Talk:Jesus/Archive 1

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Major changes

Major changes. I look forward to reading the final product. It will be important to analyze the changes after this major reworking is complete. Happy writing and best of luck on this huge article! -Tom Kelly (Talk) 00:58, 15 January 2007 (CST)

This one has gone from bad to worse - so far. Stephen Ewen 21:53, 16 January 2007 (CST)
will the history of jesus according to the Christian gospels still be included in the final product? [comment added on 19 January 2007 by User:Thomas E Kelly ]


Feel free to join in... I had assumed that each of the gospels would have its own article. How much time do we have, anyway? Bei Dawei
I don't think there really is a time limit. It's going to be a long time before CZ has a ton of articles so just work hard on a few articles that you are passionate about. The reason I liked the history according to the gospel is because a lot of people won't actually go to the gospel subpages but will read this article. I think it's important anyone else? -Tom Kelly (Talk) 14:00, 19 January 2007 (CST)
Yes, I think it is absolutely important. Stephen Ewen 19:47, 19 January 2007 (CST)

Neutrality and other topics

I just want to point out that the article in its present shape is horribly biased. The very first thing the article says under "Sources" is: "The major historical difficulty concerning Jesus is that the most important sources of information, the four canonical gospels, are works of sectarian propaganda. As historical sources, they suffer from the following shortcomings: ..."

Pathetically biased--and I say this as a confirmed nonbeliever, by the way.

And the first sentence is bizarre in its description of Jesus as "a Palestinian Jewish religious figure": "Jesus (or Jesus Christ) was a Palestinian Jewish religious figure who was executed by the Roman government by crucifixion around AD 30 or 33. He is chiefly remembered as the (perhaps unwitting) founder of Christianity, and as a prophet of Islam."

Sure, he was Jewish, sure he lived in what is now called Palestine, but surely these aren't the first most notable things to say about Jesus.

In every controversial subject, the only way to proceed according to the neutrality policy is to begin with a vanilla description (such as "Jesus (or Jesus Christ) is generally regarded as the founder of the Christian religion") and then proceed to describe the controversy as neutrally and engagingly as possible.

This article does something quite different. It pretends that skepticism is equivalent to neutrality, when that is so obviously (since it is a topic about which so many people have faith) incorrect. The Wikipedians have certainly completely gotten the neutrality policy wrong in this case. --Larry Sanger 21:38, 19 January 2007 (CST)

I not trying to privilege "skeptical" views of Jesus here, just start from the least-contested and proceed to the more controversial. (A common approach in Jesus Studies, by the way.) While other Palestinian Jews were crucified at this time, this opening does serve to pin him down to as close as we can come to a generally-agreed historical event. Anything else, such as a description of his teachings, would be far more iffy, and in any case less influential as a sheer symbolic image.
The very next line does describe him as the Christian founder (and Muslim prophet). And two more paragraphs of the introduction cover the essentials of how they see Jesus. Later sections should go into even more detail. In what way is this inadequate? Is it a matter of language, or of presentation? I'm afraid I don't understand your objection.
On rereading, I think you object to the phrase "sectarian propaganda." "Sectarian" means that the gospels were created and promoted by a religious sect. "Propaganda" means that it is material meant for distribution, in order to bring other people around to their views. Both are statements of fact, though I admit the phrase does sound jarring. (But then, you don't want to sound neutral anyway, it seems...?)
Or perhaps I should ask, How would you organize or express the basics of Jesus? Do you think we should begin with a summary of the gospels? Bei Dawei

The basic principle of writing an encyclopedia article is: you begin with the most general description of the thing; in the case of a historical personage, what the person is best known for. Therefore, one does not begin with "the least-contested and proceed to the more controversial." Since beginning with "what a person is best known for" is what people expect, after all, out of an encyclopedia article, to begin with anything other than the precise reason why Jesus is famous--he is reputed to be founder of Christianity, and the son of God according to Christians--is going to look biased to a lot of people. Certainly to me (a confirmed agnostic, by the way).

The second sentence, beginning "He is chiefly remembered as the (perhaps unwitting) founder of Christianity," is plainly biased, because for Christians, he is chiefly not remembered, but known as an immediate presence, as God. For us not to say so in, indeed, the first sentence is precisely to be biased against Christians. It would be like opening the article about Muhammad without saying both that he was a prophet of God, according to Muslims, as well as the founder of Islam. Surely all this is obvious?

Bei, I am indeed trying to make controversial articles like this neutral. The reason the phrase "sectarian propaganda" is obviously not neutral is that it is the way that one group of people would describe Jesus, and a way that another large group of people (i.e., most Christians) would not describe him.

I think that a summary of the gospels should, obviously, be one of the first things, not the first thing, in an article about Jesus, because for the vast bulk of your audience, that is the most interesting information about the topic. Also, and perhaps more importantly, the gospel story is again what Jesus is famous for. What could justify omitting it from the beginning of the article, since that is indeed the very explanation for the existence of the article?

I'm sorry, but it really is difficult to write neutrally about controversial topics. You must realize something that you appear not to realize fully yet, namely, that you are speaking on behalf of everyone--including Christians--interested in this topic. That means that, essentially, you have to write in such a way as to make everyone as happy as possible. Surely we can do better than how the article is at present.

The real trick to writing neutrally, by the way, is by "going meta," i.e., rather than making vague, but widely-agreed claims ("was a Palestinian Jewish religious figure whom Roman authorities executed by crucifixion"), one makes quite specific, but attributed claims, and one proceeds to describe the disputes fairly. So it's all right to say, in the first sentence, that Jesus is regarded as son of God, as long you say he's so regarded by Christians as the central tenet of their faith. And, of course, as long as you also say that he's regarded in other specific ways by Jews and by Muslims. The emphasis in the beginning should, clearly, be on attributed Christian claims, for the simple reason that it's Christians who care most about the article's subject. That's the article's "constituency." You'd give the Islamic view of Muhammad similar billing in the Muhammad article, and so forth. It's just that, in each article, you also present other views of the subject--each one, indeed, presented sympathetically. (And in a lively fashion, as well.)

I will rewrite the article myself, if and when I have time, to demonstrate what neutrality, on my view of it, requires. Please do read [1], if you're interested in the policy I'll be editing for CZ.

--Larry Sanger 20:23, 21 January 2007 (CST)

I don't think we disagree terribly much about neutrality, only in whether what I have written so far qualifies as neutral. Try as I might, I don't see what the problems are. You keep insisting that I have somehow ignored Christian beliefs, when I think I have given them appropriate prominence.
What I would most like to see happen, is to have actual biblical scholars come and go over this. After all, this isn't really my field. I'm only trying to get it into some sort of condition where real scholars wouldn't just slam their heads against the wall.
I have assumed that the historical Jesus--i.e. the real guy--should have priority over faith-based fantasies thereof. I propose that an analogy would be with Saint Nicholas / Santa Claus. Compare the following descriptions:
(a) Saint Nicholas was a fourth-century bishop of Myra, who ultimately inspired the legends of Santa Claus.
(b) Saint Nicholas is a folk figure said to deliver toys to children during the Christmas holidays. He is loosely based on Saint Nicholas of Myra.
(c) "Saint Nicholas" has more than one referent. For the Christian saint, see Saint Nicholas of Myra. For the Christmas figure, see Santa Claus.
Note that discussion of the Santa Claus cult only makes sense when grounded in time and place, so we can't just declare that he has eight reindeer (not Rudolf?), or appears on Christmas Eve (not Epiphany?). Better to start with the real guy (or as much as can be known of him), and then trace the development of the legend over time.
On to other points... To say that Jesus "founded Christianity" is very likely wrong, which is why I said that he is remembered that way (as it happens, by most of the world's people). To say that Jesus is mainly known for being the Son of God, ignores the fact that the Qur'an explicitly denies this. (How important is it that Christians slightly outnumber Muslims, or that they presumably care somewhat more about Jesus?)
While the phrase "sectarian propaganda" would not be used by most Christians, it is nevertheless accurate. Which is more important--the happiness of (non-liberal) Christians, or accuracy? (Perhaps the phrase is needlessly inflammatory, since the same points are developed later.)
Anyway, I look forward to your rewrites.
--Dawei / Dawud Bei Dawei

Is that User: Be Ware? Or Borat? Is that a goof? Is that Ken Kesey off the bus? Or on? Is that a big waste of everybody's time? Or just a big waste of everybody's good will? But then, waste's a goof, too! Goof on you, you, you! Where's the line? Here? There? Or are you over it? Get over it! Maybe just push us over it? Maybe just focus down down down bring us down to the line you can draw right here, in religion, that's always a good goof, right, one big goof, keep it going going gone, always a line to draw in religion, always a way to get a rise, and the biggest goof, is you can just keep that goof GOING GOING GONE, and nobody catches ON. Hey, man, what a goof! In case you are wondering, that is my very considered opinion of this sophisticated pranksteristic essay. Oh, you had NO idea it was offensive? It is offensive and I object to it, right down to the Santa Claus analogy and I'm not a believer, either. But I do have respect for people that are. Nancy Sculerati MD 00:55, 22 January 2007 (CST)

I'm sorry that you're offended, but I assure you that everything I wrote was in earnest. At least I am attempting to communicate rationally. The bulk of your post appears to consist of some sort of dadaist ad hominem.
I have a suggestion. One of Citizendium's authors is User: Peter Kirby, who created this webpage. Perhaps he could be persuaded to edit the "Jesus" article...?
As for me, I will try to get the "biographical details" sections into some sort of order in the next week or so. Perhaps this should be combined with the requested section summarizing the canonical gospels?Bei Dawei

Sigh...yes, I think that might be helpful. Here's my concern: The topic of this article is one that is, as I know you are aware, legitimate from a variety of viewpoints. Although in one sense the amalgamation of those views into one article is neutral, their juxtaposition is inflammatory. I'm going to copy a post I made (4 days ago, by the way) in the Neutrality section of the forums below: I understand that balancing the presented facts in an unslanted manner is important. I'd like to present a different aspect of bias, one that feeds into offensiveness, and might be handled in a pragmatic way for our "unforked citizendium" experiment. I started going through articles and mentally constructing workgroups for each of the CZ live articles, simply as a way to come up with workgroups we might be missing. I was analysing 'rabbit' (of all things!) and it struck me that one article containing a balanced view of this subject would be (1) offensive (2) a sort of dictionary definition and (3) boring. That's because the very same rabbit can be legitmately handled 4 ways:

  1. Rabbit- Animal husbandry workshop (perhaps a division of Agriculture?)
  2. Rabbit-pet rabbit- Animal Hobbyist (Recreation)
  3. Rabbit- anatomy, physiology, evolution of: biology workshop (Natural Sciences)
  4. Rabbit- recipe for red sauce, cholesterol content, use in low fat dishes- (Cooking) Culinary Arts Workshop

Having an article that includes practical wisdom on “caring for your pet rabbit” along with “Recipes for rabbit” promotes gratuitous discord. Having an article which includes “keeping a house rabbit”, “making toys for your rabbit”, along with “mass production of rabbits” and “world survey of techniques for proper butchery of rabbits” does the same. It's inflammatory. It's also so scattered that it will almost certainly produce an unreadable article. Keeping to our convention of 32 kilobyte articles converts a single article on rabbits, or any other subject that has many contexts, into an overview kind of a list, rather than something entertaining and enlightening. So, one way to deal with this is to use workshops to approve different articles with the same main subject. We need a software adaptation to title articles accordingly.

