Jesus Christ (-6? to +33?) was a Jewish teacher who founded Christianity, the religion of a third of mankind. Christians believe he is the Son of God, that he is God who lived among us as a man.
What early non-Christian writings say:
- He was a Jewish teacher.
- Many believed he healed the sick and cast out demons.
- Jewish leaders opposed him.
- By +36 he had died on the cross by order of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, in the reign of the emperor Tiberius.
- By +64 there were already many followers of his in Rome who believed he rose from the dead.
- By +100 he was worshipped as a god.
See: Josephus (+93), Pliny the Younger (+112), Tacitus (+116), Suetonius (+121), and the Talmud.
What the earliest Christian writings say:
- He was born in Bethlehem, a town near Jerusalem, to a virgin named Mary. He was a descendant of King David, a great Jewish king.
- He worked miracles and taught about the coming Kingdom of God. He called himself the Son of Man and was called the Son of God. He gathered thousands of followers. His top followers were the Twelve Apostles.
- He said he will return in the future on Judgement Day to morally judge the living and the dead. The bad will go away into everlasting punishment, but the good into eternal life.
- He was a threat to the power of both the Jewish priests and the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate had him nailed to a cross, a common punishment in those days for revolutionaries (think Spartacus). He died and was buried.
- Two days later he rose from the dead. Over 500 people saw him alive again. After 50 days he went up to heaven.
- He gave his life as a sacrifice for our sins, to help us get right with God.
See Paul (by +60), Q Gospel (by +80), Mark (by +80), Signs Gospel (by +90) and Matthew (by +100).
What others say:
- Jews of the time said Jesus got his powers from the devil and used them to lead Jews away from their faith. They say that the Messiah will come some day, but Jesus was not him.
- Gnostics in the 100s and 200s said Jesus came not to die for our sins but to tell us a secret way to heaven. He only told the deserving few. Everyone else was fed a lie.
- Arians in the 300s said Jesus is neither God nor man but something in between. He was a divine creature higher than the angels but lower than God.
- Muslims since the 600s say Jesus was a great prophet, like Moses or Isaiah. He was born of a virgin and worked miracles, but was only a man. He only seemed to die on the cross. Christians rewrote the Bible to make him into God.
- Western intellectuals since the 1700s say Jesus was merely a wise and holy man. Since miracles are impossible, the ones in the Bible are pure fiction, including the virgin birth and rising from the dead.
Holidays: His birthday is Christmas (December 25th). Easter is when he rose from the dead (the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring).