"Christ" and "Jesus of Nazareth" redirect here.
|Born||c. 4 BC|
|Died||AD 30 or 33 (aged 33–36)|
|Cause of death||Crucifixion|
Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, although the quest for the historical Jesus has yielded some uncertainty on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus, as the only records of Jesus' life are contained in the four Gospels.
Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers.
Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return.
Commonly, Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God.
Jesus is also revered outside of Christianity.
Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin, but was neither God nor a begotten God.
The Quran states that Jesus never claimed divinity.
Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is commonly referred to as "Jesus of Nazareth" (e.g., Mark 10:47).
Jesus' neighbors in Nazareth refer to him as "the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon" (Mark 6:3), "the carpenter's son" (Matthew 13:55), or "Joseph's son" (Luke 4:22).
The name Yeshua appears to have been in use in Judea at the time of the birth of Jesus.
The 1st-century works of historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote in Koine Greek, the same language as that of the New Testament, refer to at least twenty different people with the name Jesus (i.e. Ἰησοῦς).
The etymology of Jesus' name in the context of the New Testament is generally given as "Yahweh is salvation".
Since the early period of Christianity, Christians have commonly referred to Jesus as "Jesus Christ".
In postbiblical usage, Christ became viewed as a name—one part of "Jesus Christ".
The term Christian (meaning a follower of Christ) has been in use since the 1st century.
Life and teachings in the New Testament
Main article: Life of Jesus in the New Testament
However, other parts of the New Testament also include references to key episodes in his life, such as the Last Supper in .
Acts of the Apostles ( and ) refers to the early ministry of Jesus and its anticipation by John the Baptist.
says more about the Ascension of Jesus (also mentioned in ) than the canonical gospels do.
In the undisputed Pauline letters, which were written earlier than the gospels, the words or instructions of Jesus are cited several times (, ).
Some early Christian groups had separate descriptions of the life and teachings of Jesus that are not included in the New Testament.
Most scholars conclude that these are written much later and are less reliable accounts than the canonical gospels.
The canonical gospels are four accounts, each written by a different author.
The authors of the gospels are all anonymous, attributed by tradition to the four evangelists, each with close ties to Jesus: Mark by John Mark, an associate of Peter; Matthew by one of Jesus' disciples; Luke by a companion of Paul mentioned in a few epistles; and John by another of Jesus' disciples, the "beloved disciple".
One important aspect of the study of the gospels is the literary genre under which they fall.
Genre "is a key convention guiding both the composition and the interpretation of writings".
Whether the gospel authors set out to write novels, myths, histories, or biographies has a tremendous impact on how they ought to be interpreted.
Some recent studies suggest that the genre of the gospels ought to be situated within the realm of ancient biography.
Although not without critics, the position that the gospels are a type of ancient biography is the consensus among scholars today.
Concerning the accuracy of the accounts, viewpoints run the gamut from considering them as inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus, to doubting whether they are historically reliable on a number of points, to considering them to provide very little historical information about his life beyond the basics.
According to a broad scholarly consensus, the Synoptic Gospels (the first three – Matthew, Mark, and Luke), are the most reliable sources of information about Jesus.
According to the Marcan priority, the first to be written was the Gospel of Mark (written AD 60–75), followed by the Gospel of Matthew (AD 65–85), the Gospel of Luke (AD 65–95), and the Gospel of John (AD 75–100).
Furthermore, most scholars agree that the authors of Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source when writing their gospels.
Since Matthew and Luke also share some content not found in Mark, many scholars explain this by assuming that another source (commonly called the "Q source") was used by these two authors in addition to Mark.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels, from the Greek σύν (syn "together") and ὄψις (opsis "view").
They are called "synoptic" because they are similar in content, narrative arrangement, language and paragraph structure, and one can easily set them next to each other and synoptically compare what is in them.
Scholars generally agree that it is impossible to find any direct literary relationship between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John.
