You are here:   Text > The Truth About the Historical Jesus

There are two kinds of truth about Jesus Christ. The first is the Gospel truth. Its veracity is vouchsafed by faith. In the believer’s eyes no contradictions do, or even can, exist in the divinely inspired Gospels. Appearances to the contrary should be ignored or reconciled.

For instance, the Gospel of John gives a historically acceptable account of the condemnation of Jesus: he was arrested a day before Passover and, without the mention of a Passover meal and a formal Jewish court process, he was brought before Pilate, accused of being a revolutionary and sentenced to crucifixion.

In the other Gospels, in a historically unlikely fashion, the arrest of Jesus, followed by a trial by the Jewish Sanhedrin on the charge of blasphemy, took place after the Passover meal (the Last Supper), and Jesus was pronounced guilty on the night of the feast itself. Yet no believing Christian asks how the supreme tribunal of Judaea could try a capital case during one of the major festivals – or, more simply, how the two stories hang together.

The second kind of truth is less certain than faith and is approximated by means of “scientific” historical inquiry. This quest strives to discover the TRUTH, but succeeds in retrieving only morsels of it. The historian’s task is to assemble a monumental jigsaw puzzle of which many parts are still missing. My catchy title for this article promises more than anyone can deliver. A more modest “Towards the truth about the historical Jesus” would be closer to what will follow.

View Full Article
Ralph Ellis
April 17th, 2014
9:04 AM
Actually, the historical Jesus has been discovered in an otherwise unexplored location - Edessa in Syria. There is a king of Edessa who shares many similarities with Jesus. He was: Known as the Only Begotten Son. Born in miraculous circumstances. Became a proselite Nazarene Jew. Was resident in Egypt/Judaea. Owned a palace in Jerusalem. Owned a tomb in Jerusalem. Became, therefore, a de facto King of the Jews. Was involved in a tax dispute with Rome. Was the leader of a new (Nazarene?) Fourth Sect of Judaism. Was a leader of a revolution (the Jewish Revolt). Was defeated by the Romans. Was crucified by the Romans. Probably wore a purple cloak. Wore a Crown of Thorns. May well have survived his crucifixion. Was called King Izas (Em) Manu (el) VI of Edessa. So yes, Jesus was King Izas Manu of Edessa, but the Church have pushed his life back by 40 years, because they had sold the story of a pauper prince of peace involved in some monor dispute with Rome - where as in reality Jesus-Izas was a rich warrior monarch who started the Jewish Revolt in AD 68 and was crucified in AD 70, after the fall of Jerusalem.

September 25th, 2013
7:09 AM
One must know the meaning of faith before understanding jesus existence. All who have been preaching about jesus faced persecution during the time, why? Why do u think the good news stood the test of time till today? I think they was sort of rivalry, if they had accepted jesus it meant maybe their duties would be no longer of importance yet they wanted to cling to their duties or power, so why would be such peoples history be helpful in tracing jesus origins when they were trying by all means to pull him down. Food for thought

July 3rd, 2009
9:07 PM
Whoa there! There are a few major things that seem to be ignored in the article. The biggest is the Gospels' emphasis of the Resurrection. Not only is this one of the most important elements of Christian belief, but it also gives great meaning to some of the statements and actions of Jesus before he was crucified. And while non-Christians and pseudo-Christians might claim that the Resurrection was either fabricated or some sort of non-physical, mystical experience, the Gospels clearly teach in their narratives and in other ways that it was a physical, historical event. For instance, Luke attests to eyewitnesses of the Resurrection. So if one is looking at "the historical Jesus," the Resurrection requires more of a response than Geza Vermes offers here. In reading the totality of the New Testament, Jesus can't be dismissed as only a prophet or great teacher, unless one rejects the central points of the redemption on the cross and the Resurrection, which are associated with much else of what Jesus is reported to have said and done. One might claim that, well, the Resurrection is just a matter of faith, so as a historian I can't consider it. But if you are using the Gospels to prove your historical point, you can't deny that the Resurrection is testified by them also, as a historical fact. While the Gospels might not have been written as purely historical documents, they certainly contain history. And they were written more closely to the actual time of Jesus than were sources about other ancient figures, upon which we rely heavily without much concern. Just because the Gospels were not written during Jesus's lifetime on earth doesn't mean they are without value in informing us about his life. Also they were written during a time when many people who were contemporaries of Jesus were still alive, and would be in a position to be critical of them.

