User:Pedia-I/ Jesus

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Ravenna mosaic, 6th c.: Jesus is portrayed making the sign of the cross, at the position of et Filii ("...and of the Son...")

Jesus or Yeshua in Aramaic (lived 8–2 BC — 29–36 AD),[1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the namesake of Christianity and the chief distinguishing factor between Christianity and Judaism. He is commonly referred to as Jesus Christ, where "Christ" is derived from the Greek title "Christos", meaning the "Anointed One". This in turn is based upon the Hebrew "Meshiach", meaning "Messiah".


The most detailed and the only firsthand accounts of Jesus' birth are contained in the Gospel of Matthew (which some scholars believe was recorded between 65 and 90 AD)[2] and in the Gospel of Luke (estimated by some scholars to have been written between 65 and 100 AD).[3]

Although the accounts of the nativity contained in the books of Luke and Matthew do not mention a precise date nor a general time of year for Jesus' birth, it has been traditionally celebrated on December 25 although early Christian writers such as Origen stated that it was original considered to have taken place on January 6th. Known as the Feast of the Epiphany, this day commemorated Jesus' birth as well as His baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Some scholars speculate that the date of the actual celebration was moved in an attempt to provide Christians with an alternative to the Roman festival of Saturnalia (in mid-December).

In the 248th year of the Diocletian Calendar, Dionysius Exiguus attempted to calculate the year of Christ's birth, estimating that it occurred 753 years after the founding of Rome. Dionysius then defined this date as December 25th in the year 1 ACN (which stands for "Ante Christum Natum", Latin for "before the birth of Christ"). The year after this date was labeled 1 AD (which stands for "Anno Domini" - "in the year of the Lord"). Under this system, the year 248 became 532. Nearly two centuries later this new system was promoted by St. Bede the Venerable and was soon established as the standard calendar.

The reckoning made by Dionysius Exiguus has been questioned for accuracy. Judging from the probable date of a lunar eclipse mentioned in Josephus' chronicles, which occurred shortly before the death of Herod the Great, Christ's birth would likely have occurred prior to the year 4 BC. This is also suggested by modern research into Roman Imperial succession. The loss of sources over time, however, makes modern estimates unreliable.

The exact date of Christ's death is also disputed. Some scholars argue that the Gospel of John indicates that the crucifixion took place shortly before Passover (Friday 14 Nisan, aka the "Quartodeciman") although the synoptic gospels (with the exception of Mark 14:2) state that the Last Supper (the Passover meal itself) took place immediately before Christ's arrest. This is disputed by other scholars, who maintain that the account in the synoptic gospels is consistent with the book of John.[4] It has also been noted that the Jews of that era utilized a lunisolar calendar, which further complicates any attempt to calculate the exact date with regard to our current calendar.

Life and Ministry[edit]

The four Biblical gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the chief and most detailed sources of information concerning the life and ministry of Jesus.


The books of Matthew and Luke provide a genealogy list for Jesus' descent via the male line through his surrogate father Saint Joseph.[5] Both lists trace this lineage to King David and from that point back to Abraham. These lists are identical between Abraham and David, but as they do not necessarily trace an unbroken sequence - each successive entry shows a descent but not necessarily a father-son relationship - they differ somewhat between David and Joseph. The list in Matthew begins with King Solomon and continues to the last king of Judah, Jeconiah (after which point the Royal line ended when the Babylonian Empire conquered Judah). The book of Matthew demonstrates that Jesus' lineage through his surrogate father Joseph makes Him the heir to the throne of Israel. Luke's genealogy is longer than Matthew's, as it begins with Adam and inserts additional names between David and Jesus.

In the Biblical accounts, Joseph is naturally mentioned only in descriptions of Jesus' childhood. Given that on the cross Jesus placed Mary into the care of the disciple John (John 19:25–27), it is assumed by many scholars that Joseph must have died before that point.[6] The books of Mark,Matthew, and Galatians mention some of Jesus' relatives.[7] Some of the relatives are described using the Greek word adelphos, which is often mistranslated as brother although it can refer to any familial relation. Catholics and certain other denominations have traditionally interpreted the word to mean cousin or kinsman since later revealed sources state that Mary remained virgin throughout her life and therefore did not produce any children aside from the Divinely-conceived Christ Himself.


Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van Honthorst

According to Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea to Mary, the mother of Jesus|Mary, a virgin, by a miracle of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Luke gives an account of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to tell her that she was chosen to bear the Son of God (Luke 1:26–38). According to Luke, an order of Caesar Augustus forced Mary and Joseph to leave their homes in Nazareth and come to the home of Joseph's ancestors, the house of David, for the Census of Quirinius. After Jesus' birth, the couple was forced to use a manger in place of a crib because there was no room for them in the town's inn (Luke 2:1–7). According to Luke 2:8–20, an angel spread the word of Jesus' birth to shepherds who came to see the newborn child and subsequently publicized what they had witnessed throughout the area (see The First Noël). Matthew also tells of the "Three Wise Men|Wise Men" or "Magus|Magi" who brought gifts to the infant Jesus after following a star which they believed was a sign that the Messiah, or King of the Jews, had been born.

Jesus' childhood home is stated in the Bible to have been the town of Nazareth in Galilee, and aside from a Flight into Egypt|flight to Egypt in infancy to escape Herod's Massacre of the Innocents and a short trip to Tyre and Sidon, all other events in the Gospels are set in History of ancient Israel and Judah|ancient Israel.[8] Luke's Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52) is the only event between Jesus' infancy and adult life mentioned in any of the canonical Gospels, although New Testament apocrypha fill in the details of this time, some quite extensively.


Temptation of Christ, Ary Scheffer, 19th c.