While the flow of some events (such as Jesus' baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion and interactions with the apostles) are shared among the Synoptic Gospels, incidents such as the transfiguration do not appear in John, which also differs on other matters, such as the Cleansing of the Temple.
|Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels||Jesus in the Gospel of John|
|Begins with Jesus' baptism or birth to a virgin.||Begins with creation, with no birth story.|
|Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist.||Baptism presupposed but not mentioned.|
|Jesus teaches in parables and aphorisms.||Jesus teaches in long, involved discourses.|
|Jesus teaches primarily about the Kingdom of God, little about himself.||Jesus teaches primarily and extensively about himself.|
|Jesus speaks up for the poor and oppressed.||Jesus says little to nothing about the poor or oppressed.|
|Jesus exorcises demons.||Jesus does not exorcise demons.|
|Peter confesses who Jesus is.||Peter gives no confession.|
|Jesus does not wash his hands.||Jesus is not said to not wash his hands.|
|Jesus' disciples do not fast.||No mention of disciples not fasting.|
|Jesus' disciples pick grain on the Sabbath.||Disciples do not pick grain on the Sabbath.|
|Jesus is transfigured.||Jesus is not transfigured.|
|Jesus attends one Passover festival.||Jesus attends three or four Passover festivals.|
|Cleansing of the Temple occurs late.||Cleansing of the Temple is early.|
|Jesus ushers in a new covenant with a last supper.||Jesus washes the disciples' feet.|
|Jesus prays to be spared his death.||Jesus shows no weakness in the face of death.|
|Jesus is betrayed with a kiss.||Jesus announces his identity.|
|Jesus is arrested by Jewish leaders.||Jesus is arrested by Roman and Temple guards.|
|Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross.||Jesus carries his cross alone.|
|Temple curtain tears at Jesus' death.||Jesus' side is pierced with a lance.|
|Many women visit Jesus' tomb.||Only Mary Magdalene visits Jesus' tomb.|
The Synoptics emphasize different aspects of Jesus.
He is a tireless wonder worker, the servant of both God and man.
This short gospel records few of Jesus' words or teachings.
The Gospel of Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's will as revealed in the Old Testament, and he is the Lord of the Church.
He is the "Son of David", a "king", and the Messiah.
Luke presents Jesus as the divine-human savior who shows compassion to the needy.
He is the friend of sinners and outcasts, come to seek and save the lost.
This gospel includes well-known parables, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.
As the Word, Jesus was eternally present with God, active in all creation, and the source of humanity's moral and spiritual nature.
Jesus is not only greater than any past human prophet but greater than any prophet could be.
He not only speaks God's Word; he is God's Word.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals his divine role publicly.
Here he is the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the True Vine and more.
In general, the authors of the New Testament showed little interest in an absolute chronology of Jesus or in synchronizing the episodes of his life with the secular history of the age.
As stated in , the gospels do not claim to provide an exhaustive list of the events in the life of Jesus.
The accounts were primarily written as theological documents in the context of early Christianity, with timelines as a secondary consideration.
Although the gospels do not provide enough details to satisfy the demands of modern historians regarding exact dates, it is possible to draw from them a general picture of the life story of Jesus.
Genealogy and nativity
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke offer two accounts of the genealogy of Jesus.
Luke traces Jesus' ancestry through Adam to God.
The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but differ radically from that point.
Matthew has twenty-seven generations from David to Joseph, whereas Luke has forty-two, with almost no overlap between the names on the two lists.
Various theories have been put forward seeking to explain why the two genealogies are so different.
Matthew and Luke each describe Jesus' birth, especially that Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy.
Luke's account emphasizes events before the birth of Jesus and centers on Mary, while Matthew's mostly covers those after the birth and centers on Joseph.
Both accounts state that Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary, his betrothed, in Bethlehem, and both support the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, according to which Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb when she was still a virgin.
At the same time, there is evidence, at least in the Lukan Acts of the Apostles, that Jesus was thought to have had, like many figures in antiquity, a dual paternity, since there it is stated he descended from the seed or loins of David.
By taking him as his own, Joseph will give him the necessary Davidic descent.
In Matthew, Joseph is troubled because Mary, his betrothed, is pregnant (Matthew 1:19–20), but in the first of Joseph's three dreams an angel assures him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because her child was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
They find Jesus in a house in Bethlehem.
Jesus is now a child and not an infant.
Matthew focuses on an event after the Luke Nativity where Jesus was an infant.
