Jesus of History, Christ of Faith - Historical Evidence Regarding the Life of Jesus.

Essay by spherikusA, April 2004

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Jesus is one of the most well known religious figures in today's world. He preached the word of God, healed the sick, raised the dead, was crucified and then three days later rose from the dead. But how much of this actually occured? Most of the information available on Jesus is written in the Gospels of the New Testament. But one must ask, how much of these gospels are actual historical fact? Are they true to the historical Jesus, or do they contain extrapolations of the truth designed to make Jesus appear greater than he was?

The Gospel of Matthew is considered by some to be the most important of the four Gospels. Believed to have been written between 80 and 90 AD by an unknown author, it paints an image of Jesus as definitely being the Messiah and places emphasis on demonstrating that Jesus' life full filled the prophecies made in the Old Testament, portraying him as a second, greater Moses.

It is highly unlikely that the author of Matthew had ever met Jesus or was witness to any of the events of which he wrote, instead relying on the earlier written Gospels of Mark and Luke as well as the oral tradition.

Matthew's Gospel places Jesus' birth in the town of Bethlehem, during the reign of King Herod, to parents Mary and Joseph. Bethlehem was Joseph's ancestral home and Jesus was probably born in the house of a relative, not a stable at the Gospel of Luke claims.

King Herod ruled from 40 BC to 4 BC, so Jesus could have been born no later than 4 BC and possibly earlier. The 25th of December was not recognised as the date of Jesus' birth until 354 AD and it is highly unlikely that this was the actual date...