Anyway, this same schema might work for religions, Let say Religion X, where including a sacred view- how believers see it, with a very sceptical view, is much like including a detailed section on rabbit cookery along with a detailed section on socializing rabbits as household pets in the same article. Juxtaposing them is liable to make even an extremely tolerant person who happens to be either a member of Religion X or a pet rabbit owner offended for a gratuitous reason. Having whole articles that are from a single point of view can be neutral, is my point, as long as there are several of them and there is an outright statement at the start making the slant explicit. I'm not saying this is a rule that articles can't include the whole array of views, I'm saying that single view articles are not biased if the bias is openly stated and articles from other points of view are linked.

My apologies for not believing that you were in earnest, because I did not. I do believe that we have a responsibility to fairly present all views, but optimally, do that without shattering us as a community. Perhaps we can work together to do that here in a manner that is not whitewashed but is sensitive to the many people who hold Jesus sacred. For example, the portrayal as a wandering excorcist, alhough colorful (and strictly true) might be less offhand. ;-) Nancy Sculerati MD 02:31, 22 January 2007 (CST)

No problem. Grace and peace to you (as one of those Bible people says somewhere or other).
Are you proposing separate articles for "The historical Jesus" and "Jesus Christ in Christianity"? Or separate articles covering various points of view about the historical Jesus?
The part about exorcism is more than just strictly true. Exorcism seems to have been an important practice of Jesus's, and one of the few things about him we can be relatively confident about (which is why I put it up there in par. 2). I suppose it must have formed a part of his/their theory of disease / insanity, since it's linked with healing. Anyway, the gospels seem to take it for granted, though it may seem garish to some of us moderns. Bei Dawei

The central constraint on all articles, required by the neutrality policy, is that articles on a general subject must express every sincere viewpoint as sympathetically as possible, given that many other viewpoints must be expressed equally sympathetically. It is quite frankly difficult to believe that Bei Dawei is, as you put it "in earnest," if he maintains that the Christian view of this subject is expressed "as sympathetically as possible, given that many other viewpoints must be expressed sympathetically as well." I say that because it is perfectly obvious that the Christian view is not presented sympathetically at all in this article.

I also do not think that you have understood what I wrote earlier, Dawei, regarding "going meta." Should I explain this further? --Larry Sanger 09:37, 22 January 2007 (CST)

You're right--I don't understand "meta," and suspect that the theory may turn out to be incoherent. May I suggest that you focus your remarks on the practical issue of what to say in this article, and how to organize its presentation?
The way I have been dividing the topic is (a) historical Jesus (which necessarily includes many ideas contrary to the Christian mainstream, (b) Jesus in Christianity, (c) Jesus in Islam, (d) Jesus in Judaism, and (e) Jesus in the broader culture (or something like that). You've been complaining about (a) the "historical Jesus" section and saying that it neglects Christian views, which I had intended for (b) based on historical order. Is your objection to the order of presentation--perhaps (b) should come before (a)? Or do you think that my "historical Jesus" coverage itself is slanted, and that I have unjustly favored the minimalist end of the spectrum? Bei Dawei

The notion of "going meta" is not incoherent, and indeed is the bedrock of the neutrality policy to which all participant in CZ are committed. It is something we have illustrated many times in many ways on Wikipedia.

Do you take the view that the Christian view is indeed expressed sympathetically in this article? Or, perhaps, do you not care whether or not it is? If you think it's adequately sympathetic, you clearly haven't got a grasp of what a sympathetic presentation would look like; and if you don't care whether it's sympathetic, then you have rejected the neutrality policy. --Larry Sanger 00:07, 23 January 2007 (CST)

It would help my answer if you could identify some specific objections. Again I ask: are you complaining about the accuracy / comprehensiveness of the "historical Jesus" section, or about an article plan which assigns "Christian views of Jesus" to a subsequent section? (While I have not gotten that far yet--the current content from that section is just re-arranged Wikipedia--I assume that the final version would cover a similar range of material.) Bei Dawei
Commenting on the rewrite of the introduction, is this all you were talking about earlier--paragraph order? The reshuffling itself doesn't bother me. However, the rewrite as it stands now suffers from certain infelicities:
(1) It unintentionally privileges Jesus's status as an ethical exemplar, over his mythical (I mean as the hero of miracle stories and the like) and theological roles.
(2) The purpose of the second paragraph is unclear, as it now lumps together points from Christian theology with points showing Jesus's importance in the world.
(3) The paragraph about Islam is treated differently from the one on Christianity, and now sits awkwardly at the end of the introduction.
(4) The number of at least nominal Christians would be somewhere between one and two *billion*, so talk of "millions" is odd. Bei Dawei

Just an attempted rejuggling to try to ensure that the tone of the article is sympathetic, without compromising any factual content. I've tried a further change in the light of your comments. I don't think Larry was talking just about the lead and order but about the overall tone. I'm not a Christian as it happens, so perhaps am not the best person to judge whether a Christian would see this as a sympathetic rendering. However I suspect that he would be more likely to do so if the ethical example of Christ was given prominence. Yes, for me it was an intentional privileging of this positive aspect in order to balance later skeptical treatment. Though as it happens I do think that the ethical values of Christ are not really covered as extemsively as perhaps they should be. But just my two cents...Gareth Leng 09:51, 24 January 2007 (CST)

Now the introduction has become rambling and disorganized. May I suggest devoting each paragraph to some particular point?
For many (perhaps most) Christians, the image of Christ as an ethical teacher is not more "positive" than his other roles. (Think C.S. Lewis's "trilemma.") Bei Dawei
Go ahead. I'd tried, obviously not well. I had tried to rearrange the introduction where each paragraph had an intended purpose
  • 1) Brief overview
  • 2) Summary of Christian story of Jesus
  • 3) Jesus as a prophet of Islam
  • 4) Social and cultural impact
  • 5) Historical view
I don't have the time or knowledge for a rewrite however which is perhaps what is needed. As for positive aspects, I don't know how to rank positive aspects, but I feel that a lead article on Jesus should not be dominated by the issue of historical evidence; perhaps the interrogation of the historical evidence would be better placed as a separate article. It seems to be to be no more appropriate to start with the issue of historical accuracy here than it would be to start any article on a religious theme with a discussion of the lack of scientific evidence for the existence of the relevant deity.Gareth Leng 04:45, 25 January 2007 (CST)

We need more eyes

I think I will weigh in here a bit again.

Full disclosure: I am a devoted Christian who holds to the historical doctrines of Christianity per the Nicene Creed.[2] And I never put my brain on hold to come to that. Beyond that, I am most certain to not fit into anyone's stereotypes of what is a Christian, as I am sure others will recognize soon enough, if some have not already based upon past interactions with me.

I think Larry's comments here on neutrality and bias have been excellent, to say the least. Let me add to Bei Dawei that this appears to be a very emotional subject for you and that your bias shows through in a most clarion way both in the article and here, e.g., "those Bible people"; "faith-based fantasies", etc. My initial thoughts upon reading this article, when I made my brief comment way up top of this page, have already been expressed better by Larry and Nancy.

I do not doubt, Bei Dawei, that you are writing this based upon what you see; yet, consider that what you see may not be alone adequate for the task, but yes a part.

I happen to have browsed through the "A's" and "B's" of the authors and editors here, and some just at random. Among them I found a candidate for the Catholic priesthood (equals a seminary graduate usually), an evangelical seminary graduate, and a few other such people. I am sure there are or will be Muslims here; Mormons; and others, skeptics (e.g. User: Peter Kirby), non-skeptics, indifferents, and what have you. Simply put, I think it is crucially important to get more eyes on to this article. Perhaps I can visit more userpages and invite a diverse group here of, say, for now, six or so others, along the lines of what I am talking about.

Also, I think Nancy has a point in her Rabbit analogy. It may be wise to have biased articles, stated to be such, on certain topics. Still, I think we can do both. I see no reason why an article on rabbits cannot survey them from the sciences, and then move on to survey their "importance": as pets and as a product produced for food. And then have more focused articles on each area.

Thoughts?

Stephen Ewen 05:20, 25 January 2007 (CST)

Yes, yes--by all means, bring in some people who specialize in this. (I don't, as I said before.)
I had to smile at the description of me as the emotional...did you think I was a believer or unbeliever? Either way, I assure you that I'm having fun here, and hope everyone else is too. The whole point of a wiki is collaboration. On the other hand, the point of it not being Wikipedia is to have it be a higher level of collaboration (grounded in scholarship, I hope).
So far the main theme of our discussions has been "Will the Christians like it?" I think this concern is misplaced. If the basic coverage is fair and accurate, the smarter Christians will appreciate that (some of the strongest skeptics are actually Catholic--I guess they have their rabbit and eat it too!) and of course a sizeable contingent won't like anything.
What do you think of my Santa Claus analogy? (for whether the article should give priority to Jesus as a historical figure or an object of faith)
Bei Dawei
I see your Santa analogy between "the historical Jesus" vs. "the Jesus Christ in Christianity" as problematic on several fronts. Most Christians maintain that their faith is in the historical Jesus. But that is largely neither here nor there. I do not suspect we will see everything the same way, nor should we expect to; nor should we waste our breath trying to change each other's minds. The relevant thing is the task at hand: to collaborate as professionals, with all our diverse views and quirks and foibles, to construct an outstanding, neutral point of view article. None of us will get our full "plate". Stephen Ewen 19:39, 25 January 2007 (CST)
I've given the intro another go, on the following schema:
Par. 1 -- simplest possible description
Par. 2 -- Jesus's importance
Par. 3 -- Jesus, as he is remembered
  • as ethical exemplar
  • as hero of miracle stories (Christians and Muslims)
  • as divine (Christians)
Par. 4 -- historical Jesus
Par. 5 -- some concluding flourishes.
The first line of (5) really belongs with history, but I was struggling with where to put the part about the resurrection (which is problematic for Muslims, as many don't accept the crucifixion). Maybe something about atonement and the incarnation should be added...? I took out some stuff on the eucharist, just because I thought it didn't have to be mentioned in the intro, but it's a tough call.
Perhaps the most noticeable change here is that Christianity and Islam are not separated into different paragraphs. Thoughts? Bei Dawei

The problem here does not seem to be defined as "will the Christians like it" (and it wasn't really the main theme of the discussion). I think the problem is that the intro should express briefly and sympathetically different points of view. As far as I understand, we agree that there are three major perspectives (Christian, Muslim, historic, the order here expresses my thoughts on prominence of each one in the text). And observe that the current version is almost exclusively written from the historic point of view with much positive light shed on Jesus' influence and prominence of the Christianity in the world. Definitely, this is not what I understand by neutrality. Observe, for example, that the actual Christian point of view is hard to deduce from the present version. In this regard, the former one looked more clear and neutral as separated paragraphs gave important perspectives that were assigned to its proponents. I do not think we have to "please Christians", I think we are able to fairly present their point of view, in a sympathetic way, given that other points of view are expressed sympathetically too. Aleksander Halicz 04:00, 26 January 2007 (CST)

Hmmm. That is a problem, if the text is now unclear. I suppose it would be a simple matter to dig up the previous versions where Christianity and Islam are separated... I do wish there were some convenient way of viewing our various attempts side-by-side... Anyway, I will leave the intro in your (collective) capable hands.
Meanwhile, I do hope that we (and others still to come) will give equal attention to the rest of the article. In that spirit, I've started a few sections summarizing the gospels, and moved this to the beginning (since the subject seems more accessible and logically primary). The major decision is whether to treat the gospels thematically (as I've done here) or to take them gospel-by-gospel. I assure you that I am not wedded to any particular approach, and would in fact be grateful if other people would join me in working on the primary text. Bei Dawei

I feel that the article is messy and biased, though perhaps not for the same reasons stated by others.

