Jesus: Primary Sources of Information on Jesus
- The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the primary sources for information about Jesus’ life and teaching (see articles on the individual books, for example, Matthew, Gospel according to), though these are not biographies but theologically framed accounts of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection, i.e., of the basic subject matter of Christian preaching and teaching. Other books of the New Testament provide only a few additional details. Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger are among the non-Christian writers of antiquity who make reference to Jesus, as is Josephus (Joseph ben Matthias) in at least one of his writings. The Gospel of Thomas, written in the second century, provides insight into the development of the tradition of Jesus’ sayings. Introduction
- Primary Sources of Information on Jesus
- Discussion of the Gospels
- Jesus’ Life and Teaching
- Jesus in Islamic Tradition
- Jesus in Contemporary Art
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th edition, is available online. Columbia University Press has copyright protection for the year 2012. All intellectual property rights are retained. More information about Early Christianity: Biographies may be found in the Encyclopedia.
What are the Primary Sources for Jesus’ Resurrection?
Michael R.Licona is the author of this piece.Primary sources are those records and artifacts that are the most closely associated with the subject under investigation in the study of history.They are extremely closely associated with the events that they depict.
Secondary sources, on the other hand, make use of primary sources while writing on a historical subject that is being examined.In certain cases, all of the original sources have died out.For example, the oldest narratives we have of the founding of Rome and Greece were written hundreds of years after the events described in the texts.
- In many instances, the only sources historians have to work with are secondary and tertiary materials.
- Primary sources are those who witnessed something.
- However, if no eyewitness accounts have remained, a second-hand source (which should not be confused with a secondary source) who wrote about the event shortly after it occurred can serve as a primary source.
- Consequently, all eyewitnesses are primary sources, but not all primary sources are eyewitnesses or primary sources are primary sources Let us address the subject of whether or not Jesus’ resurrection was a historical occurrence in the first place.
- One of the first jobs of a historian is to compile a collection of materials that relate to a certain event and evaluate them.
- Let’s start with the ones that were written later and work our way backward in time from there.
According to scholars, the Gospel of Peter was written somewhere in the second century, whereas revelation dialogues (such as the Epistle of the Apostles, Treatise on the Resurrection, and Apocryphon of James) were most likely written in the second half of that century.To the best of my knowledge, no experts believe that they were written by Peter, Thomas, or other Christians who were acquainted with the apostles.When it comes to religious texts, while the revelation dialogues are completely fictitious, both the Gospel of Thomas and The Gospel of Peter demonstrate awareness of the New Testament Gospels, whose teachings they borrow and combine with great literary embellishment (in the case of the Gospel of Peter) and gnostic teachings (in the case of Thomas) (Gospel of Thomas).
- As a result, none of them qualify as primary sources.
- The Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Peter are considered secondary texts at best.
- Three early church leaders, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, and Ignatius, all of whom wrote about Jesus’ resurrection a short time earlier, make note of the event.
Clement and Polycarp, two of them, were most likely acquainted with the apostles Peter and John, respectively.In this passage, it’s likely that Clement of Rome and Polycarp are recounting some of the information they received from Peter and John.Despite the fact that Ignatius was a very early Christian and was a friend of Polycarp, there is no proof that he ever met one of the apostles.Although it is plausible that he did, historians must focus their attention on the facts that are more likely to have occurred.Because it is likely that Clement and Polycarp were informed of Jesus’ resurrection by Peter and John, they are considered key sources for information regarding that event.Despite the fact that they reference Jesus’ resurrection on a few occasions, they do not go into depth about it.
Going a bit further back in time, it is conceivable that the Jewish historian Josephus recounts Jesus’ resurrection, or, more likely, that the apostles assert that Jesus had been risen from the grave.However, we cannot be certain because a Christian in the second century altered one of the two texts in which Josephus mentions Jesus in such a way that Josephus would appear to have spoken about Jesus in laudatory terms in one of them — the one mentioning Jesus’ death and resurrection — we are unable to be certain.However, according to Origen, an early Christian church father, Josephus was not a Christian.Assuming Origen is correct, it is highly unlikely that Josephus would have made statements such as ″he was the Messiah,″ ″he was a wise man, if one could even call him a man,″ and ″he rose from the dead as the divine prophets foretold with ten thousand other wonderful things about him″ (Antiquities 18:63) if Origen is correct.
Consequently, we are impossible to determine if Josephus made any mention of Jesus’ resurrection in his original manuscript.The New Testament contains the earliest pieces of writing that reference Jesus’ resurrected body.Although the New Testament is commonly purchased as a single volume that includes both the Old Testament and the New Testament, it is really a collection of 27 books and letters authored by no less than nine writers throughout the first century of Christian history.Christians of following centuries have viewed it as being of exceptional significance and, in many cases, as having divine authority attached to it.
- The resurrection of Jesus is not mentioned in all of the New Testament texts.
- The four Gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — Acts, certain of Paul’s writings, 1 Peter, and Hebrews are among the books and letters that fulfill this requirement.
- When alluding to the temple priests who offered sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple on a daily basis throughout the year, the author of Hebrews 10:1-11 employs the present tense.
- As a result of the destruction of the temple in the year 70 A.D., it appears that the book of Hebrews was written before that catastrophe.
- However, we have not known who authored Hebrews since at least the early third century, and it is likely that we will never know.
- Furthermore, there is no solid evidence pointing to the author’s identity at this time.