Andrew Nash
December 22nd, 2008
9:12 PM
May I recommend Pope Benedict's book 'Jesus'? In it he enters into dialogue with Jacob Neusner's book 'A Rabbi Tals with Jesus' - in a most respectful way - and brings out the way that the Gospel texts present Jesus' divine status.

November 2nd, 2008
9:11 PM
Indeed you are all so very well read... and your writings are informed and articulate... All of your own beliefs - that is to say... all your own 'dis beliefs' are based upon 'interpritation' of someone else's writings and someone else's investigations... is that not simmilar to believers of the gospel and it's interpritation of the words of the christand his followers? I'm not a scholar... but I know this... (And history will atest to this). whatever good there has been on this earth... whatever wonderful ideals man has dared to dream of... If those dreams and ideals somehow shake or disturb the masses 'comfort' zones... They seek to destroy or undermine it, in the most ruthless manner possible until it is in disaray. This then apparently makes them feel 'safe'. I'm therefore compelled to prefer to live whole heartedly in the 'fear' of something worth believing in and that it just might be the most positive and wonderful 'entity' this universe has or will ever know. If I'm wrong... I lose nothing... but in believing 'now' during my life time... I carry something inside me that provides a feeling nothing else or no-one else can.. I do not feel threatened by anything I have read here and my little attempt will, I know, be torn to shreds... I just sincerely wish you were all brave enough to feel the wonder of 'blind' faith and unquestioning belief... I care less if I am indighted with remarks of being brain washed...foolish...needy...unable to be simply content with my little existance, that I need someone or something guiding me... I am actually really quite happy inside... truly and wholely... Are you... are you really? God Bless you all... and I ask this in the name of the Christ Jesus. Its just a name...and God (Jehova or any other names you want to call him) - knows who I mean so that's just cool.

September 24th, 2008
9:09 PM
The book everyone must read in order to understand what are the Canonical Gospels and who is the Jesus Christ in them really is is "Caesar's Messiah" by Joseph Atwill. Having a new perspective gained from that book, I am able to tell you that the real Messiah of the Jews, who was indeed the spirit of Elias returned (see Malachai 4:5). The Son of Zakariya is the Son of Mary. Elisabeth is not a woman, but the belly of Mary. (hidden for 5 months, with Mary from month 6-9). The Qur'an practically screams this to us, but at the same time letting the illusion continue for those who don't want to see it. The Qur'an tells us the Mary is given unto Zakariya's care and lives with him. He is too old to make children. He visits Mary in her Chamber and prays for a Child from God. Mary is a virgin and chaste, so she cannot have children because the man in her life, Zakariya is physically too old. But God grants his prayer and Mary's son is conceived, but not announced by the angels until the 6th month when her belly begins to grow. This is the appearance of Elisabeth, or "house of Elias". John the Baptist is the Son of Mary.

September 23rd, 2008
3:09 PM
"Helloooo J-e-s-u-s never existed..." Have you a time machine, Eli? It's very hard to prove the existence of anyone so far back in time, but there are plenty enough contemporaneous (or very-near contemporaneous) references to Jewish by Jews and non-Jews to make most serious historians accept his historical existence. The same cannot be said of the "Prophet" Muhammad, documented references to whom are sufficiently late to cast doubt on his existence.

September 22nd, 2008
1:09 AM
The thing that has always fascinated me was that his followers continued to meet and preach some kind of message that drew others to it even though all faced potential persecution. Jesus was a remarkable figure as his parables reveal. BTW many questions were asked of the Buddha which he refused to answer. This wasn't from his own perspective: he had nothing personally to hide. But he considered satiating these questions as worthless in the pastoral sense. Jesus taught in a Socratic way - Who do men say that I am? Who do you say I am? He turned the other cheek... he brought the question back to the questioner. That was his way.

September 7th, 2008
1:09 PM
An interesting article but it leaves out some key points of translation. Translations of the ideas "believe in" and "I am" should be included in a historical treatment of Yeshuah's teachings.

September 6th, 2008
5:09 PM
Well, I agree with Anonymous on one thing, "jesus's" resurrection is as historical fact as Jesus curing the leper. That is, Both are 100% pure fiction. The only real question is was there a historical "jesus" at all, and the evidence is pretty strong that there was not.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.