The Gospel of Mark begins with the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, which Biblical scholars describe as the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. According to Mark, Jesus came to the Jordan River where John the Baptist had been preaching and baptizing people in the crowd. Gospel of Matthew|Matthew adds to the account by describing an attempt by John to decline Jesus' request for baptism, saying that it is Jesus who should baptize John. Jesus insisted however, claiming that baptism was necessary to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt 3:15) After Jesus had been baptized and rose from the water, Mark states Jesus "saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased'" (Mark 1:10–11).

Following his baptism, according to Matthew, Jesus was led into the desert by God where he fasted for forty days and forty nights. During this time, the devil appeared to him and tempted Jesus to demonstrate his supernatural powers as proof of his divinity, although each temptation was refused by Jesus with a quote of scripture from the Book of Deuteronomy. In all, he was tempted three times. The Gospels state that having failed, the devil departed and angels came and brought nourishment to Jesus.


Sermon on the Mount, Carl Heinrich Bloch, 19th c.

The Gospels state that Jesus, as Messiah, was sent to "give his life as a ransom for many" and "preach the good news of the Kingdom of God."[9] Over the course of his ministry, Jesus performed various Miracles of Jesus|miracles, including healings, exorcisms, walking on water, turning water into wine, and raising several people, such as Lazarus, from the dead (John 11:1–44).

Judaea and Galilee at the time of Jesus

The Gospel of John describes three different passover feasts over the course of Jesus' ministry. This implies that Jesus preached for a period of three years, although some interpretations of the Synoptic Gospels suggest a span of only one year. The focus of his ministry was toward his closest adherents, the Twelve Apostles, though many of his followers were considered disciples. Jesus led what many believe to have been an Apocalypse|apocalyptic following. He preached that the End times|end of the current world would come unexpectedly; as such, he called on his followers to be ever alert and faithful.

At the height of his ministry, Jesus attracted huge crowds numbering in the thousands, primarily in the areas of Galilee and Perea (in modern-day Israel and Jordan respectivly). Some of Jesus' most famous teachings come from the Sermon on the Mount, which contained the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Jesus often employed Parables of Jesus|parables, such as the Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Sower. His teachings centered around unconditional self-sacrificing God-like agape|love for God and for all people. During his sermons, he preached about service and humility, the forgiveness of sin, faith, Turn the other cheek|turning the other cheek, Expounding of the Law#Love|love for one's enemies as well as friends, and the need to follow the spirit of Torah|the law in addition to the letter.[10]

Jesus often met with society's outcasts, such as the publicani (Imperial tax collectors who were despised for extorting money), including the apostle Matthew the Evangelist|Matthew; when the Pharisees objected to meeting with sinners rather than the righteous, Jesus replied that it was the sick who need a physician, not the healthy (Matthew 9:9–13). According to Luke and John, Jesus also made efforts to extend his ministry to the Samaritans, who followed Samaritanism|a different form of the Israelite religion. This is reflected in his preaching to the Samaritans of Sychar, resulting in their conversion (John 4:1–42).

Arrest, Trial, and Crucifixion[edit]

Ecce Homo (Behold, the Man!), Antonio Ciseri, 19th c.: Pontius Pilate presents a scourged Jesus of Nazareth to onlookers

According to the Gospels, Jesus came with his followers to Jerusalem during the Passover festival where a large crowd came to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!"[11] Following his triumphal entry, Jesus created a disturbance at Herod's Temple by Jesus and the Money Changers|overturning the tables of the moneychangers operating there, claiming that they had made the Temple a "den of robbers." (John 2:13–17). Later that week, Jesus and his disciples gathered for what is known as The Last Supper, in which he prophesied his future betrayal by one of his apostles and ultimate execution. Following the supper, Jesus and his disciples went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.

While in the garden, Jesus was Arrest of Jesus|arrested by Roman Empire|Roman soldiers on the orders of the Sanhedrin and the high priest, Caiaphas. [12] The arrest took place clandestinely at night to avoid a riot, as Jesus was popular with the people at large (Mark 14:2). According to the synoptics, Judas Iscariot, one of his apostles, betrayed Jesus by identifying him to the guards with a kiss. Another apostle used a sword to attack one of the captors, cutting off his ear, which, according to Luke, Jesus immediately healed.[13] Jesus rebuked the apostle, stating "all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matt 26:52). After his arrest, Jesus' apostles went into hiding.

During the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the high priests and elders asked Jesus, "Are you the Son of God?", and upon his reply of "You say that I am", condemned Jesus for blasphemy (Luke 22:70–71). The high priests then turned him over to the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate, based on an accusation of sedition for claiming to be King of the Jews. [14] While before Pilate, Jesus was questioned "Are you the king of the Jews?" to which he replied, "It is as you say." According to the Gospels, Pilate personally felt that Jesus was not guilty of any crime against the Romans, and since there was a custom at Passover for the Roman governor to free a prisoner (a custom not recorded outside the Gospels), Pilate offered the crowd a choice between Jesus of Nazareth and an insurrectionist named Barabbas. The crowd chose to have Barabbas freed and Jesus crucified. Pilate washed his hands to display that he himself was innocent of the injustice of the decision (Matt 27:11–26).

According to all four Gospels, Jesus died before late afternoon. The wealthy Judean Joseph of Arimathea, according to Mark and Luke a member of the Sanhedrin, received Pilate's permission to take possession of Jesus' body, placing it in a tomb.[15] According to John, Joseph was joined in burying Jesus by Nicodemus, who appears in other parts of John's gospel (John 19:38–42). The three Synoptic Gospels tell of an earthquake and of the darkening of the sky from twelve until three that afternoon.

Resurrection and Ascension[edit]

According to the Gospels, Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.[16] The Gospel of Matthew states that an angel appeared near the tomb of Jesus and announced his resurrection to the women who had arrived to anoint the body. According to Luke it was two angels, and according to Mark it was a youth dressed in white. Mark states that on the morning of his resurrection, Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. John 20:11-18 states that when Mary looked into the tomb, two angels asked her why she was crying; and as she turned round she initially failed to recognize Jesus until he spoke her name.