The resurrection of Jesus is mentioned in passing in Hebrews 13:20.However, there is no description of the occurrence that pertains to the nature of the e vent, such as whether it was something that affected Jesus’ corpse.Although Hebrews 13:20 is a primary source, it is not particularly useful save than informing us that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, whatever its nature may have been, was being announced only a few decades after his death.The resurrection of Jesus is addressed three times in the book of 1 Peter (1:3, 21; 3:21).1 Peter, like Hebrews, is a main source since the period of its production is near to the time when Jesus would have been raised from the dead.Unfortunately, as in Hebrews 13:20, none of the three sources provides us with a clear picture of the nature of the occurrence.
This gets us to the books of the Gospels.According to early church tradition, John Mark wrote his gospel after receiving information from the apostle Peter.Most scholars believe that Luke’s gospel was written by a traveling companion of Paul after receiving information from Paul and other eyewitnesses who had been present when Jesus was crucified.There is now no academic consensus on who wrote the Gospel of John, according to the most recent research.
Almost all of the early church tradition credited the writings to John the son of Zebedee, who was one of Jesus’ three closest followers and was one of his three closest disciples.The Beloved Disciple, as stated in John’s Gospel, is still considered to be the eyewitness source for most of the material included in the Gospel, despite the fact that most modern New Testament scholars reject that tradition.Many believe he was one of Jesus’ smaller followers, while others argue that the author was in reality John the son of Zebedee, who was a disciple of Jesus.The question of who wrote Matthew’s Gospel is a difficult one to answer.Today’s scholars are divided on whether Matthew penned it or not.The reason for this is Papias, who is the source of our oldest account relative to the authorship of Matthew, and Mark also informs us that Matthew wrote his Gospel in a dialect of Hebrew or Aramaic similar to that of Matthew.
- The difficulty is that even well-known evangelical New Testament scholars, like as D.
- Carson, Doug Moo, and Dan Wallace, who are well-versed in the Greek language, have come to the conclusion that Matthew’s Gospel was not written in Greek translation.
- Thus, the Gospel of Matthew in our New Testament was probably not written originally in Hebrew or Aramaic and then later translated into Greek as is commonly believed.
In that case, should we put our faith in Papias when it comes to the Gospel of Matthew being written by someone other than Matthew?We have yet to come up with a solution in which we can have complete trust.There are, nevertheless, some options.To be more specific, Papias said ″So Matthew produced the oracles in the Hebrew dialect and each individual understood them as best he could″ (Fragments of Papias 3:16, Holmes numbering) in his writings.The phrase ta logia, which translates as ″the lessons,″ is used by Papias to refer to ″oracles.″ This suggests that Matthaeus composed a more condensed version of the Gospel that includes some of Jesus’ teachings, and that this was then translated into Greek and supplemented with other sources, such as Mark’s Gospel, to form the gospel we know today.
- It’s possible that everything was done with Matthew’s knowledge, consent, and oversight.
- We can only make educated guesses.
- However, given the unequivocal attribution of that Gospel by the early church to Matthew, it is more plausible that Matthew played a role in the development of what is now known as the Gospel of Matthew.
- All four of our New Testament Gospels were written within a few years of the events they profess to recount, notwithstanding the authorship questions that have been raised in relation to John and Matthew.
As a result, they are the most reliable witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection.Last but not least, we come to Paul’s letters.Due to the fact that Paul was executed in AD 65 or earlier, all of his letters were written before that date.
Paul might have written before any of the Gospels were written.More than that, not only does Paul claim to have been an eyewitness to the risen Jesus (1 Cor.9:1; 15:8), but he was also acquainted with the leading apostles in Jerusalem, namely Peter, James, and John, and had run the Gospel message he was preaching by them to ensure that it was compatible with what they were preaching at the time.The group also confirmed that his statement was consistent with their own (Gal.2:1-9).At least, that’s what Paul claimed to have done.
- But should we put our faith in him?
- Historians are on the lookout for sources that support the claims made in another source.
- It appears that Paul was telling the truth in this instance, as evidenced by several intriguing sources.
- Remember that both Clement of Rome and Polycarp were likely acquainted with the apostles Peter and John, respectively, as previously stated.
It may, therefore, be beneficial to pay attention to what Clement and Polycarp have to say about Paul.While Clement refers to Peter and Paul as ″the most righteous pillars″ and ″excellent apostles″ in 1 Clem.5:2ff.(Holmes numbering), Polycarp refers to him as ″the blessed and magnificent Paul…accurately and dependably conveyed the gospel of truth″ (Polycarp, Polycarp) (1 Clem.
3:2, Holmes numbering).These are not the kinds of statements we would anticipate from Clement and Polycarp if Paul had delivered a message that was fundamentally different from the messages delivered by their teachers, Peter and John.However, if Paul was telling the truth when he stated that he was teaching the same message as the Jerusalem apostles, such statements would not be surprising.As a result, Paul writes very early in the New Testament, claims to have been an eyewitness to the rising Jesus, and proclaims the same Gospel message as the Jerusalem apostles who had personally known Jesus.As a result, when we read the Gospel message in Paul’s letters, we are also able to hear the voice of the apostles in Jerusalem speaking on the subject at hand.
In terms of the resurrection of Jesus, Paul’s writings are, without a doubt, important sources.Why wouldn’t we like to have a letter from Paul, in which the Gospel message that he had been preaching was presented in detail?Then we’d be able to figure out what the first Christian leaders were saying regarding Jesus’ death and resurrection.That would be historical gold, without a doubt!
It just so happens that we have exactly that.″Now I want to remind you, brothers, of the Gospel that I taught to you,″ Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1, according to the author’s translation (the passages in this article are the author’s version).Paul then goes on to provide an oral tradition that comprises an overview of his Gospel message, which is subsequently followed by a formal presentation.″I presented to you what I also received,″ he explains further.The phrases ″delivered″ and ″received″ were used to refer to the transmission of oral tradition in ten of the stories.Paul continues, saying that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.
