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Faith and Facts

The historical Jesus Christ

Today scholars agree that Jesus Christ did actually live. He is mentioned by several sources outside the bible.

We know precious little about the life of Jesus. The gospels give hardly any information concerning the person. We do not even know the year of his birth, much less the month or day. The idea of Christmas being his birthday has no historical substance. It is much more likely that the church gave pagan special days a Christian meaning. Christmas, for example, probably originated from pagan feast celebrating that the days became longer again after December 21. The original meaning of Easter was to celebrate spring and life. A last remnant of this is the Easter bunny who hides eggs. Rabbits and eggs are no Christian symbols, but pagan symbols of fertility. The Christian church did not just “recycle” dates but also places. In Europe it is common that springs, once pagan sacral places, were transformed in Christian places by building a chapel near or even on top of them. Now back to Jesus birthday.

The gospels give some hints to the year of his birth. Unfortunately, they are contradictory. We can only say he was born near the year 0, plus or minus some years.

Not even the year of his crucification is known. Again, the gospels give hints, e.g. concerning the passover feast, but not sufficiently to determine an exact day. The crucification took place ca. AD 30, give or take some years. Which shows that Jesus was not a well-known “celebrity” at this moment in time though his death was reported by non-biblical sources. I think that he was not considered very important at the time of his death by most contemporaries. Just another religious enthusiast like so many else in that period in the Near East. This also means the Roman soldier who used his lance on him had no reason to consider this as special and e.g. store the lance. Jesus himself probably thought he had failed when he died.

The bible does not give any information as to the outward appearance of Jesus. It is unlikely, though, that he had long hairs as depicted in the religious paintings of the last 700 years. Paul mentioned in one of his letters that long hair does not suit a man. It is unlikely he would have said so if Jesus had had long hair.

(C) 2006-2011 Thorsten Straub, www.biblical-finds.com