The Acts of the Apostles tell that Jesus appeared to various people in various places over the next forty days. Hours after his resurrection, he appeared to two travellers on the road to Emmaus. To his assembled disciples he showed himself on the evening after his resurrection. Although his own ministry had been specifically to Israel, Jesus sent his apostles to the Gentiles with the Great Commission and Ascension|ascended to heaven while a cloud concealed him from their sight. According to Acts, Paul of Tarsus also saw Jesus during his Road to Damascus experience. Jesus promises to Second Coming|come again to fulfill the remainder of Messianic prophecy.[17]


Scholars arguing in favor of the existence of Jesus as a historical figure present probable reconstructions of his life by using the historical method. This is to be distinguished from the New Testament view on Jesus' life|Biblical Jesus, which derives from a theology|theological reading of the Gospel texts. Some scholars dispute the historicity of Jesus.[18]

Forensic reconstructions of Jesus' day to day life[edit]

Most scholars agree the Gospels were written shortly before or after the destruction of Herod's Temple|the Jewish Temple by the Romans. Examining the New Testament account of Jesus in light of historical knowledge about the time when Jesus was purported to live, as well as historical knowledge about the time during which the New Testament was written, has led several scholars to reinterpret many elements of the New Testament accounts. Many have sought to reconstruct Jesus' life in terms of contemporaneous political, cultural, and religious currents in Israel, including differences between Galilee and Judea; between different sects such the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots;[19] and in terms of conflicts among Jews in the context of Roman occupation.

The Gospels record that Jesus was a Nazarene, but the meaning of this word is vague.[20] Some scholars assert that Jesus was himself a Pharisee.[21] In Jesus' day, the two main schools of thought among the Pharisees were the Hillel the Elder|House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. Jesus' assertion of hypocrisy may have been directed against the stricter members of the House of Shammai, although he also agreed with their teachings on divorce (Mark 10:1–12).[22] Jesus also commented on the House of Hillel's teachings (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a) concerning the Shema Yisrael|greatest commandment (Mark 12:28–34) and the Ethic of reciprocity|Golden Rule (Matt 7:12).

Other scholars assert that Jesus was an Essene, a sect of Judaism not mentioned in the New Testament.[23] Still other scholars assert that Jesus led a new Apocalypticism|apocalyptic sect, possibly related to John the Baptist,[24] which became Early Christianity after the Great Commission spread his teachings to the Gentiles.[25] This is distinct from an earlier commission Jesus gave to the twelve Apostles, limited to "the lost sheep of Israel" and not including the Gentiles or Samaritans (Matt 10).

Of special interest has been Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament|the names and titles ascribed to Jesus. According to most critical historians, Jesus probably lived in Galilee for most of his life and he probably spoke Aramaic and Hebrew language|Hebrew. The name "Jesus" is an English language|English transliteration of the Latin (Iēsus) which in turn comes from the Koine Greek|Greek name (Ιησους). Since most scholars hold that Jesus was an Aramaic-speaking Jew living in Galilee around 30 AD/CE, it is highly improbable that he had a Greek personal name. Further examination of the Septuagint finds that the Greek, in turn, is a transliteration of the Hebrew language|Hebrew name Joshua|Yehoshua (יהושוע) (Yeho - Yahweh [is] shua` - help/salvation) or the shortened Hebrew/Aramaic language|Aramaic Yeshua or Jeshua (ישוע). As a result, scholars believe that one of these was most likely the name that Jesus was known by during his lifetime by his peers.[26]

Christ (which is a title and not a part of his name) is an Anglicization of the Greek term for Messiah, and literally means "anointed one". Historians have debated what this title might have meant at the time Jesus lived; some historians have suggested that other titles applied to Jesus in the New Testament (e.g. Lord, Son of man|Son of Man, and Son of God) had meanings in the first century quite different from those meanings ascribed today: see Names and titles of Jesus.

Historicity of the texts[edit]

Most modern Biblical scholars hold that the works describing Jesus were initially communicated by oral history|oral tradition, and were not committed to writing until several decades after Jesus' crucifixion. The earliest extant texts which refer to Jesus are Paul of Tarsus|Paul's letters, which are usually dated from the mid-1st century. Paul wrote that he only saw Jesus in visions, but that they were divine revelations and hence authoritative (Epistle to the Galatians|Gal 1:11–12). The earliest extant texts describing Jesus in any detail were the four New Testament Gospels. These texts, being part of the Biblical canon, have received much more analysis and acceptance from Christian sources than other possible sources for information on Jesus.

Many other early Christian texts have surfaced detailing events in Jesus' life and teachings, though they were not included when Biblical canon|the Bible was canonised due to a belief that they were pseudepigraphy|pseudepigraphical, not inspired, or written too long after his death, while others were suppressed because they contradicted what had become the Christian orthodoxy. It took several centuries before the list of what was and wasn't part of the Bible became finally fixed, and for much of the early period the Book of Revelation was not included while works like The Shepherd of Hermas were.

The books that didn't make it into the final list have since become known as the New Testament apocrypha, and the chief amongst them, heavily suppressed by the Church as heresy and only rediscovered in the 20th Century, is the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of logia - phrases and sayings attributed to Jesus without a narrative framework. Other important apocryphal works that had a heavy influence in forming traditional Christian beliefs include the Apocalypse of Peter, Protevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and Acts of Peter. A number of Christian traditions (such as Saint Veronica|Veronica's veil and the Assumption of Mary) are found not in the canonical gospels but in these and other apocryphal works.

