, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
Well, I don't think you've adequately addressed my concern. The fact that you've got one particular source with one particular list of things isn't enough for insertion in the lead, because other sources have other lists. In any case, I think the article should list the reasons (or at least the 4 or 5 most frequently discussed), but I don't think it needs to be in the lead. StAnselm (talk) 19:21, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
@ StAnselm (talk)Even if other sources have other lists, they do not contradict this list because the list merely says that Jewish authorities considered these acts of Jesus to be scandalous; no other sources say that the authorities didn't.Gonzales John (talk) 08:52, 1 September 2016 (UTC)
That doesn't mean it belongs in the lead. It looks like we're at an impasse here - perhaps you could start an RfC. StAnselm (talk) 06:52, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
Historians and the Gospels agree that Jesus had a scandalous ministry, but that's not why he got arrested. What's the issue? Whether to report on his scandalous ministry, or how to explain his execution? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:37, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

The issue is whether to report his scandalous ministry.Gonzales John (talk) 02:25, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

St Anselm asks: "But why these particular reasons for getting arrested? Why not, for example, his blasphemy?" Are you familiar with the mainstream story of who Jesus was? He was a Jew in good standing and not a blasphemer. The idea that Jesus was executed for blasphemy is sectarian, not mainstream. Let's just follow what the RSs say. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:32, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

Rubbish. "This clear appropriation of divine prerogatives earned Jesus the accusation of blasphemy and ultimately cost him his life" (Peter Stuhlmacher). There you go - University of Tübingen - you can't get much more "mainstream" than that. StAnselm (talk) 02:10, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

FAQ: Why do we have a Gospels section and why does it come first?[edit]

This question comes up repeatedly, so let's put it in the FAQ. I think our reasoning is as follows: "Professional encyclopedias take primarily a historical view of Jesus, but editors on this page have decided it's better instead to make the canonical Christian Gospel accounts the primary account of Jesus because that makes more sense to them." Or maybe there's a better explanation? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 14:56, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

Once again, JT, you've crossed the line into disruptive editing. Please stop. StAnselm (talk) 19:29, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Can you provide a better explanation? How about "Editors discussed the issues and agreed that the Gospels should be allowed to speak for themselves, without critical commentary"? "The reader should be familiar with what the Gospels say before reading about modern historians' interpretations"? This issue has come up repeatedly, so let's add a FAQ item. What's our answer to why we do things differently from the professional encyclopedias? Maybe "Various proposals to restructure the information have failed to achieve consensus"? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:23, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
If you're the only one who's ever asked the question, it doesn't belong in the FAQ. "Frequently asked" does not mean the same person asking twenty times. StAnselm (talk) 19:00, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
Lots of people have asked the question over the years. I'm the only one who has kept asking for an answer when none was forthcoming. Still haven't gotten an explanation. After all that debate, you still can't explain in one simple sentence why we diverge from how other encyclopedias treat this topic. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 22:26, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

Maybe the question should be "Why isn't the historical analysis incorporated into the Gospel accounts? That's what Isambard Kingdom asked three weeks ago, and no one offered an answer. diff Does anyone have a short, clear answer to that question? I recall that even St Anselm said that the issue of merging the two sections was unresolved. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 23:35, 29 August 2016 (UTC)

Did I really say that? I seem to recall saying that there was no consensus to change it, but that's not the same thing. StAnselm (talk) 23:48, 29 August 2016 (UTC)
There was no consensus to change the order. The issue of whether to merge the sections never got a hearing, and near the end of the whole affair you said, as I recall, that the merging issue was not resolved. In any event, do you have a short, clear answer to Isambard Kingdom's question? Why is critical analysis excluded from the Gospels section? I think no one does. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 15:39, 3 September 2016 (UTC)
The historical section has plenty of critical analysis on the Gospel narrative which means that from an overall perspective the article does contain critical analysis on the Gospel narrative. Why do you think it is important to to do the changes you propose? They do not seem to address any shortcoming of the article. All I see is that you would rather prefer the article had a different structure, with your main arguments being "why not" and "that's how it's done elsewhere". This article has reached featured status for some years now. We are done experimenting. If you have serious reasons for your proposals, please name them. Nxavar (talk) 06:20, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
Exactly, I have a reason for my proposal: it's the way reliable sources do it. Now that you know my reason, please tell me your reason for promoting holy scripture over mainstream history. That's the difference between me and the pro-Gospel editors. I proudly state my reasons (WP:RS), but the pro-Gospel editors talk as if they don't need a reason. When I ask them for their reasoning, they protest that they don't have to answer me. Why be secretive about your motivation? Don't you have a position you can be proud of? Don't you have a fair, neutral, reasonable reason that you want to promote holy scripture over mainstream history? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:34, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
What you consider a promotional structure is actually a good, logical order of presentation. First you present what the sources say, then the historical criticism. I think you are concerned over the amount of Gospel exposure the reader gets in this article. Because of their optimist nature, the Gospels tend to be attractive to many readers. This, however, does not mean that we should be restrictive in how much we include of them. Nxavar (talk) 11:59, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia is an independent encyclopeadia with its own voice and its own rules and guidelines. What is done elsewhere, even in renowned encyclopeadias, is of counseling value. Jonathan Tweet, if you believe changing the order of the two major sections is a significant improvement, you should give some serious reasons. This is a featured article and it is a good thing that users such as StAnselm do not take change proposals lightly. Nxavar (talk) 13:56, 2 September 2016 (UTC)
OK you have the power to diverge from the RSs, but you still haven't explained why editors like it this way. Are you saying, "We don't need a reason to diverge from the reliable sources"? If that's not what you're saying, then what's your reason? If an editor won't explain their motivation for diverging from the published sources, well, that's a little suspicious, wouldn't you agree? Why would an editor want to promote a holy scripture over mainstream history? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:30, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
As I have repeatedly told you, this article has to cover the religious aspect of Jesus. If you want to focus on the "mainstream history" about Jesus go to Historical Jesus. Nxavar (talk) 11:43, 14 September 2016 (UTC)

uninformative sentences and paragraphs?[edit]

I am trying to report what RSs say, and another editor deleted some of the information as If an RS says it, who are we to decide to exclude it? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 23:17, 29 August 2016 (UTC)

We, of course, are WP editors. RSs say thousands of things - we have to exclude most of them. StAnselm (talk) 23:46, 29 August 2016 (UTC)
That sounds good, but it's super vague. That reasoning could be used to justify excluding any information for any reason. People without evidence like to keep it vague. Please stick to specifics. NPOV says that we should include the mainstream view on a topic. If we don't include the mainstream view on Jesus' entry in to Jerusalem on this page, that would be POV. If this information doesn't belong in the historical views section, where does it belong? The Gospel section? Jonathan Tweet (talk)
No answer. You oppose the mainstream view of Jesus, so you can't tell me where to include the mainstream view on Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:26, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

@Isambard Kingdom:, you have started deleting historical information that you find uninformative. Can you please point to the WP policy or guideline you're following? I'm following WP:NPOV, which says to summarize information from reliable sources in proportion to its notability. Sanders thinks it's worth mentioning that the Palm Sunday entrance is impossible to corroborate historically. You think differently. What policy or guideline tells you that we should exclude this information? Thanks. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:26, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

This is the content under question: [3], which you (Jonathan) think should be inserted into the historical part of the article. I don't think we need to mention the Palm Sunday entrance as "historical" just because an historian mentions it. Isn't it true that the only record we have of the entrance is from the gospels? If so, then shouldn't it be mentioned in the gospel section of the article? Furthermore, the content you apparently feel needs to be included, again, under the historical section, is pretty wishy-washy, don't you think? As per [4], the event is "modest" and Sanders only "leans" towards it being historical. In the historical section of this article, why not concentrate on the historical importance of Jesus and his message, rather than things that are just part of the gospel story? I don't think I need a "policy" to ask such questions. Thanks. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 16:42, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

Bible links[edit]

I see that all the Bible references link to the Wikisource ASV. I can't find any discussion about it except this: Talk:Jesus/Archive 121#Bible citations where it seems the consensus was for NRSV. I agree that the NRSV should be used (definitely not the ASV; it is outdated), and I propose that the links go to due to the lack of ads (the NRSV is under copyright but Oremus has a "used by permission" disclaimer). If there is consensus, I would also remove the links from the text of the article per WP:EL and make them footnotes. --JFH (talk) 02:52, 4 September 2016 (UTC)

There is a problem with the NRSV. Visiting the FAQ of its website it is evident that there was a strong desire to give a translation that would be as straightforward to understand for today's audience as it was for its original audience. Due to the wide cultural gap though, this has lead to exegetical translations in many places, i.e. translations that make some assumption about what the phraseology of the original text was intended to mean. Since the scriptures are a natural source for Church teachings, although the NRSV has gained wide acceptance among major Protestant Denominations, the Catholic Church has only approved it for personal reading with the Orthodox Church of America having a similar stance, disapproving its use in liturgical services and biblical study. You can go to the NRSV article for more information. I believe that Wikipedia should prefer a translation that is as close to the original text as possible, and as widely acceptable among the Christians as possible, as such an acceptance is a sign of objectiveness. The NRSV isn't such a translation. Nxavar (talk) 07:58, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
The NRSV is considered a relatively literal translation. From the Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies: "The New Revised Standard Version, like its predecessor the Revised Standard Version (1946–57), follows the wording of the Authorized Version as far as is consistent with modern English usage, and modern understanding of the Hebrew text. It is therefore essentially a literal translation, along critical lines." I don't know why the liturgical usage of the Catholic Church would be relevant for an article like this. The Catholic Church did not approve the ASV for personal or liturgical use; I believe the NAB would be the version for liturgical use. I'm not terribly opposed to that one, but it's not widely used outside the Catholic Church, so using it would seem Catholic-biased. I do see the OCA disapproves of the NRSV, but I really don't think we should be dwelling on ecclesiastical acceptance rather than scholarly usage. Here is one discussion of bible translations from a scholarly perspective. You'll find that the Oxford Annotated Bible, referenced several times in this article, uses the NRSV. I think you'll find most of the sources for this article published in the last twenty years primarily use the NRSV. I searched through the Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies and found that it extensively references the NRSV but never the ASV or NAB. I tried Google Scholar searches since 1989 and found 17,200 for NRSV Bible, 6,210 for NAB Bible, and 3,390 for ASV Bible. --JFH (talk) 14:52, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
The NRSV suffers from a wide scale and often forceful adaptation of the language of the original to gender-neutral readings. This is a deliberate choice of the translation commitee (see the FAQ of the website for NRSV) and a consistent source of criticism among reviewers. See reviews here, here, and here. This makes it problematic for use as a NPOV translation source in Wikipedia. Regarding its widespread use among academia, scholars are knowledgeable about the weaknesses of NRSV as well as of other translations. Most of them are also in the position to read the Hebrew or Greek original. The nature of this particular weakness also makes it easy to identify. All of the above make this issue very easy to deal with for scholars. The same obviously doesn't hold for most readers of Wikipedia. Nxavar (talk) 13:48, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
The first source you pointed to is not academic or reliable, see Grace Evangelical Society. Here are quotes from the other two: Roberts: "In my opinion, these accomplishments make the NRSV the English translation of choice for general usage." Harrelson: "But on the basis of my re-examination of considerable portions of the text I would judge that it is by far our most inclusive Bible, the one best suited for public reading among all the newer translations, and (as will be indicated elsewhere in this issue) our most accurate available English Bible." (emphasis mine) I really don't want to get into questions of translation philosophy. I think the idea that scholars use a defective translation because they can read the original and don't need a good one is ... not a good argument. You'll find that when scholars write for a non-specialist audience, such as many of the sources listed for this article, they still use the NRSV. --JFH (talk) 14:33, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
Support. NRSV is has wide acceptance in sholarship and uses much more accesible language than the ASV. Nxavar (talk) 10:15, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Support per comments above. It also has the advantage that many of the apocryphal books are also available. Personally, I prefer the HCSB as I have found it even more faithful to the original Hebrew/Greek than the NRSV, particularly in areas where the NRSV has been criticized such as gender language. But it does not enjoy similar scholarly backing, nor is the Apocrypha available. Jtrevor99 (talk) 03:48, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Proposed one word change of last sentence of lead paragraph[edit]