In , Mary learns from the angel Gabriel that she will conceive and bear a child called Jesus through the action of the Holy Spirit.
When Mary is due to give birth, she and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Joseph's ancestral home in Bethlehem to register in the census ordered by Caesar Augustus.
While there Mary gives birth to Jesus, and as they have found no room in the inn, she places the newborn in a manger ().
An angel announces the birth to a group of shepherds, who go to Bethlehem to see Jesus, and subsequently spread the news abroad ().
After the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Joseph, Mary and Jesus return to Nazareth.
Early life, family, and profession
Main article: Christ Child
Jesus' childhood home is identified in the gospels of Luke and Matthew as the town of Nazareth in Galilee, where he lived with his family.
Although Joseph appears in descriptions of Jesus' childhood, no mention is made of him thereafter.
The Gospel of Mark reports that Jesus comes into conflict with his neighbors and family.
Jesus' mother and brothers come to get him () because people are saying that he is crazy ().
Jesus responds that his followers are his true family.
In John, Mary follows Jesus to his crucifixion, and he expresses concern over her well-being ().
The gospels indicate that Jesus could read, paraphrase, and debate scripture, but this does not necessarily mean that he received formal scribal training.
When Jesus is presented as a baby in the temple per Jewish Law, a man named Simeon says to Mary and Joseph that Jesus "shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul.
Then the secret thoughts of many will come to light" ().
Several years later, when Jesus goes missing on a visit to Jerusalem, his parents find him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions, and the people are amazed at his understanding and answers; Mary scolds Jesus for going missing, to which Jesus replies that he must "be in his father's house" ().
Baptism and temptation
The Synoptic accounts of Jesus' baptism are all preceded by information about John the Baptist.
They show John preaching penance and repentance for the remission of sins and encouraging the giving of alms to the poor () as he baptizes people in the area of the Jordan River around Perea and foretells () the arrival of someone "more powerful" than he.
Later, Jesus identifies John as "the Elijah who was to come" (, ), the prophet who was expected to arrive before the "great and terrible day of the Lord" ().
Likewise, Luke says that John had the spirit and power of Elijah ().
In Mark, John baptizes Jesus, and as he comes out of the water he sees the Holy Spirit descending to him like a dove and he hears a voice from heaven declaring him to be God's Son ().
This is one of two events described in the gospels where a voice from Heaven calls Jesus "Son", the other being the Transfiguration.
The spirit then drives him into the wilderness where he is tempted by Satan ().
Jesus then begins his ministry after John's arrest ().
Jesus' baptism in Matthew is similar.
Here, before Jesus' baptism, John protests, saying, "I need to be baptized by you" ().
Jesus instructs him to carry on with the baptism "to fulfill all righteousness" ().
Matthew also details the three temptations that Satan offers Jesus in the wilderness ().
In Luke, the Holy Spirit descends as a dove after everyone has been baptized and Jesus is praying ().
John implicitly recognizes Jesus from prison after sending his followers to ask about him ().
Jesus' baptism and temptation serve as preparation for his public ministry.
The Gospel of John leaves out Jesus' baptism and temptation.
Here, John the Baptist testifies that he saw the Spirit descend on Jesus ().
John publicly proclaims Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and some of John's followers become disciples of Jesus.
In this Gospel, John denies that he is Elijah ().
Before John is imprisoned, Jesus leads his followers to baptize disciples as well (), and they baptize more people than John ().
Main article: Ministry of Jesus
The Synoptics depict two distinct geographical settings in Jesus' ministry.
Often referred to as "rabbi", Jesus preaches his message orally.
Notably, Jesus forbids those who recognize him as the Messiah to speak of it, including people he heals and demons he exorcises (see Messianic Secret).
John depicts Jesus' ministry as largely taking place in and around Jerusalem, rather than in Galilee; and Jesus' divine identity is openly proclaimed and immediately recognized.
Scholars divide the ministry of Jesus into several stages.
Jesus preaches around Galilee, and in , his first disciples, who will eventually form the core of the early Church, encounter him and begin to travel with him.
This period includes the Sermon on the Mount, one of Jesus' major discourses, as well as the calming of the storm, the feeding of the 5,000, walking on water and a number of other miracles and parables.
It ends with the Confession of Peter and the Transfiguration.
Disciples and followers
Near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus appoints twelve apostles.
In Matthew and Mark, despite Jesus only briefly requesting that they join him, Jesus' first four apostles, who were fishermen, are described as immediately consenting, and abandoning their nets and boats to do so (, ).
In John, Jesus' first two apostles were disciples of John the Baptist.
The Baptist sees Jesus and calls him the Lamb of God; the two hear this and follow Jesus.
In addition to the Twelve Apostles, the opening of the passage of the Sermon on the Plain identifies a much larger group of people as disciples ().
Also, in Jesus sends seventy or seventy-two of his followers in pairs to prepare towns for his prospective visit.
They are instructed to accept hospitality, heal the sick and spread the word that the Kingdom of God is coming.
In Mark, the disciples are notably obtuse.
They fail to understand Jesus' miracles (, ), his parables (), or what "rising from the dead" would mean ().
When Jesus is later arrested, they desert him.
Teachings and miracles
The Kingdom is described as both imminent () and already present in the ministry of Jesus ().
Jesus promises inclusion in the Kingdom for those who accept his message ().
Jesus calls people to repent their sins and to devote themselves completely to God.
When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replies: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind ... And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself" ().
John's Gospel presents the teachings of Jesus not merely as his own preaching, but as divine revelation.
John the Baptist, for example, states in : "He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure."
In Jesus says, "My teaching is not mine but his who sent me."
He asserts the same thing in : "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works."
Approximately thirty parables form about one third of Jesus' recorded teachings.
The parables appear within longer sermons and at other places in the narrative.
They often contain symbolism, and usually relate the physical world to the spiritual.
Common themes in these tales include the kindness and generosity of God and the perils of transgression.
When asked by his disciples about why he speaks in parables to the people, Jesus replies that the chosen disciples have been given to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven", unlike the rest of their people, "For the one who has will be given more and he will have in abundance.
But the one who does not have will be deprived even more.
", going on to say that the majority of their generation have grown "dull hearts" and thus are unable to understand ().
In the gospel accounts, Jesus devotes a large portion of his ministry performing miracles, especially healings.
The miracles can be classified into two main categories: healing miracles and nature miracles.
The nature miracles show Jesus' power over nature, and include turning water into wine, walking on water, and calming a storm, among others.
Jesus states that his miracles are from a divine source.
When Jesus' opponents suddenly accuse him of performing exorcisms by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, Jesus counters that he performs them by the "Spirit of God" () or "finger of God", arguing that all logic suggests that Satan would not let his demons assist the Children of God because it would divide Satan's house and bring his kingdom to desolation; furthermore, he asks his opponents that if he exorcises by Beel'zebub, "by whom do your sons cast them out?"
In , he goes on to say that while all manner of sin, "even insults against God" or "insults against the son of man", shall be forgiven, whoever insults goodness (or "The Holy Spirit") shall never be forgiven; he/she carries the guilt of his/her sin forever.
In John, Jesus' miracles are described as "signs", performed to prove his mission and divinity.
However, in the Synoptics, when asked by some teachers of the Law and some Pharisees to give miraculous signs to prove his authority, Jesus refuses, saying that no sign shall come to corrupt and evil people except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Also, in the Synoptic Gospels, the crowds regularly respond to Jesus' miracles with awe and press on him to heal their sick.
In John's Gospel, Jesus is presented as unpressured by the crowds, who often respond to his miracles with trust and faith.
One characteristic shared among all miracles of Jesus in the gospel accounts is that he performed them freely and never requested or accepted any form of payment.
The gospel episodes that include descriptions of the miracles of Jesus also often include teachings, and the miracles themselves involve an element of teaching.
Many of the miracles teach the importance of faith.
Proclamation as Christ and Transfiguration
At about the middle of each of the three Synoptic Gospels are two significant events: the Confession of Peter and the Transfiguration of Jesus.
These two events are not mentioned in the Gospel of John.
In his Confession, Peter tells Jesus, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus affirms that Peter's confession is divinely revealed truth.
