Whether one believes that Jesus was the Messiah or not, historians believe they do have a few hard facts on the life of the man whose resurrection Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday.
Just think how happy Granny will be when she finds out you’ve been brushing up on your knowledge of Jesus. It might even make up for the fact you wore jeans to church.
1. His birth … in a manger?
Most historians believe Jesus was a real man. To test the veracity of biblical claims, historians typically compare Christian accounts of Jesus’ life with historical ones recorded by Romans and Jews, most notably the historians Flavius Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus.
And though a manger may or may not have figured prominently in the birth, scholars do agree that Jesus was born between 2 B.C. and 7 B.C. as part of the peasant class in a small village called Nazareth in Galilee. Historians also back the claim that Joseph, Jesus’ father, was a carpenter, meaning Jesus would have gone into the family profession as well.
2. A mystical baptism
One of the pivotal moments in the New Testament is Jesus’ baptism in the wilderness by a radical mystic named John the Baptist. Most historians believe this event actually occurred, and that Jesus experienced some sort of vision that led him to begin preaching. In the New Testament, Mark 1:10 (The New American Bible, Revised Edition) describes Jesus seeing “the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.” Jesus is then tempted by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days, the passage continues.
The Jewish historian Josephus mentions the mystical activities of John the Baptist, as well as his execution by King Herod.
Full story at LiveScience.
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