Possible earlier texts[edit]

Some texts with even earlier historical or mythological information on Jesus are speculated to have existed prior to the Gospels,[27] though none have been found. Based on the unusual similarities and differences (see synoptic problem) between the Synoptic Gospels — Gospel of Matthew|Matthew, Gospel of Mark|Mark and Gospel of Luke|Luke, the first three canonical gospels — many Biblical scholars have suggested that oral tradition and logia (such as the Gospel of Thomas and the theoretical Q document[28] ) probably played a strong role in initially passing down stories of Jesus, and may have inspired some of the Synoptic Gospels.

Specifically, many scholars believe that the Q document and the Gospel of Mark were the two-source hypothesis|two sources used for the gospels of Matthew and Luke; however, other theories, such as the older Augustinian hypothesis, continue to hold sway with some Biblical scholars. Another theoretical document is the Signs Gospel, believed to have been a source for the Gospel of John.[28]

There are also early noncanonical gospels which may predate the canonical Gospels, although few surviving fragments have been found. Among these are the Unknown Berlin Gospel, the Oxyrhynchus Gospels, the Egerton Gospel, the Fayyum Fragment, the Dialogue of the Saviour, the Gospel of the Ebionites, the Gospel of the Hebrews, and the Gospel of the Nazarenes. While the earliest surviving manuscripts and fragments of these texts are dated later than the earliest surviving manuscripts and fragments of the canonical Gospels, they are probably copies of earlier manuscripts whose precise dates are unknown.

Questions of reliability[edit]

As a result of the several-decade time gap between the writing of the Gospels and the events they describe, the accuracy of all early texts claiming the existence of Jesus or details of Jesus' life have been disputed by various parties. However, most scholars accept many details of the Gospel narratives.[29] The authors of the Gospels are traditionally thought to have been witnesses to the events included. After the original oral stories were written down, they were transcribed, and later translated into other languages. Several Biblical historians have responded to claims of the unreliability of the gospel accounts by pointing out that historical documentation is often biased and second-hand, and frequently dates from several decades after the events described.

The Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution brought skepticism regarding the historical accuracy of these texts. Although some critical scholars, including archeologists, continue to use them as points of reference in the study of ancient Near Eastern history[30] others have come to view the texts as cultural and literary documents, generally regarding them as part of the genre of literature called hagiography, an account of a holy person regarded as representing a moral and divine ideal. Hagiography has a principal aim of the glorification of the religion itself and of the example set by the perfect holy person represented as its central focus.

Some say that the Gospel accounts are neither objective nor accurate, since they were written or compiled by his followers and seem to exclusively portray a positive, idealized view of Jesus, whilst others point to the lack of contemporary non-Christian sources. Those who have a Naturalism (philosophy)|naturalistic view of history generally do not believe in divine intervention or miracles, such as the resurrection of Jesus mentioned by the Gospels. One method used to estimate the factual accuracy of stories in the gospels is known as the "criterion of embarrassment", which holds that stories about events with embarrassing aspects (such as the denial of Jesus by Saint Peter|Peter, or the fleeing of Jesus' followers after his arrest) would likely not have been included if those accounts were fictional.

External influences on gospel development[edit]

Vatican mosaic, 3rd c.: Jesus appears as mythical Sol Invictus

Many scholars, such as Michael Grant (author)|Michael Grant, do not see significant similarity between the pagan myths and Christianity. Grant states in Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels that "Judaism was a milieu to which doctrines of the deaths and rebirths, of mythical gods seemed so entirely foreign that the emergence of such a fabrication from its midst is very hard to credit."[31]

However, some scholars believe that the gospel accounts of Jesus have little or no historical basis. At least in part, this is because they see many similarities between stories about Jesus and older myths of Paganism|pagan godmen such as Mithras, Apollo, Attis, Horus and Osiris-Dionysus, leading to conjectures that the pagan myths were adopted by some authors of early accounts of Jesus to form a syncretism with Christianity. A small minority, such as Earl Doherty, carry this further and propose that the gospels are actually a reworking of the older myths and Jesus as myth|not based on a historical figure. While these connections are disputed by many, it is nevertheless true that many elements of Jesus' story as told in the Gospels have parallels in pagan mythology, where miracles such as virgin birth were well-known. Some Christian authors, such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, account for this with the belief that such myths were created by ancient pagans with vague and imprecise prophecy|foreknowledge of the Gospels; in other words the pagans gave prophetic attributes of the Christ as shown in the Jewish Torah and Prophets to their particular deity.

Religious perspectives[edit]

Jesus has an important role in two religions: Christianity and Islam. Most other religions, however, do not consider Jesus to have been a supernatural or holy being. Some of these religions, like Buddhism, do not take any official stance on Jesus' life, however note the many similarities in teachings and life of Jesus and Gautam Buddha|Buddha. Judaism rejects claims of his divinity and of his being the Jewish Messiah|Mashiach.

Christian views[edit]

The nature of Jesus is the central issue of Christology. The theological concept of Jesus as Christ was refined by a series of seven ecumenical councils between 325 and 787 AD/CE. While most Christians believe that the councils were guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, some Christians question one or more of the councils. Restorationism|Restorationists reject all the councils and seek to restore what they believe was the original Christian faith.

Different Christians also have different interpretations of Jesus' family members mentioned in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.[32] Eastern Christianity, following Eusebius of Caesarea|Eusebius, believes that they were "Joseph's children by his (unrecorded) first wife." Roman Catholicism, following Jerome, believes that they were Jesus' cousins, which the Greek word for "brother" or "relative" used in the Gospels would encompass. Both beliefs are based on the tradition that Mary remained a Perpetual virginity of Mary|perpetual virgin[33], thus having no biological children before or after Jesus. Most Protestantism|Protestants believe that these family members were the biological children of Mary and Joseph.[34]

Paul of Tarsus wrote that just as sin entered the world through Adam and Eve|Adam (known as The Fall of Man), so salvation from sin comes through Jesus, the second Adam (Rom 5:12–21; 1 Cor 15:21–22). Most Christians believe that Jesus' death and resurrection provide salvation not only from personal sin, but from the condition of sin itself. This ancestral or original sin[35] separated humanity from God, making all liable to condemnation to eternal punishment in Hell (Rom 3:23). However, Jesus' death and resurrection reconciled humanity with God, granting eternal life in Heaven to the faithful (John 14:2–3).