An encyclopaedic article concerned with a person should follow certain steps in a certain order. In this case, those should be:

  1. Who Jesus was.
  2. His life, according to the earliest (credible) sources (first) and later credible sources. This should be a description of his life, as best as it can be traced.
  3. Why is he important to believers: the system of faith developed around his views and figure, major developments in beliefs, and so on.
  4. Views by non-believers, in culture, etc.

To explain why this is biased, let's take the opening paragraph:

Jesus (also known as Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth) was a Palestinian Jewish religious figure of the first century AD. He is regarded as the founder of Christianity, and as one of the prophets of Islam.

The problem with this opening paragraph is that it doesn't tell us all the relevant facts, doesn't tell them in the right order, and adds incorrect facts and facts that are irrelevant or less important, thus making them seem more important than they should.

In an opening paragraph, we should learn:

  1. His name (we have that partially; missing are the Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew names)
  2. Years lived (we should get the best approximation).
  3. Who he was and where: Jew who lived in Palestine -- that's not the same as "Palestinian Jewish."
  4. Why is he important: because he is considered the central figure in Christianity, regarded as the Saviour and son of God by many(?) Christians. Here he is described as "regarded as the founder of Christianity" which is a dubious definition. Historically that's definitely wrong. Neither Jesus, nor any Christian, nor anyone else view him as such. The addition of the Islamic view is a total aside and should be scrapped.

Ori Redler 07:13, 26 January 2007 (CST)

I agree with all of your points except the very last. About 2 billion people on Earth regard Him as the Savior and the Son of God. About a billion others believe that he was the last great prophet before the greatest prophet Muhammad. The Muslim view is extremely relevant here even though the historicity of it is a bit more dubious. --Clarkbmiller 08:08, 26 January 2007 (CST)
The Muslim view would be very much relevant had Jesus been a figure of significance and importance within the Islam. I see this as proper to mention this only if Jesus was a figure of central, critical importance in the Islamic faith. This is not the case. To compare, we would not mention Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist views about Jesus in the opening paragraph because he is not a central figure in either. Ori Redler 17:50, 26 January 2007 (CST)
Jesus does not appear in lists of figures typically venerated by Hindus or Buddhists (although a few have done so and few would object). Jesus invariably appears on lists of prophets of Islam. Bei Dawei

I much prefer the version of the introduction most recently approved by Gareth Leng. --Larry Sanger 09:07, 26 January 2007 (CST)

We do not have a policy here that articles are supposed to be "encyclopedic". Citizendium is a compendium of knowledge, but not a traditional encyclopedia. Articles that begin Name (derived from Greek Name, Latin Name) also called Other Name and Third Name... are not a style that there is any requirement to imitate. There is no absolute style requirement here. Nancy Sculerati MD 09:12, 26 January 2007 (CST)

Perhaps there isn't an absolute style-guide requirement, but in my experience there should be. Otherwise, things will get pretty messy very-very quickly (they already did). There should be standards in writing articles, and we should stick to them, especially with the more 'sensitive' articles. I cannot see a way to write stuff by people of differing views otherwise (and it's not going to be easy anyway). Ori Redler 18:02, 26 January 2007 (CST)

Point of Order

Reflecting on our interactions over the past week or so, it occurs to me that the oft-touted benefits of CZ viz. Wikipedia are not really in evidence here. Like the crowd on Wikipedia, we are a self-selected group with no special expertise (as far as I know) in Jesus Studies and so on. The crucial tasks of composition and critique are heavily dependent on arbitrary considerations of whoever (often me) happened to have had the time and energy to do something that day, and/or sufficient assertiveness to overwrite the work of others. Such a process, I submit, is unlikely to result in a quality article.

What to do...?

Perhaps the privilege of composition / revision ought to be reserved for actual experts in some aspect of Jesus Studies, classics, history of Judaism or Christianity, etc.? (Yes, demarcation is problematic--presumably it would be easier when taken section-by-section.) I hasten to add that I would not qualify, and am therefore proposing to exclude myself as well.

Another difficulty is that the format privileges one version of the proposed text at a time. I think the task would be better served if multiple proposed texts could be compared and critiqued.

I wonder if these are basic flaws of CZ as currently conceived, or are capable of being solved within the CZ framework, perhaps as it grows more popular...? Bei Dawei

Last night I went through the userpage of every editor and author currently listed. Whenever someone's bio indicated a level of expertise on this subject, I invited them here. I invited about 6 or 7. A few have come so far. Stephen Ewen 21:46, 26 January 2007 (CST)
These are early days for Citizendium, and we should not expect to get a article on such an important topic right without extensive thought and discussion, and with the involvement of many people. We also have to work out how to achieve the ideals that we share for Citizendium, to enable us to produce together an article that is significant in its scholarship, sympathetic in its treatment of a major and controversial subject, and at the same time clearly and engagingly written.

The lead is obviously attracting concern because~it catches the eye and is presumed to set the tone. However, I think it's more important at this stage to get major elements of the content written - notably the account of Jesus as contained in the canonical gospels, and an account of his teachings and of their impact. The historical details are interesting, and should be part of this article, but their importance should not be overestimated; in a sense it is irrelevant whether Jesus was a historical figure at all to a discussion of the impact of his teachings and the story of his life. He is important not for what he actually did and said, that none of us can ever know for sure, but for what he is believed to have done and said.Gareth Leng 10:32, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Stephen, when you say some people here have expertise on "the subject," could you be more specific? For example, is anyone here a specialist on Jesus Studies? Bei Dawei
Religious studies, New Testament, Ancient History, Hebrew - those are the ones I found. Stephen Ewen 05:20, 28 January 2007 (CST)
Thanks Stephen. Sounds good--hope they come. Bei Dawei

Good faith? Let's discuss edits first.

The issue of different authors rewriting with clashing styles and sympathies is not a new phenomonom with the Jesus article. Believe it or not, it made the first weeks of writing the Biology article full of conflict, and began to happen when an MD, a Ph D and a DC collaborated on the Chiropractic article. In those cases, all authors (most of whom were also editors in the appropriate workgroups) managed to produce good and useful work in which everyone learned and benefitted. How? We asked that the language be discussed FIRST here in discussion. We all worked on it and then transferred it into the article. Bei, you do not appear to fall into the category of being a good faith author, and I'm not interested in arguing with you over that. It's a fact. You may be working in good faith, but you do not give that appearance. For all these reasons, I would like to impose a trial of continuing the work on this article first on the Talk page, and making changes in the actual article only after discussion. Nancy Sculerati MD 10:45, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Well, yes it worked on chiropractic essentially because there were just 3 people working intensively on it. I'd suggest trying to lower the steam level by getting agreement on a plan and some principles and adding content to the empty sections; I suspect that this article will seed several new ones as it will get ungainly otherwise. It's very easy to see that huge issues may just get neglected or forgotten. I'm quite sure Bei that you did not intend that this article should be offensive to anyone, but I certainly think it is, because of its balance and tone not anything actually said. It's really not an issue of censorship, it's a matter of finding a way to report fully and accurately while in the tone of that reporting respecting all readers, including especially those with a deep religious faith. An article on Jesus that most Christians would not wish their children to read is not what we want hereon Citizendium, in my opinion at least.Gareth Leng 11:34, 27 January 2007 (CST)
Very reasonable and great ideas, Nancy and Gareth. Stephen Ewen 13:25, 27 January 2007 (CST)
If I may be as blunt as Nancy, my impression is that many of the participants here are broadly ignorant of the scholarship on Jesus, and seem to be basing their complaints largely on the anticipated response of modern Christians. (I should think that the purpose of an article is not to please readers, but to inform them.) I offer a short self-diagnostic, given below. Bei Dawei
1. What were Jesus's last words? (Warning! Trick question)
2. What is the meaning and register of "Rabboni"?
3. Is Pilate more accurately described as a prefect, procurator, or governor? Why?
4. Is Kloppenborg's Q1 apocalyptic?
5. Who was "James the son of Zebadee"?
6. Name the major Jewish holidays which Jesus would have observed.
7. What early Christian groups used Tatian's gospel harmony?
8. Where is Chenoboskion and why is it important?
9. What distinguishes Orthodox from "Nestorian" Christology?
10. Explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

We need to stop and think

The article, I'm afraid, is severely harmed by what is going on right now. The facts are getting banished lower and lower, replaced by "appeasement adjectives." We now learn from the first three paragraph that Jesus was "the central figure" and "inspired the foundation of the major world religion of Christianity" and "one of the principal prophets of Islam" and "one the most influential people who ever lived" and that the "history of European literature, art and music would be unimaginable without its Christian heritage" and that "Translations of the Christian Bible number among the foundational literature of many languages" and also "Events in Jesus's life are commemorated through vast public holidays such as Christmas and Easter" and also the interesting fact that "Most of the world now follows the Gregorian calendar, based on the number of years since Jesus's birth" and for those of us who are not yet convinced we are assured that "Examples of his influence could easily be multiplied." We also learn that "the story of Jesus's life" inspires Christians and that the "his teachings, as recounted in the New Testament, are a source of comfort and inspiration, as they have been for Christians for nearly two thousand years" and also that "These ethical values have had a major impact upon the political, legal and social structures of many countries".

And what can the uninitiated learn from this about Jesus? Almost nothing. We do not know where he was born, when, who he was, where he grew up, what he did, how he died, and so on. All we get is a list of meaningless adjectives. It is akin to starting an article about Plato with an endless list of influencees, or an article about Aristotle with four paragraphs praising how so many philosophers were inspired by him.

We should go back to the basic: First a paragraph, short and sweet, a 120 words long description of who Jesus was, neatly placed in a place, at a time, and a touching one key element: that he is the central figure in Christianity, believed by Christians to be a saviour and the son of God. Next we should get the story of his life, as told in the NT. Third should come the historical debate, and last the influence on western culture. The article should focus on Jesus, and as it is it is anything but. Ori Redler 13:21, 27 January 2007 (CST)

And yet Ori,and while I am not a Christian myself, I do feel that your suggested summary just misses almost everything that is important about Jesus not just for Christians, and that is the impact that his teaching and the example of his life has had on individuals, societies, and European culture. I think that what is imortant to Christians is not somuch that he is the Son of God, but his values and example, but maybe I'm wrong.Gareth Leng 16:25, 27 January 2007 (CST)
I agree with Ori. We need to stop thinking of Christians first, and the real Jesus as an afterthought. Bei Dawei

Let's start the work of collaboration Nancy Sculerati MD 14:37, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Please put your proposed first paragraph here: Be sure to sign your work.

