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Jesus Christ (Part 1 of 2)

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jē´zus krı̄st ( Ἰησοῦς Χριστός , Iēsoús Christós ):

I. The Names

II. Order of Treatment

Part I. Introductory

I. The Sources

1. In General

2. Denial of Existence of Jesus

3. Extra-Christian Notices

4. The Gospels

(1) The Synoptics

(2) The Fourth Gospel

II. The Preparation

1. Both Gentile and Jewish

2. Old Testament Preparation

3. Post-exilic Preparation

III. The Outward Situation

1. The Land

Its Divisions

2. Political Situation

Changes in Territory

3. The Religious Sects

(1) The Scribes

(2) The Pharisees

(3) The Sadducees

(4) The Essenes

IV. The Chronology

1. Date of the Birth of Jesus

2. Date of His Baptism

3. Length of Ministry

4. Date of Christ's Death

Part II. The Problems of the Life of Jesus

I. The Miracles

1. The "Modern" Attitude

2. Supernatural in the Gospels

II. The Messiahship

1. Reserve of Jesus and Modern Criticism

2. A G rowing Revelation

III. Kingdom and Apocalypse

1. The Kingdom - P resent or Future?

2. Apocalyptic Beliefs

IV. The Character and Claims

1. Denial of Christ's Moral Perfection

2. Sinlessness and the Messianic Claim

Part III. Course of the Earthly Life of Jesus

1. Divisions of the History

2. Not a Complete "Life

A. From the Nativity to the Baptism and Temptation

I. The Nativity

1. Hidden Piety in Judaism

2. Birth of the Baptist

3. The Annunciation and Its Results

4. The Birth at Bethlehem

(1) The Census of Quirinius

(2) Jesus Born

5. The Incidents of the Infancy

(1) The Visit of the Shepherds

(2) The Circumcision and Presentation in the Temple

(3) Visit of the Magi

6. Flight to Egypt and Return to Nazareth

7. Questions and Objections

(1) The Virgin Birth

(2) The Genealogies

II. The Years of Silence - T he Twelfth Year

1. The Human Development

2. Jesus in the Temple

III. The Forerunner and the Baptism

1. The Preaching of John

The Coming Christ

2. Jesus Is Baptized

IV. The Temptation

1. Temptation Follows Baptism

2. Nature of the Temptation

3. Stages of the Temptation

Its Typical Character

B. The Early Judaean Ministry

I. The Testimonies of the Baptist

1. The Synoptics and John

2. Threefold Witness of the Baptist

II. The First Disciples

1. Spiritual Accretion

2. "Son of Man" and "Son of God"

III. The First Events

1. The First Miracle

2. The First Passover, and Cleansing of the Temple

3. The Visit of Nicodemus

4. Jesus and John

IV. Journey to Galilee - T he Woman of Samaria

1. Withdrawal to Galilee

2. The Living Water

3. The True Worship

4. Work and Its Reward

C. The Galilean Ministry and Visits to the Feasts

1. The Scene

2. The Time

First Period - F rom the Beginning of the Ministry in Galilee till the Mission of the Twelve

