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Jesus FAQ



The following list is not designed to discuss doctrine, or provide in-depth teaching. It is merely a resource center for factual information about Jesus while further learning pointers are included. For more in-depth learning go to the Jesus Links section of this site.

Further questions and comments could be addressed to:

Bible@juliantrubin.com
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Jesus Questions Index

Who was Jesus?
What is the meaning of the name Jesus Christ?
Is Jesus’ advent prophesied in the Old Testament?
What are the sources of Information on Jesus?
What are the Gospels?
Who were the Apostles?
What common religious practices did Jesus practice?
What was the essence of Jesus’ teachings?
Why was Jesus crucified?
What is the symbol of the cross and its significance?
Did Jesus really exist?
What is the Shroud of Turin?
What is the Gospel of Judas?
Illustrated Jesus Timeline


Answers



Who was Jesus?
Jesus, or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, a Jew, born (ca. 4-8 BC) in Bethlehem in Judea, Palestine. Traditionally, the Christians have seen him as the Messiah, the incarnate Son of God, and as having been divinely conceived by Mary, the wife of Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth; and that by faith in Jesus one may attain salvation and eternal life. He was crucified (ca. 29 AD) after a brief public ministry during Pontius Pilate's term as prefect of Judea.



What is the meaning of the name Jesus Christ?
The name Jesus is derived from a Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua, or in full Yehoshuah (Yahweh/God is deliverance).
The title Christ is derived from the Greek christos, a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (anointed one), or Messiah. “Christ” was used by Jesus' early followers, who regarded him as the promised deliverer of Israel and later was made part of Jesus' proper name by the church, which regards him as the redeemer of all humanity.



Is Jesus’ advent prophesied in the Old Testament?
According to the Christian faith, Jesus Christ is prophesied in more than 200 prophecies in the Old Testament relating to his birth, life, death and resurrection. But others, unbelievers or critical scholars, maintain that those prophecies have been written after Jesus death or adopted by Christian theology retroactively.
A few notable examples of those prophecies:

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” (Jeremiah 31:31)

"Hear you now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:13-14)

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

More about the Christian interpretation of these prophecies.



What are the sources of Information on Jesus?
The primary sources for Jesus' life and teaching are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John though these are not biographies but theologically framed accounts of the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus - the basic subject matter of Christian preaching and teaching. Other books of the New Testament add few further details.
The 2nd-century Gospel of Thomas sheds light on the development of the tradition of Jesus' sayings.
Among non-Christian writers of antiquity, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger refer to Jesus, as does Josephus Flavius (1st century Jewish historian) in at least one passage. Some also believe that Jesus is mentioned in the Jewish Talmud.

See Josephus' Account of Jesus

Learn about the Jesus Narrative in The Talmud



What are the Gospels?
The four New Testament narratives covering the life and death of Jesus Christ. written according to tradition respectively by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (the four evangelists). The first three are called Synoptic Gospels because they agree in much of their subject matter, wording, and narrative order and so appear to be written from a common vantage point. All gospels were written in the 1st century AD. Collectively those books are called The Gospel. The Gospel gets its name from a Greek word meaning “good news”. According to the Gospels, the “good news” are the Revelation of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God by that enabling the salvation of humanity from sin and misery.

Learn More about the Gospels



Who were the Apostles?
The Apostles were 12 men whom Jesus chose to help him while he lived and to spread his teaching after his death. Their selection by Jesus is described in the Gospels. The Acts of the Apostles describes their work in developing Christianity after Jesus’ crucifixion. Most of them were fishermen. The most notorious: Peter, the chief apostle, was later to become the foundation rock of the Christian Church; John was according the tradition the author of the Gospel of St. John and the three Epistles of St. John; Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Paul was not among the first 12 original apostles and this title was given to him later.

Who Were the Apostles



What common religious practices did Jesus practice?
As a Jew, most of Jesus’ religious practices were dictated by his Jewish tradition. The biographies of Jesus record that Jesus participated in such practices as taking the Passover meal, Baptism, Silent Prayer, Fasting, Reading Scripture, Visiting the Synagogue, etc.