  • Jesus is recognised as the Son of God by Christians....... --Versuri 15:21, 27 January 2007 (CST)
  • Jesus (or Jesus Christ; also known as Jesus of Nazareth) is generally regarded as the founder of Christianity, a religion that spread to prominence in the Roman world, and which today has over one billion followers worldwide. By Christians, Jesus is recognised as the Son of God. Jesus is also a prophet of Islam, but Moslems do not consider Jesus to be divine. From historical point of view he was a Palestinian Jewish religious figure whom Roman authorities executed by crucifixion around AD 30 or 33. (note this was the first paragraph in a previous version.) Nancy Sculerati MD 15:40, 27 January 2007 (CST)


Please put your article plan below the line: Be sure to sign your work.


I suggest beginning the article with: Jesus (or Jesus Christ; also known as Jesus of Nazareth) is the central figure of Christianity. It is generally agreed by religious followers and historians that he was a Jewish teacher from Israel who was born at or shortly before 1 BCE and died between thirty and forty years later.—Nat Krause 19:19, 27 January 2007 (CST)

As far as I know the only clues about Jesus's birth year (or age at death) comes from very suspicious "historical" information given in the gospels (about events which apparently didn't happen). I suggest that we focus attention on his death year, which can be narrowed down more reasonably. Dawei

A comment: "Palestinian Jewish religious figure"

The phrasing "Palestinian Jewish religious figure" is awkward. "Jewish religious figure" seems to imply that "Jewish" here refers to the Jewish religion, which I presume was not intended. Jesus was ethnically Jewish but to describe him religiously Jewish is controversial. Also, "Palestinian Jewish" seems perhaps unnecessarily complicated. Those terms are definitely not synonymous in the context of that time, but they overlapped heavily. Perhaps we could substitute something simpler like "Jesus was an Israeli religious figure"?—Nat Krause 16:26, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Please come up with a corrected statement, put it above under the first paragraph section- and sign it. If you don't have a whole first paragraph, just quote the line you don't like and give a replacement, or the statemnet that it should be deleted rathder than replaced. Nancy Sculerati MD 16:32, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Jesus was certainly "Jewish" (both ethnically and religiously) by the standards of Second Temple Judaism. "Palestina" was the name of the Roman province. Dawei

Moving Forward with Collaboration:First Paragraph

Jesus (or Jesus Christ; also known as Jesus of Nazareth) is central to Christian religion, in which he is worshiped as both the son of God and the savior of mankind. Jesus is a prophet of the Islam Religion, but is not considered divine by Moslems. Historians and religious followers agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from the geographic area now known as Israel, who was born around 1 BCE and died between thirty and forty years later.

What needs to be changed? Is this adequate to be moved over to the article?Nancy Sculerati MD 21:15, 27 January 2007 (CST) I'm not sure about crucifixtion by Romans- is that also generally agreed. Can it be said:..and was crucified as a criminal by the Romans about thirty to forty years later?Nancy Sculerati MD 21:23, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Please replace "Islam Religion" with simply "Islam" (not an adjective), and "Moslems" with the presently more common "Muslims".—Nat Krause 23:04, 27 January 2007 (CST)
Minor points first: Eliminate gratuitous reference to modern Israel (unless you also plan to mention Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, and--according to mythology--Egypt).
Replace "the Islam Religion" with "Islam".
"Religious followers" is a bit awkward.
"Teacher" obscures Jesus's other roles, such as folk healer and exorcist.
There is absolutely no consensus about "1 BCE" or any other proposed birth year. (For all we know, he might have been fifty when he died.) Better to focus on the death year.
Christians generally view Jesus not only as the "Son of God," but also in some sense as God (i.e. the Trinity). I feel this is an important point. Dawei
I agree with your last point. Perhaps we can hedge with "the divine Son of God"?
Also, why can't we just say "Israel" instead of "the geographic area now known as Israel". This is not a term of recent coinage.—Nat Krause 23:22, 27 January 2007 (CST)
The gospels record Jesus as having traveled in "Egypt", Tyre, and the Decapolis, none of which fall under any modern understanding of "Israel". For Jesus, the term "Israel" would have referred to a people.
Don't hedge about the claims made of Jesus. The details are immensely immportant, though necessarily controversial. Dawei

Would it be out of line for me to post the first paragraph from several print Encyclopedias just so we can get an idea of how "our competition" has handled this subject? Stephen Ewen 03:54, 28 January 2007 (CST)

See this (but on-line).--Versuri 04:24, 28 January 2007 (CST)
That summarizes the whole very lengthy Brittanica article in one paragraph - not an easy task. AAR, I do have the full version Intro I could paste here, just as a way to get some contrast. I'm just not sure if I should, though. Stephen Ewen 04:38, 28 January 2007 (CST)

I would say that copyright must always be respected. Therefore, the way that Versuri put the external link is just fine. Also, quoting a couple of lines or even a paragraph could be fine, but it would have to be quoted exactly, the quoted material contained clearly within quotation marks, and cited as "quotation from:XXX" with the XXX a full citation of the source including publisher. Nancy Sculerati MD 07:35, 28 January 2007 (CST)

That paragraph relies on the gospels and Christian theology, with no mention of skeptical criticism of the story thus presented. It also seems to have some of the facts wrong, e.g. the dates for Pilate. Bei Dawei

What about this:

Jesus (or Jesus Christ; also known as Jesus of Nazareth) is central to Christian religion, in which he is worshiped as the son of God,a facet of the Trinity, and the savior of mankind. Jesus is a prophet of Islam, but is not considered divine by Muslims. Historians agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from the geographic area then known as the Roman province of Palestinia.

I am quite willing to put the healer and excorcist parts in- and a bunch of other stuff- but I would like to do that in a subsequent paragraph for quality of writing issues. By convention, his birth begins the Christian Era. And I would like a way to put that in. How ould you state the date of death? Actual words? Please write a better version of the sentences above if you care to. Is "facet" ok for the Trinity part? What more needs to go in this first paragraph before we move it over?Nancy Sculerati MD 23:30, 27 January 2007 (CST)

But, now we have "the geographic area then known as the Roman province of Palestinia", which is an even more complicated form. What's wrong with simply "Israel"? Also, I don't think it's necessary to include "exorcist" and "healer"; there's nothing in this version of the intro which says he wasn't those things, only that he was a teacher.—Nat Krause 23:35, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Well, Dawei is absolutely right about scholarship issues where I am concerned. And obviously, this will all have to be vetted by scholars before approval- but the term Israel is a modern one and Jesus definately was not born after 1948. We can drop "geographic area" and we can argue about excorcist and healer later- because they are not in this paragraph. I would like to fix some estimate of birth and death dates in the first paragraph, and I would like some agreeable language to work with, please. Nancy Sculerati MD 23:41, 27 January 2007 (CST)

The term "Israel" seems to have been in use prior to 1948. Wikipedia says, "Thus, according to the Hebrew Bible, when the ancient Children of Israel left Ancient Egypt, and went on to conquer the lands of the Canaanites, they eventually established the united Kingdom of Israel מלכות ישראל (Malchut Yisrael) and lived there as the "Nation of Israel" (Am Yisrael) עם ישראל ... Thus the physical areas and boundaries of the Kingdom of Israel (מלכות ישראל) monarchy that were inhabited by the Children of Israel (בני ישראל), also called the Nation of Israel (עם ישראל), came to be known and indentified during Jewish history as the Land of Israel (ארץ ישראל) until the present time."—Nat Krause 23:50, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Nat, the King James Bible is full of references to Isrealites, but the word Israel has a contempory meaning of the modern state of Israel and any other meaning is relatively obscure. Further, it's inflammatory for no good reason. I like using the name of the Ancient Roman province because it is both true and educational. Also, Wikipedia is not a erecognized academic source, I'm going to push you to do better. Nancy Sculerati MD 23:55, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Minor point--very puzzling to say that "Israel" is a modern term, since (in some form, I have no idea what) it is obviously an ancient name. What it has or deserves application to is another question, but it certainly is not a modern term. In the book of Genesis, "Israel" is the name given by God to Jacob, and the Israelites were so called because they were all supposed to be descendants of Jacob/Israel whom Moses led out of Egypt into the Promised Land. See, I am re-reading the Bible for the first time since I was a child, purely because it's a Great Book, not because of religious feeling in me which I admit is pretty much completely dead. So I had to show off my paltry knowledge of this simple fact that no doubt used to be common knowledge, and still is for many people... Also, indeed the name of the country, and its history, is recounted in those boring history books of the Old Testament, you know. Israel is what David was king of, if I am not mistaken.  ;-) --Larry Sanger 23:57, 27 January 2007 (CST)

That is basically right (it's often referred to as the "united monarchy"), but remember that after King Solomon the former Davidic realms divided into a northern kingdom called "Israel," and a southern one called "Judah." Skeptical historians and archeologists doubt the existence of King David on the grounds that the Bible's description of a high culture centered on Jerusalem is contradicted by archeological evidence, which shows a pastoral society for that period. Bei Dawei

I'm not saying that Israel is a modern term, I'm saying that in any contemorary sentence that states "X is from Israel" the first association is the modern state (of Israel).Meanwhile- give me some laqnguage to work with, please!Nancy Sculerati MD 00:02, 28 January 2007 (CST)

Well, I'm not sure I agree with that. I don't think the pre-modern meaning of the word "Israel" is at all obscure, and it context it should be perfectly clear what we mean. If anything, I would think that using a term resembling "Palestine" might have political implications, although it oughtn't in an ideal world. I'm not totally sure how to settle a disagreement over the connotations of a word, though.—Nat Krause 00:09, 28 January 2007 (CST)

It's not vital that we do right now. It is vital that we rough out a first draft that is acceptable in broad terms and that we have a workable collaboration. Nancy Sculerati MD 00:15, 28 January 2007 (CST)

Again, for Jesus "Israel" would have referred to a people. The borders of the "Land of Israel" were murky and would be of no help in establishing Jesus geographically.
If "Palestine" is too distracting, we could specify Galilee, Judea, and so forth. Or say "the Roman province of Palestine." "Levantine" or "Mediterranean" would also be acceptable, though needlessly vague.
CORRECTION: The name "Syria Palestina" was only used from the second century AD. In Jesus's time it was the "Roman province of Iudaea" (which included Judea, Samaria, and Idumea)--but remember, Jesus was from Galilee, which was governed separately.
To call Jesus as "facet" of the Trinity is arguably heretical. The usual language is that he is one of the "Persons" of the Trinity. Yes, that's a strange use of language, but there's no help for it.
Nancy asks about Jesus's death year. Apparently the years 30 and 33 are regarded as the most probable (based on calendrical details relating to Passover) but another year could well be true. At least we can be reasonably sure that it occurred during the period of Pontius Pilatus.
On reflection, I think it's important to have a line to the effect of "Scholars are deeply divided on the central issues of whether Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, believed in the immanent end of the world, or intended to found Christianity." Dawei
I suggest "Bethlehem in Judea" as best to describe Jesus' birthplace. Stephen Ewen 03:37, 28 January 2007 (CST)
Many scholars believe that the gospel writers invented his connection with Bethlehem, because of its connection with King David. Apart from the nativity stories, Jesus is usually identified with Nazareth or Galilee. Bei Dawei
That would more accurately be a minority of scholars, wouldn't it? And while certainly including minority views, writing from a neutral point of view would not privilege a view held among a minority of scholars, would it? Stephen Ewen 04:27, 28 January 2007 (CST)
Talk of a "minority" presumes some objective way of determining who is or is not a "scholar," and then of systematically surveying their opinions. Let us say that doubt about the Bethlehem story is very much a mainstream view which even those who reject it must address. Bei Dawei
I think you see the part you see. Stephen Ewen 20:07, 28 January 2007 (CST)