After the confession, Jesus tells his disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22)
In the Transfiguration (, , and ), Jesus takes Peter and two other apostles up an unnamed mountain, where "he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white."
A bright cloud appears around them, and a voice from the cloud says, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him" ().
The description of the last week of the life of Jesus (often called Passion Week) occupies about one third of the narrative in the canonical gospels, starting with Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending with his Crucifixion.
Activities in Jerusalem
In the Synoptics, the last week in Jerusalem is the conclusion of the journey through Perea and Judea that Jesus began in Galilee.
People along the way lay cloaks and small branches of trees (known as palm fronds) in front of him and sing part of .
Jesus next expels the money changers from the Second Temple, accusing them of turning it into a den of thieves through their commercial activities.
Jesus then prophesies about the coming destruction, including false prophets, wars, earthquakes, celestial disorders, persecution of the faithful, the appearance of an "abomination of desolation," and unendurable tribulations ().
The mysterious "Son of Man," he says, will dispatch angels to gather the faithful from all parts of the earth ().
Jesus warns that these wonders will occur in the lifetimes of the hearers ().
In John, the Cleansing of the Temple occurs at the beginning of Jesus' ministry instead of at the end ().
The Gospel of John recounts of two other feasts in which Jesus taught in Jerusalem before the Passion Week ().
This potent sign increases the tension with authorities, who conspire to kill him ().
Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus' feet, foreshadowing his entombment.
Jesus then makes his Messianic entry into Jerusalem.
The cheering crowds greeting Jesus as he enters Jerusalem add to the animosity between him and the establishment.
In John, Jesus has already cleansed the Second Temple during an earlier Passover visit to Jerusalem.
John next recounts Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples.
Main article: Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that Jesus shares with his 12 apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.
The Last Supper is mentioned in all four canonical gospels; Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians () also refers to it.
During the meal, Jesus predicts that one of his apostles will betray him.
Despite each Apostle's assertion that he would not betray him, Jesus reiterates that the betrayer would be one of those present.
and specifically identify Judas as the traitor.
In the Synoptics, Jesus takes bread, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you".
He then has them all drink from a cup, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood" ().
Although the Gospel of John does not include a description of the bread-and-wine ritual during the Last Supper, most scholars agree that (the Bread of Life Discourse) has a eucharistic character and resonates with the institution narratives in the Synoptic Gospels and in the Pauline writings on the Last Supper.
In all four gospels, Jesus predicts that Peter will deny knowledge of him three times before the rooster crows the next morning.
In Luke and John, the prediction is made during the Supper (, ).
In Matthew and Mark, the prediction is made after the Supper; Jesus also predicts that all his disciples will desert him (, ).
The Gospel of John provides the only account of Jesus washing his disciples' feet after the meal.
John also includes a long sermon by Jesus, preparing his disciples (now without Judas) for his departure.
Agony in the Garden, betrayal, and arrest
In the Synoptics, Jesus and his disciples go to the garden Gethsemane, where Jesus prays to be spared his coming ordeal.
Then Judas comes with an armed mob, sent by the chief priests, scribes and elders.
In an attempt to stop them, an unnamed disciple of Jesus uses a sword to cut off the ear of a man in the crowd.
After Jesus' arrest, his disciples go into hiding, and Peter, when questioned, thrice denies knowing Jesus.
After the third denial, Peter hears the rooster crow and recalls Jesus' prediction about his denial.
Peter then weeps bitterly.
In John (18:1–11), Jesus does not pray to be spared his crucifixion, as the gospel portrays him as scarcely touched by such human weakness.
The people who arrest him are Roman soldiers and Temple guards.
Instead of being betrayed by a kiss, Jesus proclaims his identity, and when he does, the soldiers and officers fall to the ground.
The gospel identifies Peter as the disciple who used the sword, and Jesus rebukes him for it.
Trials by the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate
After his arrest, Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish judicial body.
The gospel accounts differ on the details of the trials.
Early the next morning, the chief priests and scribes lead Jesus away into their council.
states that Jesus is first taken to Annas, Caiaphas' father-in-law, and then to the high priest.
During the trials Jesus speaks very little, mounts no defense, and gives very infrequent and indirect answers to the priests' questions, prompting an officer to slap him.