As is, the last sentence in the lead paragraph reads: "Christians believe him to be the Son of God and the awaited Messiah (Christ, the Anointed One) prophesied in the Old Testament." I think a small, but significant improvement would be: "Christians believe him to be the Son of God and the awaited Messiah (Christ, the Anointed One) prophesied throughout the Old Testament" (emphasis added here only, just to clarify the changed word). Biblical source re: this proposal and what "Christians believe": "And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27 NAS). Kibbitzer 11:23, 6 September 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kibbitzer (talkcontribs)

The "things concerning himself" are not restricted to prophesies about him, according to Church teachings. Jesus is called a Saviour and Lord in Christian Churches because no one before him that lead the house of Isreal, including Moses and David, succeeded in staying out of sin and the curses it brings and completely delivering the house of Israel from all its troubles. Holiness was a prerequisite for entering the Promised Land and being victorious in all battles against its inhabitants and neighbours. Moses and the prophets all talked about God's plan for Israel's complete redemption. The scriptures however include much more than just Moses's words and the books of prophets, and most of the time and they don't point to him in a direct way. Nxavar (talk) 07:19, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
It is not necessary for every OT scripture to point to Messiah for it to be true that Messiah is pointed to "throughout" the OT. It is commonly understood that the OT covers a variety of topics and no one would reasonably expect "throughout" to mean "thoroughly" or "completely", etc. That said, I am indifferent towards this change; I see no substantive difference between "in" and "throughout", as I am not convinced the two have different meanings in this context. Jtrevor99 (talk) 13:35, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose The arrival of a Messiah is not prophesied throughout the Old Testament. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 13:47, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
  • The sentence in question is a statement about what "Christians believe". Christians believe that certain scriptures "in" or "throughout" the Old Testament pertain to predictions of Jesus' coming(s). The issue is "what preposition better describes the placement and range of those scriptures". "In" seems to denote in a few places in the Old Testament (OT), whereas "throughout" seems to infer a higher percentage or range of books of the Old Testament are permeated. The New Testament reference in Luke (which "Christians believe") seems to push the meter more towards "throughout" ("Moses [5 books] and all the prophets [17 books]" which is 22 out of 39 = over 56%). Wikipedia's article Christian messianic prophecies points to 12 out of 39 OT books (over 30%). So semantically, which is the better word for the sentence in question: "in" or "throughout"? I'm leaning towards "throughout" as being more informational for the reasons stated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kibbitzer (talkcontribs) 15:17, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Let's not make a change without an RS to back us up. If we have an RS to support the change, then let's make the change. We are WP editors, not experts. It's RSs that matter, not our beliefs and experiences. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:19, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

Jesus Seminar represents a notable, minority view[edit]

People who oppose the historical view of Jesus really hate the Jesus Seminar. The JS has primarily popularized the academic work that had been pretty much invisible to the lay public. If you hate the historical view of Jesus, then you'll really hate a hundred scholars who rule on the authenticity of every one of Jesus' sayings and deeds. The criticism leveled against the JS is that they're fringe or not notable. That's false. Theissen & Merz list their view as probably wrong but highly notable. Britannica finds them notable enough to refer to, labeling them revisionist. Crossan, Borg, & Funk are notable scholars in their own right. You might not like them, but authoritative tertiary sources on the topic of Jesus find the Jesus Seminar notable.

Meanwhile, St Anselm trots out a parade of also-ran, no-name scholars, such as Powell, Keener, and others that he won't even defend on the talk page. None of his scholars are as notable as the Jesus Seminar. The only thing his unremarkable scholars have in common is a pro-Christian leaning. If editors think we are using non-notable sources on this page, let's first ditch all of St Anselm's nobodies. Or if his non-notable scholars are notable enough, then folks should stop talking bad about the Jesus Seminar. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 16:50, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

Many people who like the historical view of Jesus also dislike the Jesus Seminar. Frankly, their methodology was far too arbitrary for my tastes. This is NOT a case where "if you like the historical view of Jesus, you must like the Jesus Seminar, and vice versa." Jtrevor99 (talk) 17:38, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
And how do you personally feel about the mainstream view of who Jesus was, a Jewish faith healer and sect leader? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:26, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Just now saw that you had asked this question. I'd start by challenging that as the mainstream view, assuming you meant the mainstream historical scholar or anthropological view. I have read plenty of nontheological sources that would dispute that as the consensus. But the conversation's already past, meaning this is moot, and I'm truly not trying to sound hostile :) Jtrevor99 (talk) 03:38, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
We've been over this a thousand times before, Jonathan. The Jesus Seminar is fringe minority. It is such a small minority, it does not merit inclusion. Its basically the anti-theist version of Intelligent Design advocacy in methodology. There are much better sources out there. Try some of them.Farsight001 (talk) 22:00, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
What's your evidence that it's fringe? I have evidence that it's more notable than St Anselm's also-ran scholars? Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:26, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Since I've been named here, I would like to point out that all the scholars I mentioned a certainly notable according to WP:PROF, as I have already pointed out. The Jesus Seminar is also notable. But of course being notable does not automatically warrant inclusion in the article. StAnselm (talk) 22:17, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
And you'd agree that the JS is more notable than your scholars, since more RSs make note of the JS than your scholars. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:26, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Right, there is a difference between WP:N and WP:IRS, these should not be conflated. These being said, it is possible that some scholars who have been associated with the Jesus Seminar have produced respectable scholarship, but this has to be evaluated one a case by case basis. Tgeorgescu (talk) 23:20, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

The exact words "virtually all scholars" are nowhere in the article as of 2016-09-13[edit]

The FAQ on this talk page includes a lengthy commentary on the appropriateness of this phrase, but sometime since then the word "modern" was apparently inserted between "all" and "scholars" in the lead. This is a minor concern, but if we are going to defend the use of these exact words in a permanent template on the talk page, shouldn't we use these exact words in the article? Of more concern, though, is the fact that the historicity of Jesus as a person is mentioned in the lead as accepted by virtually all scholars, and this sentence is accompanied by a lengthy footnote, but I can't find this statement anywhere in the body of the article. The Historicity of Jesus article is only linked in the lead and in a "main article" link in a subsection that doesn't mention this fact. The "Sources" section includes some discussion of how non-Christian sources provide evidence that he existed (although Ehrman considers this evidence relatively weak compared to the NT documents). But was the statement that virtually all scholars accept the historicity of Jesus removed frok the article body by a mythicist POV-pusher and no one noticed?

The lead should not include claims like this unless they are also in the body, but I thought I might be stepping on some toes by copy-pasting the lead sentence into the body without posting here first.


Hijiri 88 (やや) 01:38, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

If you have an RS that says there's any serious dispute about Jesus' existence, please cite it. All our reliable sources say that virtually all scholars acknowledge him as a historical figure. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:23, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
@Jonathan Tweet: Please read comments before replying to them. Also, please refrain from dubious speculations on other users' motives. If you look at my contributions to Talk:Historicity of Jesus, you will see how utterly ridiculous such speculation on your part is. Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:07, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for setting me straight. Sorry for misreading your comment. You may notice that our lead doesn't exactly follow the article very well. The main section in the body (the gospel stories) doesn't appear in the lead, apparently because it's unencyclopedic and doesn't belong in the body, either. You're looking for an RS that directly says what our lead says about virtually all scholars? I bet I can find one. I have a lot of good RSs. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 14:23, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
No, that's fine. I've seen plenty of sources myself, both good (Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist? and this lecture by Martin are my faves) and bad (my textbook from Irish public secondary school "Religion" class comes to mind). I am actually pretty sure the preponderance of such sources are actually bad, because they are about Christian apologetics rather than history, but that's beside the point, so I'm not interested in seeing more. I don't doubt the factuality or verifiability of the claim that virtually all scholars accept the historicity of Jesus.
My main problem is that the FAQ on this page includes a lengthy defense of the use of these exact words in the article, but they aren't actually used in the article, making the defense redundant/moot at best and disruptive/confusing at worst.
A secondary problem (actually more important than my main problem) is the fact that the lead of the article includes a claim that is not supported by the body of the article. But since writing the above I have realized that virtually nothing in the lead is directly supported by the body. It is all supported by external sources, and most of them are not cited elsewhere in the article. This is a severe breach of WP:LEAD, and I have yet to see anyone else willing to address or even acknowledge it.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 14:41, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

"Baptism (Mark), birth (Matthew and Luke), and pre-existence (John and Paul)"[edit]

This doesn't sit well with me, as Mark-Matthew/Luke-John is roughly chronological order and adding Paul in there screws it up, and Paul's christology was nothing like John's ("pre-existence" does not necessarily imply existing "in the beginning with God" and being the one "through [whom] all things were made"). Additionally, Paul never "wrote" a "biography" of Jesus; his view of Jesus's pre-existence is established from some vague hints he drops in his occasional letters and these hints themselves have little to no relation to Jesus's biography. The WP:COMMENT preceding the paragraph meant I couldn't edit it without discussing here first, but how about either removing "and Paul" or adding another category like that Paul, writing before all of them, muddies the waters by already having a pre-existence christology before Mark? Hijiri 88 (やや) 01:52, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