I. Opening Incidents

1. Healing of Nobleman's Son

2. The Visit to Nazareth

3. Call of the Four Disciples

4. At Capernaum

a) Christ's Teaching

b) The Demoniac in the Synagogue

Demon-Possession: Its Reality

c) Peter's Wife's Mother

d) The Eventful Evening

II. From the First Galilean Circuit till the Choice of the Apostles

1. The First Circuit

2. Capernaum Incidents

a) Cure of the Paralytic

b) Call and Feast of Matthew

3. The Unnamed Jerusalem Feast

a) The Healing at Bethesda

b) Son and Father

c) The Threefold Witness

4. Sabbath Controversies

a) Plucking of the Ears of Grain

b) The Man with the Withered Hand

c) Withdrawal to the Sea

5. The Choosing of the Twelve

a) The Apostolic Function

b) The Lists

c) The Men

III. From the Sermon on the Mount Will the Parables of the Kingdom - A S econd Circuit

1. The Sermon on the Mount

a) The Blessings

b) True Righteousness - the Old and the New Law

c) Religion and Hypocrisy - T rue and False Motive

d) The True Good and Cure for Care

e) Relation to the World's Evil - the Conclusion

2. Intervening Incidents

a) Healing of the Centurion's Servant

b) The Widow of Nain's Son Raised

c) Embassy of John's Disciples - C hrist and His Generation

d) The First Anointing - the Woman who Was a Sinner

3. Second Galilean Circuit - E vents at Capernaum

a) Galilee Revisited

b) Cure of Demoniac - D iscourse on Blasphemy

The Sign of Jonah

c) Christ's Mother and Brethren

4. Teaching in Parables

Parables of the Kingdom

IV. From the Crossing to Gadara to the Mission of the Twelve - A T hird Circuit

1. Crossing of the Lake - S tilling of the Storm

a) Aspirants for Discipleship

b) The Storm Calmed

2. The Gadarene (Gerasene) Demoniac

3. Jairus' Daughter Raised - W oman with Issue of Blood

a) Jairus' Appeal and Its Result

b) The Afflicted Woman Cured

4. Incidents of Third Circuit

5. The Twelve Sent Forth - D iscourse of Jesus

a) The Commission

b) Counsels and Warnings

Second Period - A fter the Mission of the Twelve till the Departure from Galilee

I. From the Death of the Baptist till the Discourse on the Bread of Life

1. The Murder of the Baptist and Herod's Alarms

2. The Feeding of the Five Thousand

3. Walking on the Sea

4. Gennesaret - D iscourse on the Bread of Life

Peter's First Confession

II. From Disputes with the Pharisees till the Transfiguration

1. Jesus and Tradition - O utward and Inward Purity

2. Retirement to Tyre and Sidon - the Syrophoenician Woman

3. At Decapolis - N ew Miracles

a) The Deaf Man

b) Feeding of the Four Thousand

4. Leaven of the Pharisees, etc. - C ure of Blind Man

5. At Caesarea Philippi - the Great Confession - F irst Announcement of Passion

6. The Transfiguration - the Epileptic Boy

III. From Private Journey Through Galilee till Return from the Feast of Tabernacles

1. Galilee and Capernaum

a) Second Announcement of the Passion

b) The Temple Tax

c) Discourse on Greatness and Forgiveness

(1) Greatness in Humility

(2) Tolerance

(3) The Erring Brother

(4) Parable of Unmerciful Servant

2. The Feast of Tabernacles - D iscourses, etc.

a) The Private Journey - D ivided Opinions

b) Christ's Self-Witness

c) The Woman Taken in Adultery

d) The Cure of the Blind Man.

e) The Good Shepherd

Chronological Note

D. Last Journey to Jerusalem - J esus in Peraea

I. From Leaving Galilee till the Feast of the Dedication

1. Rejected by Samaria

2. Mission of the Seventy

3. The Lawyer's Question - P arable of Good Samaritan

4. Discourses, Parables, and Miracles

a) Original to Luke

b) The Infirm Woman - the Dropsied Man

c) Parable of the Great Supper

d) Counting the Cost

5. Martha and Mary

6. Feast of the Dedication

II. From the Abode at Bethabara till the Raising of Lazarus

1. Parables of Lost Sheep, Lost Piece of Silver and Prodigal Son

2. Parables of the Unjust Steward and the Rich Man and Lazarus

3. The Summons to Bethany - R aising of Lazarus

III. From the Retirement to Ephraim till the Arrival at Bethany

1. Retreat to Ephraim

2. The Journey Resumed

3. Cure of the Lepers

4. Pharisaic Questionings

a) Divorce

b) Coming of the Kingdom

c) Parable of the Unjust Judge

5. The Spirit of the Kingdom

a) Parable of Pharisee and Publican

b) Blessing of the Babies

c) The Rich Young Ruler

6. Third Announcement of the Passion

7. The Rewards of the Kingdom

a) Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

b) The Sons of Zebedee

8. Jesus at Jericho

a) The Cure of Bartimeus

b) Zaccheus the Publican

c) Parable of the Pounds

Arrival at Bethany

E. The Passion Week - B etrayal, Trial, and Crucifixion

I. The Events Preceding the Last Supper

1. The Chronology

2. The Anointing at Bethany

3. The Entry into Jerusalem

Jesus Weeping over Jerusalem - R eturn to Bethany

4. Cursing of the Fig Tree - S econd Cleansing of the Temple

Were There Two Cleansings?

5. The Eventful Tuesday

a) The Demand for Authority - P arables

The Two Sons - T he Wicked Husbandmen - T he Marriage of the King's Son

b) Ensnaring Questions, etc.

(1) Tribute to Caesar - T he Resurrection - T he Great Commandment

(2) David's Son and Lord

c) The Great Denunciation

d) The Widow's Offering

e) The Visit of the Greeks

f) Discourse on the Last Things

g) Parables of Ten Virgins, Talents and Last Judgment

6. A D ay of Retirement

7. An Atmosphere of Plotting - J udas and the Priests

II. From the Last Supper till the Cross

1. The Chronology

2. The Last Supper

a) The Preparation

b) Dispute about Precedence - W ashing of the Disciples' Feet - D eparture of Judas

c) The Lord's Supper

d) The Last Discourses - I ntercessory Prayer

e) The Departure and Warning

3. Gethsemane - the Betrayal and Arrest

a) Agony in the Garden

b) Betrayal by Judas - J esus Arrested

4. Trial before the Sanhedrin

Legal and Historical Aspects

a) Before Annas and Caiaphas - the Unjust Judgment

b) The Threefold Denial

c) Remorse and Suicide of Judas

5. Trial before Pilate

a) The Attitude of the Accusers

b) The Attitude of Pilate

(1) Jesus Sent to Herod

(2) "Not This Man, but Barabbas"

(3) "Ecce Homo"

(4) A L ast Appeal - P ilate Yields

c) The Attitude of Jesus

III. The Crucifixion and Burial

1. The Crucifixion

a) On the Way

b) Between the Thieves - the Superscription - the Seamless Robe

c) The Mocking - the Penitent Thief - J esus and His Mother

d) The Great Darkness - the Cry of Desertion

e) Last Words and Death of Jesus

f) The Spear-Thrust - E arthquake and Rending of the Veil

2. The Burial

a) The New Tomb

b) The Guard of Soldiers

F. The Resurrection and Ascension

The Resurrection a Fundamental Fact

1. The Resurrection

a) The Easter Morning - the Open Tomb

(1) The Angel and the Keepers

(2) Visit of the Women

(3) The Angelic Message

b) Visit of Peter and John - A ppearance to Mary

Report to the Disciples - I ncredulity

c) Other Easter-Day Appearances (Emmaus, Jerusalem)

d) The Second Appearance to the Eleven - the Doubt of Thomas

e) The Galilean Appearances

(1) At the Sea of Tiberias - the Draught of Fish - P eter's Restoration

(2) On the Mountain - the Great Commission - B aptism

f) Appearance to James

g) The Last Meeting

2. The Ascension

Part IV. Epilogue: The Apostolic Teaching

1. After the Ascension

2. Revelation through the Spirit

3. Gospels and Epistles

4. Fact of Christ's Lordship

5. Significance of Christ's Person

6. Significance of the Cross and Resurrection

7. Hope of the Advent


Jesus Christ: The Founder of the Christian religion; the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world; the Lord and Head of the Christian church.