I am concerned about the potential balance of the article, and this concern is nothing about appeasing Christians, but about objective balance. In this case it's about addressing a subject in a way that is guided appropriately by those things that make a subject notable. I think we'd expect to make the heart of any biographical article a careful explanation of the contribution made by that individual and its impact. What makes Jesus so notable surely, is the impact on the world of the story of his life and what are understood to be his teachings. Fragmentary knowledge of the historical Jesus is interesting but these details are largely incidental, it really doesn't matter much exactly when he was born or died or where or what he looked like Objectively, this article needs to summarise and explain the impact that his life had on society, moral and ethical values, politics and legal systems, and on individuals, and whether that impact was based on truth or myth does not change the impact.Gareth Leng 04:41, 28 January 2007 (CST)

You are right that the "Christ of faith" is far more influential than the historical Jesus. I think this is less because of the teachings attributed to him in the New Testament (which often go ignored--e.g. oath-taking) than because Christianity has persuaded so many people to worship him as God. In this light, we can't really say that "Jesus" had an impact on ethics, politics, or what have you--this was the doing of the church. Bei Dawei

Israel - sourced definitions

"Israel - 1.the new Name God gave to Jacob (Ge32:28);2.the nation made up of descendents of the 12 sons of Jacob;3.the northern ten tribes after they separated from Judah and Benjamin." "Israelites - the people of Israel" Reference for the above quotes: New International version Serendipity Bible: For Personal and Group Study Copyright 1998 by Serendipity House, Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan ISBN O-310-93732-9 page 1797

While I am not thrilled to be guided by something called the "Serendipity Bible" (or anything else from Zondervan), I think your point is to argue against using "Israel" as a geographic term...? Bei Dawei

My point is that rather than shoot the hot air, we should come up with actual sourced references, so that we can learn. I borrowed this book from a neighbor this morning, whose teenager attends a private high school where this book is the text used in a Theology class. The school is not a "religious" school but an academic "Independant School" and looking at the book, it is written by scholars. It's the best I could come up with. What can you bring us? ;-) Nancy Nancy Sculerati MD 08:11, 28 January 2007 (CST)

About what? What would you like references for? I'll point you to the appropriate Wikipedia pages. ;-) Bei Dawei

If that's the most impressive source you can come up with on short notice, I'm sorely disappointed in you. It's more fun to play with the big boys, I've always thought. How about: Birth date, Death Date, Birth place for starters? Nancy Sculerati MD 08:37, 28 January 2007 (CST)

That was kind of the point of the ;-). But I'll get right on it... Bei Dawei
Now, now. Let's all remain civil. Personally, I the above definition of "Israel" seems odd to my ear, but I'm no expert, so I'll gladly go along with it. Let's substitute "Galilee" instead—more specific.—Nat Krause 12:19, 28 January 2007 (CST)
Oh the definition itself is fine, as long as we're limiting ourselves to ancient uses. Bei Dawei

I assure you, I am being not only civil-but affectionate. Rather than just go by our ear or gut, let's pull together and really explore and learn. I'm sure that Dawei will come up with some amazing things. I've already learned a lot here, and it comes from scholarship. If he hadn't prodded the discussion, I would not know about the use of the word Israel. Nancy Sculerati MD 13:40, 28 January 2007 (CST)

My suggestion, and various other

My Suggestion:

Jesus (also known as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth) was a 1th century Jewish teacher and prophet, believed by Christians to be the Messiah, the Son of God, and the second person of the holy Trinity. His life and teachings are recorded in the four Gospels of the New Testament, a theological document written several decades after his death.

According to the Gospels Jesus was born in Bethlehem before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC. Of his childhood almost nothing is told, except that he once visited Jerusalem with his parents. He appeared as a preacher, teacher and healer when his was about age 30, active mainly in the Roman province of Galilee. He gathered a growing group of followers, including the 12 Apostles, who believed him to be the promised messiah. On Passover he came to Jerusalem, where he was arrested and condemned to death as a political agitator by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate (28-30 AD). After he was crucified and buried, According to the Gospels, his tomb was found empty and he appeared before some of his disciples before ascending into heaven.

The why: This description includes the basic facts of his life, time frame, what he did, his importance for christians, the main sources, and what they tell us.


1. "1st century" is unnecessarily broad, since he was only alive for the first third of it.
2. "Prophet" is dubious. Do you mean to say that he claimed to be a prophet? That the Bible calls him a prophet? That he was a prophet? (In what sense--sociological, after Wach?) Muslims would agree, but Christians would protest that this suggests a lesser role than that of God incarnate.
3. One gospel (not "Gospels") refers to Herod the Great, but his death date comes from external sources.
4. On what basis do you think Jesus was 30 when he began to preach? I think you are remembering a church tradition to that effect, based on the belief that 30 is the perfect age.
5. Mark suggests that most of the followers were not told about Jesus's messianic claims.
6. I thought Pilate was around until AD 36...?
7. And anyway, it's not right to rely on the New Testament plus Christian tradition for the basics of Jesus's life. There's not even a mention here (at least in paragraph one) that anyone might doubt this story. Bei Dawei



American Heritage Dictionary:

A teacher and prophet whose life and teachings form the basis of Christianity. Christians believe Jesus to be Son of God and the Christ.


Britannica:

In Christianity, the son of God and the second person of the Holy Trinity.

Christian doctrine holds that by his crucifixion and resurrection he paid for the sins of all mankind. His life and ministry are recounted in the four Gospels of the New Testament. He was born a Jew in Bethlehem before the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, and he died while Pontius Pilate was Roman governor of Judaea (AD 28–30). His mother, Mary, was married to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth (see St. Joseph). Of his childhood after the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke, nothing is known, except for one visit to Jerusalem with his parents. He began his ministry about age 30, becoming a preacher, teacher, and healer. He gathered disciples in the region of Galilee, including the 12 Apostles, and preached the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God. His moral teachings, outlined in the Sermon on the Mount, and his reported miracles won him a growing number of followers, who believed that he was the promised messiah. On Passover he entered Jerusalem on a donkey, where he shared the Last Supper with his disciples and was betrayed to the Roman authorities by Judas Iscariot. Arrested and tried, he was condemned to death as a political agitator and was crucified and buried. Three days later visitors to his tomb found it empty. According to the Gospels, he appeared several times to his disciples before ascending into heaven.


Columbia:

Jesus or Jesus Christ (jē'zəs krīst, jē'zəz) , 1st-century Jewish teacher and prophet in whom Christians have traditionally seen the Messiah [Heb.,=annointed one, whence Christ from the Greek] and whom they have characterized as Son of God and as Word or Wisdom of God incarnate. Muslims acknowledge him as a prophet, and Hindus as an avatar (see avatara). He was born just before the death of King Herod the Great (37 B.C.–4 B.C.) and was crucified after a brief public ministry during Pontius Pilate's term as prefect of Judaea (A.D. 26–36).

That's a help- but please modify those posts with full reference information. As we are writing a new compendium, I think that the styles of Encyclopedia and the way they have handled the subject is really helpful- but for us, we need to go deeper for scholarly sources. So, for example, we need to examine the sources that these encyclopedias drew on, I realize that they may not be explicit. If not, we need to find our own. Actually, even if they give sources, we still need to find our own - as well as examine those cited by the above references. That way we come up with something that is authentic scholarship rather than derivative simplification. At least, that- like everything else I write - is my opinion. Nancy Sculerati MD 09:08, 28 January 2007 (CST)

Practically the only sources of note with regards to his life are open to all and equal: It's the NT and nothing but. There are other sources of some note with regards to the question of whether Jesus existed or not, but there's no need to go further than analysing his life's story with them. Ori Redler 04:41, 29 January 2007 (CST)

Encarta:

Jesus Christ (between 8 and 4 bc-ad 29?), the central figure of Christianity, born in Bethlehem in Judea. The chronology of the Christian era is reckoned from a 6th-century dating of the year of his birth, which is now recognized as being from four to eight years in error. Christians traditionally regard Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, and as having been divinely conceived by Mary, the wife of Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. The name Jesus is derived from a Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua, or in full Yehoshuah (Yahweh is deliverance). The title Christ is derived from the Greek christos, a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (anointed one), or Messiah. “Christ” was used by Jesus' early followers, who regarded him as the promised deliverer of Israel and later was made part of Jesus' proper name by the church, which regards him as the redeemer of all humanity.

The principal sources of information concerning Jesus' life are the Gospels, written in the latter half of the 1st century as the generation that had known Jesus firsthand began to die. The Epistles of Saint Paul and the Acts of the Apostles also contain information about Jesus. The scantiness of additional source material and the theological nature of biblical records caused some 19th-century biblical scholars to doubt his historical existence. Others, interpreting the available sources in a variety of ways, produced biographies of Jesus in which his life was purged of all supernatural elements. Today, scholars generally agree that Jesus was a historical figure whose existence is authenticated both by Christian writers and by several Roman and Jewish historians.

SIDEBAR: Debate over the Historical Jesus

I think these examples are all useful to "see what others have done". I find Encarta's immediate "Sidebar" into a separate article "Debate over the Historical Jesus" very interesting. Stephen Ewen 20:04, 28 January 2007 (CST)

Wry observation

This is why I don't think we need to copy articles from wikipedia. Citizens here have created more text *about* the article than we have in the entire article. If we can do this just discussing a topic, why do we need to copy anything over? We could just add our suggested comments to the article instead. It'd certainly save on cleanup hassles. Shanya Almafeta 20:23, 28 January 2007 (CST)

correct! ;-) Nancy Sculerati MD 11:42, 29 January 2007 (CST)

New first several paragraphs of article. Comment, please

The article now begins:


Jesus (also known as Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth) is the central figure whose life and teachings inspired the foundation of the major world religion of Christianity. Jesus is also one of the principal prophets of Islam. By virtue of the impact of Christianity as a religion, Jesus is one the most influential people who ever lived. The history of European literature, art and music would be unimaginable without its Christian heritage. Translations of the Christian Bible number among the foundational literature of many languages. Events in Jesus's life are commemorated through public holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Most of the world now follows the Gregorian calendar, based on the number of years since Jesus's birth. For Christians throughout the world, the story of Jesus's life is the embodiment of the ethical principles to which they aspire, and his teachings, as recounted in the New Testament, are a source of comfort and inspiration. These ethical values have had a major impact upon the political, legal and social structures of many countries. As an ethical teacher associated with the Greatest Commandment and the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is admired even by many humanists from outside the Christian and Muslim traditions (Gandhi being a notable example). Christians and Muslims believe that he is the Messiah (Greek Christos, whence the title "Christ"), whose coming fulfilled Old Testament prophecy; and whose life was accompanied by numerous miracles beginning with the Virgin Birth. Beyond that, most Christians worship Jesus as the Son of God, and as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity. The Qur'an condemns such beliefs as violations of monotheism, insisting that Jesus was a human prophet similar to Abraham or Muhammad. For historians, little is known for certain about the life of Jesus. Jesus was a Jew who lived in Palestine during the first century AD. Most would accept the description of Jesus as a travelling, charismatic teacher, and a healer and exorcist who was active around Galilee and Judea. He was baptised by John the Baptist, but left the Baptist movement, attracting his own disciples as well as very large numbers of followers. Though often questioned about Jewish law, he was not regarded as strictly observant. He taught in parables, often of something called the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven). His followers were drawn from the peasantry or artisan / retainer classes, and rarely from the social elite. He enjoyed no institutional recognition or sponsorship; rather the nature of his authority was charismatic. Jesus was executed by crucifixion near Jerusalem, around AD 30 or 33, on the orders of Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. For Christians, this event was the defining moment in the history of the world, a kind of axis mundi. It is remembered not as a tragedy, but as a triumph--and not only because of Jesus's subsequent resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven. Various Christian theologies attempt to explain how Christ's sacrifice has brought salvation into the world.