In Jesus' unresponsiveness leads Caiaphas to ask him, "Have you no answer?"
In the high priest then asks Jesus, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?"
Jesus replies, "I am", and then predicts the coming of the Son of Man.
This provokes Caiaphas to tear his own robe in anger and to accuse Jesus of blasphemy.
In Matthew and Luke, Jesus' answer is more ambiguous: in he responds, "You have said so", and in he says, "You say that I am".
The Jewish elders take Jesus to Pilate's Court and ask the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to judge and condemn Jesus for various allegations, accusing him of blasphemy, perverting the nation, forbidding the payment of tribute, inciting sedition against Rome, sorcery, claiming to be the King of the Jews, the Son of God, and a savior to the world.
The use of the word "king" is central to the discussion between Jesus and Pilate.
In Jesus states, "My kingdom is not from this world", but he does not unequivocally deny being the King of the Jews.
Pilate sends Jesus to Herod to be tried, but Jesus says almost nothing in response to Herod's questions.
Herod and his soldiers mock Jesus, put an expensive robe on him to make him look like a king, and return him to Pilate, who then calls together the Jewish elders and announces that he has "not found this man guilty".
Observing a Passover custom of the time, Pilate allows one prisoner chosen by the crowd to be released.
Persuaded by the elders (), the mob chooses to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus.
Pilate writes a sign in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek that reads "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (abbreviated as INRI in depictions) to be affixed to Jesus' cross (), then scourges Jesus and sends him to be crucified.
The soldiers place a Crown of Thorns on Jesus' head and ridicule him as the King of the Jews.
They beat and taunt him before taking him to Calvary, also called Golgotha, for crucifixion.
Crucifixion and entombment
Jesus' crucifixion is described in all four canonical gospels.
The three Synoptic Gospels indicate that Simon of Cyrene assists him, having been compelled by the Romans to do so.
In Jesus tells the women in the multitude of people following him not to weep for him but for themselves and their children.
At Calvary, Jesus is offered a sponge soaked in a concoction usually offered as a painkiller.
According to Matthew and Mark, he refuses it.
The soldiers then crucify Jesus and cast lots for his clothes.
Above Jesus' head on the cross is Pilate's inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."
Soldiers and passersby mock him about it.
Two convicted thieves are crucified along with Jesus.
In Matthew and Mark, both thieves mock Jesus.
Jesus tells the latter: "today you will be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43).
In John, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the beloved disciple were at the crucifixion.
Jesus tells the beloved disciple to take care of his mother (John 19:26–27).
The Roman soldiers break the two thieves' legs (a procedure designed to hasten death in a crucifixion), but they do not break those of Jesus, as he is already dead (John 19:33).
In the Synoptics, when Jesus dies, the heavy curtain at the Temple is torn.
In , on the following day the chief Jewish priests ask Pilate for the tomb to be secured, and with Pilate's permission the priests place seals on the large stone covering the entrance.
Resurrection and ascension
Further information: Overview of resurrection appearances in the Gospels and Paul
Mary Magdalene (alone in the Gospel of John, but accompanied by other women in the Synoptics) goes to Jesus' tomb on Sunday morning and is surprised to find it empty.
Despite Jesus' teaching, the disciples had not understood that Jesus would rise again.
- In Matthew, there are guards at the tomb. An angel descends from Heaven, and opens the tomb. The guards faint from fear. Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary" after they visited the tomb. Jesus then appears to the eleven remaining disciples in Galilee and commissions them to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- In Mark, Salome and Mary, mother of James are with Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:1). In the tomb, a young man in a white robe (an angel) tells them that Jesus will meet his disciples in Galilee, as he had told them (referring to Mark 14:28).
- In Luke, Mary and various other women meet two angels at the tomb, but the eleven disciples do not believe their story (Luke 25:1–12). Jesus appears to two of his followers in Emmaus. He also makes an appearance to Peter. Jesus then appears that same day to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13–43). Although he appears and vanishes mysteriously, he also eats and lets them touch him to prove that he is not a spirit. He repeats his command to bring his teaching to all nations ().
