Not so historical Jesus

Seeing a preview for the upcoming release of DAVINCI CODE: THE MOVIE, I was reminded of the time a friend of mine was quite excited about the book. “Check it out” she said. She told me about the various conspiracies, most notably the subjugation of women. “Doesn’t it make you curious to do some research?”
“What kind of research?” I asked, baiting her a little.

“Look into the facts surrounding Jesus’ life she said. For example, what did the records show as opposed to what the bible says happened.”

I told her I was pretty sure there weren’t any records of Jesus’ life. But that idea sounded so improbable that I certainly had to confirm it.

Here it is. There is no mention of Jesus in any of the historical records of the time. What we know of Jesus comes to us exclusively from his own PR: a bible compiled over a long period of time by a church already a century old.

From a historian’s perspective, one can only say: “according to a text published by the Catholic Church in Rome, a person called Jesus the Christ of Nazareth once lived in the land currently occupied by Israel, etc.”

There are no Roman records of a person named Jesus, neither of his birth, nor of any property he may have owned, nor even of his crucifixion. There are no documents or narratives of a visit to Herod, or Pilate, nor of any exchange with a criminal named Barabbas.

Since it would be hard to believe that an entire Christian cult arose without some real personage as its catalyst, no one disputes that a person named Jesus did at some point exist. But there are no external corroborative accounts of his life.

None of the three wise men for example left a travelogue of their pilgrimage to Bethlehem. No Jewish high priest took note of an altercation between an angry young man and money-changers in a temple. Neither Herod Antipas nor Pontius Pilate, actual administrators to be sure whose lives and activities are well documented, reported to Rome of a young upstart among their Jewish subjects.

Nothing at all. If today’s Christians want to get technical, Jesus is a lesser proved theory than evolution.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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