Who was Jesus Christ and what was his mission? Can anyone help with some ideas for an essay? Thanks!

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You are going to find many different answers to this question.  If this is for a religion class, you might want to base your answer generally unless the class focuses on a specific one.  Each one will be slightly different.

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You need to think through your own perspective, but I think if you believe the Bible and take that as your main source, you will come to the conclusion that Jesus was the son of God who took on human form for a specific purpose and mission: to die for man's sin on the cross - a completely injust death against a sinless individual - and thus make it possible for man to have a relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ and the price that he paid for us.

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One issue that's always interesting concerning your question is how reliable are the gospels, considering that they were written decades after Jesus lived. 

A related topic that might work for an essay is the point of view of each of the four gospels.  The four have slightly different purposes and are written from slightly different perspectives. 

Another:  the role of the Essenes in the finished product of the somewhat unified Christian writings.

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This really depends on what perspective you are coming at this from.  There's this guy called Bart Ehrman who has written a bunch on what he thinks is the "historical Jesus."  He has read all the Gospels (and other works that claim to be about Jesus) and tried to use them to figure out exactly the question you ask.

He concludes that Jesus was an "apocalyptic Jew" who was coming to warn people to repent because the end of time was very near (like within people's life times back then).  He also concludes that Jesus did not see himself as the literal son of God.  So it's pretty interesting, but very opposed to the views of most religious Christians.

I'd look up Ehrman if that sounds like the stuff you need.

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