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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q 1: What should this article be named?
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 cannot be used as titles for this article per WP:Commonname.
Q 2: Why does this article use the BC/AD format for dates?
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?
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?
The issue was discussed on the talk page:
Q 3b: What about asking on the reliability noticeboard?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
This article uses the apostrophe-only possessive: Jesus', not Jesus's. Do not change usage within quotes. That was decided in this discussion.
Featured articleJesus 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 trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on December 25, 2013.
Article milestones
January 17, 2004Featured article candidateNot promoted
June 2, 2004Featured article candidateNot promoted
August 3, 2004Featured article candidateNot promoted
November 2, 2004Featured article candidateNot promoted
May 3, 2005Articles for deletionKept
October 6, 2005Peer reviewReviewed
December 15, 2005Featured article candidateNot promoted
April 14, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
November 27, 2006Peer reviewReviewed
April 21, 2007Featured article candidateNot promoted
August 21, 2007WikiProject A-class reviewApproved
July 12, 2009Good article reassessmentDelisted
May 5, 2013Good article nomineeListed
May 28, 2013Guild of Copy EditorsCopyedited
August 15, 2013Featured article candidatePromoted
Current status: Featured article

Modern Place Names[edit]

Just in case anyone is confused, when the Bible speaks of Asia, that is Asia Minor, also known as Anatolia, which is today Turkey. The Seven Churches of Asia were actual churches in Western Anatolia (west coast of modern day Turkey). When the Bible speaks of Cana for the wedding feast, that is in modern day Lebanon. When the Bible speaks of Babylon, that is modern day Iraq. When the Bible speaks of Samaritans, those were people living in what is modern day Syria, because it was named for Aram, hence the Aramaic language. When the Bible speaks of graven images, it was referring to doing actual engravings of art, the specific context was to completely refrain from making idols and likenesses of things in the heavens, the earth, and the waters beneath the earth. The archaeology is everywhere. You have to be willing to research and admit when you've spoken a lifetime of ignorance to be humble scientists.Jakewayd (talk)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 September 2019[edit]

So the minority of the Christians that don't believe the trinity is true are called Oneness and the reason is that they see how one self can see the trinity BUT have the understanding that the bible(God's Word) says "The Lord God is one Lord". CountryGamer3000 (talk) 18:36, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

  •  Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Also, please gain consensus. O3000 (talk) 19:40, 24 September 2019 (UTC)

Infobox image[edit]

The consensus infobox image was just replaced[1] by Rush922 without discussion, so I'll use the opportunity to remind people that though earlier images have constantly raised discussions and edit wars about ethnicity and so on throughout the years, the current Byzantine image has been in use for a long time (since 2015) with no complaints, which indicates we should stick to it for the sake of stability. It seems most people can accept it, so there is absolutely no reason to switch to American 19th century paintings and so on. The current image is ethnically ambiguous enough to please most "factions" (it looks like a generic, Mediterranean man, which should fit the bill). FunkMonk (talk) 06:10, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. I didn't realize there had been a consensus on the picture (some pages don't have such), so I just thought a more realistic picture would have been more inviting. Had I known it, I likely wouldn't have changed it just like that. That being said, if the picture should not be changed, then there should be a clear warning on the Infobox' 'edit source' section to refrain from doing so. When I saw it, all it said was " Note: Please do not expand this infobox. See the FAQ on the talk page." Since it said 'expand' - I took that to mean "don't add any more info subsections (i.e. birth place, age, etc)." I didn't realize it extended to changing the picture (changing doesn't mean 'expand' necessarily). And now, even as I check the FAQ, there is nothing there at all about the picture or having reached a consensus. So to prevent such a thing from happening later, I suggest the main editors here think about either including a "do not change the pic, as it has been reached by consensus" warning tag in the Infobox 'edit source' page, or including such a warning in the FAQ, or both.
That being said, since it's been a few years since the profile pic was set (the consensus was reached in 2015), why not change it to something different now that most can agree upon? Why not, instead of reaching consensus on just one picture, reach it on several pictures that you can alternate between, switching one out for another after a few years or so? That would make more sense and keep the article and profile pic from becoming stale.
Another thing - even if you choose a pic that isn't 'neutral-looking' in terms of his features or ethnicity (i.e. choosing a Romantic-era painting) why not just clarify it with an Infobox tag that says something similar to: "this profile pic was chosen by editorial consensus. It may not necessarily reflect what your ideas of Jesus' ethnicity/image was, but there is no certainty in any case as there is no surviving evidence of his appearance, so people's varying interpretations can be respected. As this picture is pleasing enough to have reached consensus, please respect it." That seems like a fair compromise, IMO. Just a thought.Rush922(talk) 11:46, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
Well, as I stated above, the problem before we chose the current picture was that we would get edit warring and complaints about how he was depicted; that hasn't happened with this image, which shows we've hit a sweet spot. So in my opinion, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. In any case, if we want to change the image, it should be discussed on the talk page first, not unilaterally changed. FunkMonk (talk) 11:53, 15 October 2019 (UTC)
You said: "In any case, if we want to change the image, it should be discussed on the talk page first, not unilaterally changed." Yes, that's exactly what I said. Discuss it on the talk page first, come to a consensus if needed. But the reason I was able to unilaterally change it was because there wasn't a warning tag or anything in the InfoBox or even the FAQ page. Please make sure you or one of the other major editors add it so it doesn't happen in future. Thanks.Rush922(talk) 12:02, 15 October 2019 (UTC)