will the real Jesus please stand up can you tell me the Jesus of History or the Christ of faith aren't both the same? which one you prefer
8 Answers | Add Yours
I think there are basically 3 ways to look at this.
First there are those who believe in Jesus as part of their faith and the religious canon. The historical evidence or details of his life as a historical figure do not come into play in this area. They believe. That is what faith is about.
The second are those whose only interest is in the historical record. Can they prove Jesus existed? Can they prove any of the Bible stories are true? This is quite and undertaking considering that even in modern technological society many people live and die without leaving any record of their existence, how likely is it that we will find evidence of this one man living in ancient times?
The third (which is where I fall, by the way) is those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as the messiah and follow his teachings and those of the Bible, but also think the historical record is important. It will not change my belief, but the studies into the historical truth of the Bible are fascinating. Why wouldn't we want this information? A historical Jesus does not change what you believe, because belief is not about facts and observations.
There are no authentic records of a historical Jesus ever existing. The Josephus references to Christ have been dismissed as forgeries by consensus of the academic community.
C.S. Lewis once said that everyone had to make a choice as to whether the Jesus of the Bible was "lord, lunatic or liar." Recently I read a book by a former evangelical minister who offered up a fourth option: legend. There may have been a few historical incidents that spawned the Jesus story, but in my estimation, the historicity Jesus isn't so important.
If Jesus is a literary figure whose characteristics tell us something important about both the people who wrote him and ourselves, that's valuable in and of itself.
There are, indeed, historical records of the birth and life of Jesus, although they are so ancient. As a note, there are only certain Christian religions consider the New Testament historical fact (mostly Fundamentalists); there are others who understand the Bible as more of a literary text.
You have many excellent answers in the above posts. The historical Jesus is recorded both in the Bible (which some don't uphold as a reliable work since much is based on faith) AND in historical documents written by contemporary historians. There is nothing I have ever read to suggest that the two are different on paper and in real life...Jesus lived to save humanity. He came to earth with the sole purpose of teaching us how to live...all that is recorded by historians show that he had definite values and goals. He did not commit crimes, etc.
In response to #2, there is a lot of historical evidence apart from The Bible that proves the existence of a historical figure called Jesus who was crucified by the Jews because of his claim to be the Messiah. The Bible is definitely not our only source when we consider this issue. Numerous historians, including Josephus who has already been mentioned, testify to the large number of revolts at this time in history and the way that Jesus was a significant figure.
The Jewish historian Josephus makes reference to the early Christian movement with the comment that the leader of the group was executed. There can be no doubt that Jesus was a true human being who was born roughly 4 B.C.E. and died in 28 C.E. at the time of the reign of Tiberias. As far as whether the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith are one and the same, most Christians accept as a matter of faith that they are. Empirical evidence of his miracles and resurrection (itself a miracle) may not exist, as they are contrary to what we know of the laws of nature. Even so, C.S. Lewis once defined a miracle as a "violation of the laws of nature." To that extent, I believe one can--as a matter of faith--accept that Jesus of History and the Jesus of Christianity are one and the same. Paul described faith as "the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen." We need to accept it as it is.
For those who believe in Jesus Christ, it would be impossible to separate the two. For if someone believes in Jesus Christ, that person would argue that there is no difference between the figure of faith and the Jesus of history. Adherents to Jesus Christ's deity would accept the Bible not just as a religious text but also as an historical text.
Admittedly, many do believe that a man named Jesus existed and had influence during the early AD period but would advocate that Jesus was a mere mortal. This view is similar to someone who accepts the existence of Muhammad but sees him as only human, not a prophet.
We really know very little about the historical Jesus other than what is written in the Bible. I once listened to a series of lectures by Bart Ehrman about what historians (in his opinion) can learn about the historical Jesus from looking at the Bible.
It was very interesting to me that he argued that the historical Jesus never really claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah. He says that where the Bible claims that, it was probably later people writing things that were meant to put forward their beliefs (as opposed to things that Jesus actually said or did).
As to which I prefer... I think that facts are always preferable to faith when facts can truly be substantiated. I think that we should not try to base our faith on things that are demonstrably untrue. However, it is hard to know anything certain about the historical Jesus and so I am not ready to say that I prefer Ehrman's historical Jesus to the Jesus of faith. I think that when we do not know facts for certain, we should go by faith.
We’ve answered 318,995 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question