- And that he had been laid to rest.
- And that, in accordance with the Scriptures, he was resurrected from the dead on the third day.
- And it was at that point that he emerged.
- Notice the parallelism, the sequence of ″long short long short″ and ″long short long short″ that was frequent in oral tradition.
- In the next section, Paul describes six appearances of the risen Jesus: to Peter, to the Twelve, to a group of more than 500 Christians, to James, and to the entire group of apostles.
- When Paul adds his own name to the list, it is because he was ″born too soon.″ ″Last of all, as to one born too soon,″ Paul says.
- This is just amazing.
- With certainty, the apostles were announcing that Jesus had died, been buried, been resurrected, and appeared on a number of occasions to individuals and groups, as well as to friends and foes.
- The fact that Paul was writing letters rather than a narrative means that he does not delve into the same depths of information about Jesus’ resurrection that we find in the Gospels.
- For example, he never acknowledges the existence of an unfinished tomb.
- However, based on what Paul tells us, it appears that Jesus’ resurrection body was of a physical form.
- Paul informs us in 1 Corinthians 15:20 that Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead with a resurrection body.
His next three verses assure us that Christians will get their resurrected bodies at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, Paul gives us a little preview of what will take place, stating that God will bring with him the dead who belong to Christ, that is, Christians who have died and are already with Christ (2 Cor.5:8; Phil.
1:23-24).Afterwards, the order will be issued, the trumpet will sound, and the dead in Christ will rise from the grave.However, how can they rise when they are already on their way back to earth with Jesus?They are able to do so because they are not physically present in their body.Consequently, their spirits are rejoined with their old bodies, which are resurrected and changed into an immortal, strong, wonderful body that has been enabled by the Holy Spirit.
It is a body that shares the same physical characteristics as the one from which Jesus was risen.The reason Paul can write in Romans 8:11, ″Now if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Jesus from the dead will give life also to your mortal bodies through the dwelling of his Spirit in you,″ is because the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us.According to Paul, Christ was the first to be raised from the dead and to receive a resurrection body, and his followers will receive theirs when he returns to the earth.
Their mortal bodies will be transformed into immortal beings at that point in time.Even additional information concerning Jesus’ resurrection may be found in the Gospels.The fact that Jesus had risen from the dead was discovered early on Sunday morning when a small group of his female disciples went to see his tomb, which they discovered to be empty.Jesus appeared to them, as well as to his other male followers, shortly after that.His disciples were permitted to touch him, and he was permitted to eat.He had the ability to appear and disappear at will, and he stayed with them for a short period of time before rising to heaven.
There is one additional source that we need to take into consideration.The book of Acts was written by Luke as a sequel to his Gospel, and it is the first book of the New Testament.Following his ascension to heaven, Luke claims that Jesus remained with his followers for 40 days before departing for the final time.Acts has a number of speeches that are worth reading.It is estimated that speeches delivered by major characters in the book of Acts account up 22 percent of the whole book.
Acts has lately been the subject of an authoritative commentary by Craig Keener, which has been published in four volumes and has more than 4,000 pages.Keener’s primary goal is comprehending Acts in the context of its historical situation.He contends that Luke had been Paul’s traveling companion and, as a result, was able to relate many of the events he had witnessed firsthand.He had heard Paul preach and would have been familiar with the kind of preaching that the apostles were known for.
- 1 As a result, Acts is the most important source.
- Many scholars believe that this apostolic preaching served as the inspiration for Peter and Paul’s speeches in Acts 2, 10, and 13 of the New Testament.
- In these speeches, Jesus’ death, burial, and bodily resurrection are mentioned or implied.
A variety of texts that refer to Jesus’ resurrection have been studied, and the results of our research have been summarized.Some of Paul’s writings, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, Hebrews, 1 Peter, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp are among the key materials we’ve used in this study.1 Peter, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp are three of the Hebrews who tell us that Jesus’ resurrection was being announced at the time.They do not, however, supply any further information regarding the event itself or the nature of Jesus’ resurrection.
The writings of Paul, the Gospels, and the Book of Acts all tell us that Jesus’ resurrection included the resurrection of his body, and that he appeared to others after his resurrection.We have unmistakable proof from Paul that this was also the message that the apostles in Jerusalem were promoting.All in all, we have a pretty good collection of primary documents that we may utilize to conduct a historical study into the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- This tells us that the apostles were announcing that Jesus had been bodily risen from the dead and had appeared to them in both individual and collective situations, to friends and foes alike, at the very least.
- In addition to being an Associate Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University, Michael R.
- LICONA, PhD, is also a writer and editor.
- Besides six books, he has produced a large number of journal papers and essays.
- Licona has delivered speeches on more than 70 different university campuses.
- 1 Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, by Craig S.
Keener, is available online.There are four volumes.Introduction and 1:1–2:47 in Vol.
- 1 are included.
- 2, verses 3–14:28.
Vol.3, chapters 15–23:35.Vol.4, verses 1–28:31.Baker Academic Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 2012–15.For further information about Luke as an author, read Vol.
1, pages 406-16.
Jesus Institute Primary Sources
- IN THE MATTER OF SOURCES Which historical sources regarding Jesus are the most historically authentic and trustworthy?
- WHEN were the principal biographies of Jesus (the Gospels) chosen and other histories of Jesus rejected?
- WHAT criteria were used in selecting the major biographies of Jesus (the Gospels)?
- When determining the historical authenticity/accuracy of primary biographical materials, what criteria/tests were employed?
- Was it possible to rely on the reliability of the Jesus biographies?