I think this is superior to anything in our encyclopedic examples, but I am no judge in terms of approval- I'm simply commenting as another author. We should have references, I think, for any controversial statements. So, my question: are there any controversial statements here? If so-anybody have a respected scholarly reference? Nancy Nancy Sculerati MD 08:29, 29 January 2007 (CST)


It doesn't work like this, not the way I understand this. It's not OK if the statements are correct or non-controversial, but if they are the essential and primary facts about Jesus. Still, here goes:

Jesus (also known as Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth) is the central figure whose life and teachings inspired the foundation [1] of the major world religion of Christianity [2]. Jesus is also one of the principal prophets of Islam. [3]

By virtue of the impact of Christianity as a religion, Jesus is one the most influential people who ever lived. [4] The history of European literature, art and music would be unimaginable without its Christian heritage. [5] Translations of the Christian Bible [6] number among the foundational literature of many languages. [7] Events in Jesus's life are commemorated through public holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Most of the world now follows the Gregorian calendar, based on the number of years since Jesus's birth.[8]

For Christians throughout the world, the story of Jesus's life is the embodiment of the ethical principles to which they aspire, and his teachings, as recounted in the New Testament, are a source of comfort and inspiration.[9] These ethical values have had a major impact upon the political, legal and social structures of many countries. [10] As an ethical teacher associated with the Greatest Commandment [11] and the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is admired even by many humanists from outside the Christian and Muslim traditions (Gandhi being a notable example) [12].

Christians and Muslims believe that he is the Messiah[13] (Greek Christos [14], whence the title "Christ"), whose coming fulfilled Old Testament prophecy [15]; and whose life was accompanied by numerous miracles beginning with the Virgin Birth [16]. Beyond that, most Christians worship Jesus as the Son of God, and as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity. [17]

The Qur'an condemns such beliefs as violations of monotheism, insisting that Jesus was a human prophet similar to Abraham or Muhammad. [18] For historians, [19] little is known for certain about the life of Jesus. Jesus was a Jew who lived in Palestine [20] during the first century AD. Most would accept [21] the description of Jesus as a travelling, charismatic teacher, and a healer and exorcist who was active around Galilee and Judea. [22] He was baptised by John the Baptist, [23] but left the Baptist movement, [24] attracting his own disciples as well as very large numbers of followers [25]. Though often questioned about Jewish law, he was not regarded as strictly observant [26]. He taught in parables, often of something called the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven). His followers were drawn from the peasantry or artisan / retainer classes [27], and rarely from the social elite.[28] He enjoyed no institutional recognition or sponsorship [29]; rather the nature of his authority was charismatic. [30]

Jesus was executed by crucifixion [31] near Jerusalem, around AD 30 or 33 [32], on the orders of Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. For Christians, this event was the defining moment in the history of the world, a kind of axis mundi. [33] It is remembered not as a tragedy, but as a triumph[34]--and not only because of Jesus's subsequent resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven [35]. Various Christian theologies attempt to explain how Christ's sacrifice has brought salvation into the world. [36]


  1. Vague terminology.
  2. Not in English.
  3. Incorrect, trivial.
  4. That's a statement about Christianity.
  5. Statement about western culture.
  6. What's that?
  7. Statement about Christianity.
  8. Statement about Christianity.
  9. Statement about Christianity.
  10. That's vague and impossible to substantiate here.
  11. Not sure what that is. Why is this unique to Jesus?
  12. Notable, but negligent. Cannot be substantiated here. Vague.
  13. Incorrect.
  14. That's not in Greek.
  15. Muslims do not believe this. What's this prophecy? It is assumed that this is common knowledge and that the existence of such prophecy is substantiated. Incorrect on both.
  16. The Virgin birth was not an event in his life.
  17. That's not "beyond that" but in direct contradiction to that.
  18. Not important and also contradict what was written earlier.
  19. As oposed to non-historians who know more? Apologetic par. opener.
  20. Incorrect. He was born in the province of Judea, lived in the province of Galilee. Palestina (not Palestine) is a later name.
  21. Weasle.
  22. Do we have an alternative description?
  23. According to the NT, which isn't even referred here.
  24. Incorrect. He never actually joined it.
  25. That's incorrect according to the NT.
  26. Incorrect.
  27. Anachronism. You cannot speak about classes here.
  28. Anachronism. You cannot speak about social elite here.
  29. Anachronism
  30. Vague, unclear.
  31. Crucified.
  32. If we accept that he was crucified on the orders of Pilatus, this could not have happened later than 30. No reference why we shouldn't
  33. This is about Christianity, not Jesus.
  34. This is about Christianity, not Jesus.
  35. Only two of the gospels state that he ascended to heaven. Incorrect.
  36. Again, nothing to do with Christ but with Christology.

Ori Redler 13:37, 29 January 2007 (CST)

You have made a number of good points here. However I do not accept that it is possible to write a balanced article on the subject of Jesus without detailing the impact of his teachings and life as they are understood to be - it would be like writing an article on Einstein without mentioning the impact of his theories of Relativity, or an article on Shakespeare that dwelt on controversy about who wrote his plays and exactly who he was but not on his impact upon our language and culture. So key statements about Christianity that relate directly to the life or teachings of Jesus are needed - the issue is what in the lead is disputed? Things that you have indicated as incorrect can and should be corrected. Statements that in the lead are imprecise, so long as their meaning is clear, can and should be made precise in the article that follows. I don't think a lead is a precis of the article, nor need the lead be referenced - general statements here can be expanded upon later with refernced detail. The lead instead explains to the reader the scope of the article, identifying those elements of the subject that the article selects as being significant. Here we are discussing it essentially because the draft lead is in effect a provisional plan for the article; displaying the intended scope. The statements that you say relate to Christianity not to Jesus, are statements specifically about the impact of the words and deeds attributed to him and the facts of his life as understood by Christians - which of these are in dispute? The phrase "for historians" is to distinguish the "real person" as vaguely reconstructed on very limited evidence from the person known to Christians through their faith and to others through the teachings of the Church. The latter is surely the significant figure for two thousand years of history, regardless of the historical facts of his life.Gareth Leng 14:33, 29 January 2007 (CST)

Ori, your critiques suffer in some instances from a dearth of verbosity. Can you explain further your criticisms of the following? "Christians and Muslims believe that he is the Messiah[13] (Greek Christos [14], whence the title "Christ"), whose coming fulfilled Old Testament prophecy [15]; and whose life was accompanied by numerous miracles beginning with the Virgin Birth [16]. Beyond that, most Christians worship Jesus as the Son of God, and as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity." Do Muslims not, in fact, believe that Jesus was the Messiah? If so, doesn't that perforce fulfill prophecy in the Old Testament? "Christos" is a word in the Greek language, although it is written in Roman letters, is it not? How is the Christian worship of Jesus in "direct contradiction" to belief in him as the Messiah? Isn't that precisely what mainstream Christianity teaches?
As for "historians", I suggest "secular historians" might be substituted.—Nat Krause 15:03, 29 January 2007 (CST)
My comments on Ori:
1. Ori's right
2. "Not in English"? What does this mean?
3. The status of Jesus as a prophet of Islam is both true (emically, not etically) and important.
4-8. On one hand, the figure of Jesus has become very important, and this is surely worth noting. On the other hand, the figure thus venerated might have nothing to do with the real guy. What to do...?
10. Ori's right. (I would put # 9 in the same category.) Jesus's "ethics" are difficult to decipher and probably impracticable. Certainly Christian nations are not going around turning the other cheek or giving to all who ask.
11. The Greatest Commandment is the one that ends with "love thy neighbor." Look under the "Phariseeism" section of the article text for the verse numbers.
12. Sorry for being lazy, but Gandhi can be looked up easily enough if that's all you want. (I think this is towards the beginning of "My Experiments With Truth.")Or are you asking for a list of humanists on record as admiring Jesus?
13. Islam again. Sorry Ori, you're wrong.
14. Okay, transliterated Greek with a spelling twist. Quibble.
15. Muslims do believe that Jesus fulfilled previous prophesies, just as Muhammad fulfilled Jesus's prediction of the Paraclete. The Jews were wrong to have rejected him.
16. Jesus's life was "surrounded" by mircles--the Virgin Birth at the beginning, and the Resurrection / Ascension at the end. Except many Muslims don't believe in the crucifixion, making the Resurrection etc. problematic.
17. "Beyond that" means that the beliefs which follow are in addition to the ones expressed before. Humanists--line A. Muslims--lines A. and B. Christians--A through C. Christian beliefs may or may not be "contradictory," but it's not really up to us to change them.
18. Islam again. Of course this contradicts the earlier lines--that's the point, Muslims disagree with Christians.
19. My earlier line said something like "Almost every detail of Jesus's life is either unknown or disputed. A minimalist view would accept that..." and then the rest.
20. Palestine is a fine geographic term. (Even the Zionists used to call it that.) The Journal of Biblical Studies changed its name a few years ago to the Journal of Syro-Palestinian Archeology.
21. Why is this a weasel word? This is true.
22. You want an alternative description for Jesus, or his stomping grounds? I don't see any problem with the text here.
23. Jesus's connection with John would form part of any "consensus" view among liberal and conservative scholars. This is not based on the authority of the NT, which affirms many other things which skeptics would reject.
24. Well they didn't give him a membership card, but he did accept baptism.
25. Crowds are mentioned in all four gospels. Jerusalem during Passover would have been crowded.
26. The gospels variously have Jesus (a) affirm Jewish law, (b) deflect criticism for not following it too strictly, and (c) proposing severe interpretations of it that nobody could ever follow. In connection with (b), the gospels have him befriending prostitutes and tax collectors.
27-29. Do you think Roman Palestine was one of those rare societies in which social classes did not exist? Or is it the term which bother you. (Cf. the title of Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant.)
30. "Charisma" meaning the sociological term.
31. It is possible to be crucified without being executed, as often happens around Easter in the Philippines.
32. There seems to be some disagreement about the dates for Pilate. Let's look this up.
33-end. I agree that priority should be given to the historical Jesus. However, there's nothing wrong with also examining the image of him that has come down to us via religion.
Bei Dawei

I'll try to respond in a more-or-less orderly fashion:


To Gareth Leng: I do believe, and here we probably differ, that a lead should be a précis of the article. It should be self-contained, accurate, and tell the reader only the most important facts about the subject matter. There should be a discussion of Jesus' impact and importance, but with the opening paragraph this should be touched upon, not expended.

