Historicity of Jesus

by - December 24, 2016

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Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of Christianity that recognizes him as the Messiah. The Gospels tell of the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. We do not know the exact date of birth of Jesus. The traditional date of Christmas on December 25 was conceived late in the IV century, and even later dating a year 1 BC, as it dates back to the King Dionysius Exiguus in sixth century.

The only lead we have is that they have always shown that the shepherds were taking care of their flocks at night. This means that the date of the Nativity could not have been in December as this period in Palestine is a rainy period, when neither pastors nor flocks could be outdoors in the fields in Bethlehem. Based then on the Gospels, it is more likely that Jesus was born in the spring or summer.

We celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on December 25 due to Dionysius Exiguus, a Shiite emperor who told us to do so. In 530 BC, Dionysus at the time was also an abbot and astronomer of Rome, who was ordered to decide a date for Christ's birth. For years he gave the date we take now and the day and month deliberately chosen as 25 December as it was the day of the winter solstice and the birth of the sun. This date was known throughout the Roman Empire as the birthday of various pagan gods.

After having embraced the Christian faith, in 330 the emperor Constantine made official for the first time the Christian celebration of the nativity of Jesus, who by a decree made to coincide it with the pagan festival of Sol Invictus. Towards the middle of the fourth century Pope Julius I made official the date of Christmas by the Catholic Church. The decision, however, to standardize the date of the celebrations on 25 December may have been established largely for political reasons to join and overlap with pagan festivals of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus.

Yet it took a long time to unite Christians and convince them to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus on that day. The Church of Jerusalem began to celebrate Christmas in the seventh century, in Ireland in the fifth, in England in the eighth and in the Slavic countries between the ninth and tenth centuries.

According to most contemporary scholars, the birth must be placed in the last years of King Herod, around 7-6 BC. Probably the event can be placed at the time of the 190 Olympics, in the year 752 from the foundation of Rome, and in the forty-second year of the Emperor Augustus. Christian tradition has considered him to be celibate. Some scholars, however, have found that the choice of celibacy of Jesus stood in contrast to the Jewish environment of the time, where they had exalted marriage and fertility.

Various works of literature have however recently been inspired the idea of a relationship with Mary Magdalene, also suggested by some scholars.

During the last years of his life, Jesus carried out his activities as a preacher, healer and exorcist in Galilee and in the Roman province of Judea in the historic region of Palestine, who, according to the canonical sources reached various strata of society.

The short period of his preaching ended with his death on the cross by the Jewish authorities of the Sanhedrin, but imposed by the authority of Rome on the final decision of the prefect of the Roman Pontius Pilate, who was given the death penalty for blasphemy, having equated himself to God and the King of the Jews. After death, the followers of Jesus supported the resurrection and spread the message of his preaching, making him one of the figures, who exercised more influence on Western culture.

Modern scholars who deny this interpretation believe that this is a misrepresentation of the apostles or some sort belief as a result of hallucinations or the revival in the Jewish world of a myth spread in the Hellenistic, Babylonian and Phoenician religiosity relating to a deity who died and rose again. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. So this is a feast tied to the spring equinox.

The pagan peoples of the Roman Empire celebrated it as a spring festival amidst the budding trees, the first flowers blooming in the meadows and then the nature resurrected, after the cold winter. The idea of resurrection of nature became the resurrection of Christ, and also this myth, in some way, was incorporated into the new religion that was spreading in contrast to paganism.

With regard to historical research on his life the main sources are found in the New Testament. The last few centuries have seen in fact, the development of research to assess the historical reliability of the Gospels including supernatural and miraculous elements to rebuild the profile of the historical Jesus. The majority of contemporary scholars and some Christian scholars, deny historical value to the evangelical miracles, considering it symbolic and literary representations distinct from the facts that occurred and related to the religious order of the narrative.

According to the Jewish point of view, Jesus was a traveling preacher, but not the Messiah to whom the later Christian tradition falsely attributed miracles and falsely proclaimed the resurrection. He was not the Son of God and did not perform miracles, and after the death on the cross, did not rise nor ascend to heaven.

The Islamic vision of the figure of Jesus presents him as one of the biggest prophets before Mohammed born to a virgin lady. The movement of the Ahmadiyya of Qādyān and Lahore, considered by Sunnis and the Shiites as heretical says that Jesus did not die on the cross and according to them, fled from Palestine to India, where he lived for many years, until he died of old age in Srinagar, in Kashmir. Here, in fact, there is a monument traditionally indicated as the grave of Isa.

According to the pagan testimony, Jesus was a wise and pious man, worthy of immortality along with Pythagoras and Heracles, but his followers, the Christians, made the serious mistake of turning him into a god and then to worship him, denying so the essence of God. Christians should therefore be limited to worshipping God without believing in Jesus as God.

Excavations conducted over the past two centuries have also provided archaeological evidence related to Pontius Pilate and other characters mentioned in the Gospels, as well as places such as, for example, the Pool of Siloam and the Pool of Bethesda. It also documented the practice of crucifixion in Jerusalem of the first century.

There are substantial doubts about the course of Jesus' life, when and where he lived and died, and what kind of activities took place during his public life. The set of statements of Jesus on which there is general consensus among scholars, regardless of their beliefs are his birth around 4 BC, his childhood in Nazareth, baptism at the hands of John, the Baptist, the establishment of a group of disciples, teaching in the villages and countryside of Galilee, the journey to Jerusalem, the final meal with his disciples, the capture, interrogation and death set up by Pontius Pilate.

To go back to the true historical Jesus therefore it is necessary to demystify the gospels, depriving them of the additions and interpretations implemented by his followers. Some of the scholars say, Jesus was a man transformed into a god.

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