- Is it possible to find reliable materials regarding Jesus other than his biographies?
- What are the most historically accurate and dependable sources of information about Jesus and his life? The most reliable accounts of the events and utterances of Jesus came from either direct or indirect eyewitness evidence, depending on the situation. In the face of examination and the passage of time, just four biographies of Jesus have survived. The Holy Scriptures (the Bible) have only ever featured these four biographies of Jesus (the Gospels) throughout history, and they are the only ones officially acknowledged by both Catholics and Protestants. These biographies include simply the Gospel (″good news″) as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and nothing more. Matthaeus, a follower of Jesus who was an eyewitness to his death and resurrection, wrote his biography of Jesus in Hebrew about the year 80 AD, with a Jewish audience in mind. Rather than just replicating the substance of the previous three bios, Jesus’ disciple, John, attempted to be more original in his content. Mark, a follower of Jesus who served as a translator for Peter, wrote his biography of Jesus somewhere between 50 and 70 AD. Luke, Paul’s close friend and a well-educated physician, conducted extensive investigation on numerous occurrences and wrote his findings in the remaining Gospel. All of these biographies of Jesus were written within the same century in which he lived. In around A.D. 98, the remaining Canon of the New Testament was finished when the final authorized book was delivered to any church by the apostles was written, which was when John penned the Apocalypse (Revelations), marking the end of the remaining books of the New Testament. Alternative biographies of Jesus (e.g., Gnostic Gospels, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Phillip, and so on) were offered as early as the second century and continued until the third century. However, these writings were rejected by church authorities, who had already decided on the official source biographies and had no intention of changing their minds. WHEN were the principal biographies of Jesus (the Gospels) chosen and other histories of Jesus rejected? F.F. Bruce, a biblical scholar, writes: ″It appears that the four Gospels were collected together at a very early period.″ As the Gospel of John was being written, it is likely that they were brought together fairly quickly after that time. In the beginning, this fourfold collection was referred to as ″The Gospel″ in the singular, rather than ″The Gospels″ in the plural
- there was only one Gospel, which was told in four records, each of which was labeled ″according to Matthew,″ ″according to Mark,″ ″according to Luke,″ and so on. In about AD 115, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, refers to ‘The Gospel’ as an authorized document, and given that he was familiar with more than one of the four ‘Gospels,’ it is possible that he is referring to the fourfold collection that went by that name at the time of his writing. When Irenaeus was bishop of Lyons in Gaul around AD 180, the notion of a fourfold Gospel had become so axiomatic in the Church as a whole that he refers to it as ″an established and known reality as plain as the four cardinal points of the compass or the four winds. Then, in 240AD, Origen, a well-known teacher in Alexandria, Egypt, validated the four Gospels, as recounted by historian Eusebius in his work, The History of the Church. ″It has been passed down to me by tradition that the first written Gospel was that of Matthew, who was once a tax collector but later became an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for the benefit of those who had converted from Judaism and had learned to read and write in the Hebrew language. Matthew was a tax collector but later became an apostle of Jesus Christ, and he wrote it in the Hebrew language. That it was prepared in line with Peter’s orders, and that he is acknowledged as a son by Peter in the catholic epistle, who writes: ″She who is in Babylon, elect with you, salutes you, as does Mark, my son.″ In a third place, according to Luke, there is a place for those who came to believe from among the Gentiles. That is, according to John, the last of them all.″ Even now, fresh biographies (e.g., the Gospel of Judas) are being published, and they are being dismissed as dubious sources of information concerning Jesus. Their authority is completely lacking. Students and followers who are serious about their knowledge of Jesus prefer to base their understanding of him on the biographies of Jesus known as the Gospels (″good news″) written by the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. WHAT criteria were used in selecting the major biographies of Jesus (the Gospels)? There should be a variety of primary sources, including the following: Companions of Jesus
- eyewitnesses to Jesus
- items written during the same century as Jesus
- the overwhelming weight of scholarly opinion
- copies and manuscripts in the possession of the present day
- The following items should not be included in primary sources: Items written more than 100 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection
- Controversial and devoid of scholarly consensus, this book
- Manuscripts and copies that are either missing or non-existent
- According to John Ortberg, a scholar at the Jesus Institute, ″church leaders created essentially three criteria to assess these various documents: The first criterion is whether or not this document has roots that can be traced back to one of the Apostles. What was the author of the letter? Was it an apostle, a student, or an associate of one of the Apostles? … It is critical to remember that the vast majority of academics believe that all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) were written within 30 and 60 years after Jesus’ death, giving them a very short time span. In other words, they were written when there were still eyewitnesses present who might call into question every word that was included within them. They had to confront the challenge of being read by individuals who were living during Jesus’ lifetime and who would be able to declare, ″No.″ If anything is incorrect, you can say, ″I was there.″ Second criterion: In order to be included in the Canon, the book’s contents have to be compatible with the type of teaching that Jesus provided. … For example, some have claimed that the ″Gospel of Thomas″ should be treated more seriously than it now is. Here’s one of the reasons why everything didn’t work out as planned. Is this in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ? I’d like to read for you the very final section of the Gospel of Thomas, which begins with: Mary should be allowed to depart, according to Simon Peter, because women are unworthy of life.″ ″I myself will guide her in order to make her masculine, so that she, too, may become a live spirit like you men,″ Jesus replied in response. ″For every woman who will transform herself into a man will be admitted into the kingdom of heaven.″ Threefold criteria were required before a book could be considered for inclusion in the Canon of Scripture: it had to be widely influential in churches around the world, including Israel, Asia Minor, Rome, and so on, and it had to be continuously accepted and used by the church as a whole. What criteria/tests were utilized to assess the historical authenticity/accuracy of the primary biographical sources, and what results were obtained? After doing what he terms a ″Journalist’s personal assessment of the evidence for Jesus,″ author and journalist Lee Stroebel comes to the conclusion that the biographies of Jesus pass the same sorts of criteria that are given to evidence or testimony produced in a courtroom: Biographers who participated in the purpose test indicated or inferred that their goal was to correctly preserve history.