PS. You wrote that "for historians" is meant to distinguish the "real person" from the person known to Christians through their faith. The problem is that both Historians and believing Christian rely on and refer to the same text. Further, the story recounted is the one found in that text, so there is no difference in perspective between Historians and the believing layman.


To Nat Krause:

  1. The claim that "Muslims believe that he is the Messiah" is in contradiction with the claim that "Qur'an... [insists] that Jesus was a human prophet".
  2. The "prophecy in the Old Testament" is a Christian article of faith, not a Muslim one.
  3. "Christos" is neither here nor there. It should be χριστος.


To Bei Dawei:

  1. "not in English" means cumbersome.
  2. "status of Jesus as a prophet of Islam is both true... and important" -- We will have to disagree here. I would only mention that if it was a central tenet/principle in Islam. Buddha is, according to Hindus, the ninth incarnation of Shiva (IIRC), but we would not mention this in the opening paragraph either. You'd have to back such an broad statement (here and later on) by strong references to Jesus' central role in Islam.
  3. "Greatest Commandment" -- I know what it is, but our readers might not. Also, this is a principle he adopts from the Torah and a rather common statement (for Jews, at that time) anyhow. The part about the Prooshim contains an unrelated piece of information ("Jacob Neusner contends that Jesus' teachings were closer to the House of Shammai than the House of Hillel." -- which may be true, and I would contend this, but not related to the saying of Hillel the Elder).
  4. "Palestine is a fine geographic term" -- This is an anachronism, as the province of Judea became Palestina only after 130 AD or so.
  5. "Gandhi" and other humanists. Gandhi was certainly influenced by some of Jesus' teachings, but Buddhism, Hinduism or Tolstoi were much more important as sources of influence, so the example is correct, but not the most relevant here.
  6. "Islam again. Of course this contradicts the earlier lines--that's the point, Muslims disagree with Christians." -- first it is claimed that Islam shares the belief that he was the Messiah, then it is claimed that it views him as yet another prophet. That's a contradiction.
  7. Being a Messiah and the Son of God form a contradiction, so you cannot say "beyond that" about that. You can believe both, but you cannot use this grammatically. You can say that Christians "also believe."
  8. "Most would accept" is a weasel term because they are not identified and, further, this serves as an opening to a recounting of the description in the OT, which is not an article of faith and need no acceptance by any party. By the way, by asking "Do we have an alternative description?" I meant that this is the only description of Jesus we have so, again, most would accept is again a weasel term.
  9. The existance of a "Baptist movement" is a conjuncture. For all we know, there was one John the Baptist, but there was no Baptist movement.
  1. "The gospels variously have Jesus (a) affirm Jewish law, (b) deflect criticism for not following it too strictly, and (c) proposing severe interpretations of it that nobody could ever follow. In connection with (b), the gospels have him befriending prostitutes and tax collectors" -- Neither is relevant to our case here. or to the claim that "he was not regarded as strictly observant" -- In Judaism one can be regarded as "strictly observant" if he observes the rules. His views on the matter matter not.
  2. "Do you think Roman Palestine was one of those rare societies in which social classes did not exist?" -- You cannot use the terms "class" or "social elite" with regards to Ancient Rome because the term simply doesn't apply. The Patricians, Plebs, or Equestorians were not classes, nor were the slaves or the artisans. Class defines social or economic status, but within ancient society belonging to a certain group was more akin to belonging to a certain caste or a profession with given privilidges and duties.
  3. "'Charisma' meaning the sociological term" -- which makes it worse. There's no place for Weberian terminology here, I feel.
  4. "It is possible to be crucified without being executed" -- Not really. The terms are synonymous in practice.
  5. Dates of Pontius Pilatus -- My bad. Scrap my comment here.
  6. "there's nothing wrong with also examining the image of him that has come down to us via religion" -- nothing wrong at all and it should be examined in detail, but not at this point in the article. .

Ori Redler 13:26, 30 January 2007 (CST)


Maybe this is best resolved by seeing this article as a gateway into several major focussed articles? What would those articles be? In no particular order, these would surely include:

  1. "Jesus as a prophet of Islam"
  2. "The Story of Jesus" as known to Christians through the New Testament, the teachings of the Church and popular culture; summarising the main elements of that story and mentioning contemporary variants; explaining its origins and evolution, and theological significance: (an article that is itself a gateway into articles on each of the individual Gospels)
  3. "The Teachings of Jesus" The ethical message attributed to Jesus and its impact upon society, individuals and Western civilisation. Summarising those elements of the Story of his life and teachings that inspired his followers (and others) through the centuries.
  4. "The Historical Evidence of the Life of Jesus"

and perhaps these should be the principal section headings.

I am a third generation atheist living in an overwhelmingly secular country. I think of why my children, now young adults, might turn to Citizendium to find out about Jesus. I suspect that they might want help in understanding what it was about this man that was so special. I don't think that they will buy the claim that the assertion that he is the Son of God explains his impact, and I don't buy that myself for a minute. I think treating this subject in a balanced way means treating the message attributed to him seriously, just as we would make the works of Shakespeare central to an article on Shakespeare. The historical details of his life are interesting, but only because Jesus was important. The facts of the importance of Jesus and the explanation of it surely must be the essential focus of this article. Gareth Leng 04:52, 30 January 2007 (CST)

Dawei responds to Ori:
ON JESUS IN ISLAM: Buddha is counted as an avatar of Vishnu by some (not all, maybe not even most) Vaishnava traditions. (My Hare Krishna friend distinguishes between purushavatar, lilavatar, gunavatar or shaktyaveshavatar--Buddha being #2 and Jesus perhaps #4!) Most Hindus would probably view him with reverence IF ASKED but otherwise not pay much attention. A better comparison would be with previous Buddhas in Buddhism. It would be entirely appropriate, in the first paragraph on "Buddha", to indicate that the word refers not only to the historical founder of Buddhism but also to other (essentially non-historical) Buddhas such as Dipankara. Similarly, a basic Muslim belief about Muhammad is that he is one of a series of prophets, Jesus being his predecessor.
From its very first mention of Jesus, the Qur'an assures his that God sent him accompanied by "clear signs" (2:87) and "evidences" (2:253) which "some believed and some disbelieved" (same). You may perhaps argue that these consisted not of the fulfillment of prophecy but of miracles like bringing a clay bird to life, or healing the blind and leprous (e.g. 3:49, cf. Protevangelion Jacobi for the bird story). However several verses indicate that Jesus came "confirming the Torah that had come before him" (5:46) and saying that just as he confirmed the Torah, so did he predict the coming of "Ahmad" (61:6), i.e. Muhammad. The Qur'an repeatedly refers to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of Mary (e.g. 4:171). Islam does not regard this as contradicting the assertion that he was one prophet among many, any more than Christians regard "Son of God" as inconsistent with his messianic status. I think we have to say that the several Abrahamic traditions interpret "Messiah" somewhat differently.
ON THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT: The term usually refers to the verses which end "and love thy neighbor as thyself" but in Orthodox circles is often conflated with the "New Commandment" ("that ye love one another") under the all-purpose heading of love. I mentioned it because aside from the Sermon on the Mount, this is another group of verses which humanists often like. The "love thy neighbor" form is found first in Hillel traditions, but it is unclear whether Jesus meant to quote him, or whether this is an oral tradition which got reassigned to another speaker with retelling (as often happens). I added Wikipedia's line about Neusner and Shammai because that seemed related and significant.
ON "PALESTINE": Presumably the editors of the Journal of Syro-Palestinian Studies knew about the changes in provincial title, but thought this a sufficiently neutral geographic term to cover various historical periods. Perhaps we could specify something like "active in Galilee and Judea (within geographic Palestine)."
GANDHI: Gandhi determined the read the Christian Bible cover-to-cover, and typically for Gandhi, succeeded. He describes experiencing a mounting revulsion with the Old Testament, but when he reached the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount moved him deeply. Perhaps he wrote this polemically (since his audience included British readers who presumably identified with Christianity). His interest in Tolstoy was of a piece with his interest in liberal Christianity, he didn't care about the novels. On the other hand Gandhi never converted to Quakerism or anything, and drew equal inspiration from Jainism and the Bhagavadgita. I chose Gandhi because his actions do seem to recall the Sermon on the Mount to some degree. (I don't recall Thomas Jefferson ever turning the other cheek.)
BAPTIST MOVEMENT: The "Baptist movement" refers to the people who came to be baptized by John. (Surely he was not all alone out there.)
ON "MOST WOULD ACCEPT": Of course, with a word like "most," it would not be very practical to then go on to name most of the scholars in the field. The information which follows consists of those items from the gospels which skeptics (the believers being already on board) would tend to accept as reliable.
ON JESUS'S DEGREE OF OBSERVANCE: "The rules" were apparently in the process of being codified by the Pharisaic movement, which disagreed about them internally as well as externally with others. It is easy to see how someone with a more severe interpretation might regard a relative liberal as lax or unobservant. On the other hand, it is easy to see how someone who is lax or unobservant might find it convenient to claim liberalism! Some scholars consider Jesus to be protesting rules which he regarded as overly onerous. I think we will have to be specific about his various actions and legal interpretations.
ON SOCIOLOGICAL TERMINOLOGY: Why wouldn't a "caste or profession with given privileges" count as a social class? Such things largely determine social / economic status, no? And why do you feel we should exclude Weberian terminology?
ON CRUCIFIXION: Another advantage of "execution" is that it underscores the reality that Jesus was not murdered, but killed by the authority of the state.
Bei Dawei


  1. Islam: You have shown that Jesus is mentioned by the Qur'an (that fact was not contested). This is far-far-far-far away from showing that he is a figure of the utmost importance in Islam, in a way that would merit mentioning this time and again in the opening paragraphs. As it stands, there should be a section about this in the part dealing with his influence and nothing more. Just for example, it would be equally objectionable to mention Islam with regards to Abraham, which is also said to be a "prophet" or to mention this in an article about the Bible, even though the Qur'an is clearly influenced by its content.
  2. "I added Wikipedia's line about Neusner and Shammai because that seemed related and significant" -- it is not. Not here, anyway. It may be related to a section dealing with Jesus' attitude toward strictness in doing the "mitzvot" (which would place him, in their opinion, among the strict).
  3. "Presumably the editors of the Journal of Syro-Palestinian Studies knew about the changes in provincial title, but thought this a sufficiently neutral geographic term to cover various historical periods" -- That may be proper for them (and I'm guessing it comes to include more of the Aramaic cultures), but doesn't mean anything with regards to our case here. We should be precise: He was active in the provinces of Galilee and Judea.
  4. "Gandhi determined the read the Christian Bible cover-to-cover, and typically for Gandhi, succeeded" -- a noted accomplishment, but this still doesn't make this a central influence on his thoughts and actions.
  5. "The 'Baptist movement' refers to the people who came to be baptized by John" -- You cannot use the term 'movement' here to define that.
  6. "Of course, with a word like "most," it would not be very practical to then go on to name most of the scholars in the field" -- I don't think you got my point here. Could you read this again?
  7. "Why wouldn't a "caste or profession with given privileges" count as a social class? Such things largely determine social / economic status, no? And why do you feel we should exclude Weberian terminology?" -- one should be extra careful with this. The answer to your first question is simply "no." A caste or a profession with given privileges is not a class. Using modern terminology with regards to ancient society demands a very careful treatment and even then, as it is in this case, it is usually an anachronism.

