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Studies Of Historical Jesus Revealed Interesting Evidence

By Gloria Mason
Although Jesus Christ is one of the most famous religious figures to have ever lived, there is a paucity of actual historical evidence proving that he really existed. While many studies of the historical Jesus revealed tantalising morsels of evidence, there is still very little available. Nonetheless, many interesting insights can be gained from studying Jesus in this way.

One of the best places to start looking for the historical Christ is actually in the Bible, in the New Testament. It should be noted, though, that methods of historical analysis must be applied to these sources in the same way that they would with other documents. For that reason, the New Testament must be approached with caution.

The New Testament was not, after all, adopted as the Bible of Christianity until approximately 150 years after the death of Christ. Prior to that, early Christians had used the Septuagint, or Greek Old Testament, as their primary text. The New Testament was also written, in large part, by men who had never met or seen Christ.

Any decent historian should approach the study of the New Testament with extreme caution, not least because of its clear partiality. Much of the writing in it was composed with the intention of making Christ seem great, and even divine. Much of it was also written down many years after Christ’s death, largely by people who had no direct experience of the man.

All of these things together mean that the information in the New Testament needs to be viewed with caution, if you are looking for evidence of the man who is called Christ by so many millions of people. Christianity itself went through a period of intense debate and controversy in the two centuries or so after Christ’s death. Much early Christian writing in the years after the death of Christ was also composed by people who lived outside of Palestine, and were Gentiles, not Jews.

While any debate about the theological roots of Christianity is beyond the bounds of this article, it is essential to treat the New Testament as any other historical document would be treated when studying the history of Christ. There are other sources which can complement its study, though. Many of these documents come from the Roman tradition.

Cornelius Tacitus is one Roman historian whose works have direct references to Christ contained within them. Tacitus refers to Christ specifically, in relation to Nero’s persecution of the Christians. Thallus was another historian who mentioned an eclipse at the time of the Crucifixion. Christ was not declared divine in any way until the time of the fourth century AD.

When studying to find the real-life Christ who existed in history, there are a number of sources which offer good leads. Whether they are Biblical writings or documents from other traditions, though, they need to be treated with the same level of caution. The historical Jesus revealed by such a study therefore becomes an even more arresting and intriguing figure, even though the details available from sources is tantalisingly slight.

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