- Test of physical ability Because biographers were trained and skilled in the oral tradition, they were able to memorize material until it could be written down.
- Test of moral character It appears that the authors were upright gentlemen.
- Consistency examination Although the biographies are enough different to demonstrate their independence, they are also sufficiently similar to demonstrate that they were all attempting to explain the same thing.
- Test for skewed results They stood to gain nothing by distorting the facts, and in fact, they were putting their lives in danger by disseminating their information.
- Cover-up examination The authors did not attempt to conceal or omit information that was difficult to understand (such as miracles). The most ″credible″ biographies would have made every effort to avoid include such information
- Test for corroboration The names of people, locations, and events described in the biographies are compatible with other historical records from the time period in question
- Unfavorable witness testimony In the absence of historical data, it is reasonable to conclude that the writers’ contemporaries attempted to discredit or attack their biographies on the grounds that they were factually erroneous.
What Are the Most Reliable Sources about Jesus?
- A condensed synopsis of a lengthy, fully detailed essay titled ″What are Good Sources concerning Jesus?″ is provided below. (This is the second installment in the series ″The Bottom-Line Guide to Jesus″). Historical evidence supports the claim that Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was murdered by crucifixion on the orders of Pontius Pilate, existed. We need to know where we can get accurate information about him. For Christians, the four New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the most reliable sources of information. Many people today, however, question their credibility and frequently point to other works as greater sources of knowledge about Jesus as evidence. If we want to discover the truth about Jesus, we must first determine how trustworthy the sources that are accessible are. The following are the primary works that people of many religious groups believe to be the most reliable sources of knowledge about Jesus: The four Gospels, which are included in the New Testament
- Gnostic gospels, for example, are examples of ancient apocrypha that are not included in the New Testament.
- The Gospel of Barnabas is a late-medieval Islamic literature that was written in Arabic.
- Book of Mormon, Life of Saint Issa, and Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ are examples of modern works that illustrate this point
Before assessing their historical significance, we must analyze (1) the textual evidence, (2) when and by whom they were written, (3) what kind of books they are, and (4) how well they fit into Jesus’ historical setting.The Real Story Behind the Texts The four New Testament Gospels have a wealth of old textual evidence to support them.A number of Gospel manuscript pieces from the second and third centuries have been discovered, including a fragment of John’s Gospel that was copied around 25 years after it was written.The Gospels have been preserved in their original Greek language since the mid-300s, and we have entire copies of all four Gospels.
This manuscript evidence is significantly superior to the evidence found in all other works concerning Jesus, including the Gospels.In fact, it is far superior than the manuscript evidence for practically all other ancient works, including the Bible.When it comes to the early apocryphal gospels, on the other hand, the old textual evidence is scarce.
- We don’t have entire copies of any of them in their original Greek text, and we don’t plan to get any.
- For example, there is just one Coptic copy of the Gospel of Thomas from the fourth century and a few older Greek pieces from the same period.
- And that’s a step up from the previous ones.
- Both the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Mary have been lost to us since we do not have complete manuscripts in any language.
- At the very least, we have a few antique pieces of these manuscripts.
- We don’t have any ancient textual evidence for any of the other possibilities either.
The first known copy of the Gospel of Barnabas was created in Italian approximately about 1600 years ago!The text of the Book of Mormon that was dictated by Joseph Smith in 1829 is the earliest known version of the text.According to Nicolas Notovitch’s claims, his 1894 Life of St.
- Issa was based on scrolls read to him by Buddhist monks in Tibet, but investigations discovered that no such scrolls ever existed in Tibet.
- Choosing the Appointment Dates Since Jesus was crucified in either AD 30 or AD 33, the more closely a source adheres to those dates, the more reliable it is.
- Most scholars agree that Jesus lived between AD 50 and 100, which places the writing of the four Gospels during the lifetimes of at least some of the eyewitnesses who knew him personally.
Although the Gospels do not identify their writers, Christians in the early second century (about AD 100 to 125) were able to identify them by name.Apocryphal gospels from antiquity boasted the names of their purported writers—Thomas the Apostle, Mary, Peter, and so on—but no experts believe that these individuals were the genuine authors.It seems likely that these texts were written in the second century, making them one or two generations too late to have been written by eyewitnesses or by anybody who knew the eyewitnesses.In this sense, the other works have arrived far too late to be of any use.The Gospel of Barnabas was most likely written between 1320 and 1348, around thirteen centuries after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.It is undeniable that the Book of Mormon and Life of Saint Issa were written in the nineteenth century, despite efforts by its supporters to demonstrate otherwise.
Biographies and other types of books are available.It should come as no surprise that the New Testament Gospels are written in the manner of old Greco-Roman biographies, as one would anticipate if the Gospels were historical sources on the life and times of Jesus.Examples include the fact that, like such ancient biographies but unlike modern biographies, they spend little or no time on Jesus’ boyhood and devote most of their attention to the most significant era of his life, which was the week before his death.There is no way in which the early apocryphal gospels qualify as biographies in any way.
In general, they contain little or no narrative and make no claim to being able to provide historical knowledge about Jesus.The later apocrypha, on the other hand, have the reverse problem: they are fabricated biographies or histories of historical figures.The Gospel of Barnabas is an exceedingly lengthy ″harmony″ of the New Testament Gospels, weaving their contents together with new material that mainly reflects an Islamic worldview.It is the longest of the New Testament Gospels.