The whole sentence should be removed: (a) it is an unattributed interpretation, and (b) it doesn't make sense: "written into Jesus' biography at his Transfiguration" sound like that was when the gospels were written. Perhaps it means that it was written into the account of the Transfiguration, but that is itself is dubious - the story of the Transfiguration may have led to the belief that Jesus was the Son of God. StAnselm (talk) 02:09, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
As a recent addition (last week) I have removed this sentence until there is a consensus to include it (or something like it). StAnselm (talk) 02:18, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
Anyway, this reference, for example, shows that this is a matter of disagreement among scholars: James D. G. Dunn believes that "Son of God" was only applied to Jesus later, while I. Howard Marshall believes that "the use of the title by the early church was originally connected with Jesus' self-consciousness". StAnselm (talk) 02:28, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
Wait, so people are ignoring the comment? Then what's the point of having it? If the only people who follow the restrictions are careful and consensus-respecting editors and the users who are supposed to read it are ignoring it, then isn't it doing more harm than good?
My understanding, anyway, is that most scholars consider "Son of God" to be a messianic title rather than directly implying pre-existence or some high level of divinity, as the Hebrew Bible uses this to refer to kings of the line of David, and everyone agrees that the claims that Jesus was a king (a Son of God) date back to Jesus's lifetime, as that's what the Romans crucified him for, and even Ehrman says in his historical Jesus book that Jesus probably (if implicitly) claimed kingship for himself (if I'm remembering correctly). This is unrelated to my concern expressed above, mind you. Ehrman probably addressed my concerns (the quasi-chronological nature of the development of christology and where we should fit Paul in if we are going to write like this) in How Jesus Became God, but I haven't read it...
Hijiri 88 (やや) 08:34, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
You're noteven arguing against what the sentence itself. And by the way, just because the Transfkguration led to people thinkng he was the Son of God, doe not mean that the belief may not have been written into the Gospels later on. And removing stuff before consensus has been reached defies Wikedia policies.Gonzales John (talk) 21:18, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
@Gonzales John:, you have been repeatedly warned for tendentious editing. Your additions to the lead have been challenged and reverted - you should be discussing it here and gaining consensus BEFORE adding it back in. StAnselm (talk) 21:33, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
That is, just to clarify, the rules do not say that "it should be left untouched till consensus" (contra this edit summary). In fact, it is virtually the opposite - a recent addition should stay out until consensus. WP:STATUSQUO says "During a dispute, until a consensus is established, the status quo should remain". StAnselm (talk) 21:37, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
Unfortunately, StAnselm, as this page shows, you clearyly did NOT keep status quo; you removed it before consensus.Gonzales John (talk) 02:30, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
The sentence was challenged, but let's not take it out until there's a consensus to remove it. It's cited to the best source anyone could point to, a university-level textbook recommended but the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:15, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
The sentence is in the body of the article ("After crucifixion"), so it doesn't add any information not already in the article. Does the sentence belong in the lead? Isambard Kingdom (talk) 01:21, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Does the "Son of God" concept appear in the lead? Then should the mainstream view of that concept be in the lead? Yes to both. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:28, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Um, the sentence doesn't really tell us anything about the "mainstream view" of the "concept" of the "Son of God". Might be good to step back and take a view of things? Isambard Kingdom (talk) 01:34, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
It tells us that the "Son of God" faith was merely added on to Jesus' story
  • @Gonzales John: I sympathize (I think) with your POV on these issues, but you must never add material to the lead that is not supported in the body. This is a very important point to keep in mind at all times, even when you are right on the substance. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:07, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
This is actually supported int he body, ckeck it out.Gonzales John (talk) 02:30, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Well, (a) in the body it is an attributed claim, and (b) just because it's in the body, it doesn't mean it should be in the lead. StAnselm (talk) 06:24, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Featured article[edit]

Wow, a religious article that got FA status! Congratulations to all who worked on it. I won't edit this, I just want to say, having read some of the rather heated threads above, the bias on this or any FA should be towards leaving it alone. When you're at the top, the only direction is down. PiCo (talk) 09:31, 13 September 2016 (UTC)

That's a pretty outrageous attitude to take toward any article, especially one that is inherently a propaganda magnet like this one. The article just barely passed on its seventh nomination because opposition was piecemeal and the suggestions of the commenters were all addressed by nominator and others. it reads. I'm not saying the article as it is now or as it was in 2013 is not FA level (I don't really have an opinion) but the above comment looks very much like an attempt to preemptively shoot down all attempts to improve the article because of a technicaliy that it passed FA several years ago. Hijiri 88 (やや) 09:44, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
For one thing, even though the problem is not unfixable, this article, despite its current FA status, currently contains information in its lead (a frankly bizarre and out-of-place looking rebuttal of the so-called "Christ myth theory") that does not appear in the body. I would honestly question whether the Christ myth theory should even be mentioned in the article per WP:UNDUE. The article First Council of Nicaea was recently delisted as a GA and in my "delist" comment on the GAN I said the same thing. Hijiri 88 (やや) 09:51, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
This is not a FA worthy article, it is full of garbage, but owners have beat anyone who disagrees into submission. The edits allowed are the disputes between very, very, very devout Christians and very, very, very, very devout Christians. This article is a disgrace for an encyclopedia and full of primary references from the Bible as sources, no criticism, no viewpoints of other religions, seriously it is a joke. Lipsquid (talk) 16:02, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
@Lipsquid, I take it you identify with neither of those two :).
If, and this is a big if, if I were to write this article from scratch, I'd organise it a little differently. I'd leave out the bit about the etymology of his name - it seems pretty trivial, though you could mention in passing that Jesus was a common name at the time (I believe there was a famous rebel against the Romans called Jesus, but a little earlier than the Biblical one). Then I'd deal very briefly with the sources, both biblical and non-biblical, noting that they each have a history (even Marks gospel has sources); then something about the life and teachings (especially the teachings) and his relationship to Judaism in his own time; then the eschatological part, which led to his becoming a god. Lot of work in that, though.PiCo (talk) 05:46, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
Wow, an awful lot of hostility in the above. I wonder how much of it is actually pointed towards the editors, and how much merely is purported to be when it's actually towards the subject? Lipsquid's comment is disproven objectively by the talk history, so doesn't even require a response. If you don't like the current state, keep working on it. If you truly think anything happening here is violating WP policy instead of upholding it, take it to ARBCOM. Jtrevor99 (talk) 14:54, 14 September 2016 (UTC)
Honest observations are not hostility. Religion brings out strong views and those views are usually not very encyclopedic and neither is this article. I have tried to add Jesus' influence and importance to Islam and to Ba'hai to the lead and adding additional religious views and material does not get a warm welcome. Life goes on. I still want a great encyclopedia. Lipsquid (talk) 03:29, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
Who told you the views of religious people are not encyclopedic? That's pretty prejudiced if you ask me.Farsight001 (talk) 13:17, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
I just said I tried adding material for the Muslim and Ba'Hai faith so I am prejudiced against religion or religious people? This would be a great example of what I said above. The article is locked down by people with a very narrow view and little care for encyclopedic content, and lots of care for their own religious POV. Lipsquid (talk) 15:59, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
No, you said, and I quote, "Religion brings out strong views and those views are usually not very encyclopedic". So I said "That's pretty prejudiced if you ask me." Is it so impossible for it to occur to you that it is you with the narrow view and little care for encyclopedic content?Farsight001 (talk) 23:42, 15 September 2016 (UTC)

@Lipsquid:, it's true that this page diverges far from good WP editing, and you would expect that a crowd-sourced article about Jesus would suffer from some pro-Christian bias, but it's not hopeless. Since WP policies and guidelines are on the side of those of us trying to promote a neutral view, we can make progress. It's just naturally hard and requires patience. That said, if you were to ask that this page's FA status be reconsidered, I'd back you. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 01:03, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

Considering your efforts in this article over the course of the last year or so, and your constant claim that the Jesus-myth idea seems to be the scholarly consensus view, when it is so far fringe it doesn't even merit inclusion, I find your suggestion that you are fighting for neutrality absolutely preposterous. In what universe have you once fought for neutrality in this article?Farsight001 (talk) 02:26, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
  • An FA should not include a section consisting of one misleading sentence and a bunch of see also links ー what happened? In July that section was much more detailed. Hijiri 88 (やや) 09:58, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
The point is, everything below is ("Family", etc.) are subsections, so the section is quite large. StAnselm (talk) 19:03, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
@StAnselm: Umm ... what? Did you accidentally delete a chunk of your comment before saving? Those subsections are not in the article at the moment; it was better when they were, in my opinion. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:13, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
No, and I don't really know what else I can say to explain myself. When I said "everything below" I meant below the section heading in the article. StAnselm (talk) 10:57, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Huh. You appear to be right. Somehow I missed that what looked like the following item in the actual article was different from what looked like the following item in the table of contents. Didn't the sub-sub-sections used to show up in the table of contents as "3.4.1", "3.4.2", etc.? Hijiri 88 (やや) 09:22, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

How Jesus became God[edit]

Might be nice to have a section on this - it's actually the title of someone's book, I think. Anyway, it would be about Christological belief and titles, the background to Messianic and apocalyptic thinking in late 2nd temple Judaism, and the very early stages of Jesus-worship.PiCo (talk) 23:01, 15 September 2016 (UTC)

Ehrman, already cited in the article: [1]. I think PiCo's suggestion is a good one; right now this subject is not adequately discussed or organized into a section. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 23:10, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that we should have such a section, though that title is highly POV - Ehrman's book was rebutted by a companion volume, How God Became Jesus. But perhaps someone can draft what such a section might look like. StAnselm (talk) 23:46, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, I see that I did suggest that for a section title, but I didn't mean to. Something like "Christology" might be better.PiCo (talk) 23:52, 15 September 2016 (UTC)
It's true that this article basically omits early Christian history, and we should cover it. I'd put it under "Christian views" and start with the earliest Christian views. It's true that evangelical Christians wrote a parallel book to Ehrman's. Ehrman describes the mainstream view and the evangelicals describe a Christian view. We should cover both, but, as with all WP article, give predominant attention to the mainstream view. Jonathan Tweet (talk) 00:58, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Except that Ehrman does not describe the "mainstream view", whatever that means. We had an extensive discussion at Talk:Bart D. Ehrman about this, and there is precious little hard evidence that this is the case. In fact, I don't know why we use the phrase at all. During my fun-filled visit to Wikipedia I encountered a curious phrase: "mainstream scholarship.". StAnselm (talk) 01:57, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
As a matter of fact, there was evidence for it, but you chose to delete it at [5]. Tgeorgescu (talk) 02:34, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Well, that source merely said that Ehrman stated a desire to present a consensus view. StAnselm (talk) 03:43, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
It stated that he is open about it, i.e. not lying. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:24, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
The source (Crossley) quotes Ehrman saying that the views he presents "have held sway for many, many years among the majority of serious critical scholars" (etc etc). Crossley seems to agree.PiCo (talk) 03:25, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
I think the reason why Crossley wasn't included in the Ehrman article is that no-one around here has read the book, and it's really hard from just that page to work out what Crossley actually is saying. StAnselm (talk) 04:26, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
I was thinking more of Ehrman's status for this article: Ehrman says the views he presents are majority ones (not his personal, eccentric innovations), and Crossley agrees.PiCo (talk) 06:12, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Right - but I'm not sure Crossley does agree. StAnselm (talk) 09:32, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Crossley names 3 scholars as "the credible 'centre' of historical Jesus studies"; he goes on that "there can be no better example of the construction of the liberal or credible centre ... than the works of Bart Ehrman." After some quotes from Ehrman he says: "Ehrman is a classic case of constructing the centre with help from constructing extremes" (which, to be frank, I don't quite understand - does he mean Ehrman is "constructing extremes" or that he's mediating between them?) I read that as an endorsement of Ehrman as a representative of the middle ground (centre) in modern Jesus scholarship.PiCo (talk) 10:07, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
It means that Ehrman is boss and gets to decide who is too extreme. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:14, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Well, the suggested wording (which, as Tgeorgescu pointed out, I deleted) said that Crossley criticized Ehrman for this. StAnselm (talk) 20:27, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Yes, Crossley seems more radical than Ehrman, so he criticizes Ehrman for being too center, too establishment, too neo-liberal for his own taste. Tgeorgescu (talk) 20:37, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment 'Christology' and 'how Jesus became god' are categorically different, as the former encompasses a wide range of issues that, while important, are unrelated to the latter, such as the Matthew's Christology of Jesus as a new Moses or Luke's Christology of Jesus as a martyr prophet. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:15, 17 September 2016 (UTC)

Religious reformer[edit]

The lead sentence names Jesus a "religious reformer". The sources given are:[2][3]. The first does not say "religious reformer", using the phrase "religious leader" instead. I do not know about the second. The characterization "reformer" has requirements so that it be can made and I doubt historians (the second source is titled "The Historical Jesus : a Comprehensive Guide") actually make this bold claim. Nxavar (talk) 08:15, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