Jesus Carrying the Cross, El Greco - Domenikos Theotokopoulos, 16th c.

Most Christians accept the New Testament presentation of the Resurrection as a historical account of an actual event central to faith. Belief in the resurrection is one of the most distinctive elements of Christian faith; and defending the Death and Resurrection of Jesus#Critical analysis|historicity of the resurrection is usually a central issue of Christian apologetics. Conservative Christianity|Conservative Christian scholars such as Gary Habermas, F.F. Bruce, Norman Geisler and William Lane Craig believe that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead and that he was raised in spiritual body.[36] Some liberal Christians such as Bishop Spong|John Shelby Spong and Tom Harpur, do not believe that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead, or that he still lives bodily.

Trinitarian views[edit]

Pietà, Michelangelo, 16th c.: Jesus' mother Mary holds the body of her dead son

Most Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate, being one of the three Divine Persons who make up the single substance of God, a concept known as the Holy Trinity. In this respect, Jesus is both distinct and yet of the same being as God the Father and the God the Holy Spirit.[37] They believe Jesus is the Son of God, and also the Messiah. Following John 1:1, Christians have identified Jesus as "the Word" (or Logos#Use in Christianity|Logos) of God. Most also believe that Jesus' miracles and resurrection are additional proof that he is God. They combine this with the classic proof based on the two rational alternatives in the face of Jesus' repeated claims that he is the one God of Israel (e.g. Jn 8:58): either he is truly God or a bad man (a liar or a lunatic), the latter being dismissed on the basis of Jesus's perceived coherence. [38] Most trinitarian Christians further believe that Jesus has two natures in one person: that he is fully God and fully human, a concept known as the hypostatic union. However, Oriental Orthodoxy professes a Miaphysite interpretation, while the Assyrian Church of the East professes a form of Nestorianism.

Nontrinitarian views[edit]

Some Christians profess various nontrinitarian views. Arianism, denounced as a heresy by the early Church, taught that Jesus is subordinate to God the Father.[39] Binitarianism|Binitarians believe that Jesus is God, although a separate being from God the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force. Unitarian Christianity|Unitarian Christians believe that Jesus was a prophet of God, and merely human.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) theology maintains that God the Father (Heavenly Father), Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings who together constitute the Godhead. LDS sometimes, although rarely, use the word Trinity to describe this belief, it is slightly different from the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, which maintains that the three are one being. LDS maintains that all three members of the Godhead are eternal and equally divine, but play somewhat different roles. While the Holy Ghost is a spirit without a physical body, the Father and Son do possess distinct, perfected, physical bodies of flesh and bone. Although Mormon theology sees the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost as separate beings, they are considered to be "one God" in purpose. 3 Nephi 11:8 (part of the Book of Mormon) records that the resurrected Jesus visited and taught some of the inhabitants of the early Americas after he appeared to his apostles in Jerusalem. Mormons also believe that an Great Apostasy#The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|apostasy occurred after the death of Christ and his apostles. They believe that Christ and Heavenly Father appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr.|Joseph Smith in 1820 as part of a series of heavenly visits to restore the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ necessary due to the apostasy. See also Jesus in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jehovah's Witnesses view the term "Son of God" as an indication of Jesus' importance to the creator and his status as God's "only-begotten (unique, one and only) Son" (John 3:16), the "firstborn of all creation" (Col 1:15), the one "of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things" (Rom 11:36). Most Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus to be Michael (archangel)|Michael the Archangel, who became a human to come down to earth.[40] They also believe that Jesus died on a single-piece torture stake, not a cross.[41]. See also Jehovah's Witnesses and Jesus.

Messianic Jewish view[edit]

Messianic Jews hold that Jesus is the prophesied Jewish Messiah|Messiah. Strictly speaking, all Messianic Jews are Christians, but the term generally applies to those Jews who believe Jesus to be the Messiah but still hold to and practice many Jewish traditions and occasionally Halakha|Jewish law. Often the tension between Jewish Monotheism and Christian Trinitarianism promotes a diversity of opinions about Jesus's divine status.

A prominent group of Messianic Jews is Jews for Jesus, part of a loose affiliation of Evangelical Christians.

Islamic views[edit]

In Islam, Jesus (known as Islamic view of Jesus|Isa in Arabic, Arabic: عيسى), is considered one of God's most-beloved and important prophets of Islam|prophets and the Messiah.[42] Like Christian writings, the Qur'an holds that Jesus was born without a biological father to the virgin Mary, by the will of God (in Arabic, Allah) and for this reason is referred to as Isa ibn Maryam (English: Jesus son of Mary), a matronymic (since he had no biological father). (Qur'an [Quran 3:45], [Quran 19:21], [Quran 19:35], [Quran 21:91]) In Muslim traditions, Jesus lived a perfect life of nonviolence, showing kindness to humans and animals (similar to the other Islamic prophets), without material possessions, and abstaining from sin.[43] All Muslims believed that Jesus abstained from alcohol, and many believe that he also abstained from eating animal flesh. Similarly, Islamic belief also holds that Jesus could perform miracles, but only by the will of God. [44] However, Muslims do not believe Jesus to have divine nature as God nor as the Son of God. Islam greatly separates the status of creatures from the status of the creator and warns against believing that Jesus was divine. (Qu'ran [Quran 3:59], [Quran 4:171], [Quran 5:116]). Muslims believe that Jesus received a gospel from God called the Injil in Arabic that corresponds to the Christian New Testament, but that some parts of it have been misinterpreted, misrepresented, passed over, or textually distorted over time so that they no longer accurately represent God's original message to mankind (See Tahrif).[45]