I. The Names.

1. Jesus:

( Iēsous ) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Joshua" ( יהושׁע , yehōshua‛ ), meaning "Yahweh is salvation." It stands therefore in the Septuagint and Apocrypha for "Joshua," and in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 likewise represents the Old Testament Joshua; hence, in the Revised Version (British and American) is in these passages rendered "Joshua." In Matthew 1:21 the name as commanded by the angel to be given to the son of Mary, "for it is he that shall save his people from their sins" (see below on "Nativity"). It is the personal name of the Lord in the Gospels and the Acts, but generally in the Epistles appears in combination with "Christ" or other appellative (alone in Romans 3:26; Romans 4:24; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Philippians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; Hebrews 7:22; Hebrews 10:19 , etc.).

2. Christ:

( Christos ) is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Messiah" ( משׁיח , māshı̄aḥ ; compare in the New Testament, John 1:41; John 4:25 , "Messiah"), meaning "anointed" (see MESSIAH ). It designates Jesus as the fulfiller of the Messianic hopes of the Old Testament and of the Jewish people. It will be seen below that Jesus Himself made this claim. After the resurrection it became the current title for Jesus in the apostolic church. Most frequently in the Epistles He is called "Jesus Christ," sometimes "Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1 , Romans 8:2 , Romans 8:39; 1 Corinthians 1:2 , 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 4:15; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:4 , Colossians 1:28 the King James Version; 1 Thessalonians 2:14 , etc.), often "Christ" alone (Romans 1:16 the King James Version; Romans 5:6 , Romans 5:8; Romans 6:4 , Romans 6:8 , Romans 6:9; Romans 8:10 , etc.). In this case "Christ" has acquired the force of a proper name. Very frequently the term is associated with "Lord" (kúrios ) - "the (or "our") Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 11:17; Acts 15:11 the King James Version; Acts 16:31 the King James Version; Acts 20:21; Acts 28:31; Romans 1:7; Romans 5:1 , Romans 5:11; Romans 13:14; 1 Corinthians 16:23 , etc.).

II. Order of Treatment.

In studying, as it is proposed to do in this article, the earthly history of Jesus and His place in the faith of the apostolic church, it will be convenient to pursue the following order:

First, as introductory to the whole study, certain questions relating to the sources of our knowledge of Jesus, and to the preparation for, and circumstances of, His historical appearance, invite careful attention (Part I).

Next, still as preliminary to the proper narrative of the life of Jesus, it is desirable to consider certain problems arising out of the presentation of that life in the Gospels with which modern thought is more specially concerned, as determining the attitude in which the narratives are approached. Such are the problems of the miracles, the Messiahship, the sinless character and supernatural claims of Jesus (Part II).

The way is then open for treatment in order of the actual events of Christ's life and ministry, so far as recorded. These fall into many stages, from His nativity and baptism till His death, resurrection and ascension (Part III).

A final division will deal with Jesus as the exalted Lord in the aspects in which He is presented in the teaching of the Epistles and remaining writings of the New Testament (Part IV).

Part I. Introductory

I. The Sources.

1. In General:

The principal, and practically the only sources for our knowledge of Jesus Christ are the four Canonical Gospels - distinction being made in these between the first three (Synoptic) Gospels, and the Gospel of John. Nothing, either in the few notices of Christ in non-Christian authors, or in the references in the other books of the New Testament, or in later Christian literature, adds to the information which the Gospels already supply. The so-called apocryphal Gospels are worthless as authorities (see under the word); the few additional sayings of Christ (compare Acts 20:35 ) found in outside writings are of doubtful genuineness (compare a collection of these in Westcott's Introduction to the Study of the Gospels , Appendix C; see also LOGIA ).

2. Denial of Existence of Jesus:

It marks the excess to which skepticism has gone that writers are found in recent years who deny the very existence of Jesus Christ (Kalthoff, Das Christus-Problem , and Die Entstehung des Christenthums ; Jensen, Das Gilgamesch-Epos , I; Drews, Die Christusmythe ; compare on Kalthoff, Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus , English translation, 313 ff; Jensen is reviewed in the writer's The Resurrection of Jesus , chapter ix). The extravagance of such skepticism is its sufficient refutation.

3. Extra-Christian Notices:

Of notices outside the Christian circles the following may be referred to.

(1) Josephus.

There is the famous passage in Josephus, Ant , XVIII , iii, 3, commencing, "Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man," etc. It is not unlikely that Josephus had some reference to Jesus, but most agree that the passage in question, if not entirely spurious, has been the subject of Christian interpolation (on the lit. and different views, see Schurer, Jewish People in the Time of Christ , 504 II, volume II, 143 ff; in support of interpolation, Edersheim on "Josephus," in Dictionary of Christ. Biography ).

(2) Tacitus.

The Roman historian, Tacitus, in a well-known passage relating to the persecution of Nero ( Ann. xv. 44), tells how the Christians, already "a great multitude" ( ingens multitudo ), derived their name "from one Christus, who was executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate."

(3) Suetonius.

Suetonius also, in his account of Claudius, speaks of the Jews as expelled from Rome for the raising of tumults at the instigation of one "Chrestus" ( impulsore Chresto ), plainly a mistake for "Christus." The incident is doubtless that referred to in Acts 18:2 .

4. The Gospels:

The four Gospels, then, with their rich contents, remain as our primary sources for the knowledge of the earthly life of Jesus.