I don't think we can necessarily reject the idea that Jesus was a reformer simply because the word "reformer" is not used in a source. Later in the article there is well-sourced discussion of Jesus as the founder of a '"renewal movement within Judaism." I think there are scholars who see him as a reformer of Judaism. Not everyone would agree with that point of view, but I think it is as legitimate and adequately sourced as most characterizations of Jesus. What specifically do you object to in use of the term "reformer"? Sundayclose (talk) 16:33, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
"Reform" signifies departure from contemporary accepted norms. "Renewal" does not have such connotations. Compare with Protestant Reformation and Reformed Judaism. "Reform" is a strong word in the context of religion. Nxavar (talk) 10:12, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Both of you are missing the point. What the cited sources say is irrelevant, because the lead should not be written based on external sources independently of the body. The lead should summarize the body. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:20, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
That said, 'renewal' is blatantly non-neutral and reeks of nineteenth-century antisemitism. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:22, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: Could you clarify both of your comments? How did my statement indicate that the lead should be "written based on external sources independently of the body"? And regarding your second comment, I don't necessarily disagree with it, but could you explain how 'renewal' "reeks of nineteenth-century antisemitism"? Thanks. Sundayclose (talk) 20:24, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
Nxavar said that the problem with the lead sentence calling Jesus a religious reformer is that it is not supported by the sources cited in the lead, which indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of WP:LEAD; your reply indicated that it was not necessarily a good idea to throw out this description because of what the WP:LEADCITEs say, but did not indicate that the reason for this was a fundamental flaw in how this article's lead is written. In my opinion, "renewal" implies something needs renewal and the "renewed" version (Christianity) is superior to the "stale" version (contemporary Judaism? this interpretation is anachronistic as contemporary Judaism is nothing like the Judaism of Jesus's time, but still). This interpretation is based partly on this lecture (18:52~20:24) (transcript here, the two paragraphs from "Now Wellhausen's" to "dating of the priestly material"). Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:57, 17 September 2016 (UTC)
I think you have misunderstood. We are not talking about contemporary Judaism. We are talking about one possible interpretation of how Jesus may have viewed his mission in his time. To state that Jesus tried to reform or renew Judaism in no way suggests anything about contemporary Judaism or makes any comparison between contemporary Christianity and Judaism. Sundayclose (talk) 00:24, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Oh, I know we are not talking about contemporary Judaism and Christianity, and I don't think there was any deliberate antisemitic intent on your part. I just think we should avoid the loaded word "renew" as far as possible. We know that some (most?) early (second-century) Christians interpreted Jesus's mission that way and also saw Jews as ... well, we don't need to go down that rabbit hole. Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:57, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
If I understand you correctly, I disagree. If Jesus saw his role as "renewing" Judaism (and I'm not saying he did), we don't need to hesitate to say that. I don't see how contemporary Judasim could take offense at such a description of someone that most of Judaism views as having little if any relevance to Jewish belief. Sundayclose (talk) 01:09, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Well, we don't know what Jesus thought, but if he did see Judaism in his day as a dead tree that needed to be "renewed" (as many modern Christian antisemites did/do, and many anti-Jewish Christians in the first and second centuries may well have done), we should be careful not to write in such a manner that implies we agree with him. "Reform" is a much more neutral term. Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:02, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
"Renewal" is a totally American Evangelican term.PiCo (talk) 03:08, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
That would explain why someone raised in a Roman Catholic environment who had never been to America was forced to interpret it in terms of an online lecture series' discussion of Christian antisemitism and Christian supercessionist theology. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:15, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
I wish people would stick to what the biblical scholars say. Like for example, Jesus saw himself as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah and deliberately brought about his crucifixion in order to bring on the "end of time" described in Daniel. I can frind the source for that - or could if I cared enough.PiCo (talk) 10:50, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Meh. Personally I wish everyone who made an argument based on "this is a FA" (because it was assigned that designation by a small group of editors three years ago even though it now looks nothing like it did then) or "you need consensus for your edits" (but I don't need it for mine) would be immediately site-banned, and any featured article whose lead contained more than five citations to sources not also cited in the body would automatically have its FA-status revoked. But we gotta work with the Wikipedia we have, not the one we want. Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:00, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Hijiri88:Of course we don't know what Jesus thought. If we restricted the article to objectively knowing what Jesus thought, there would not be an article. And of course we don't write the article as if we agree with anyone; that's basic Wikipedia policy. But I fail to see why we should not use the word "renewal" if that is the most accurate descriptor of one aspect of scholarly interpretation of Jesus. And PiCo, please give us the evidence that "'Renewal' is a totally American Evangelican term", especially the "totally" part. The initial post regarding Jesus as "reformer" is a legitimate point of discussion, but the discussion has digressed into hyperbole. Sundayclose (talk) 15:18, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

If we write the article using words and phrases that we think Jesus himself might have used if he spoke 2016 English, that is writing the article as if we agree with them. Please explain why you think "renewal" is more accurate than other, more neutral words. Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:44, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Again, I have not said we should write the article "using words and phrases that we think Jesus himself might have used if he spoke 2016 English". And I have never said "renewal" is a better word than "reformer". In my initial post I was responding to Nxavar's objection to the term "religious reformer"; I simply commented that there is discussion in the article of Jesus being viewed as founder of a "renewal movement within Judaism". I'm not sure what the problem is here, whether I am not explaining adequately, or you having difficulty understanding, or both. Sundayclose (talk) 18:26, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
And again, I have not said that you said write the article this way or that. This conversation is veering very much off-topic. I am just defending what I said, in response to your writing could you explain how 'renewal' "reeks of nineteenth-century antisemitism"? The main problem with this article's lead is that it was written independently of the body, cites about three dozen sources that aren't cited in the body, and includes a comment that explicitly prohibits pro-active attempts to fix the problem. Whether the body uses "renew" or "reform" and whether the lead should mirror that or use different words or just leave it out is only one minor aspect of the larger discussion we should be having. Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:42, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: You wrote: "Please explain why you think 'renewal' is more accurate than other, more neutral words." Give me a diff where I said that please. Thanks. Sundayclose (talk) 23:59, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
I don't know why you couldn't just Ctrl+F the quote, but you said it here in your first response to me. Everything I have written since then was in the light of your defending the word "renewal" against my saying it reeks of nineteenth-century antisemitism. Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:10, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: I couldn't CTRL-F to look for it because I didn't say it. I think you misread my request. I asked for a diff in which I said that renewal is a more accurate term. I didn't say that in the diff you provided. If you misread something I said, that's certainly understandable. I'm just trying to get clarification. Thanks. Sundayclose (talk) 00:19, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
@Sundayclose: I copy-pasted the words could you explain how 'renewal' "reeks of nineteenth-century antisemitism" directly out of your post, and then gave you the diff of you writing them. Your post wasn't even that long; you should be able to re-read and confirm what you said in under 15 seconds. How are you not seeing this? I don't mind responding to your requests for clarification, but doing so repeatedly, and then being asked why I am doing so because no request was made, is pretty frustrating. Hijiri 88 (やや) 01:00, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: The question "could you explain how 'renewal' reeks of nineteenth-century antisemitism?" does not mean "I prefer the term renewal", assuming we are speaking English. For that matter, how can a question equate to a statement? So please tell me how a question is the same as a statement. Thanks. Sundayclose (talk) 01:23, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
This is getting ridiculous. You asked me to provide a diff of you saying could you explain how 'renewal' ... and I did so, but now you are asking me for a diff of you saying that you think "renewal" is the most accurate term (i.e., superior to other words like "reform" that in my opinion are less loaded)? Fine, here: I fail to to see why we should not use the word "renewal" if that is the most accurate descriptor. But if I misread you, and we are in agreement that "renew" is at best unnecessary and at worst non-NPOV, and therefore should be avoided, then why on earth are we still arguing over this!? Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:41, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Not just ridiculous; utterly absurd. Let me just quote one word from my comment that you quoted: IF. Not is. Not should be. IF. "I fail to to see why we should not use the word "renewal" IF that is the most accurate descriptor". I won't insult you by explaining what the word if means. Now, perhaps you overlooked that word when you read my comment. That's understandable. Sundayclose (talk) 14:35, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, what reforms do you see Jesus wanting to introduce into 1st century Judaism?PiCo (talk) 02:51, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
And I'm curious to see your evidence that "'Renewal' is a totally American Evangelican term", especially the "totally" part. Sundayclose (talk) 03:12, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
"Renewal" is a concept pretty much associated with the evangelical movement - you need to "renew" your relationship with Christ. It doesn't arise for others. But what do you see Jesus wanting to reform in the Judaism of his day?PiCo (talk) 04:26, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
What is your evidence (besides your opinions) that renewal is a "totally" American evangelical term? Sundayclose (talk) 15:27, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
What is your evidence (besides your opinions) that renewal is not a "totally" American evangelical term? Lipsquid (talk) 17:27, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Lipsquid: Have you read all of this discussion? I have never claimed that "renewal" is or isn't a "totally American Evangelical" term. PiCo wrote "'Renewal' is a totally American Evangelican term". Sundayclose (talk) 17:48, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