Muslims also do not believe in Jesus' sacrificial role, nor do they believe that Jesus died on the cross. In fact, Islam does not accept any human sacrifice for sin (See Sin#Islamic conceptions of atonement for sin|Islamic conceptions of atonement for sin for further information). Regarding the crucifixion, the Qur'an states that Jesus' death was merely an illusion of God to deceive his enemies, and that Jesus ascended bodily to heaven.[42] (Qur'an [Quran 4:157].) Based on the quotes attributed to Muhammad, some Muslims believe that Jesus will return to the world in the flesh following Imam Mahdi to defeat the Dajjal (an Antichrist-like figure, translated as "Deceiver"). [46] Muslims believe he will descend at Damascus, presently in Syria, once the world has become filled with sin, deception, and injustice; he will then live out the rest of his natural life. Sunni Muslims believe that after his death, Jesus will be buried alongside Muhammad in Medina, presently in Saudi Arabia. [47] However, the sects of Sunni Muslim|Sunni and Shiite Muslim|Shi'ite Islam are divided over this issue. Some Islamic scholars like Javed Ahmed Ghamidi and Amin Ahsan Islahi question, hadith|quotes attributed to Muhammad, regarding second coming of Jesus, as they believe, it is against different verses of Qur'an.[48][49][50]

The Ahmadi|Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement (accounting for a fairly small percentage of the total Muslim population) believes that Jesus survived the crucifixion and later travelled to Kashmir, where he lived and died as a prophet under the name of Yuz Asaf.[51] Mainstream Muslims, however, consider these views heretical.

Judaism's view[edit]

Judaism considers the idea of Jesus being God, or part of a Trinity, or a mediator to God, as heresy.(Emunoth ve-Deoth, II:5) Judaism also does not consider Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah primarily because he did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies of the Tanakh, nor embodied the personal qualifications of the Messiah.[52]

The Mishneh Torah (an authoritative work of halakha|Jewish law) states:

Even Jesus the Nazarene who imagined that he would be Jewish Messiah|Messiah and was killed by the court, was already prophesied by Daniel. So that it was said, “And the members of the outlaws of your nation would be carried to make a (prophetic) vision stand. And they stumbled” (Daniel 11.14). Because, is there a greater stumbling-block than this one? So that all of the prophets spoke that the Messiah redeems Israel, and saves them, and gathers their banished ones, and strengthens their commandments. And this one caused (nations) to destroy Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant, and to humiliate them, and to exchange the Torah, and to make the majority of the world err to serve a divinity besides God. However, the thoughts of the Creator of the world — there is no force in a human to attain them because our ways are not God's ways, and our thoughts not God's thoughts. And all these things of Jesus the Nazarene, and of (Muhammad) the Ishmaelite who stood after him — there is no (purpose) but to straighten out the way for the King Messiah, and to restore all the world to serve God together. So that it is said, “Because then I will turn toward the nations (giving them) a clear lip, to call all of them in the name of God and to serve God (shoulder to shoulder as) one shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3.9). Look how all the world already becomes full of the things of the Messiah, and the things of the Torah, and the things of the commandments! And these things spread among the far islands and among the many nations uncircumcised of heart. (Hilkhot Melakhim 11:10–12)[53]

Reform Judaism, the modern progressive movement, states For us in the Jewish community anyone who claims that Jesus is their savior is no longer a Jew and is an apostate. (Contemporary American Reform Responsa, #68).[54]

According to Jewish tradition, there were no more prophets after 420 BC|420 BC/BCE, Malachi being the last prophet, who lived centuries before Jesus. Judaism states that Jesus did not fulfill the requirements set by the Torah to prove that he was a prophet. Even if Jesus had produced such a sign, Judaism states that no prophet or dreamer can contradict the laws already stated in the Torah (Deut 13:1–5)[55]

Cultural effect of Jesus[edit]

According to most Christian interpretations of the Bible, the chief theme of Jesus' preachings was that of repentance, forgiveness of sin, grace, and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus extensively trained disciples who, after his death, interpreted and spread his teachings. Within a few decades his followers comprised a religion clearly distinct from Judaism. Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire under a version known as Nicene Christianity and became the state religion under Constantine the Great. Over the centuries, it spread to most of Europe, and around the world.

Jesus has been Images of Jesus|drawn, painted, sculpted, and Dramatic portrayals of Jesus|portrayed on stage and in films in many different ways, both serious and Jesus in Pop culture|humorous. In fact most medieval art and literature, and many since, were centered around the figure of Jesus. A number of popular novels, such as The Da Vinci Code, have also portrayed various ideas about Jesus. Many of the sayings attributed to Jesus have become part of the culture of Western world|Western civilization. There are many items purported to be relics of Jesus, of which the most famous are the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.

Other legacies include a view of God as more fatherly, merciful, and more forgiving, and the growth of a belief in an afterlife and in the resurrection of the dead. His teaching promoted the value of those who had commonly been regarded as inferior: women, the poor, ethnic outsiders, children, prostitutes, prisoners, etc. Jesus and his message have been interpreted, explained and understood by many people. Jesus has been explained notably by Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and more recently by C.S. Lewis.


  1. ^ Among the Biblical scholars and historians who estimate Jesus' life to fall within this range are D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo and Leon Morris. An Introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, 54, 56; Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, Scribner's, 1977, p. 71; E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, Penguin Books, 1993, pp. 10-11, and Ben Witherington III, "Primary Sources," Christian History 17 (1998) No. 3:12-20.
  2. ^ Darrell L. Bock, Jesus According to Scripture, pp. 29-30, gives a c. 60-70 date; L. Michael White, From Jesus to Christianity, p. 244, gives c. 80-90.
  3. ^ Bock, ibid., p. 38, gives c. 62-70; White, ibid., p. 252, gives c. 90-100.
  4. ^ See for example: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, Revised, pp. 284-295.
  5. ^ Matt 1:2–16; Luke 3:23–38
  6. ^ Easton, Matthew Gallego.Joseph (the foster father of Jesus Christ). Accessed June 26, 2006
  7. ^ Matthew 13:55–56, Mark 6:3, and Galatians 1:19
  8. ^ For Egypt: Matt 2:13–23; For Tyre and sometimes Sidon:Matt 15:21–28 and Mark 7:24–30
  9. ^ Mark 10:45, Luke 4:43, John 20:31.
  10. ^ Sermon on the Mount: Matt 5–7; Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11–32; Parable of the Sower: Matt 13:1–9; Agape: Matt 22:34–40.
  11. ^ The crowd was quoting Psalms 118:26; found in John 12:13–16.
  12. ^ Cited later in Matt 26:65–67.
  13. ^ The apostle is identified as Saint Peter|Simon Peter in John 18:10; the healing of the ear is found in Luke 22:51.
  14. ^ Matt 27:11; Mark 15:12.
  15. ^ Mark 15:42–46; Luke 23:50–56.
  16. ^ Matthew 28:5-10; Mark 16:9; Luke 24:12–16; John 20:10–17; Acts 2:24; 1Cor 6:14
  17. ^ Ministering to Israel: Matthew 15:24; ascension: Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51Acts 1:6–11.; Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus: Acts 9:1–19., 22:1-22; 26:9-24; Second coming: Matthew 24:36–44
  18. ^ Bruno Bauer, Michael Martin, John Mackinnon Robertson, G.A. Wells. The Jesus Legend, Chicago: Open Court, 1996, p xii.
  19. ^ For a comparison of the Jesus movement to the Zealots, see S.G.F Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots: a study of the political factor in primitive Christianity, Manchester University Press (1967) ISBN 0684310104
  20. ^ For a general comparison of Jesus' teachings to other schools of first century Judaism, see John P. Meier, Companions and Competitors (A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume 3) Anchor Bible, 2001. ISBN 0385469934.
  21. ^ Based on a comparison of the Gospels with the Talmud and other Jewish literature. E. P. Sanders|Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism, Fortress Press, 1987. ISBN 0800620615; Hyam Maccoby|Maccoby, Hyam Jesus the Pharisee, Scm Press, 2003. ISBN 0334029147; Harvey Falk|Falk, Harvey Jesus the Pharisee: A New Look at the Jewishness of Jesus, Wipf & Stock Publishers (2003). ISBN 1592443133.
  22. ^ Jacob Neusner|Neusner, Jacob A Rabbi Talks With Jesus, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000. ISBN 0773520465. Rabbi Neusner contends that Jesus' teachings were closer to the House of Shammai than the House of Hillel.
  23. ^ Based on a comparison of the Gospels with the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially the Teacher of Righteousness and Pierced Messiah. Robert Eisenman|Eisenman, Robert James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Penguin (Non-Classics), 1998. ISBN 014025773X; Hartmut Stegemann|Stegemann, Hartmut The Library of Qumran: On the Essenes, Qumran, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Grand Rapids MI, 1998. See also Broshi, Magen, "What Jesus Learned from the Essenes," Biblical Archaeology Review, 30:1, pg. 32-37, 64. Magen notes similarities between Jesus' teachings on the virtue of poverty and divorce, and Essene teachings as related in Josephus' The Jewish Wars and in the Damascus Document of the Dead Sea Scrolls, repspectively.
  24. ^ The Gospel accounts show both John the Baptist and Jesus teaching repentance and the coming Kingdom of God. Some scholars have argued that Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet; see Albert Schweitzer|Schwietzer, Albert The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede, pgs. 370–371, 402. Scribner (1968), ISBN 0020892403; Bart Ehrman|Ehrman, Bart Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press USA, 1999. ISBN 019512474X. Crossan, however, makes a distinction between John's apocalyptic ministry and Jesus' ethical ministry. See John Dominic Crossan|Crossan, John Dominic, The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus, pgs. 305-344. Harper Collins, 1998. ISBN 0060616598.
  25. ^ This includes the belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Michael L. Brown|Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections Baker Books, 2003. ISBN 0801064236. Brown shows how the Christian concept of Messiah relates to ideas current in late Second Temple period Judaism. See also Joseph Klausner|Klausner, Joseph, The Messianic Idea in Israel: From its Beginning to the Completion of the Mishnah, Macmillan 1955; Raphael Patai|Patai, Raphael, Messiah Texts, Wayne State University Press, 1989. ISBN 0814318509; John Dominic Crossan|Crossan, John Dominic, The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus, pg. 461. Harper Collins, 1998. ISBN 0060616598. Patai and Klausner state that one interpretation of the prophecies reveal either two Messiahs, Messiah ben Yosef (the dying Messiah) and Messiah ben David (the Davidic King), or one Messiah who comes twice. Crossan cites the Essene teachings about the twin Messiahs. Compare to the Christian doctrine of the Second Coming.
  26. ^ Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944. p. 558; John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew. New York: Doubleday, 1991 vol. 1:205-7;
  27. ^ Henry Bettenson, Chris Maunder, Documents of the Christian Church (3rd edition), Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0192880713
  28. ^ a b Daniel Gaztambide, "The Synoptic Problem: Two-Source Hypothesis and Q",, accessed August 19, 2006. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  29. ^ Gary Habermas|Habermas, Gary, "Resurrection Research from 1975 to the Present: What are Critical Scholars Saying?" Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, 3.2 (2005), pp. 135-153. Available online; accessed March 14, 2006.
