Historical Jesus  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Historical Jesus is a scholarly reconstruction of the first-century figure Jesus of Nazareth. This reconstruction is based upon historical methods including critical analysis of gospel texts as the primary source for his biography, and non-biblical sources for the historical and cultural context in which he lived.

The Historical Jesus is conceptually different than the Christ of Faith. The former is physical, while the latter metaphysical. The Historical Jesus is based on historical evidence; newly discovered material or new Gospel fragment is used to modify the construction. Scholars suggest that because so much has been lost a complete picture may never be completed.

The quest for the historical Jesus began with the work of Hermann Samuel Reimarus in the 18th century. Two books both entitled The Life of Jesus were written; the first, by David Strauss, was published in German in 1835-36 and the second, by Ernest Renan, was published in French in 1863.

Over the past 150 years, historians and biblical scholars have made particular progress in the quest for the Historical Jesus; from Albert Schweitzer’s work in 1906, to the controversial Jesus Seminar, much has been learned. The purpose of these scholars is to examine the evidence from diverse sources and critically bring it together in order to create composite picture of Jesus. Use of the term the Historical Jesus implies that the figure thus reconstructed will differ from that presented in the teaching of the ecumenical councils ("the dogmatic Christ"). It will also sometimes differ from Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Hindu beliefs.

Historical Jesus scholars typically contend that the he was a Galilean Jew living in a time of messianic and apocalyptic expectations. He was baptized by John the Baptist, and after John was executed, Jesus began his own preaching in Galilee. He preached the salvation, everlasting life, cleansing from sins, Kingdom of God, using parables with startling imagery and was renowned as a teacher and a healer. Many scholars credit the apocalyptic declarations that the gospels attribute to him, while others portray his Kingdom of God as a moral one, and not apocalyptic in nature. He sent his apostles out to heal and to preach the Kingdom of God. Later, he traveled to Jerusalem in Judea, where he caused a disturbance at the Temple. It was the time of Passover, when political and religious tensions were high in Jerusalem. The Gospels say that the temple guards (believed to be Sadducees) arrested him and turned him over to Pontius Pilate for execution. The movement he had started survived his death and was carried on by his apostles who proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus. It developed into Early Christianity (see also List of events in early Christianity).

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Historical Jesus" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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