(1) The Synoptics.

It may be taken for granted as the result of the best criticism that the first three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) all fall well within the apostolic age (compare Harnack, Altchr. Lit. , Pref; see GOSPELS ). The favorite theory at present of the relations of these Gospels is, that Mk is an independent Gospel, resting on the teaching of Peter; that Mt and Lk have as sources the Gospel of Mk and a collection of discourses, probably attributable to the apostle Matthew (now commonly called Q); and that Lk has a third, well-authenticated source (Luke 1:1-4 ) peculiar to himself. The present writer is disposed to allow more independence to the evangelists in the embodying of a tradition common to all; in any case, the sources named are of unexceptionable authority, and furnish a strong guaranty for the reliability of the narratives. The supreme guaranty of their trustworthiness, however, is found in the narratives themselves; for who in that (or any) age could imagine a figure so unique and perfect as that of Jesus, or invent the incomparable sayings and parables that proceeded from His lips? Much of Christ's teaching is high as heaven above the minds of men still.

(2) The Fourth Gospel.

The Fourth Gospel stands apart from the Synoptics in dealing mainly with another set of incidents (the Jerusalem ministry), and discourses of a more private and intimate kind than those belonging to the Galilean teaching. Its aim, too, is doctrinal - to show that Jesus is "the Son of God," and its style and mode of conception are very different from those of the Synoptic Gospels. Its contents touch their narratives in only a few points (as in John 6:4-21 ). Where they do, the resemblance is manifest. It is obvious that the reminiscences which the Gospel contains have been long brooded over by the apostle, and that a certain interpretative element blends with his narration of incidents and discourses. This, however, does not warrant us in throwing doubt, with so many, on the genuineness of the Gospel, for which the external evidence is exceptionally strong (compare Sanday, The Criticism of the Fourth Gospel ; Drummond, Character and Authorship of the Fourth Gospel ; and see JOHN , GOSPEL OF ). The Gospel is accepted here as a genuine record of the sayings and doings of Jesus which it narrates.

II. The Preparation.

1. Both Gentile and Jewish:

In the Gospels and throughout the New Testament Jesus appears as the goal of Old Testament revelation, and the point to which all providential developments tended. He came, Paul says, in "the fullness of the time" (Galatians 4:4 ). It has often been shown how, politically, intellectually, morally, everything in the Greco-Roman world was ready for such a universal religion as Jesus brought into it (compare Baur's History of the Church in the First Three Centuries , English translation, chapter i). The preparation in Israel is seen alike in God's revelations to, and dealings with, the chosen people in the patriarchal, Mosaic, monarchical and prophetic periods, and in the developments of the Jewish mind in the centuries immediately before Christ.

2. Old Testament Preparation:

As special lines in the Old Testament preparation may be noted the ideas of the Messianic king, a ruler of David's house, whose reign would be righteous, perpetual, universal (compare Isaiah 7:13 through 9:7; Isaiah 32:1 , Isaiah 32:2; Jeremiah 33:15 , Jeremiah 33:16; Psalm 2:1-10 , etc.); of a Righteous Sufferer (Ps 22, etc.), whose sufferings are in Isaiah 53:1-12 declared to have an expiatory and redeeming character; and of a Messianic kingdom, which, breaking the bounds of nationalism, would extend through the whole earth and embrace all peoples (compare Isa 60; Psalm 87:1-7; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:27 , etc.). The kingdom, at the same time, is now conceived of under a more spiritual aspect. Its chief blessings are forgiveness and righteousness.

3. Post-Exilian Preparation:

The age succeeding the return from exile witnessed a manifold preparation for the advent of Christ. Here may be observed the decentralization of the Jewish religious ideals through the rise of synagogue worship and the widespread dispersion of the race; the contact with Hellenic culture (as in Philo); but especially the marked sharpening of Messianic expectations. Some of these were of a crude apocalyptic character (see APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE; ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ); many were political and revolutionary; but some were of a purer and more spiritual kind (compare Luke 2:25 , Luke 2:38 ). To these purer elements Jesus attached Himself in His preaching of the kingdom and of Himself as its Lord. Even in the Gentileworld, it is told, there was an expectation of a great One who about this time would come from Judea (Tacitus, History v. 13; Suet . Vespas 4).

III. The Outward Situation.

1. The Land:

Of all lands Palestine was the most fitted to be the scene of the culminating revelation of God's grace in the person and work of Jesus Christ, as before it was fitted to be the abode of the people chosen to receive and preserve the revelations that prepared the way for that final manifestation. At once central and secluded - at the junction of the three great continents of the Old World, Asia, Africa and Europe - the highway of nations in war and commerce - touching mighty powers on every hand, Egypt, Syria, Assyria, kingdoms of Asia Minor, as formerly more ancient empires, Hittite and Babylonian, now in contact with Greece and Rome, yet singularly enclosed by mountain, desert, Jordan gorge, and Great Sea, from ready entrance of foreign influences, Palestine has a place of its own in the history of revelation, which only a Divine wisdom can have given it (compare Stanley, Sinai and Palestine , Part II, chapter ii; G.A. Smith, Hist. Geog. of the Holy Land , Book I, chapters i, ii; Lange, Life of Christ , I, 246 ff).

Its Divisions.