- In John, Mary is alone at first, but Peter and the beloved disciple come and see the tomb as well. Jesus then appears to Mary at the tomb. He later appears to the disciples, breathes on them, and gives them the power to forgive and retain sins. In a second visit to disciples, he proves to a doubting disciple ("Doubting Thomas") that he is flesh and blood. The disciples return to Galilee, where Jesus makes another appearance. He performs a miracle known as the catch of 153 fish at the Sea of Galilee, after which Jesus encourages Peter to serve his followers.
Jesus' ascension into Heaven is described in , and mentioned in .
In the Acts of the Apostles, forty days after the Resurrection, as the disciples look on, "he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight".
states that Jesus has "gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God".
The Acts of the Apostles describes several appearances of Jesus after his Ascension.
In , Stephen gazes into heaven and sees "Jesus standing at the right hand of God" just before his death.
In , Jesus instructs Ananias of Damascus in a vision to heal Paul.
Main article: Early Christianity
After Jesus' life, his followers, as described in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, were all Jews either by birth or conversion, for which the biblical term "proselyte" is used, and referred to by historians as Jewish Christians.
The New Testament's Acts of the Apostles and Epistle to the Galatians record that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included Peter, James, the brother of Jesus, and John the Apostle.
After the conversion of Paul the Apostle, he claimed the title of "Apostle to the Gentiles".
Paul's influence on Christian thinking is said to be more significant than that of any other New Testament author.
By the end of the 1st century, Christianity began to be recognized internally and externally as a separate religion from Judaism which itself was refined and developed further in the centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple.
Numerous quotations in the New Testament and other Christian writings of the first centuries, indicate that early Christians generally used and revered the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) as religious text, mostly in the Greek (Septuagint) or Aramaic (Targum) translations.
Early Christians wrote many religious works, including the ones included in the canon of the New Testament.
The canonical texts, which have become the main sources used by historians to try to understand the historical Jesus and sacred texts within Christianity, were probably written between 50 and 120 AD.
See also: Biblical criticism
Prior to the Enlightenment, the gospels were usually regarded as accurate historical accounts, but since then scholars have emerged who question the reliability of the gospels and draw a distinction between the Jesus described in the gospels and the Jesus of history.
Since the 18th century, three separate scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during the quest that applied them.
While there is widespread scholarly agreement on the existence of Jesus, and a basic consensus on the general outline of his life, the portraits of Jesus constructed by various scholars often differ from each other, and from the image portrayed in the gospel accounts.
Approaches to the historical reconstruction of the life of Jesus have varied from the "maximalist" approaches of the 19th century, in which the gospel accounts were accepted as reliable evidence wherever it is possible, to the "minimalist" approaches of the early 20th century, where hardly anything about Jesus was accepted as historical.
In the 1950s, as the second quest for the historical Jesus gathered pace, the minimalist approaches faded away, and in the 21st century, minimalists such as Price are a very small minority.
Although a belief in the inerrancy of the gospels cannot be supported historically, many scholars since the 1980s have held that, beyond the few facts considered to be historically certain, certain other elements of Jesus' life are "historically probable".
Modern scholarly research on the historical Jesus thus focuses on identifying the most probable elements.
Judea and Galilee in the 1st century
A Roman prefect, rather than a client king, ruled the land.
As an exception, the prefect came to Jerusalem during religious festivals, when religious and patriotic enthusiasm sometimes inspired unrest or uprisings.
Gentile lands surrounded the Jewish territories of Judea and Galilee, but Roman law and practice allowed Jews to remain separate legally and culturally.
Galilee was evidently prosperous, and poverty was limited enough that it did not threaten the social order.
Until the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Muslim conquests of the Eastern Mediterranean, the main centers of Hellenistic Judaism were Alexandria (Egypt) and Antioch (now Southern Turkey), the two main Greek urban settlements of the Middle East and North Africa area, both founded at the end of the 4th century BCE in the wake of the conquests of Alexander the Great.
The Hebrew Bible was translated from Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic into Jewish Koine Greek; the Targum translations into Aramaic were also generated during this era, both due to the decline of knowledge of Hebrew.
Together these parties represented only a small fraction of the population.
Most Jews looked forward to a time that God would deliver them from their pagan rulers, possibly through war against the Romans.
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