I have and I am tired of seeing squabbles over nonsense, reformer seems straightforward and renewal seems like anti-Semitic [[WP:SYNTH] nonsense and assuming you do find a RS for "renewal" I would agree with PiCo and bet dollars to donuts it is an Evangelical source. So what is your source for renewal vs reformer? If you don't have one, we should drop this and stop wasting people's time. Lipsquid (talk) 17:58, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
I have no obligation to "drop" anything simply because you don't like it. You're perfectly entitled to ignore anything I write and move on to other matters. And so far I haven't seen anything to back up the claim that "renewal" is a "totally American Evangelical term" beyond personal opinions and your dollars to donuts. If you have a problem with me personally, by all means please make a report at WP:ANI. Sundayclose (talk) 18:06, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
@Lipsquid: Here here. Both Sundayclose and StAnselm seem to be more interested in wasting other users' time with inane discussions of nonsense ("renewal" in the former case, and "whether Bart Ehrman's NT studies textbook is the most widely used in American universities" and "what percentage of scholars think the canonical gospels' birth narratives are a fiction" in the latter). I too am pretty tired of it. Both of these users seem not to understand that the core Wikipedia policies regarding verifiability and original research apply only to article content, not to personal opinions expressed on a talk page; if they do understand this, then the only explanation for their repeated and aggressive pursuit of "sources" for these opinions could be that they are deliberately trying to bludgeon these discussions to death and make users they disagree with leave the article in frustration. Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:45, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
@Hijiri88: I'll make a polite statement instead of a warning: Discuss issues, not editors. Don't push this because you have already stepped over the line. I have not confused policies for articles and those for talk pages. Talk pages are also the place to ask for something besides personal opinions to back up what is stated so those personal opinions don't end up in an article unsourced. Take two minutes to look at almost any talk page with significant discussion and you'll find requests for the bases of opinions. And so far in this discussion after the first two posts, there has been nothing but personal opinions and false assumptions about (or inadequately reading of) comments by other editors. And by the way, it's "hear, hear", not "here here". Sundayclose (talk) 00:50, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
I have not been commenting in this thread, but Hijiri88 - you are way out of line. Of course it's reasonable for us to question your personal opinions and ask for evidence. If you are proposing changes, for example, based on the idea that the birth narratives are fictional, then it is only proper to question whether they really are. Since the only reason you should be sharing a personal opinion is to improve the article, other editors can and should work on the basis that these opinions affect article content. StAnselm (talk) 02:28, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
@StAnselm: Please give it a break already. I have told you several times already that that is not 'my opinion' but the opinion of Dale Martin. You are either incapable of understanding what I am saying, or you are deliberately filibustering any discussion you don't agree with. I honestly can't find a third explanation. And that would be the fourth or fifth time this has happened with you ー why does it not happen with other users I disagree with, like PiCo or Isambard Kingdom? Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:16, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
Well, why did you bring up the issue in this thread? Why did you mention me? In any case, everything you say indicates that you share Martin's opinion, so I really don't know what your problem is. StAnselm (talk) 00:36, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
Because both you in several other discussions and Sundayclose here were doing the same thing, forcing me to spend thousands of bytes discussing issues that have nothing to do with any potential changes to the article. In your case, it seemed that you didn't want the article to use precise wording that didn't imply that historians consider some parts of the birth narratives to be factual and were filibustering the discussion with off-topic nitpicking of the wording of my comments with that aim. In this case ... I really don't know what was going on. Hijiri 88 (やや) 05:11, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
Why make him waste his time? A large percentage of people on the planet definitely believe the birth narrative of Jesus is fictional. God impregnated a virgin which became himself, but not totally himself, to die and be reborn so God, himself, could forgive sinners? Umm, pretty much any sane person has to question whether that narrative is fictional and the extraordinary claim is not {{ping|Hijiri88}'s, it is yours. A sane person should rightly ask for extraordinary proof that it is not a fairy tale. Besides having a book that says its true, do you have any actual proof that the claim is not fictional? You are wading into water where you will be clobbered in a discussion of who has support for their claim. Maybe it would be better to just stick with the reformer vs renewal discussion.... Lipsquid (talk) 02:55, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm a little confused - are we talking about whether the first line of the article should call Jesus a "religious reformer" or whether the birth narratives are fictional? Or both? If both, split the thread.PiCo (talk) 06:32, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Indeed. I don't know why I got dragged into this discussion. In any case, fictionality should only be discussed here as it relates to improving this article. Lipsquid, you are getting into WP:NOTFORUM territory here. StAnselm (talk) 11:17, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
You let the fiction vs non-fiction genie out of the bottle, now you want to tell me this is not a forum, lol. That is as comical as the hypocritical nature of your previous response "Of course it's reasonable for us to question your personal opinions and ask for evidence." So you get to ask people for evidence for their opinions, but no one else can... As I said, why don't you stick to reform vs renewal unless you want to get pummeled with questions you won't like and you still didn't answer the reform vs renewal question. Either stay on point and add constructive feedback to the topic of this thread, start a new thread on fiction vs non-fiction or walk away. Lipsquid (talk) 15:04, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Not touching this discussion with a 39 and a half foot pole. I'll just say - and everyone here knows this - it is not possible to make absolute claims of "fiction" or "not fiction" regarding supernatural events. By their very definition, traditional tools for exploring historical events cannot fully inform whether supernatural events took place, or if they did, whether they truly were supernatural. Jtrevor99 (talk) 15:15, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
@Lipsquid: Technically, I was the one who let the fiction vs non-fiction genie out of the bottle, when I cited the Martin lectures in the relevant section; he describes stories in the gospels (though not specifically the birth narratives) with words like:
  • "he could have just made it up",
  • "they make up that likeliness and they put that into the story",
  • "basically most scholars will say that we don't really know what happened at the trial of Jesus",
  • "[w]e don't even know for sure whether there was any kind of official trial",
and specifically contrasts such stories to other stories that skeptical historians do think probably happened in a manner that implies the early Christians "invented" the former stories:
  • "John the Baptist baptizing Jesus doesn't look like something early Christians would make up",
  • "It's not something they're likely to make up",
  • "this is not something that the Christians writers want to invent and then put in the story",
  • "it's not something they likely would have invented",
  • "I don't think early Christians invented it",
  • "it's not something they would have invented",
  • "I don't think this is something they would invent".
Specifically concerning the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, he says:
  • "Now there's no way you can basically get these two narratives to fit together in any respectable historical way",
  • "What do we believe about the birth of Jesus? Most of us think we don't know anything about the birth of Jesus",
  • "All the Christmas stories are later tradition",
  • "Jesus probably was from Nazareth, his family was simply from Nazareth because he's called Jesus of Nazareth [and both canonical birth narratives] are probably later pietistic traditions that Matthew and Luke later developed for different reasons",
  • "The birth narratives, we just throw up our hands. The trials before Pilate, nope probably none of it rises to the level of history."
(Note that all of the above quotations were copy-pasted from the transcripts linked; it would suit my agenda to add emphasis and punctuation where Martin actually did in his lectures, like "we don't know anything", but I don't have the time to go back and do that.)
Now, it he does also essentially point out that when it comes to material whose historicity is doubted by scholars, we sometimes have no way of knowing whether it was invented wholesale by the gospel authors (i.e., what could rightly be called "fiction") and material that was invented by someone somewhere but was neither authentic history nor invented by the writers of the texts we still have. I would say I regret using the word "fiction" when I think the birth narratives probably fall into the latter category, but I know StAnselm would have found something else to nitpick if not that, so no matter how careful I am with my wording it doesn't matter.
Perhaps also germane is where he says "you've got all kinds of very, very smart fundamentalists who believe that the New Testament has to be accurate in every historical and scientific detail or they believe then it can't be scripture"; this means that, depending on how liberally we define "historian" (or, worse, "scholar"), there will be a greater and greater percentage thereof who don't think the stories are later inventions.
But I digress. None of this was ever on my editing agenda, as any careful reading of any of my posts will confirm. My personal views of the fictionality of the NT gospels are completely irrelevant -- heck, even Professor Martin's views are irrelevant. Martin is a devout Christian (Episcopalian), and I am ... not. You can read what you want into my comments about my personal opinions, but I have not cited said opinions as reasoning for any of my proposed edits.
So why on earth have I been forced to put so much effort into explaining Professor Martin's opinions!?
Hijiri 88(やや) 10:48, 23 September 2016 (UTC) (edited 10:58, 23 September 2016 (UTC))
Hijiri 88The problem is not in mentioning fiction or non-fiction, the problem is the ridiculous nature of asking someone to prove the miraculous religious story is fiction. The person doubting the miracle has no duty to prove their disbelief, it is all upon the person who asserts the miracle is true. Since I doubt the stupid question will come up again, can we discuss renewal vs reform? I much prefer reform. Lipsquid (talk) 17:08, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
I wish I could agree with "I doubt the stupid question will come up again", but I agree with the rest. I also much prefer "reform". Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:50, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Robert W. Funk[edit]

Jesus Seminar may not be mainstream, but Funk definitely is. I'll put the statement back for now. Wonder what sort of arguments will come here.Gonzales John (talk) 02:37, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Depends what you mean by mainstream. In his Schaffer Lectures Meier called Funk a sensationalist, if I recall. Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:21, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
As I indicated above, "mainstream" is not a particularly helpful term. We should look at the claim itself, and whether there is a wide-ranging academic consensus in its favour. If not, at best it should be attributed, and probably not included in the lead. StAnselm (talk) 09:40, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
@Gonzales John: Having looked at your most recent edits I would have to say I agree with your opponents on this issue. The term "Son of God" is complicated (most Christians, let alone general readers, have no idea what the term meant in ancient Israel), and specifically contrasting it with "messiah" as you have done (against your sources, it seems) in the lead of the article is a bad idea. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:28, 18 September 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2014). How Jesus became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0061778186. 
  2. ^ Sanders, Ed P.; Pelikan, Jaroslav J. "Jesus Christ". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  3. ^ Theissen, Gerd; Merz, Annette (1998). The Historical Jesus : a Comprehensive Guide. Fortress Press. ISBN 978-1-4514-0863-8. 

"one who owes allegiance to the person Christ"[edit]

This is an incredibly wordy way of saying "follower of Christ", and is redundant because it is directly followed by that simpler synonym. (If one tried to be overly pedantic in interpreting the wording "one who owes allegiance to the person Christ" as being more specific in some way than "follower of Christ", then it would be inaccurate; the word "Christian" doesn't necessarily have anything to do with debts or with the person-hood of Christ.)

Anyone mind if I just remove it? We could just replace the whole bit in parentheses with "(meaning a follower of Christ)". (This would also necessitate removing the Strong's Greek Lexicon citation, which seems to only be included because of "follower of Christ" being in unnecessary quotation marks.)

Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:08, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Definitely remove the convoluted definition. The article on Christian just has "follower of Christ". While you're at it, that article should be wikilinked. StAnselm (talk) 11:08, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Done. Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:52, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

"the gospel accounts" re: the date of Jesus's birth[edit]

The article currently says that By collating the gospel accounts with historical data and using various other methods, most scholars arrive at a date of birth between 6 and 4 BC for Jesus. Leaving aside the fact that this is not what the lead sentence, the infobox or footnote a says, I'm concerned about the use of the phrase "by collating the gospel accounts", since my understanding is that historians who aren't fundamentalists don't lend much credence to the gospels' birth narratives. I'm assuming that what is meant by "gospel accounts" is the random pieces of information concerning Jesus's age and who was emperor/governor/high priest at this or that time included in Luke 1:5, 2:1-2, 3:1-2 and 3:23 and Matthew 2:1. Could someone with access to Vermes and Dunn clarify what they have to say on this issue, if anything? If I am right, wouldn't it be better to say "by collating historical data found in the gospels with those found in extra-biblical accounts". In case it isn't clear, my reason for proposing this change is that the current wording implies that "most scholars" consider the gospel "accounts" (read:narratives) related to Jesus's birth to contain historical accurate information concerning Jesus's biography. Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:22, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

I fail to see the problem, really. It's collating gospel accounts with historical data. E.g. born in the reign of Herod = before 4 BC. StAnselm (talk) 18:53, 18 September 2016 (UTC)
Because "born in the reign of Herod" is not what readers will think when they see "gospel accounts". Readers are unlikely to interpret "accounts" as referring to the tiny bits and pieces of information in (otherwise fictional) narratives. Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:48, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Note that when I said "likely fictional", I meant "probably didn't happen"; I did not mean "invented by the author of the gospel as pure fiction". I was not being super-careful with my wording because I was assuming good faith on the part of my dialogue partner. Unfortunately, I was wrong to do so -- nitpicking of my use of the word "fiction" continued for at least five days despite my repeatedly explaining in tremendous detail what I meant. I really wish people would focus on article content. Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:33, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Well, "fictional" is your POV, of course. But I still fail to see the problem, and I think you have missed the plain meaning of the statement. The gospels contain accounts of Jesus' birth. These accounts say that the Jesus was born in the reign of Herod. (Virtually?) all scholars see this as a reference to Herod the Great. "Accounts" here means the whole narratives, not just those particular statements. But there's no good reason to separate the two, regardless of what you think about the historicity of the rest of the narratives. StAnselm (talk) 00:15, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
No, "fictional" is Dr. Dale Martin's POV; I don't appreciate you speculating about my POV when I have not asserted any such POV and specifically cited my source. Scholars do not collate "the whole narratives" "of Jesus' birth" with historical data because they consider those narratives (not the date Luke gives for Jesus's baptism) to "all" be "later tradition"; they contain "later pietistic traditions that Matthew and Luke later developed for different reasons, but to get Jesus born in Bethlehem for fulfillment of prophecy reasons"; most scholars "think we don't know anything about the birth of Jesus". The gospels (not just the birth narratives -- only two of the five passages I referred to are part of the Jesus birth narratives; one is about John the Baptist's birth, and two are about Jesus's baptism by John) contain nuggets of historical information that scholars consider to be slightly more reliable than the gospel narratives themselves. I doubt what the article currently says about scholars collating the "accounts" (read by both me and you as "narratives", and so likely most of our readers) with external historical data is accurate. Again, can you confirm what the cited sources actually say? Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:52, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

I also don't see a problem, nor do I see a problem with your suggested change. Point is, historians will use all available sources of (yes, fuzzy) information, and none are completely reliable. Born in the "reign of Herod" seems like a piece of fuzzy information to be put in the scale. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 01:16, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Well, okay, I suppose I wouldn't use the word "data", as that, to me, implies something that has actually been measured. But I'm only speaking as a scientist. Put it in your scale, and use your judgement. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 01:19, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
You're right. The current wording can be read the way I would like our readers to read it, that collation of certain passages in the gospels (Luke 3 and Matthew 1) with external historical information about some of the people named therein leads scholars to consider Jesus to have been born in the reign of Herod and to have been baptized at around the age of 30 not long after the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, but that this has nothing to do with the birth narratives. So I don't doubt that whoever wrote and redacted the sentence to get to our current wording was acting in good faith and was in essential agreement with me. I am just worried that our readers will assume that, since we are talking about Jesus's birth date, "gospel accounts" refers specifically to the birth narratives (Luke 3 is not a birth narrative) and that this will lead them to the inaccurate conclusion that scholars give general credence to the birth narratives themselves (except for fundamentalists, they don't). Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:52, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

If I remember correctly the "born in the reign of Herod" thing derives entirely from the Gospel of Matthew, where Herod is a character in Chapter 2. Per the World English Bible: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold,wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born. ..."