Palestine, in the Roman period, was divided into four well-defined provinces or districts - J udaea, with Jerusalem as its center, in the South, the strong-hold of Jewish conservatism; Samaria, in the middle, peopled from Assyrian times by mixed settlers (2 Kings 17:24-34 ), preponderatingly heathen in origin, yet now professing the Jewish religion, claiming Jewish descent (compare John 4:12 ), possessing a copy of the law (Sam Pentateuch), and a temple of their own at Gerizim (the original temple, built by Manasseh, circa 409 BC, was destroyed by John Hyrcanus, 109 BC); Galilee - "Galilee of the Gentiles" (Matthew 4:15; compare Isaiah 9:1 ) - in the North, the chief scene of Christ's ministry, freer and more cosmopolitan in spirit, through a large infusion of Gentile population, and contact with traders, etc., of varied nationalities: these in Western Palestine, while on the East, "beyond Jordan," was Peraea, divided up into Peraea proper, Batanea, Gaulonitis, Ituraea, Trachonitis, Decapolis, etc. (compare Matthew 4:25; Matthew 19:1; Luke 3:1 ). The feeling of bitterness between Jews and Samaritans was intense (John 4:9 ). The language of the people throughout was ARAMAIC (which see), but a knowledge of the Greek tongue was widely diffused, especially in the North, where intercourse with Greek-speaking peoples was habitual (the New Testament writings are in Greek). Jesus doubtless used the native dialect in His ordinary teaching, but it is highly probable that He also knew Greek, and was acquainted with Old Testament Scriptures in that language (the Septuagint). In this case He may have sometimes used it in His preaching (compare Roberts, Discussions on the Gospels ).

2. Political Situation:

The miserable story of the vicissitudes of the Jewish people in the century succeeding the great persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabean revolt - a story made up of faction, intrigue, wars, murders, massacres, of growing degeneracy of rulers and nation, of repeated sackings of Jerusalem and terrible slaughters - till Herod, the Idumean, misnamed "the Great," ascended the throne by favor of the Romans (37 BC), must be read in the books relating to the period (Ewald, History of Israel , V; Milman, Hist of Jews ; Schurer, History of the Jewish People in Time of Christ , 504 I, Vol I; Stanley, Jewish Church , III, etc.). Rome's power, first invited by Judas Maccabeus (161 BC), was finally established by Pompey's capture of Jerusalem (63 BC). Herod's way to the throne was tracked by crime and bloodshed, and murder of those most nearly related to him marked every step in his advance. His taste for splendid buildings - palace, temple ( Matthew 24:1; John 2:20 ), fortresses, cities (Sebaste, Caesarea, etc.) - and lavish magnificence of his royal estate and administration, could not conceal the hideousness of his crafty, unscrupulous selfishness, his cold-blooded cruelty, his tyrannous oppression of his subjects. "Better be Herod's hog (hus ) than his son (huios )," was the comment of Augustus, when he heard of the dying king's unnatural doings.

Changes in Territory.

At the time of Christ's birth, the whole of Palestine was united under Herod's rule, but on Herod's death, after a long reign of 37 (or, counting from his actual accession, 34) years, his dominions were, in accordance with his will, confirmed by Rome, divided. Judea and Samaria (a few towns excepted) fell to his son Archelaus (Matthew 2:22 ), with the title of "ethnarch"; Galilee and Perea were given to Herod Antipas, another son, with the title of "tetrarch" (Matthew 14:1; Luke 3:1 , Luke 3:19; Luke 23:7; Acts 13:1 ); Herod Philip, a third son, received Iturea, Trachonitis, and other parts of the northern trans-Jordanic territory, likewise as "tetrarch" (Luke 3:1; compare Matthew 14:3; Mark 6:17 ). A few years later, the tyranny of Archelaus provoked an appeal of his subjects to Augustus, and Archelaus, summoned to Rome, was banished to Gaul (7 AD). Thereafter Judea, with Samaria, was governed by a Roman procurator, under the oversight of the prefect of Syria.

3. The Religious Sects:

In the religious situation the chief fact of interest is the place occupied and prominent part played by the religious sects - the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and (though unmentioned in the Gospels, these had an important influence on the early history of the church) the Essenes. The rise and characteristics of these sects can here only be alluded to (see special articles).

(1) The Scribes.

From the days of Ezra zealous attention had been given to the study of the law, and an order of men had arisen - the "scribes" - whose special business it was to guard, develop and expound the law. Through their labors, scrupulous observance of the law, and, with it, of the innumerable regulations intended to preserve the law, and apply it in detail to conduct (the so-called "tradition of the elders," Matthew 15:2 ff), became the ideal of righteousness. The sects first appear in the Maccabean age. The Maccabean conflict reveals the existence of a party known as the "Assidaeans" (Hebrew ḥǎṣı̄dhı̄m ), or "pious" ones, opposed to the lax Hellenizing tendencies of the times, and staunch observers of the law. These in the beginning gave brave support to Judas Maccabeus, and doubtless then embraced the best elements of the nation.

(2) The Pharisees.

From them, by a process of deterioration too natural in such cases, developed the party of legalists known in the Gospels as the "Pharisees" ("separated"), on which Christ's sternest rebukes fell for their self-righteousness, ostentation, pride and lack of sympathy and charity (Matthew 6:2 ff; 23; Luke 18:9-14 ). They gloried in an excessive scrupulosity in the observance of the externals of the law, even in trivialities. To them the multitude that knew not the law were "accursed" (John 7:49 ). To this party the great body of the scribes and rabbis belonged, and its powerful influence was eagerly sought by contending factions in the state.

(3) The Sadducees.

Alongside of the Pharisees were the "Sadducees" (probably from "Zadok") - rather a political and aristocratic clique than a religious sect, into whose possession the honors of the high-priesthood and other influential offices hereditarily passed. They are first met with by name under John Hyrcanus (135-106 BC). The Sadducees received only the law of Moses, interpreted it in a literal, secularistic spirit, rejected the Pharisaic traditions and believed in neither resurrection, angel nor spirit (Acts 23:8 ). Usually in rivalry with the Pharisees, they are found combining with these to destroy Jesus (Matthew 26:3-5 , Matthew 26:57 ).