- Even while the tale about Jesus in the Book of Mormon pretends to be historical, it is not a biography of Jesus, because it contains essentially little information about Jesus’ life prior to his death and resurrection.
- The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ is written in the style of a contemporary biography, and it is intended to address the alleged shortcomings of the New Testament Gospels.
- For this reason, most of the book is devoted to anecdotes concerning Jesus’ boyhood and his journeys as a young adult around India, Persia, Assyria, Greece, and Egypt (among other places).
- How far back in time do you want to go?
- While we cannot ″prove″ every detail of the New Testament Gospels, their narratives of Jesus’ life in Galilee and Judea make a great deal of sense in the context of Jesus’ first-century existence in those regions.
- The Gospels describe Jesus travelling to actual places, interacting with real people, and teaching on topics that were hot topics among the Jews of his day, according to the accounts.
The same cannot be true for the other novels, all of which reveal their earlier beginnings in one way or another.According to the Gnostic gospels, Jesus spouts words that have more in common with Platonic philosophy than they do with the Old Testament.The Gospel of Barnabas combines material from the New Testament Gospels into a single, lengthy book in which Jesus is cited as offering popular medieval Islamic arguments against Christianity, as well as material from the Old Testament Gospels.It is claimed that Jesus quoted almost verbatim the entire Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew (in the King James Version), including cultural references that would have made no sense to his supposed ancient audience in the Americas, such as roads leading to the gates of walled cities (which did not exist in the first-century ancient Americas), in the Book of Mormon.Conclusion: The Gospels of the New Testament stand on their own.Out of all of the manuscripts examined in this brief review, only the New Testament Gospels pass the standards that historians use to determine whether literary works purporting to be ancient historical or biographical texts are authentic.
As a result of these shared criteria, the works in each category are summarized in the following chart.
|NTGospels||Gospel of Thomas||Gospel of Barnabas||Book of Mormon||Life of Saint Issa|
If we want to know the truth about Jesus, we must look to the New Testament Gospels for the answers.
Is the Bible a Primary Source of Information? – Purpose in Christ
Because the Bible has a convoluted history, having been authored thousands of years ago by a number of different authors under a variety of different situations, the answer to this issue is not clear.Does the Bible, then, serve as a primary source of information?Because they purport to have been authored by the writers themselves, portions of the Bible are considered primary sources of knowledge.In addition, some sections of the Bible are records of the recollections of those who provided the material to the author and are not considered primary sources by this definition.
There are other intricacies to that response, which I will discuss in greater detail over the remainder of this piece.
Primary and Secondary Source Information is Frequently Mixed Throughout Biblical Acounts
- The tale of Christ’s crucifixion serves as an excellent illustration of the use of primary and secondary sources in the Bible. Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, he recounts portions of the tale that he observed firsthand and, as a result, are considered primary sources. Matthew observed the following things firsthand: It is believed that Jesus Christ was dragged away by soldiers and transported to Golgotha where he was nailed on a cross. The crucifixion was witnessed by the chief priests, four women, soldiers, and disciples. The crucifixion sign above Christ read ″This is Jesus, King of the Jews.″ Jesus Christ died.
- Matthew may or may not have witnessed the following events: Simon, a Cyrene, was obliged to carry Christ’s cross to Golgotha
- Jesus was nailed to the cross
- The temple’s curtain had been torn in half
- it had been split in two.
- The exchange of words between Pilate and Jesus Christ
- The resurrection of the bodies of saints who have died
- The exchange of words between Joseph of Arimathea and Pilate
Most of the story’s most crucial events were unquestionably witnessed firsthand by Matthew, although other elements are unclear as to whether they were obtained through firsthand knowledge or not.It is critical to recognize, however, that a primary source does not necessarily have to originate from first-hand experience.An interview, for example, is considered a primary source of information.Matthew may have questioned people who were there during such occurrences, which would indicate that his information was first-hand; nevertheless, we are reading it from a second-hand source.
Portions of the Bible which are Primary Sources of Information
- A significant portion of the Bible is devoted to religious teachings. They are declarations of wrong and good, as well as of faith and devotion. As a result, they are neither primary sources nor secondary sources, but rather basic lessons. The stories, on the other hand, can be demonstrated to be either first or secondary sources. Here are a few illustrations: Primary source – the story of Jesus curing the ten lepers, as told by Luke
- Samuel chronicled the narrative of David and Goliath, for reasons that are unknown. Samuel was a contemporary of David’s, however it is unclear if Samuel was there when this event occurred in David’s life or whether he was informed about it.
- First-person source: Paul’s Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians letters
- secondary source:
- Primary source – A son of Zebedee reported Christ summoning the sons of Zebedee to the ministry, which was later confirmed by another son of Zebedee.
- A primary source that is unlikely to be found: the full book of Luke.
- The majority of academics agree that Luke wrote the Book of Luke after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- It’s possible that Paul (his missionary partner) and another source (who academics sometimes refer to as ″Q″ were his sources of knowledge.
Portions of the Bible which are Secondary Sources of Information
Not every tale in the Bible was written by the person who is the subject of the story.According to the Bible for example, no section of it was authored by Adam and Eve, or even any of their contemporaries.The tale of Adam and Eve is told in Genesis, which was written by Moses in the late 1500s BC and contains the words of God.As a result, the whole narrative is based on a secondary source.
Paul’s writings, for example, provide as another illustration.Numerous passages in Paul’s writings are concerned with the deeds of Christ.Not only was Paul not one of Christ’s original 12 followers, but he was also an outspoken opponent of Christianity throughout his early years.