Herod is mentioned in passing in the Gospel of Luke, in the context of John the Baptist's family background. Per the World English Bible: "There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the priestly division of Abijah. He had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth."

The Gospel of Mark pretty much begins with an adult John the Baptist preaching and does not mention Herod. "John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins."

The Gospel of John does not have a nativity account and does not mention Herod. The Gospel pretty much starts with an adult John the Baptist and quickly moves to an adult Jesus. "There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came as a witness, that he might testify about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but was sent that he might testify about the light. The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world."

The two nativity accounts may be fictional (and mutually contradictory), but we do not really get much information on Jesus' background otherwise. Neither Mark nor John cover his ancestry, parents, nativity, childhood, or pretty much anything before an adult Jesus enters the scene. Dimadick (talk) 05:24, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Well, Luke 1:5 indicates John the Baptist was conceived in the reign of Herod and Luke 1:26 indicates Jesus's conception was only about half a year thence, so it's not "entirely" from Matthew (unless I'm mistaken, Mark doesn't mention it, so that's probably multiple attestation). I'd also think Mark understood Jesus to be a descendant of David, even if he never names David. But that's really beside the point: historians don't consider the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke to be historical, and they establish a rough date of birth based on some historical tidbits (mostly in Luke, but not all in the birth narrative, and maybe some in Matthew) collated with extrabiblical accounts. My concern is that the current wording may give the impression that historians don't dismiss the nativity stories themselves as incredible, mutually contradictory and unverifiable to the gospel authors themselves. Hijiri 88 (やや) 07:00, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
I think this concern is slightly excessive: of course historians must collate Gospel accounts too to estimate a date otherwise it would be completely impossible (what other extrabiblical accounts can they use?). A few paragraphs down, though, Jesus' birth stories are called the "clearest case of invention" in the Gospel, so the article doesn't seem to give the impression you say. Anyway someone could always check out the sources (I don't own the books) and correct it if the wording is sensibly different. What do the source exactly say? Bardoligneo (talk) 16:14, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
The gospel accounts (birth narratives) are fictional, and historians pay them no heed. The reason they come to this conclusion is not because they are contradicted by extrabiblical sources (only one detail in Luke's account is). What the article and its sources apparently mean by "accounts" is tiny historical tidbits in the texts, rather than the narratives themselves. This means that using the word "accounts" is likely to mislead our readers. four other users have commented now, but no one appears to have access to the sources. Hijiri 88 (やや) 21:32, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
I basically agree, but it is, perhaps, worth making a technical point: historians pay heed, and can learn from all sorts of sources, factual and mythical. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 21:48, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
You're right again. I am a lot less careful about my wording on talk pages than in the mainspace. Historians of course can learn from the nativity stories in the gospels (both in the New Testament andersmith in, say, the Protogospel of James). But what they learn is what early Christians were saying about Jesus, not what 'actually happened' with the historical Jesus. And most of our readers don't know this. They will read bits and pieces of the article and get the idea that historians tend toward credulity. (This is why I don't think it's fair to use imprecise and misleading wording in one place because a different part of the article clearly contradicts it; virtually no one is carefully reading this article from start to finish.) Hijiri 88 (やや) 22:31, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
You say, "historians pay them no heed", but that is an over-generalisation. As our Nativity of Jesus article says, according to Raymond E. Brown "there is no uniform agreement among scholars on the historicity of the accounts". StAnselm (talk) 21:57, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
If Brown didn't say what our article attributes to him, then I suggest you fix our article. If our article accurately represents what he said, then I would request that you stop misrepresenting sources. Because our Nativity of Jesus actually says that historians who reject the historicity of the gospel accounts do not agree on in what way the gospels are unhistorical (Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem was he born in Nazareth, Capernaum or somewhere else?). This not only says nothing about the proportion of historians who pay them no heed, it actually contradicts my more recent source, which says most scholars would say Jesus was probably born in Nazareth. Hijiri 88 (やや) 22:31, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
My point is, not all scholars see the accounts as fictional. As the other article says, "Many scholars do not see the Luke and Matthew nativity stories as historically factual" - but quite clearly, "many" is not "all". StAnselm (talk) 23:25, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
How about "the majority"?PiCo (talk) 02:59, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
Personally, I was surprised Nativity of Jesus didn't use "majority", and seemed to be studiously avoiding it: "Many scholars" / "Many modern scholars", etc. Of course, maybe a reliable source for the claim of there being a majority cannot be found. StAnselm (talk) 03:29, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm a bit surprised by that too - perhaps it just never occurred to any Wiki-editors to research the phrase. Who can tell. PiCo (talk) 04:28, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
In a conversation just above (another thread) I seem to have offended a fellow Wiki-editor by asking him what he thinks Jesus wanted to reform in 1st century Judaism. I think he reads my question as an attack (people can be very sensitive), but it's genuine. How about you, do you think Jesus was a reformer, and if so, what exactly did he want to see changed?PiCo (talk) 04:30, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
Didn't you notice I was avoiding that conversation? ;) I figured I can't participate in every thread on this page. StAnselm (talk) 04:39, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
I don't see how any of this is necessary. Once again, source-citations and complete factual accuracy are being demanded for talk page opinions that were clearly not being proposed for insertion into the article. I am not saying we should write "the nativity stories in the gospels are fictional" into the article, so why all this nitpicking? The fact is that I said in my opening post that "historians who aren't fundamentalist" don't take the gospels' birth stories as historically accurate. Both "many" and "the majority" are accurate if we include fundamentalists in the total figure, and the former becomes more accurate relative to the latter the more broadly we define "scholar" to include theologians as opposed to historians (note that I initially said "historians", not "scholars", because that is how the article words it) and the more we accept people who technically qualify as historians but have a professional responsibility to their employer not to challenge the inerrancy of the bible.
But none of this is relevant; if we are in agreement that (at least) many scholars doubt the historicity of the stories themselves, then we can surely agree that what the article is referring to by "gospel accounts" is the minor factoids stuck within the narratives rather than the narratives themselves, and so we should either alter the text to say this (as long as this wouldn't go against what the currently cited sources say) or locate other sources that say this (I'm sure Ehrman has written this at least a dozen times).
Has anyone read the sources? Or, do you know an easy way of finding out who added the sentence and checked the sources and when, so we can contact them?
Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:55, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
"By collating the gospel accounts with historical data and using various other methods, most scholars arrive at a date of birth between 6 and 4 BC for Jesus" can be boiled down to "Jesus was probably born between 6-4 BC". There's no need for the explanation.PiCo (talk) 06:19, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, that basically solves the problem. I'd still prefer "by collating historical data found in the gospels with those found in extra-biblical accounts", but that version is fine. Hijiri 88 (やや) 08:45, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Still no one has come forward with quotations of the currently-cited sources. Does anyone actually have access to them? Do I need to go back through the page history to find out who added them and message those users? Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:28, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

WikiProject Saints?[edit]

Obviously the topic is related to that WikiProject, but most of the pages covered by that project appear to be articles on Christian "saints"; does any denomination consider Jesus himself to be a "saint"? Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:27, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Since Christians consider him a God, I sincerely doubt it. Per the definition of Saint: "a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness to God. ... In Anglican, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Oriental Orthodox doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honour or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church."

The definition seems to include mortals who have achieved a likeness to God, but to exclude God himself. Dimadick (talk) 05:36, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

"Non-Christian sources used to establish the historical existence of Jesus include"[edit]

Used by whom? Historians don't use Josephus and Tacitus to establish Jesus's historical existence because they don't need to -- the fact that Paul wrote that he knew Jesus's brother and that all the early Christians considered Jesus to be the messiah despite his having been crucified are enough for this purpose. Wouldn't this sentence be better written as "Early non-Christian sources that attest to the historical existence of Jesus include"? Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:51, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

Sure, why not make the change you suggest? Isambard Kingdom (talk) 01:09, 19 September 2016 (UTC)
Because I just told someone else not to edit this very volatile article directly until they get prior agreement on the talk page, and I didn't want to be a hypocrite. :P StAnselm agreed to one of my proposals earlier and I implemented it accordingly; now you have agreed to another, so I will do so again. I also realized that "first-century historians" is inaccurate as Tacitus did his best-known historical work in the early second-century, and it is redundant with my insertion of "early" at the start of the sentence, so I removed that. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:00, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

You might want to place a link to the more detailed article Sources for the historicity of Jesus which covers specific sources. A persistent problem is that no source is contemporary to Jesus himself. Mara bar Serapion was writing in the 70s (at the earliest possible date), Josephus in the 90s, Tacitus in the 110s, Suetonius in the 110s, Pliny the Younger in the 110s, Lucian in the 160s (at the earliest possible date), Celsus in the 170s, and Thallus possibly no earlier than the 180s (when we first hear of his work). Historians may use them to get some information on early Christianity, but they are hardly witnesses to a life that ended in the 30s.

Note that the esteemed Josephus was probably born in the 30s and could not have had first-hand knowledge for much of what he writes in the Antiquities of the Jews. Dimadick (talk) 06:00, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

"Most" or perhaps "virtually all" of what he writes would probably be more apt, but your point is well taken. I agree that these sources are not useful for anything in Jesus research other than a bare fact or two (Jesus was crucified under Pilate, he was a teacher), but Josephus and Tacitus being early sources that apparently attest to Jesus's historical existence is not a controversial statement; that historians use them to establish such is almost certainly wrong, even if some sources written for a popular audience might use the latter wording as a synonym for the former. Hijiri 88 (やや) 23:53, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Minor formatting question[edit]

Finally, a topic on the Jesus Talk Page that should be unambiguous and uncontroversial! I've been unable to find an official WP policy on this, but could just be overlooking it. So, here goes: is the official policy to use Jesus' or Jesus's as the possessive? This article looks pretty clean but I've seen inconsistency on others. Jtrevor99 (talk) 03:53, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