Ori Redler 07:52, 31 January 2007 (CST)

1. I hope I have shown more than that--namely that the Qur'an describes Jesus as fulfilling Jewish prophecies, just as Muhammad does for those of Jesus. (The point you originally opposed.)
2. Why wouldn't a scholarly comment connecting Jesus with Shammai be suitable for a section on possible Pharisaic influences on Jesus?
3. Suppose I were to cite instances of "Palestine" being used in scholarly literature on Jesus. Would that persuade you?
4. "Central" is too strong. (He was a Hindu, after all.) "Important" is better. I suppose I will have to hunt up some appropriate quotation.
5. What do you think a "movement" is, and where do you get this usage from? The literature often refers to "the Baptist movement" or "the Jesus movement".
6. Since everything will surely end up getting rewritten, I don't suppose it matters.
7. Crossan's "The Historical Jesus" is chock-full of discussion about social class and stratification, and I could swear I saw "charisma" in there too somewhere. Would you consider such a source persuasive? Bei Dawei
  1. I did not opposed to that claim, just doubted its centrality in Islam. This is the task at hand.
  2. Because it is irrelevant.
  3. It may convince me that some scholars are lax with terminology. One wrong doesn't justify another and, more broadly, an argument should stand by its own merit, not by reference to use by others, especially when dealing with facts. If you can show, however, that the mainstream description of Jesus is "a Jew from Palestine" than you'll have your point proven.
  4. I doubt even that, but the field is open for your reference here.
  5. Can you reference me to some of those sources?
  6. I guess it wouldn't eventually, but my feeling is that rewritting should start with restructuring. Ori Redler 11:17, 31 January 2007 (CST)


Re 'The Greatest Commandment' and coming from someone who has not been closely related to this discussion or the topic recently, I am not sure which one it is. A note might help.David Tribe 15:01, 1 February 2007 (CST)

Scholarly Books on Jesus: Brown and Ehrman

Here are a couple of books I just got through looking at. I'll add more later. These are both quite good.

Raymond Brown, Birth of the Messiah. This one was first published in 1976, but he wrote an update in the mid-1990's, so now a lot of stuff gets discussed twice. This is ONLY about the Nativity story, so naturally Brown focuses on Matthew and Luke. Brown is a moderate Roman Catholic scholar--for instance he admits the possibility of miracles, but also the possibility that Jesus was illegitimate--and this book carries a nihil obstat.

  • Brown believes Jesus's birth to have occurred sometime within the reign of Herod the Great, whose precise death date is apparently a subject of dispute.
  • He doubts the claim that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and calls this position (doubt) the "communis opinio" within New Testament studies. (Appendix III is on Bethlehem.) Of those who doubt Bethlehem, the majority name Nazareth as Jesus's birthplace, with a minority also doubting this on the grounds that the word really means "Nazarene".
  • Section 6 of the Supplemental section discusses the claimed circumstances of Jesus's birth, such as the magi and all that.
  • He makes a very interesting comparison of the Matthean and Lukan genealogies, and concludes that there's basically no way to reconcile them.

Bart Ehrman, "Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium" (1999). This is an excellent introduction to Jesus Studies (for example, hitting various basic issues such as sources) from the point of view that Jesus was apocalyptic--i.e. that he expected the end of the world. Ehrman is a skeptic with regard to the supernatural and other religious claims.

  • He says that "most critical scholars" doubt the Bethlehem story. (p. 98)
The reason is that the accounts are contradictory (did Mary and Joseph have their house in Bethlehem or in Nazareth?), don't match real history (the only census Quirinius did was for Judea, not Galilee, and this was after Herod's death), and there's an obvious motive for making this stuff up.
  • Oh by the way, he gives AD 36 as the year of Pilate's transfer / removal. (p. 220)

Bei Dawei

On what basis does he conclude AD 36 is the year of the crucifixation? Do you happen to have the ISBN of each book- so that those interested can easily locate copies? Thanks, Nancy Nancy Sculerati MD 06:08, 30 January 2007 (CST)

No ISBN numbers on hand (I read in the bookstore) but Ehrman's books are reviewed on Kirby's website. And there's always Amazon...
Here's the one for Ehrman: ISBN 0-19-512474-X (hc), ISBN 0-19-515462-2 (paperback)
And for Brown: ISBN 0-385-49447-5
He doesn't say 36 is Jesus's death year, only that Pilate served as prefect between 26 and 36. I would check Meier or Crossan for the year date (going by memory here, I don't have the books with me) and I saw a journal article on the subject that I might be able to find tomorrow. Bei Dawei


Humphreys CJ, Waddington WG (1983) Dating the Crucifixion Nature 306:743 - 746 "The date of the Crucifixion has been debated for many years, but there has been no agreement on the year nor the day. Astronomical calculations have now been used to reconstruct the Jewish calendar in the first century AD and to date a lunar eclipse that biblical and other references suggest followed the Crucifixion. The evidence points to Friday 3 April AD 33 as the date when Jesus Christ died."Gareth Leng 08:26, 30 January 2007 (CST)

I think that line you quoted deserves to be in the article, also quoted and referenced. Not, of course, as the absolute only possibility, but as a statement about the historical Jesus. This discussion is really getting worthwhile thanks to all of you. I'm looking forward to more of the same on all the pertinent issues. Hopefully, should our editor arrive who would be able to approve this article, by that time he or she will be inclined to do so. Nancy Sculerati MD 08:33, 30 January 2007 (CST)

Hunting for a potted summary of the moral message of Jesus [3] For Christians, it is the person and work of Jesus Christ that shapes morals and motivates right behaviour. ... Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live in a Christlike manner. ... Jesus, the Son of Man, came not to be served but to serve. The overruling idea of imitating Christ encompasses a humility and self-abasement before God and a self-giving service to one's neighbours. The New Testament contains numerous moral virtues, the chief of which is love. While 'love fulfils the law' it goes beyond it. It not only refuses to harm others, itcounts others greater than self. The Christian ethic is not an ethic of power but an ethic of service. It focuses on what can be done for others rather than what can be demanded from others as a right. Every Christian is expected to exhibit the attitudes, values and commitment which characterise their new nature in Christ. For those who occupy positions of leadership, an ethic of service means that as leaders they are not only responsible for, but also accountable to,those whom they serve. The Christian ethic is also an ethic of love. Love demands a concern for the spiritual welfare of the offender as well as the offended. Any discipline should include a call to the offender for change and renewal.

According to Liberation Theology, the Gospel of Christ demands that the Church concentrate its efforts on liberating the people of the world from poverty and oppression [4]Gareth Leng 08:43, 30 January 2007 (CST)

Response to Ori Reidler

I have no specific knowledge off the top of my head of about Muslim attitudes toward Old Testament prophecy, so I will take it as a fact that they don't specifically believe that the Messiah fulfilled them. However, the fact that they treat Jesus as the Messiah strongly implies that they would accept him as the fulfilment of some kind of Jewish prophecy. Therefore, we should be able to fix this problem with minor rewording.

Britannica defines Messiah as: "In Judaism, the expected king of the line of David who will deliver the Jews from foreign bondage and restore Israel's golden age. The term used for the messiah in the Greek New Testament, christos, was applied to Jesus, who is accepted by Christians as the promised redeemer." I fail to see how this definition conflicts with the concept of a human prophet. I might note, also that Britannica seems to believe "Christos" to be Greek.

Clearly, Christians do not accept that "being a Messiah and the Son of God form a contradiction". Heck, they also believe, thirdly, that Jesus is God, which they still don't see as a contradiction. Since the concept "Jesus is the Son of God" is almost exclusively a Christian concept, I see no reason to present anyone else's opinions about whether it contradicts other descriptions of him.

It seems that the various authors commenting here have some differing opinions about the importance of anachronistic names in this sort of article. I would say that "Palestine" is the name of a place, and consequently, it may be used to refer to that place at any time, regardless of when the term was coined, just as one might refer to "Asia" or "Africa" when discussing events long before either of those terms was in currency. I would have thought "Israel" would be acceptable, too, but perhaps I was wrong about that.—Nat Krause 15:38, 30 January 2007 (CST)

My response is above. (It's easy to get lost in all these subheadings!) Bei Dawei


  1. "Britannica defines Messiah as: "In Judaism, the expected king of the line of David who will deliver the Jews from foreign bondage and restore Israel's golden age.... I fail to see how this definition conflicts with the concept of a human prophet." The fact that both are human doesn't mean that the definitions do not contradict. In fact, they must contradict as a person from the line of David is destined to be king of men and nothing else. He cannot be a prophet by definition.
  1. ""Palestine" is the name of a place, and consequently, it may be used to refer to that place at any time" -- then you would not mind if there was a sentence like "The Indians settled in the United States in 1500"?

Ori Redler 07:53, 31 January 2007 (CST)

-I absolutely agree with you Ori. Even for a name like "Rome", which was a place named both then and now, it's preferable to use 'ancient Rome" I think, at least sporadically in the text to make things explicit. Nancy Sculerati MD 11:21, 31 January 2007 (CST)


RE Ori's distinction between Christianity and Jesus. Perhaps an article on Sophocles developed in parallel would help. Then perhaps one could see whether Plato's depiction of the Life of Sophocles, and Plato's though, is relevant to Sophocles entry. I think it is, and Sophocles' Immortality, distinctly different from Christianity , is very much part of the topic. David Tribe 15:13, 1 February 2007 (CST)

Lust (echt Lustig!)

I've removed this "This is ironic in that Jesus's interpretations of Jewish law range from the strict (e.g., his prohibition of divorce, except on grounds of adultery) to the impractical (e.g., his equation of momentary lust with adultery). "

It seemed to be internally contradictory, implying that Jesus would accept divorce on the grounds of momentary lust, which doesn't seem terribly strict to me.Gareth Leng 04:42, 31 January 2007 (CST).

That's funny! Unfortunately, church tradition has never put the two together in this way. Anyway, if you are going to divorce on grounds of adultery, I think it has to be the OTHER person's adultery.
The verses in question are both from the Sermon on the Mount: 5:27 ff ("But I say unto you, that if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery in his heart") and 5:31 ff ("But I say this to you, everyone who divorces his wife, except for the case of [???]* makes her an adulterous; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.") The word represented by [???]* is sometimes translated as "sexual impurity" or "sexual immorality", sometimes (e.g. Jerusalem Bible) as "except for the case of an illicit marriage". Bei Dawei *(porneia, "filth")