- According to the Bible, Paul never even had the opportunity to meet with Jesus Christ.
- Accordingly, however essential for study and devotion, Paul’s teachings would not be deemed primary information by a researcher since they do not include primary knowledge.
Does the Biblical Translation Impact the Answer?
This is not always the case.As a result of the fact that they were all translated by various persons from different source texts, there exist many ancient versions of the Bible that all differ somewhat in detail.Consequently, if the question is whether the present King James version of the Bible you may possess is an original source, the answer would still be mainly yes, but the original source has undergone a translation that must be checked for correctness before it can be considered accurate.Consider the following scenario: A researcher interviews someone in another language and has the material translated for you.
This does not inherently constitute the information a secondary source, but it does represent an additional layer of change that should be evaluated.
Was the Bible Indeed Written by Those who We Historically Say They Were Written By?
There’s an argument that raises doubt on the traditional interpretation of these sources: it’s likely that many books in the Bible were not actually authored by the authors who are said to have written them.It has been speculated that some of the novels were likely ghostwritten under their names by others, which was a frequent practice in the day of writing from the perspective of another.Despite the fact that this is a possibility, it has no affect on my opinion that the Bible includes exactly what God intends it to contain; nonetheless, from an intellectual perspective this would alter the answer to this issue.This question has no definitive solution, and academics will certainly continue to argue it until the end of time, but it deserves to be addressed in this scholarly examination of the material contained in the Bible.
I’m an entrepreneur that also happens to be a YouTube creator.I’ve established and sold a number of brands and businesses, and now I devote a significant portion of my time to expressing my beliefs.My faith in Christ is the most essential component of my life, and this blog is where I am able to express my thoughts and feelings about it with others.
- I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints my whole life, and I have served a two-year full-time mission for the church.
- I also engage in the activities of my local congregation in St George, Utah.
- Every month, more than 40,000 visitors come to my site to learn about the fundamental teachings of my faith, and it is my honor to share what I have learnt with them.
50 Jesus Christ Facts About His Holy Life and More
He is referred to by a variety of titles, including the Lamb of God, the Lion of Judah, the King of the Jews, and the Rabbi.Despite the fact that he was the Son of God, Jesus lived an average life.He was revered as a holy man and a historical figure for his work in healing the ill, teaching in temples as a youngster, and even granting permission to his disciples to proclaim the Word of God.The controversy continues about whether Jesus lived a sacred life as a man or as a man who led a religious revolution, in spite of all of this evidence.
The very possibility of the reality of Jesus Christ is enticing in and of itself.Despite the fact that his life creates more questions than it does answers, here are 50 interesting facts about Jesus Christ, his life as a priest, and more.
- Historically, scholars assume that Jesus was born around the year 4 B.C.
- When Jesus began preaching the gospel, he was thirty years old
- Judas betrayed him for the sum of thirty pieces of silver.
- He was just 33 years old at the time of his crucifixion.
- His ministry lasted barely three and a half years, and he died shortly after.
- The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew word Yeshua, which means ″God is salvation.″
- Because of his ancestry, he was frequently referred to as ″the son of David.″
- The wise men who appeared at his birth were most likely more than three in number.
- During the bridal feast of Cana, Jesus performed his very first miracle.
- The feeding of the 5,000 appears in all the gospels
- \s He worked as a carpenter under his father, Joseph
- Mary Magdalene mistook Jesus for a gardener, and she was right.
- Before his ascension, he appeared to the disciples a total of 12 times.
- His funeral had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah.
- Physically, his body was resurrected from the grave.
- When Jesus lived in the first century, his name was widely used
- Greek was his second language
- he was revered as a prophet in Islamic literature
- most Jews think he ″did not fulfill Messianic prophecy.″
- As a juvenile incarnation of Zeus, Byzantine painters conceived Jesus to be.
01 His conception was a fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah the prophet.02 The prophecy of Micah stated that the Messiah would be born in the city of Bethlehem.03 Some theologians think Jesus was not born in a stable, as is often thought.04 The term ″Christ″ refers to ″the anointed one.″ 05 According to King Herod’s orders, at least 14,000 newborns were slaughtered.
06 It was revealed in two gospel verses that Jesus had siblings.07 At least 18 years of his life were not recorded in the Bible, according to the Bible.08 He was born and raised in the village of Nazareth.
- 09 He was christened by his second cousin.
- 10 Jesus had a total of 12 apostles.
- 11 In the Bible, only three persons, including Jesus, were able to fast for a period of forty days.
- 12 Jesus enjoyed spending time alone in the Eremos Cave to pray.
- 13 The question of whether Jesus had a family of his own is still being debated today.
- It was the Via Dolorosa, or the Path of Sorrows, that Christ traveled before being crucified.
15 INRI is the Latin acronym for ″Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum,″ which means ″Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews.″ He died with his final words: ″Father, I commit my spirit into Your hands.″ 17 According to experts, Jesus died as a result of hematidrosis.A solar eclipse, according to some experts, may have had a role in his death.Sixteen women beheld the resurrected Christ.
- 20 The Shroud of Turin is considered to be one of the best-preserved relics of Jesus.
- 21 The week of Holy Week is a celebration of the life and death of Jesus.
- 22 The prophet Isaiah also foretold the resurrection of Jesus.
23 Saint Peter also died on the cross, according to tradition.It’s the other way around!24 Major faiths believe Jesus was a teacher and a miracle worker.In 2002, the Mysteries of Light were introduced to the traditional rosary.A homage to Apollo was given by the use of a halo in religious paintings.27 The Jesus Film is the most-watched film of all time, with over a billion viewers.