(4) The Essenes.

The third party, the "Essenes," differed from both (some derive also from the Assideans) in living in fraternities apart from the general community, chiefly in the desert of Engedi, on the Northwest shore of the Dead Sea, though some were found also in villages and towns; in rejecting animal sacrifices, etc., sending only gifts of incense to the temple; in practicing celibacy and community of goods; in the wearing of white garments; in certain customs (as greeting the sunrise with prayers) suggestive of oriental influence. They forbade slavery, war, oaths, were given to occult studies, had secret doctrines and books, etc. As remarked, they do not appear in the Gospel, but on account of certain resemblances, some have sought to establish a connection between them and John the Baptist and Jesus. In reality, however, nothing could be more opposed than Essenism to the essential ideas and spirit of Christ's teaching (compare Schurer, as above, Div. II, Vol. II, 188 ff; Kuenen, Hibbert Lects on National Religions and Universal Religions , 199-208; Lightfoot, Colossians , 114-79).

IV. The Chronology.

The leading chronological questions connected with the life of Jesus are discussed in detail elsewhere (CHRONOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; QUIRINIUS , etc.); here it is sufficient to indicate the general scheme of dating adopted in the present article, and some of the grounds on which it is preferred. The chief questions relate to the dates of the birth and baptism of Jesus, the duration of the ministry and the date of the crucifixion.

1. Date of the Birth of Jesus:

Though challenged by some (Caspari, Bosanquet, Conder, etc., put it as late as 1 BC) the usual date for the death of Herod the Great, March, 4 BC (year of Rome 750), may be assumed as correct (for grounds of this dating, see Schurer, op. cit., Div. I, Vol. I, 464-67). The birth of Jesus was before, and apparently not very long before, this event (Matthew 2 ). It may therefore be placed with probability in the latter part of the previous year (5 BC), the ordinary dating of the commencement of the Christian era being thus, as is generally recognized, four years too late. There is no certainty as to the month or day of the birth. The Christmas date, December 25, is first met with in the West in the 4th century (the eastern date was January 6), and was then possibly borrowed from a pagan festival. December, in the winter season, seems unlikely, as unsuitable for the pasturing of flocks (Luke 2:8 ), though this objection is perhaps not decisive (Andrews, Conder). A more probable date is a couple of months earlier. The synchronism with Quirinius (Luke 2:2 ) is considered in connection with the nativity. The earlier datings of 6, 7, or even 8 BC, suggested by Ramsay, Mackinlay and others, on grounds of the assumed Roman census, astronomical phenomena, etc., appear to leave too long an interval before the death of Herod, and conflict with other data, as Luke 3:1 (see below).

2. Date of Baptism:

John is said by Luke to have begun to preach and baptize "in the fifteenth year of Tiberius" (Luke 3:1 ), and Jesus "was about thirty years of age" (Luke 3:23 ) when He was baptized by John, and entered on His ministry. If the 15th year of Tiberius is dated, as seems most likely, from his association with Augustus as colleague in the government, 765 AUC , or 12 AD (Tacitus, Annals i. 3; Suetonius on Augustus, 97), and if Jesus may be supposed to have been baptized about 6 months after John commenced his work, these data combine in bringing us to the year 780 AUC , or 27 AD, as the year of our Lord's baptism, in agreement with our former conclusion as to the date of His birth in 5 BC. To place the birth earlier is to make Jesus 32 or 33 years of age at His baptism - an unwarrantable extension of the "about." In accord with this is the statement in John 2:20 that the temple had been 46 years in building (it began in 20-19 BC) at the time of Christ's first Passover; therefore in 780 AUC , or 27-AD (compare Schurer, op. cit., Div. I, Vol. I, 410).

3. Length of Ministry:

The determination of the precise duration of our Lord's ministry involves more doubtful elements. Setting aside, as too arbitrary, schemes which would, with some of the early Fathers, compress the whole ministry into little over a single year (Browne, Hort, etc.) - a view which involves without authority the rejection of the mention of the Passover in John 6:4 - there remains the choice between a two years' and a three years' ministry. Both have able advocates (Turner in article "Chronology," and Sanday in article "Jesus Christ," in HBD , advocate the two years' scheme; Farrar, Ramsay, D. Smith, etc., adhere to the three years' scheme). An important point is the view taken of the unnamed "feast" in John 5:1 . John has already named a Passover - C hrist's first - in John 2:13 , John 2:23; another, which Jesus did not attend, is named in John 6:4; the final Passover, at which He was crucified, appears in all the evangelists. If the "feast" of John 5:1 (the article is probably to be omitted) is also, as some think, a Passover, then John has four Passovers, and a three years' ministry becomes necessary. It is claimed, however, that in this case the "feast" would almost certainly have been named. It still does not follow, even if a minor feast - say Purim - is intended, that we are shut up to a two years' ministry. Mr. Turner certainly goes beyond his evidence in affirming that "while two years must, not more than two years can , be allowed for the interval from John 2:13 , John 2:23 to John 11:55 ." The two years' scheme involves, as will be seen on consideration of details, a serious overcrowding and arbitrary transposition of incidents, which speak to the need of longer time. We shall assume that the ministry lasted for three years, reserving reasons till the narrative is examined.

