Jesus Christ

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Jesus or Jesus Christ is commonly known as the central figure of Christianity. In Christian theology Jesus is the son of God, born to the Virgin Mary, and was sacrificed to atone for humanity's sins.

Birth

For a more detailed treatment, see Virgin birth.

According to Christian mythology Jesus was born to a virgin mother—yet the Bible also claims that he was the direct male line descendant of King David through Joseph, who was not his father. Furthermore, because Jesus was born through parthenogenesis, a phenomenon not naturally observed in mammals (although it has been artificially induced in rabbits), his genes would have come only from Mary. Unfortunately for the Bible's claims, Mary is a female. In animals using the XY chromosome system, parthenogenesis always results in female offspring. Thus, Jesus would also have to be female, because only Mary's female genes were passed on to "him." But because it is generally agreed that Jesus is a male, it is possible to prove that Jesus was conceived naturally through Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Jesus' Life

In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Judea) to Mary, who at the time was a virgin, and the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Luke relates that the angel Gabriel visited Mary in order to announce to her that she had been chosen to bear the Son of God (Luke 1:26–38). Alternatively his father may have been Joseph. There were any number of men in Judea capable of fathering a child. His father may even been a depraved, lecherous Roman soldier called Pantera or even an alien. An order of Caesar Augustus, that a survey of the Roman Empire should be made caused Mary and Joseph to leave Nazareth and go to the home of Joseph's forebears - to the house of King David. After Jesus' birth, they were forced to use a manger for a crib because the town's inn was full. According to Luke 2:8–20, an angel spread word of Jesus' birth to several shepherds who came to visit the newborn. Matthew also tells of the "Magi", (Zoroastrian priests), who brought many gifts to the infant Jesus (among which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh; this has led to the incorrect assumption that three Magi were present, whereas the actual number is not given) after following a star which they believed was an indication that the Messiah, or King of the Jews, had been born. Despite popular belief, nowhere does the bible mention how many Magi actually came.

Jesus' early home is stated to have been in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, and except for an escape to Egypt in early childhood, to avoid Herod's massacre of the other male infants, all other events in the Gospels take place in ancient Israel. Luke's Finding in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52), where Jesus impressed the priests by discoursing in scripture with them, is the only detailed event between Jesus' infancy and adult life mentioned in any of the canonical Gospels.

The Gospel of Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, which appears to be the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. Jesus came to the River Jordan, where John was preaching and baptizing people in the crowd. After Jesus had been baptized, and had risen up out of the water, Mark states Jesus 'saw the heavens torn apart and the Holy 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). Luke adds the chronological anchor that John the Baptist had begun preaching in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, approximately in 28 AD (Luke 3:1) and that Jesus was thirty years old when he was baptized (Luke 3:23).

After this baptism, according to Matthew, Jesus was brought into the desert by God, where he fasted for forty days and nights. During this period, Satan appeared before him and tried three times to tempt Jesus into demonstrating his supernatural powers as a proof of his divine status; each temptation was refused by Jesus, with a scriptural quote from the Book of Deuteronomy.

File:Angry Jesus.jpg
Jesus gets tough with the money-changers in the temple.

Jesus then began to preach. The Gospel of John describes three different passover feasts that Jesus attended, thus implying that his ministry lasted three years.

The larger part of this was directed towards his closest followers, the Apostles, although all of his followers were considered disciples. At the highest point of his ministry, Jesus attracted disciples and audiences numbering in the thousands; in particular in the area of Galilee. Many of Jesus' most well-known teachings were given during the Sermon on the Mount, such as the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer. Jesus often used parables in his rhetorical technique, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats; these teachings encouraged unconditional self-sacrificing love for God and for all people. During these sermons, he also discussed service and humility, forgiveness of sins, how faith should be applied, the Golden Rule, and the necessity of following the spirit of the law as well as its wording.

Jesus also often conversed with social outcasts, such as the publican (Roman tax collectors who were unpopular for their practice of extorting money).

During the trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin, a court-like body made up of Pharisees and Sadducees, highly orthodox and conservative members of the Jewish community, the high priests and elders asked Jesus, "Are you the Son of God?," and when he replied, "You say that I am," they condemned Jesus for blasphemy (Luke 22:70–71).

Jesus' death

Jesus' slow and tortuous death is believed by Christians to atone humankind for the original sin committed by Adam and Eve. However, as most educated Christians believe the story of Adam and Eve to be either a parable or a myth, this rather leaves open the question of why God should cause Himself to be tortured to atone for a myth. "Jesus Christ" means "Jesus the Saviour" and refers to this idea.

Those who believe in the literal truth of original sin have no problem in believing that God caused all humanity to be cursed for the sin of two people and then decided to torture Himself to make up for it.