28 He had the appearance of a typical Middle Eastern gentleman.29 The story of Jesus Christ Superstar was told from the perspective of Judas Iscariot.30 C.S.Lewis presented the life of Jesus via the character of Aslan.
His conception was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
Even while the Old Testament had indications about the impending Messiah, only the Book of Isaiah provided specifics about his appearance.″Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign; see, a young woman shall conceive and have a son, and she shall name him Immanuel,″ the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 7:14.The birth of Jesus, as recorded in the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, verified that the prophesy had been fulfilled.
Prophet Micah predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
Micah the Morashtite, one of the Twelve Minor Prophets, foretold that the Messiah would be born in a tiny town near Jerusalem, which was later confirmed by other prophets.According to the Book of Micah, ″But thou, Bethlehem…yet out of thee will he come out vnto me who is to be king in Israel,″ meaning ″he who is to be ruler in Israel.″ This prophesy was repeated and verified again again in the Book of Matthew.In Bethlehem, the Virgin Mary did indeed give birth to Jesus.
Some theologians believed Jesus wasn’t born in a stable.
The birth of Jesus is described in a similar manner in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.It was also recorded that infant Jesus was laid in a manger, but it’s possible that this was ″lost in translation″ during the translation process.Since the first Greek translation of the Bible was published, theologians have disagreed on whether the term phatne refers to a crib, a stall, or a manager.It’s generally agreed upon that Jesus’ birth took place in an animal-stable, but others have speculated that it took place in a cave because that’s where people in the first century housed their cattle.
Christ means ″the anointed one.″
Jesus was widely referred to as ″son of Joseph″ or ″the carpenter″ because of his father’s lineage and his occupation. The moniker Christ was derived from the Greek word christos, which means ″the anointed one,″ and was given to him to represent the fact that he had been chosen by God to lead humanity to redemption.
At least 14,000 babies were killed under King Herod’s order.
The arrival of Christ did not go down well with everyone, particularly King Herod.The Three Wise Men, according to the Gospel of Matthew, informed King Herod of the foretold arrival of the ″King of Kings,″ who was to come.He was enraged, believing that a little youngster would soon take his position.Upon receiving this edict, the monarch ordered that all male children under the age of two be murdered.
These youngsters were among the first martyrs to be slaughtered.Nios Inocentes Day is celebrated in the Philippines before the Christmas festivities are ended, in remembrance of these orphaned youngsters (Feast of the Holy Innocents).
Two gospel passages revealed that Jesus had siblings.
There is a controversy about whether the brothers Jesus was referring to were his apostles, although some believe they were not.James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon were all referred to as ″brothers of the Lord″ in the gospels of Mark and Matthew, respectively.It was also revealed in these texts that Jesus had sisters as well.Antidicomarianites (also known as ″opponents of Mary″) agree with this assertion and think that Mary became a widow with six children when Joseph died before Jesus reached the age of majority in the Roman Empire.
At least 18 years of his life was not documented in the bible.
It has long perplexed religious academics and historians alike as to why there are no written accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry.After all, it was weird to be absent for 18 years from someone’s life, especially when it was such a significant figure as the Messiah.In the opinion of history, ″if anything was significant, it would have been included in the Bible.″ He is said to have departed Bethlehem according to some sources, while others claim that he went all over the world and yet others claim that he was gone studying.
He grew up in the town of Nazareth.
Jesus spent his life in the same way as any other regular man would have in the first century.He was given a common name, employed as a carpenter, and had pals with whom he had grown up.Nazareth was a tiny town with a population of only 2,000 people.Some academics believe Nazareth to be Jesus’ birthplace, while others believe it to be the location where his parents resided after fleeing from Bethlehem.
His second cousin baptized him.
Jesus and John are second cousins since their moms are related to each other. The miracle of John the Baptist’s birth, according to theologians, was performed in order to prepare the world for the arrival of the Messiah. In this case, it was unavoidable since Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River signaled the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.
Jesus had 12 apostles.
Christianity would not have progressed as far as it has if it hadn’t been for the Twelve.Among Jesus’ friends, followers, and preachers are the twelve apostles.They are the brothers Peter and Andrew, the sons of Zebedee James and John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the reformed tax collector), James the son of Alphaeus, Jude, Simon, and Judas Iscariot.They are also known as the Twelve Apostles.
They were the persons who were crucial in laying the groundwork for the development of Christianity.
Only three people from the bible, including Jesus, were able to fast for 40 days.
40 days passed during which Jesus battled starvation in the Judean Desert as the devil continued to tempt him.Fasting is a fundamental aspect of faith, and this is still one of the most famous biblical stories, as it teaches people that fasting is a necessary part of faith.Moses, the deliverer of the Israelites, and Elijah, the prophet of miracles, were two other prophets who completed the lengthy fasting days before Jesus finished his own.
Jesus liked praying alone at the Eremos Cave.
Modern self-care consists mostly of retail therapy and food overindulgence.The son of God preferred his alone time and didn’t always indulge in worldly pleasures, according to legend.The cave known as Eremos, which derives from the Greek term eremos, which means ″deserted spot,″ was a favorite retreat for Jesus.As recorded in the gospel of Mark, a component of Jesus’ daily regimen was waking up extremely early in order to pray in the ″lonely spot.″
There’s still an ongoing debate about whether Jesus had his own family.
The ancient Egyptian manuscript known as the ″Gospel of Jesus’ Wife″ was written centuries after Jesus’ death, and it claimed that he had two children with Mary Magdalene, who was his wife. Professor of religious studies at Duke University, Mark Goodacre, says that there is ″simply no evidence″ to support this notion.