4. Date of Christ's Death:

On the hypothesis now accepted, the crucifixion of Jesus took place at the Passover of 30 AD. On the two years' scheme it would fall a year earlier. On both sides it is agreed that it occurred on the Friday of the week of the Passover, but it is disputed whether this Friday was the 14th or the 15th day of the month. The Gospel of John is pleaded for the former date, the Synoptics for the latter. The question will be considered in connection with the time of the Last Supper. Meanwhile it is to be observed that, if the 15th is the correct date, there seems reason to believe that the 15th of Nisan fell on a Friday in the year just named, 783 AUG , or 30 AD. We accept this provisionally as the date of the crucifixion.

Part II. The Problems of the Life of Jesus

I. The Miracles.

1. The "Modern" Attitude:

Everyone is aware that the presence of miracle in the Gospels is a chief ground of the rejection of its history by the representatives of the "modern" school. It is not questioned that it is a super-natural person whose picture is presented in the Gospels. There is no real difference between the Synoptics and John in this respect. "Even the oldest Gospel," writes Bousset, "is written from the standpoint of faith; already for Mark, Jesus is not only the Messiah of the Jewish people, but the miraculous eternal Son of God, whose glory shone in the world" ( Was wissen wir von Jesus? 54,57). But the same writer, interpreting the "modern" spirit, declares that no account embracing supernatural events can be accepted as historical. "The main characteristic of this modern mode of thinking," he says, "rests upon the determination to try to explain everything that takes place in the world by natural causes, or - to express it in another form - it rests on the determined assertion of universal laws to which all phenomena, natural and spiritual, are subject" ( What Is Religion? English translation, 283).

2. Supernatural in the Gospels:

With such an assumption it is clear that the Gospels are condemned before they are read. Not only is Jesus there a supernatural person, but He is presented as super-natural in natural in character, in works, in claims (see below); He performs miracles; He has a supernatural birth, and a supernatural resurrection. All this is swept away. It may be allowed that He had remarkable gifts of healing, but these are in the class of "faithcures" (thus Harnack), and not truly supernatural. When one seeks the justification for this selfconfident dogmatism, it is difficult to discover it, except on the ground of a pantheistic or monistic theory of the universe which excludes the personal God of Christianity. If God is the Author and Sustainer of the natural system, which He rules for moral ends, it is impossible to see why, for high ends of revelation and redemption, a supernatural economy should not be engrafted on the natural, achieving ends which could not otherwise be attained. This does not of course touch the question of evidence for any particular miracle, which must be judged of from its connection with the person of the worker, and the character of the apostolic witnesses. The well-meant effort to explain all miracles through the action of unknown natural laws - which is what Dr. Sanday calls "making both ends meet" ( Life of Christ in Recent Research , 302) - breaks down in the presence of such miracles as the instantaneous cleansing of the leper, restoration of sight to the blind, the raising of the dead, acts which plainly imply an exercise of creative power. In such a life as Christ's, transcendence of the ordinary powers of Nature is surely to be looked for.

II. The Messiahship.

1. Reserve of Jesus and Modern Criticism:

A difficulty has been found in the fact that in all the Gospels Jesus knew Himself to be the Messiah at least from the time of His baptism, yet did not, even to His disciples, unreservedly announce Himself as such till after Peter's great confession at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13 ff). On this seeming secrecy the bold hypothesis has been built that Jesus in reality never made the claim to Messiahship, and that the passages which imply the contrary in Mark (the original Gospel) are unhistorical (Wrede; compare on this and other theories, Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus , English translation; Sanday, The Life of Christ in Recent Research ). So extreme an opinion is rejected by most; but modern critics vie with each other in the freedom with which they treat the testimony of the evangelists on this subject. Baldensperger, e.g., supposes that Jesus did not attain full certainty on His Messiahship till near the time of Peter's confession, and arbitrarily transposes the earlier sections in which the title "Son of Man" occurs till after that event (Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu , 2nd edition, 246). Bousset thinks that Jesus adopted the Messianic role as the only one open to Him, but bore it as a "burden" (compare his Jesus ). Schweitzer connects it with apocalyptic ideas of a wildly fantastic character (op. cit., chapter xix).

2. A G rowing Revelation:

There is, however, no need for supposing that Peter's confession marks the first dawn of this knowledge in the minds of the apostles. Rather was it the exalted expression of a faith already present, which had long been maturing. The baptism and temptation, with the use of the title "Son of Man," the tone of authority in His teaching, His miracles, and many special incidents, show, as clearly as do the discourses in John, that Jesus was from the beginning fully conscious of His vocation, and His reserve in the use of the title sprang, not from any doubt in His own mind as to His right to it, but from His desire to avoid false associations till the true nature of His Messiahship should be revealed. The Messiahship was in process of self-revelation throughout to those who had eyes to see it (compare John 6:66-71 ). What it involved will be seen later.

III. Kingdom and Apocalypse.

1. The Kingdom - P resent or Future?:

Connected with the Messiahship is the idea of the "Kingdom of God" or "of heaven," which some in modern times would interpret in a purely eschatological sense, in the light of Jewish apocalyptic conceptions (Johannes Weiss, Schweitzer, etc.). The kingdom is not a thing of the present, but wholly a thing of the future, to be introduced by convulsions of Nature and the Parousia of the Son of Man. The language of the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come," is quoted in support of this contention, but the next petition should guard against so violent an inference. "Thy will be done," Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, "as in heaven, so on earth" ( Matthew 6:10 ). The kingdom is the reign of God in human hearts and lives in this world as well as in the next. It would not be wrong to define it as consisting essentially in the supremacy of God's will in human hearts and human affairs, and in every department of these affairs. As Jesus describes the kingdom, it has, in the plain meaning of His words, a present being on earth, though its perfection is in eternity. The parables in Mt 13 and elsewhere exhibit it as founded by the sowing of the word of truth (Sower), as a mingling of good and evil elements (Tares), as growing from small beginnings to large proportions (Mustard Seed), as gradually leavening humanity (Leaven), as of priceless value (Treasure; Pearl; compare Matthew 6:33 ); as terminating in a judgment (Tares, Dragnet); as perfected in the world to come (Matthew 13:43 ). It was a kingdom spiritual in nature (Luke 17:20 , Luke 17:21 ), universal in range (Matthew 8:11; Matthew 21:43 , etc.), developing from a principle of life within (Mark 4:26-29 ), and issuing in victory over all opposition (Matthew 21:44 ).