Puzzling details about Jesus' crucifixion

  • The biblical account of Jesus' crucifixion states that nails were driven through his hands. In Luke 24:39, a post-resurrection Jesus invites his disciples to inspect the nail holes in his hands and his feet. In John 24:24-27, Jesus invites Thomas to stick his finger into the nail holes in Jesus' hands. The problem: the Romans never nailed a condemned person's hands to a cross. The bones in the hands would tear apart under the person's weight. Instead, they nailed the person's wrists to the cross.
  • Another curiosity would be the very existence of the wounds from the nails and spear. Considering that one might assume that resurrection, the healing of death if you will, might also fix those problems too. Dedeadifying someone only to leave gaping and festering wounds doesn't seem like much of a resurrection. Jesus' pending ascension, however, could explain this significant oversight.
  • Crucifixion was perhaps the most drawn-out form of execution ever devised. The condemned often lingered for days. When the condemned grew tired, they hung limp, stretching out the diaphragm and making it impossible to inhale. The condemned then pulled themselves up by the nails through their wrists. They could breathe as long as they held themselves up in this fashion. Eventually, somebody would break their legs to put them out of their misery. The Romans then left the body on the cross for days, allowing scavengers to pick at it as a warning to would-be insurrectionists. The problems:
    • After only a few hours on the cross, Jesus cried out, "It is finished" [1] and "died." Was he in such poor health that he died so quickly? Probably so. He had been pierced in the side with a spear, and had had to drag the cross to Calvary, falling three times, having been whipped across the entire journey. This isn't exactly conducive to resistance to torture.
    • According to John 19:31, the Jews asked Pontius Pilate to send a centurion to break the legs of Jesus and the two thieves crucified with him so the three of them could die and be entombed before the Sabbath began. This seems an odd request. Pilate's granting of their request is equally odd. Since the Romans used crucifixion to intimidate their subjects, isn't it logical that Pilate would say "no" and allow the bodies to remain on their crosses? If this was a request normally granted to the Jews on the sabbath, why would the Romans schedule these crucifixions mere hours before the sabbath began? Wouldn't they wait until the sabbath was over and then crucify Jesus and the two thieves?
    • Because Jesus "died" before the centurion came to break his legs,[2] skeptics believe that he had merely passed out and later came to in the tomb (see surviving crucifixion).

Alternate Perceptions

Many non-canonical Gospels present Jesus from an alternative perspective, and the apostles, as well. For example, in Matthew 10:34, Jesus claims to bring not peace, but "fire and a sword." The same line is duplicated in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, in which Jesus is presented as a wise teacher of neo-Platonist, Gnostic Judaism. It is hard to reconcile this line with the popular modern perception of Jesus, leading most to believe that the real person Jesus, and his real ministry, were likely much more complicated than modern Christianity maintains, and interpreted differently by different people.

Similarly, the acts that Jesus inspired in his followers differ according to different tales. Christianity emerged, as a result of Pauline leadership, as a steady-state religion that could weave subtly into the fabric of the Roman Empire. Other tales of Jesus and his followers, though, make him out to be much more of a revolutionary. For example, a tale exists called the Acts of Paul & Thecla, in which Paul treats a Roman woman as his equal and fellow in Christ, leading her to oppose the Roman way of life and seek spiritual peace in a much more Gnostic sense. In this tale, Paul also appears as much more of a social revolutionary than we have come to know him. Acts was a popular story in the early Roman world. However, it has largely vanished, as a result of its lack of incorporation into the canon.

It is possible that this revolutionary, original personality of the Jesus movement was deliberately abandoned by Paul in his attempt to popularize the religion. Also abandoned by Paul were the strong Jewish roots of Christianity.

Ideas about the nature of Jesus

The nature of Jesus has caused much debate over the years:

  1. Jesus had only one, divine nature. (Monophysitism)
  2. Jesus existed as two different persons, the mortal man and the divine Logos, which co-existed in one body. (Nestorianism)
  3. Sort of a compromise between the two, decided at a conference called the Council of Nicaea (325 CE) and the later Council of Chalcedon (451 CE), resulting in the Chalcedonian or orthodox Christian view.
  4. Jesus was a divine being, but created by and subservient to God the Father. (Arianism)
  5. Jesus was a man, but Divinely inspired (Ebionitism)
  6. Jesus was wholly God and his human form an illusion (Docetism).
  7. Jesus had two natures in one person, a human and a divine, but only one will. (Monothelitism)
  8. Jesus never existed[3] --- which suggests that Jesus was more of a concept than a person and that there were numerous people called Jesus in the first century CE
  9. Jesus was just this guy, you know. This version does get a nice consolation prize.

For most of the Middle Ages option 3 gained popular favor, partly due to the slight risk of being burnt alive if on the losing side of the argument.