That is almost certainly going to cause considerably more controversy than most of the threads that I have started in the last week :P
I personally prefer "Jesus's"; "s'" is for plurals. MOS:POSS tells us that we have two choices: (1) use "Jesus's" regardless of pronunciation; or (2) figure out how to pronounce it and then spell it either way based on that agreement. But (unlike with the example given, "Moses'") I have heard both pronunciations in lectures by respected academics, and I don't think we will have agreement on how to pronounce it. WP:MOS#Apostrophes tells us to see Apostrophe for details on usage, and there we are told that some authorities say there are no exceptions, some say biblical and classical names can be exceptions, and one says only Jesus and Moses are exceptions. This seems incredibly arbitrary to me.
The FAQ (question 9) tells us that this has been resolved here, but ... it really wasn't. It was another minor blowout about largely unrelated issues between HiLo48 and nine other users (as usual, it was quite heated). One of them closed the discussion with "we use Jesus' on this page, not Jesus's" despite no clear consensus for this. Only five of these users have edited Wikipedia in the last three months.
So yeah, I think the bogus FAQ entry should be removed as obviously lying about there being some prior consensus, and a new discussion should be had.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:22, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
The FAQ is a good one and should remain. You seem to have missed that MOS:POSS specifically mentions Jesus: "Possessives of certain classical and biblical names have traditional pronunciations that may be deemed to take precedence: Jesus' answer and Xerxes' expeditions, but Zeus's anger". In any case, the linked discussion was closed with a reference to the issue having been discussed previously, so we ought not to remove the FAQ entry on the basis of that thread alone. StAnselm (talk) 11:25, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
Interesting! Well, personally I don't care with which direction it goes, so long as we're consistent. As mentioned above this article seems pretty clean, but I've noted other articles mixing the two. And thanks for the link to MOS:POSS; I didn't find it when I searched. Jtrevor99 (talk) 14:38, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

"Some Hindus ... point out similarities between the teachings of Krishna and Jesus"[edit]

This is not, strictly speaking, backed up by the source: it is one author (not some Hindus) pointing out similarities between the teachings and practices of Christianity (not the same as the teachings of Jesus) and those of ISKCON (not the same as the teachings of Krishna). Additionally, the author (an Irishman who was raised Catholic and joined ISKCON in adulthood) is hardly representative enough of the world's 1.2 billion Hindus for us to even attempt to make excuses for assuming that because he points out similarities it must mean some Hindus point out similarities. I'm not saying he's wrong or that a significant enough group of Hindus don't agree with him (I would remove the claim immediately if I thought that), but could a better source not be found? Hijiri 88 (やや) 05:37, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Note that replacing "Some Hindus" with "Rishi Das" would solve the problem, but present serious WP:WEIGHT issues. Hijiri 88 (やや) 05:55, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Is both IPA and PRK necessary in the lead?[edit]

I know not all of our readers know how to pronounce Jesus's name in English, and I personally prefer IPA, but if we are assuming they don't know how to read either the normal spelling or the IPA (and so giving the pronunciation respelling key as well), isn't the IPA spelling redundant? It's not like the Greek or Hebrew names that are important for other reasons; it's literally just to help pronounce the modern English form, and is redundant with for that purpose. Hijiri 88 (やや) 06:02, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

I do agree that one of them can go, though honestly I don't feel strongly one way or the other. Frankly, even though IPA is probably better, the truth is more people (including myself) can readily read and use PRK. And that's despite my ability to read Greek. We clearly need at least one of the two, to help (for example) to distinguish from alternate pronunciations such as HAY-soos. Anyone else? Jtrevor99 (talk) 15:23, 22 September 2016 (UTC)
If someone were to mispronounce it as HAY-soos, then the respelling pronunciaiton would not help them. IPA is unambiguous; the respelling pronunciation assumes you have a native-like command of the pronunciation of one of the major English dialects. Respelling reaches more native speakers, while IPA reaches virtually everyone else. In the case of Jesus, it's unlikely a body'd have a native-like command of the language and not know how to pronounce this name. I'd argue that IPA would more likely be useful for those who actually need a pronuciation key for Jesus. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:52, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

Are the birth narratives fictional, and if so, how much?[edit]

Andrew Lincoln's Born of a Virgin? (it created quite a stir when it came out). Go for it :)PiCo (talk) 13:41, 23 September 2016 (UTC)

See thing is, as I laid out above, I am actually opposed to calling the narratives "fictional" in the article, since I think the authors of the extant gospels may have thought the stories were at least partly historical. That they "didn't happen" is taken as almost a certainty among historians, but I don't think including the classification "fiction" in the article would be helpful. That's why I am finding it so frustrating that I continue to be asked for sources to support calling them "fictional" when I never said we should call them fictional! Hijiri 88 (やや) 14:25, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
I have to agree with Hijiri on this. They are probably part truth, part legendary/hyperbole, and part is the case with many such historical writings. We lack the tools and evidence to separate one from the other sufficiently, and being too hasty can lead to the wrong conclusion. Case in point: it was long thought that the "census" referenced in Luke must have referred to a known census from circa 6AD, which would have made the Luke account impossible. Historians used to discount the entire account as fictional for that reason. Only recently has extrabiblical evidence come to light that proves another census took place circa 4BC. In summary, "fictional" would be just as misleading as, say, "entirely accurate". Jtrevor99 (talk) 17:56, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
"Only recently has extrabiblical evidence come to light that proves another census took place circa 4BC." First I've heard of it. Can you give a reference?PiCo (talk) 22:52, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
Whatever censuses there were, they didn't require people to travel far. What would be the point? Your figures would be off because people travelling might not be in place at the same time as whoever was doing the count. It would require a great deal of organisation to make sure people understood the rules. I'm guessing here, but any census would likely be taken by sending out officials to count up everyone in a given town. Or, more likely, requiring the local officials to report. --Pete (talk) 23:52, 23 September 2016 (UTC)
@Jtrevor99: Just for the record, if by "truth" you mean historical fact, then you are not fully agreeing with me, because I don't think there's any historical fact included in the birth narratives ("Jesus was born in the reign of Herod" is not a part of the narrative -- lots of people were born during that period); as far as I am concerned they are either all legend or part legend part fiction ("fiction" meaning the invention of the author of the text we have). I'm interested in the extrabiblical evidence for the census, though -- do you have a source? Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:11, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
Pico and I had an interesting discussion here in reply before we both decided to erase it. In doing so, I learned I really shouldn't try to reply at 1am (like I'm doing again now!) Long story short: the "evidence" I stated there was for a 4BC census has been grossly overstated. The articles I'd read, published a couple years ago, took a theory and stated it as fact - and also through in theories on a second Quirinius, two Quirinius terms, etc. for good measure. So...yeah, ignore that comment. It all boils down to the same thing: we don't have sufficient evidence to say that the Lukean account is wrong, nor do we have any evidence it is correct. Is it fact or fiction? Probably somewhere in between. Jtrevor99 (talk) 05:48, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
Meh. I don't personally think Wikipedians should be talking about "fact or fiction", at least as far as proposed edits to the article space go (I'm sure there are forums on Wikipedia for general discussion of these topics, but the article talk page is for discussing changes to the article). I only brought it up, in the limited sense "most historians specializing in this area think these events never happened", as justification for a minor semantic change I was proposing to the article. Hijiri 88 (やや) 14:03, 24 September 2016 (UTC)
Have you read the Lincoln book? At one point he talks about the history of the Virgin Birth story, and the alternatives to it in the New Testament.PiCo (talk) 22:27, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Good point made above. The birth narratives are unsourced, except for the Bible, which cannot be regarded as a relibale historical source. And yes, we do have evidence that the birth narratives are fictional. There is no evidence of a census of the nature proposed in the Bible at the time. We know that two parents were required to conceive a child. There is no evidence for Herod's supposed massacre of the innocents, and the improbable flight to Egypt - why not simply go back to Nazareth? No evidence is not the same as evidence against - apart from the supposed virgin birth - but it raises the question as to why these extraordinary events left no trace in any extrabiblical source. The answer is that the birth of Jesus was in no way extraordinary, and he made no impact on the world until he began his ministry some decades later. --Pete (talk) 23:43, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Agreed that "No evidence is not the same as evidence against" - so why should the virgin birth be an exception? StAnselm (talk) 00:40, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Because nowadays we know how conception works. It is like claiming some equally impossible event occurred. "I flew to Alpha Centauri yesterday." "No you didn't." "Do you have any evidence that I didn't?" "Weeeell, no..." "So there!" --Pete (talk) 01:21, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
@Pete is correct, any claim needs evidence. The New Testament actually says that Jesus was conceived in the normal way, with a human father - it's just that the second claim, the one involving no human father, has gotten all the attention.PiCo (talk) 02:10, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Historians talk about what probably happened in the past. Even if we had early sources written by Jesus's enemies that passed the dissimilarity criterion that asserted that Jesus was born of a virgin, historians still would not recognize it because virgin births normally don't happen. This, combined with the fact that the very concept that the messiah must be born of a virgin is apparently based on a misinterpretation of a mistranslation of Isaiah, means that virtually all historians except for fundamentalists (Christian ones) would accept that the virgin birth is not something that happened in the past. (Note that there's a difference between "something that didn't happen in the past" and "fiction".) Hijiri 88 (やや) 02:42, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
And there is a difference between "didn't happen in the past" and "not recognized by historians". As a couple of editors have pointed out already, many historians would consider miracle claims as being beyond their purview. StAnselm (talk) 02:50, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Yes, but we can't take a theological approach to the question of whether the miracle-claims of Christians are accurate ("if we assume the existence of god then all of his could be accurate") and a historical approach ("historians can't prove miracles") to the miracle claims of other religions. WP:NPOV is pretty clear on this. Heck, Conservapedia's raison-d'être is Wikipedia's content policies supposedly being biased against Christians on his and similar points. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:33, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Where does the NT say Jesus was conceived in the normal way, PiCo? StAnselm (talk) 02:44, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
That's a bit rich, asking me for evidence of a non-virgin birth after saying evidence isn't needed for the Virgin Birth :)PiCo (talk) 02:53, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
I'm reminded of the episode of Friends where Rachel asked Phoebe "How could you not tell me she has hair?" and Phoebe responds "I hardly ever say that about people!"
The NT doesn't tell us a whole lot about Jesus. If he lived for thirty years, a modern biography could be expected to be about 500 pages (half the length of Ian Kershaw's acclaimed biography of Hitler, who died in his fifties). The fact that the gospels don't explicitly say he was conceived in a normal manner does not mean he wasn't. No reader of Mark would come to the conclusion that Jesus was born of a virgin unless they were reading Matthew or Luke into Mark. The fact that if something as extraordinary as that were historical and known to Mark he might have mentioned it is evidence that it didn't happened, but we don't need such evidence because it doesn't happen.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:00, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Paul, who was earlier than than any of the Gospels, says explicitly that Jesus had a human father. So, for that matter, do Mark, Luke and John.PiCo (talk) 03:06, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
So... where does Paul say that, exactly? StAnselm (talk) 03:19, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Romans 1. "seed of David according to the flesh" assumes that he was descended patrilinearly from David. I don't think one can be of the "seed" of a maternal ancestor. If he didn't have a human father, he can't have been of the seed of David. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:48, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
That's pretty much right, but it means more than being descended from David, it means receiving male seed passed through the line of David - you can't get seed from your mother, only from your (human) father).PiCo (talk) 03:54, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Hijiri 88, you raise a couple of interesting issues: (a) I would say the gospels are not biographies (certainly not in the modern sense) and it is a mistake to read them as such; (b) I agree that "no reader of Mark would come to the conclusion that Jesus was born of a virgin", but reading the gospels together is part of what we call a canonical approach. StAnselm (talk) 03:19, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
The canonical approach is a Christian theological way of reading the gospels, and that is perfectly acceptable for you to do in your church, but on Wikipedia we have NPOV: we can't follow a Christian theological approach to certain Christianity-related articles and a historical approach to everyhing else, including articles on oher religions. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:33, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
"...reading the gospels together is part of what we call a canonical approach." And reading them separately is what we call a scholarly approach :)
In Romans 1:1-3 (to give context) Paul says that Jesus was "born of the seed of David according to the flesh" (not "descended from David" as the NRSV has it). In the ancient world, where the facts of life were not so advanced, the woman was thought to provide the "flesh" of the baby and the man, through his "seed" gave it form; seed was an aspect of "blood", which was one of the two vivifying factors (factors providing life), the other being breath (Greek pnouma, Hebrew ruah), which was provided by God/the gods. So three parties were involved in every conception, a woman (flesh), a man (seed/blood, the two being aspects of one thing), and God/gods (breath). So when Paul says Jesus was or "of the seed of David" he's saying that Jesus had a normal human father, descended from in the line of David - Mary couldn't provide seed, she was a woman. In the next verse Paul says that Jesus "was declared" to be the son God: he means that Jesus attained his son-ship at the Resurrection, not, as Matthew, Luke and John have it, at his birth. Please read Lincoln's book, though, he's the expert, not me.PiCo (talk) 03:46, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
No, NPOV demands that we do not privilege historical approaches over canonical approaches. In particular, it requires that we note at appropriate points where there is diversity of opinion, interpretation and approach. We should be reflecting what is actually said and done in and by the scholarly community. Personally, I would describe canonical criticism overall as being grudgingly accepted by the scholarly community. StAnselm (talk) 04:59, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
I assume that what you mean by "canonical approach" is canonical criticism. That involves accepting the text as we have it as the object of study, rather than any hypothetical reconstructed ancestor - it isn't about harmonising all four gospels (or any other texts) into some completely new text. Or have I misunderstood?PiCo (talk) 06:23, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
@PiCo: I took him as referring to the non-historical view that the canonical texts are supposed to be interpreted in light of each other, and he didn't correct me. Canonical criticism, as a branch of history rather than theology, stands in contrast to this view. So yes, I think you have misunderstood. That said, I disagree strongly with the interpretation of NPOV that we should balance the historical view of the virgin birth, the resurrection and so on with a (Christian, evangelical) theological view. Imagine if we took NPOV as meaning we should balance the biological view of evolution with a theological view! Hijiri 88 (やや) 07:34, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I equate the "canonical approach" with "canonical criticism" (the wikilink was a redirect). This is very different to traditional gospel harmony approaches, but it does involve interpreting canonical texts in light of each other - and particularly in light of a greater whole. For the gospels, it means reading stories not just in the context of the individual gospels, but in context of the group of four gospels. For more on how that works with the gospels, see here. StAnselm (talk) 09:40, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
This is very different to traditional gospel harmony approaches But traditional gospel harmony is what you are suggesting we do in this case, isn't it? it does involve interpreting canonical texts in light of each other Do you have a source for that? The one you linked above doesn't hint at this, at least on pages 162-163. It says that canonical criticism of the NT texts is not concerned with historical Jesus reconstruction, it is concerned with the forms of the individual books as they were later canonized and the ordering of these texts in the canon, it believes different books by the same author (the example given is the Pauline corpus) can be read in light of each other, and it is not concerned with organizing these books chronologically. This is not the same as saying we need to read the virgin birth into Mark (or Paul, for that matter). and particularly in light of a greater whole Again, citation needed. Now, if we are talking about ethnographic study of Christians and how they have historically (and still today) read the bible, then I would agree that a study of the NT texts as a greater whole is important, and this is a part of canonical criticism at least as it is defined here, but that should be kept to its own section and we should be very careful about implying to our readers that we are talking about the historical man Jesus (who is the focus of this article) when what we are actually doing is talking about how later Christians have read the New Testament. For the gospels, it means reading stories not just in the context of the individual gospels, but in context of the group of four gospels. For more on how that works with the gospels, see here. As I noted above, the source says that canonical critics study the teachings of Jesus in one gospel as it has been received by modern Christians, rather than trying to get behind the gospel text to what Jesus of Nazareth may have actually said, and study them in light of similar teachings found in other canonical gospels because for them what is important is how these teachings are received by Christians. Again, I think we should be very careful about discussing canonical criticism in article about Jesus himself. On top of this, it is original research to engage in canonical criticism of the biblical texts on Wikipedia -- you need a specific source discussing the virgin birth narratives and stating that some significant group of scholars read Mark as somehow agreeing with the virgin birth narratives that were later including between the same hard covers. But even if you did so, my Friends analogy would still stand. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:22, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Ok. Getting back to Lincoln, and getting onto how this concerns improvements to our article, I suggest we incorporate Lincoln's page 125 - he says the NT has definitely two and possibly three different and irreconcilable stories about Jesus' parentage, one that he had no human father but was conceived entirely by the Holy Spirit (Luke, probably Matthew), one that he had a normal human father, namely Joseph (Paul, John, Hebrews), and one (possible) that he had a normal human father who was not Joseph (a variant text of Matthew that is, however, older than the earliest texts of the canonical Matthew, and possibly Mark). How do we feel about incorporating this into the article in some form? PiCo (talk) 07:42, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
I like it overall, though I wonder how widely the numbering of these views as three is accepted, as well as the classification of Luke and Matthew into the first group. By Luke, do we mean the final redactor of Luke-Acts? Or the various sources that he (rather clumsily in places) that he used? Because both Matthew 1 and Luke 3 (and a number of manuscripts of Luke 2) explicitly call Joseph the father of Jesus. There is also the 'widely recognized' (Ehrman, though he may have been joking) theory that an early version of Luke was in circulation and lacked the first two chapters. Basically I think the proposal is good, but we should be careful not to overemphasize one scholar's estimates. Hijiri 88 (やや) 08:11, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
I think the numbering of the three is universally accepted, since theologians and biblical scholars have been trying to reconcile them from the very earliest times. I think by "Luke" we mean the final Gospel of Luke - a text, not a person. The idea that the first two chapters of Luke are additions is indeed pretty widely known, although only as a possibility. The only thing I would use this page of Lincoln for is to draw attention to the existence in the NT of two, possibly 3, different versions of Jesus' parentage - it's not actually controversial among scholars, although it might be on Wikipedia. Many things are controversial on Wikipedia, just ask poor Jonathan Tweet :)
No, I don't think so. Mainly because it would give undue preference to a particular interpretation of Romans 1:3 - we would need a discussion about the different views scholars have the subject (see pages 27 and 31, where Lincoln disagrees with Raymond Brown, who has a different interpretation). The thing is, that discussion belongs in the Virgin birth of Jesus article, where it is (imperfectly) dealt with in the "Origins of Jesus outside the birth narratives" section. (The references seem rather lightweight, and that's after I removed two self-published books.) But this is the important thing to bear in mind in discussions in how to "improve" this article: this is meant to be a top level article, for lower level questions like whether Paul was aware of/believed in the virgin birth, we should be directing readers to lower-level articles. StAnselm (talk) 09:40, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