2. Apocalyptic Beliefs:

It is difficult to pronounce on the extent to which Jesus was acquainted with current apocalyptic beliefs, or allowed these to color the imagery of parts of His teachings. These beliefs certainly did not furnish the substance of His teaching, and it may be doubted whether they more than superficially affected even its form. Jewish apocalyptic knew nothing of a death and resurrection of the Messiah and of His return in glory to bring in an everlasting kingdom. What Jesus taught on these subjects sprang from His own Messianic consciousness, with the certainty He had of His triumph over death and His exaltation to the right hand of God. It was in Old Testament prophecy, not in late Jewish apocalypse, that His thoughts of the future triumph of His kingdom were grounded, and from the vivid imagery of the prophets He borrowed most of the clothing of these thoughts. Isaiah 53:1-12 e.g., predicts not only the rejection and death of the Servant of Yahweh ( Isaiah 53:3 , Isaiah 53:1-9 , Isaiah 53:12 ), but the prolongation of His days and His victorious reign (Isaiah 53:10-12 ). Dnl, not the Book of En, is the source of the title, "Son of Man," and of the imagery of coming on the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13 ). The ideas of resurrection, etc., have their ground in the Old Testament (see ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ). With the extravagant, unspiritual forms into which these conceptions were thrown in the Jewish apocalyptic books His teaching had nothing in common. The new apocalyptic school represented by Schweitzer reduces the history of Jesus to folly, fanaticism and hopeless disillusionment.

IV. The Character and Claims.

1. Denial of Christ's Moral Perfection:

Where the Gospels present us in Jesus with the image of a flawless character - in the words of the writer to the Hebrews, "holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26 ) - modern criticism is driven by an inexorable necessity to deprive Jesus of His sinless perfection, and to impute to Him the error, frailty, and moral infirmity that belong to ordinary mortals. In Schweitzer's portraiture (compare op. cit.), He is an apocalyptic enthusiastic, ruled by illusory ideals, deceiving Himself and others as to who He was, and as to the impending end of the world. Those who show a more adequate appreciation of Christ's spiritual greatness are still prevented by their humanitarian estimate of His person and their denial of the supernatural in history from recognizing the possibility of His sinlessness. It may confidently be said that there is hardly a single writer of the modern school who grants Christ's moral perfection. To do so would be to admit a miracle in humanity, and we have heard that miracle is by the highest rational necessity excluded. This, however, is precisely the point on which the modern so-called "historical-critical" mode of presentation most obviously breaks down. The ideal of perfect holiness in the Gospels which has fascinated the conscience of Christendom for 18 centuries, and attests itself anew to every candid reader, is not thus lightly to be got rid of, or explained away as the invention of a church gathered out (without the help of the ideal) promiscuously from Jews and Gentiles. It was not the church - least of all such a church - that created Christ, but Christ that created the church.

(1) The Sinlessness Assured.

The sinlessness of Jesus is a datum in the Gospels. Over against a sinful world He stands as a Saviour who is Himself without sin. His is the one life in humanity in which is presented a perfect knowledge and unbroken fellowship with the Father, undeviating obedience to His will, unswerving devotion under the severest strain of temptation and suffering to the highest ideal of goodness. The ethical ideal was never raised to so absolute a height as it is in the teaching of Jesus, and the miracle is that, high as it is in its unsullied purity, the character of Jesus corresponds with it, and realizes it. Word and life for once in history perfectly agree. Jesus, with the keenest sensitiveness to sin in thought and feeling as in deed, is conscious of no sin in Himself, confesses no sin, disclaims the presence of it, speaks and acts continually on the assumption that He is without it. Those who knew Him best declared Him to be without sin ( 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5; compare 2 Corinthians 5:21 ). The Gospels must be rent in pieces before this image of a perfect holiness can be effaced from them.

(2) What This Implies.

How is this phenomenon of a sinless personality in Jesus to be explained? It is itself a miracle, and can only be made credible by a creative miracle in Christ's origin. It may be argued that a Virgin Birth does not of itself secure sinlessness, but it will hardly be disputed that at least a sinless personality implies miracle in its production. It is precisely because of this that the modern spirit feels bound to reject it. In the Gospels it is not the Virgin Birth by itself which is invoked to explain Christ's sinlessness, but the supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35 ). It is because of this conception that the birth is a virgin one. No explanation of the supernatural element in Christ's Person is more rational or credible (see below on "Nativity").

2. Sinlessness and the Messianic Claim:

If Jesus from the first was conscious of Himself as without sin and if, as the converse of this, He knew Himself as standing in an unbroken filial fellowship with the Father, He must early have become conscious of His special vocation, and learnt to distinguish Himself from others as one called to bless and save them. Here is the true germ of His Messianic consciousness, from which everything subsequently is unfolded. He stood in a rapport with the Father which opened His spirit to a full, clear revelation of the Father's will regarding Himself, His mission, the kingdom He came to found, His sufferings as the means o
Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Jesus Christ (Part 1 of 2)'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​isb/​j/jesus-christ-part-1-of-2.html. 1915.
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