What was the essence of Jesus’ teachings?
According to the Gospels, Jesus stressed the infinite love of God for the humble and weak, and he promised pardon and eternal life in heaven to the most hardened sinners, provided their repentance was sincere. Jesus' emphasized on moral sincerity rather than strict adherence to religious ritual. He broke the rule of not working on Sabbath, the religious day of rest. For example, he healed on Sabbath or allowed his disciples to pluck ears of corn in order to appease hunger - unacceptable religious code of behavior among Jews those days. In modern terminology, he would have been probably termed a “liberal”. He also preached the near advent of God's Reign or Kingdom, attested not merely by his words but by the “wonders” or “signs” that he performed.



Why was Jesus crucified?
The historical perspective: Jesus’ teachings aroused enmity among Jews and Romans alike. Jesus' emphasis on moral sincerity rather than strict adherence to religious ritual incurred the enmity of the Pharisees (the main Jewish sect of Jesus’ times) who feared that his teachings might lead to disregard for the authority of the Jewish Law, or Torah. Others feared that Jesus' activities and followers might prejudice the Roman authorities against any restoration of the Davidic (Israelite) monarchy. Jesus also attacked the Jewish privileged classes and showed interest in the poor. According to the gospel, after perhaps three years in Galilee, he went to Jerusalem to observe Passover. There he was received enthusiastically by the populace, but was eventually arrested and with the cooperation of the Jewish authorities, executed under Roman law as a dangerous messianic pretender. In other words, the Romans (Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect of Judea) regarded Jesus as a dangerous revolutionary challenger to the Roman rule in Palestine. His growing influence alarmed Jews and Romans authorities alike.

The Christian theological perspective: all the historical factors mentioned above serve the ultimate divine cause – the establishment of Jesus as the Messiah and savor of humanity.



What is the symbol of the cross and its significance?
The cross is the mechanism that Romans used to execute Jesus. Jesus’ hands were nailed to opposite sides of a beam. Then this beam was attached to a vertical stake, forming the shape of a cross. Jesus’ execution on the cross is considered of superlative significance by followers, because it represents the penalty paid by Jesus on behalf of mankind, so that mankind could bypass such penalty and maintain an eternal relationship with the living God. Because followers also believe that Jesus rose from the dead, the empty cross represents a symbol of hope, victory over death and eternal life.



Did Jesus really exist?
The scantiness of additional source material and the theological nature of biblical records caused some 19th-century biblical scholars to doubt Jesus' historical existence. Others, interpreting the available sources in a variety of ways, produced biographies of Jesus in which his life was purged of all supernatural elements. Today, scholars generally agree that Jesus was a historical figure whose existence is authenticated both by Christian writers and by several Jewish historians. Nevertheless, some doubt the real existence of Jesus.

Did Jesus Really Exist?



What is the Shroud of Turin?
The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth kept in the Cathedral of Turin, Italy, since the late 1500s that bears a faint life-size human image venerated by some as Christ's burial cloth and that the imprint is of the dead body of Jesus. To believers it was divine proof the Christ was resurrected from the grave, to doubters it was evidence of human gullibility and one of the greatest hoaxes in the history of art.

In 1988, an international team of scientific experts performed radiocarbon dating on snippets of the Shroud of Turin. The results showed that the famous cloth did not date back to the time of Christ's crucifixion in the 1st century A.D. In fact, the cloth seemed to have been manufactured sometime between 1260 and 1390 A.D.

In the years since then, Shroud experts and other investigators have called into question the accuracy of the dating. Some have argued that damage to the Shroud in 1532 during a fire and microbes and other living organisms might in some way have changed the chemical composition of the cloth and skewed the testing results.

More About the Shroud of Turin



What is the Gospel of Judas?

The document was probably written by followers of Jesus Christ. It exists in an early fourth century Coptic text.

According to the canonical Gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to Jerusalem's Great Sanhedrin, which officiated over the crucifixion of Jesus with the endorsement of representatives of the occupying power, the Roman Empire. The Gospel of Judas, on the other hand, portrays Judas in a very different perspective than do the Gospels of the New Testament, according to a preliminary translation made in early 2006 by the National Geographic Society: the Gospel of Judas appears to interpret Judas's act not as betrayal, but rather as an act of obedience to the instructions of Jesus and that Judas thus served Christ by helping to release Christ's spirit from its physical constraints.

The content of the gospel had been unknown until a Coptic Gospel of Judas turned up on the antiquities "grey market," in Geneva in May 1983.

In 2006 the document was restored and translated from the Coptic language by the National Geographic Society.

Learn More about The Gospel of Judas






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