  30. ^ Craig S. Hawkins, "The Book of Acts and Archaeology", Apologetics Information Ministry, accessed March 14, 2006.
  31. ^ Michael Grant (author)|Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, Scribner, 1995 p. 199. ISBN 0684818671
  32. ^ Ben Witherington III|Witherington, Ben III, "Jesus' Extended Family," Bible Review, 19:3, pg.30. Witherington lists a fourth possibility, that they were the full brothers and full sisters of Jesus, but notes that "this explanation does not mesh with most Christians' belief that Hodm not Joseph, was Jesus' father."
  33. ^ e.g., Origen's Commentary on Matthew, §10.17
  34. ^ In other words, in this view they shared one parent (Mary) with Jesus. "So James, according to this view, would be Jesus' younger half-brother." Ben Witherington III|Witherington, Ben III, "Jesus' Extended Family," Bible Review, 19:3, pg.30–31. In addition, the Nelson Study Bible (NKJV) lists the traditional authors of the Epistles of James and Jude as "James, the half brother of Jesus, traditionally called "the Just" (pg 2102) and "Jude the brother of James and the half brother of the Lord Jesus" (pg. 2156). The term "half brother" is used to denote parentage, not genetics. In this view, the other brothers and sisters listed in the Gospel passages would have the same relationship to Jesus. However, some Protestants reject the term "half brother" because it is too specific; the Gospel accounts refer to these relatives as brothers and sisters of Jesus, without specifying their parents, and refer to Mary only in relation to Jesus.
  35. ^ Western Christianity, following Augustine of Hippo, generally affirms that humanity inherited both the tendency to sin and the guilt of Adam and Eve's sin. The doctrine in Eastern Christianity is that humanity inherited the tendency to sin, but not the guilt for Adam and Eve's sin. This doctrine, also adopted by some in the Western Church as a form of Arminianism, is sometimes called semipelagianism. A minority of Christians affirm Pelagianism, which states that neither the condition nor the guilt of original sin is inherited; rather, we all freely face the same choice between sin and salvation that Adam and Eve did. Pelagianism was opposed by the Council of Carthage in 418 AD/CE.
  36. ^ For example, and
  37. ^ John 1:1; 8:58; 10:30
  38. ^
  39. ^ John 14:28;
  40. ^ "Jesus The Ruler "Whose Origin Is From Early Times", The Watchtower, June 15, 1998, p. 22.
  41. ^ Based on Galatians 3:13 and Acts 5:30. [ Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site ], accessed June 8, 2006.
  42. ^ a b Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, "What is Islam? Jesus",, accessed March 15, 2006.
  43. ^ III&E, "Prophethood in Islam", Accessed March 19, 2006
  44. ^ "The Islamic and Christian views of Jesus: a comparison", ISoundvision, accessed March 15, 2006.
  45. ^ Abdullah Ibrahim, "The History of the Quran and the Injil", Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry, accessed March 15, 2006.
  46. ^ Mufti A.H. Elias, "Jesus (Isa) A.S. in Islam, and his Second Coming",, accessed March 15,2006.
  47. ^ Mufti A.H. Elias, "Jesus (Isa) A.S. in Islam, and his Second Coming", Network, accessed May 10, 2006.
  48. ^ Geoffrey Parrinder, Jesus in the Quran, p.187, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1996, ISBN 1-85168-094-2.[1]
  49. ^ Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Qur'anic Verse regarding Second Coming of Jesus.[2]
  50. ^ The Second Coming of Jesus, Renaissance - Monthly Islamic Journal, Vol. 14, No. 9, September, 2004.[3]
  51. ^ M. M. Ahmad, "The Lost Tribes of Israel: The Travels of Jesus", Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Accessed March 16, 2006.
  52. ^ Rabbi Shraga Simmons, "Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus", accessed March 14, 2006; "Why Jews Don't Believe in Jesus", Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem|Ohr Samayach - Ask the Rabbi, accessed March 14, 2006; "Why don't Jews believe that Jesus was the messiah?",, accessed March 14, 2006.
  53. ^ "Hilchot Malachim (laws concerning kings) (Hebrew)", Torah database#Mechon Mamre.28digital freeware.29|, accessed March 14, 2006.
  54. ^ "Question 18.3.4: Reform's Position On...What is unacceptable practice?",, accessed March 14, 2006.
  55. ^ Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, "Parashat Re'eh 5764-2004: Identifying a True Prophet", National Jewish Outreach Program, accessed March 14, 2006; Tracey Rich, "Prophets and Prophecy", Judaism 101, accessed March 14, 2006; Rabbi Pinchas Frankel, "Covenant of History: A Fools Prophecy", Orthodox Union|Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations of America, accessed March 14, 2006;Laurence Edwards, "Torat Hayim - Living Torah: No Rest(s) for the Wicked", Union for Reform Judaism|Union of American Hebrew Congregations, accessed March 14, 2006.


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v. 1, The Roots of the Problem and the Person, 1991. ISBN 0385264259
v. 2, Mentor, Message, and Miracles, 1994. ISBN 0385469926
v. 3, Companions and Competitors, 2001. ISBN 0385469934
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  • E.P. Sanders|Sanders, E.P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. New York: Penguin, 1996. ISBN 0140144994
  • Sanders, E.P. Jesus and Judaism. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1987. ISBN 0800620615
  • Geza Vermes|Vermes, Geza. Jesus the Jew: A Historian's Reading of the Gospels. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1981. ISBN 0800614437
  • Geza Vermes|Vermes, Geza. The Religion of Jesus the Jew. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1993. ISBN 0800627970
  • Geza Vermes|Vermes, Geza. Jesus in his Jewish Context. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2003. ISBN 0800636236
  • A.N. Wilson|Wilson, A.N. Jesus. London: Pimlico, 2003. ISBN 0712606971
  • Tom Wright (theologian)|Wright, N.T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997. ISBN 0800626826
  • Tom Wright (theologian)|Wright, N.T. The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2003. ISBN 0800626796

External links[edit]