Maimonides' view of Jesus

One Jewish understanding of the messiah is based on the writings of Maimonides, (also known as Rambam). His views on the messiah are discussed in his Mishneh Torah, his 14 volume compendium of Jewish law. In Judaism, Jesus is not considered to be the Messiah. According to Maimonides:

"As for Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the Anointed One and was condemned by the Sanhedrin. Daniel had already prophesied about him, thus: 'And the children of your people's rebels shall raise themselves to set up prophecy and will stumble.' (Ibid. 14) Can there be a bigger stumbling block than this? All the Prophets said that the Anointed One saves Israel and rescues them, gathers their strayed ones and strengthens their mitzvot whereas this one caused the loss of Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant and humiliate them, and to change the Torah and to cause most of the world to erroneously worship a god besides the Lord. But the human mind has no power to reach the thoughts of the Creator, for his thoughts and ways are unlike ours. All these matters of Yeshu of Nazareth and of Muhammad who stood up after him are only intended to pave the way for the Anointed King, and to mend the entire world to worship God together, thus: 'For then I shall turn a clear tongue to the nations to call all in the Name of the Lord and to worship him with one shoulder.'"

"How is this? The entire world had become filled with the issues of the Anointed One and of the Torah and the Laws, and these issues had spread out unto faraway islands and among many nations uncircumcised in the heart, and they discuss these issues and the Torah's laws. These say: These Laws were true but are already defunct in these days, and do not rule for the following generations; whereas the other ones say: There are secret layers in them and they are not to be treated literally, and the Messiah had come and revealed their secret meanings. But when the Anointed King will truly rise and succeed and will be raised and uplifted, they all immediately turn about and know that their fathers inherited falsehood, and their prophets and ancestors led them astray."

Historical Jesus

There are no contemporary sources on Jesus' life. All surviving mentions of Jesus in ancient times are in texts written by Christians decades or more after his supposed death. No official Roman sources mention him, and the gospels contradict themselves and each other on the key events. The New Testament is factually incorrect on many historical events, such as the reign of Herod and the Roman census. Therefore, it is not clear whether Jesus was in fact a historical person.

An important tactic of Conservative Christians in their attempts to dominate the world is to try to use science to prove that Jesus really did exist. Ironically, their attempts to do this are not blocked or dismissed by scholars, because many, if not most, scholars already accept the idea that Jesus was a real man who, in or around 30 CE, was acting as teacher, mystic, spiritualist, healer, political activist, or religious revolutionary. The scholarly claims [4] are made and backed up not by historical records, of which there are precious few, but through accepted claims on the nature of mythology and new religions[5].

  1. It is traditionally accepted that myths generally do not derive from thin air, and that the characters and stories in these myths are exaggerations, deifications , or simple mischaracterizaions of events and persons that really existed and did "something" of some kind of note.
  2. Within 10 years of each other, 10-20 churches "pop up" throughout Jerusalem and the Aramaic world which all name the Christ character "Jesus".

But fear not, good atheists, agnostics, and all those who routinely battle Fundamental Christians or other pushy types. Just because a dude "likely existed" and was probably walking around saying loony things about mustard seeds, this in no way validates anything that is in the Biblical accounts of the mythic Christ character. That is to say, even if we could without a doubt prove the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, that hardly proves he died. Well he died, everyone dies. It hardly proves his Daddy brought him back to life, holes in his hands and all.

Racism

Jesus was a dark skinned Jewish Arab. Many nice white Christians look down on people with that skin color. They wouldn't want anyone as dark as Jesus in their churches. Christian pictures don't depict Jesus as he was.

  • The Last Temptation, from greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis, later adapted to film by Martin Scorsese.
  • The Passion of the Christ, a film by (and for) Mel Gibson.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar, rock opera about the last days of Jesus, and a wet dream for many Christians.
  • The Book of Daniel (TV series), canceled due to low ratings.
  • The Bible, number one bestselling work of fiction ever.

Quotes about Jesus

  • "I like your Christ very much. I don't like your Christians." - The Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi [6]
  • John 19:30
  • John 19:33
  • See Jesus never existed.
  • as opposed to those people trying to prove Jesus existed to further either a religious agenda or a conspiracy agenda
  • Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, ISSN# ; J.D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus ISBN-10: 0060616296;
    • "The message of Christ is not Christianity. The message of Christ is Christ." -Gary Amirault
    • "I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin born, because the answer to that question would define history." –Larry King
    • "Jesus' major goal is to reveal his Father to those who will repent and trust in him as their only way of salvation from his Father's anger at them for their sin." -Conservapedia
    • "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock'n'roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." - John Lennon
    • "Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah." - written by Arthur Reynolds, as performed by The Byrds, The Doobie Brothers, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, among others.

    See also

    Footnotes

    1. John 19:30
    2. John 19:33
    3. See Jesus never existed.
    4. as opposed to those people trying to prove Jesus existed to further either a religious agenda or a conspiracy agenda
    5. Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, ISSN# ; J.D. Crossan, The Historical Jesus ISBN-10: 0060616296;
      • "The message of Christ is not Christianity. The message of Christ is Christ." -Gary Amirault
      • "I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin born, because the answer to that question would define history." –Larry King
      • "Jesus' major goal is to reveal his Father to those who will repent and trust in him as their only way of salvation from his Father's anger at them for their sin." -Conservapedia
      • "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock'n'roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." - John Lennon
      • "Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah." - written by Arthur Reynolds, as performed by The Byrds, The Doobie Brothers, and Alvin and the Chipmunks, among others.

      See also

      Footnotes

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