"baptism presupposed" in John[edit]

What does "presupposed" mean? John (the Evangelist) doesn't seem to write as though his readers know the baptism by John (the Baptist) took place; he seems to be polemicizing against the idea implied by such a baptism and (debateably) thinks that there was no baptism. Scholars use John as evidence that the baptism took place historically, but that's because he seems to know that other Christians are claiming it did. Yes, "presupposed" could mean this, but it seems like an unnecessarily ambiguous term. Hijiri 88 (やや) 03:41, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

And your source is?PiCo (talk) 03:47, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Found one for you - in Lincoln :). Though i have to point out that what Lincoln says does support the use of the word "presupposes". PiCo (talk) 07:13, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
My source was actually the same one as always, particularly the paragraph beginning Another major narrative difference... :P
In the synoptics, Jesus is baptized, John is killed, and then Jesus's ministry begins. In John, Jesus and John have concurrent ministries and are baptizing people in the Jordan at the same time.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 07:41, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Nice article. One thing he alludes to but doesn't go into any detail on is Jesus' age: 30 at the start of his ministry, according to the synoptics. That's crucial in determining his dates - has to be before Herod dies, has to be while Pilate is in Jerusalem, both drawn from other parts of the gospels. But the 30 year thing is not historic - it's the age at which one can become a Levite priest, and thus establishes Jesus' priesthood (which he needed for theological reasons). So all the dates are in fact very shaky.PiCo (talk) 07:58, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
It's not an article. It's a transcript of a lecture. :P
Also: Shit. Why does this keep happening to me? I meant to say particularly the paragraphs beginning Another major narrative difference... and One other thing that scholars often say... The latter is actually more relevant to this article, since it is a lecture about the historical Jesus rather than the gospel of John.
If you listen to the lecture rather than read the transcript, he actually doesn't seem to be saying Luke is more historically accurate than John; he's just explaining the tradition of combining the gospels together to create a narrative that isn't in any of the gospels.
He actually has some unkind words for the view that Luke is more or less historically accurate because Luke considered himself to be writing a history, if you listen to lectures 9 and 10.
Hijiri 88 (やや) 08:45, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

Episodes in the life of Jesus[edit]

What's that fancy word for the various episodes in the life of Jesus? Something Greek. I used to know, but it runed out not to be very useful at dinner parties after all (people tended to avoid me for some reason), but I've forgotten. ANyway, the reason I'm asking is because I'm trying to work out how Jesus' life could be subduvuded for our article. Like this:

  • Genealogies, birth and infancy
  • Early mission: baptism and mission in Galilee
  • Later mission: Judea
  • Passion: Last Supper, arrest, trial
  • Death and resurrection: Crucifixion, resurrection, ascension

I'm thinking this might be a useful way to organise the material in the section "Canonical Gospel accounts". I'd also like to see this added:

  • Teaching and miracles

(Pericope, that's the word).PiCo (talk) 08:39, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

I'm partial to "Galilean ministry" rather than "mission"; "mission" just doesn't seem to show up as often in the books I read, perhaps because it's a bit loaded ( defines it as A special assignment given to a person or group, but then we need to ask "Given by whom?"). I'd also prefer to separate "death" from "resurrection", either by joining "death" to "passion" or adding a new one in between. I also think combining "later mission" (doesn't this just mean the one week he spent in Jerusalem?) with "passion" might be a good idea. Maybe giving "baptism" and "crucifixion" their own sections (admittedly my historical Jesus research fetish for these two as the two most widely-accepted historical facts about Jesus might be biasing me on these). Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:39, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
Although I think one of the modern scholarly "biographies" of Jesus might be helpful here. Ehrman 1999 is not much good because his is about the consensus view of the historical Jesus, on whom we have a separate article -- the first half of his book is about historical sources and methodology, and he completely ignores the bits about non-historical perspectives and events (read: his birth). Have you read Meier? I don't have the time or money, unfortunately, but the article currently cites him twice (he's the first citation in fact), so clearly someone here does. Hijiri 88 (やや) 10:50, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

"one of whom rebukes Jesus, while the other defends him"[edit]

This is in Luke, but is explicitly contradicted by Mark 15:32 and Matthew 27:44. This should be noted in the article, surely? I would add "In Luke," to the start of the sentence, but I think the Marcan disagreement with this should be cited as well, and I don't know if the sources already cited discuss that. Even if I bought Evans 2003, should I really be expected to read twelve pages discussing the entire crucifixion and entombment to check it? Hijiri 88 (やや) 11:04, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

It may appear to be a contradiction but is easily reconciled. It is not difficult to imagine one of them recanting a few hours into suffering extreme torture. Jtrevor99 (talk) 12:40, 25 September 2016 (UTC)
But both the Gospel of Luke and our current article explicitly say one mocked him but the other rebuked the one for mocking him; this gives a very strong impression that the latter was not mocking him. Yes, fundamentalists may want to harmonize the accounts the way you propose, but that ignores the wording of Luke of 23:39-40, and no non-fundamentalist historians would accept it as a reading of any of the accounts. Hijiri 88 (やや) 13:09, 25 September 2016 (UTC)

Second Coming[edit]

The lead mentions the Second Coming of Jesus and a bunch of related stuff that is barely mentioned or discussed in the body of the article. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 14:47, 25 September 2016 (UTC)