The Life of Jesus

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Who was Jesus

The Birth of Jesus

Early life of Jesus

The Mount of Temptation

Much of this information is credited to BBC's excellent documentary Son of God

Who was Jesus

Two thousand years a young Jew from Galilee was crucified by the Romans. His name was Jesus. He has been and is the source of faith for billions of people since his death by crucifixion. This was a common Roman practice at that time, and usually reserved for slaves and people regarded as a threat to Rome. However, Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, a province of the Roman Empire at that time. Pilate was ruthless, he executed dozens of Jews. Some without any trial. He wouldn't think twice about getting rid of a young troublemaker from Galilee. Especially as the religious authorities wanted him to execute Jesus. So to prevent a riot from the baying mobs and to preserve Roman rule and his own career by keeping Rome happy he condemned Jesus to death.

Recent discoveries in science, archaeology and history are shedding new light on this man called Jesus and the world in which he was born into two thousand years ago. You don't have to believe in God to be able to accept that there was a flesh and blood man called Jesus who lived and died in that part of the world. There is overwhelming evidence in both secular and biblical history that this historical character called Jesus did exist. But in these turbulent times what turned a young jewish boy into a revolutionary that not only changed history but whose actions cast a giant shadow over us whether we believe or whether we don't. Jesus has been an inspiration for majestic art and great music. And sadly, he has been an excuse for horrific wars. But he continues to be the most influential person in the world today, two thousand years after his death.

To prove Jesus existed as a historical figure and that Christianity didn't begin with a mythical Christ figure as some people try to suggest - we look at his death rather than his birth as this is one of the most attested facts in ancient history. There are some valuable early sources of information about Jesus, from both Christian and non-Christian authors. One first century Jewish historian called Josephus was just one of many sources (80?) that confirmed that Jesus existed. In his history of the Jewish people, Josephus described Jesus as a wise man who performed some surprising deeds and remarkable feats and was popular amongst many Jews and Greeks. He also wrote that Jesus was convicted by leading members of society and crucified by Pontius Pilate. So Josephus confirmed that it was Pilate, the Roman governor, who sentenced Jesus to death. And thanks to recent research in archaeology we know where Pilate lived.

Caesarea, once the site of a Phoenician port, lies sixty miles north-west of Jerusalem. It had a deep sea port, an aqueduct and a magnificent amphitheatre that is still functional today for concerts. It was the second city in Palestine after Jerusalem. It was the seat of Pilate's power where the Romans governed Judea two thousand years ago. Caesarea was a mighty outpost of the Roman empire. Herod, the Jewish king, had built this great all-weather port on the Mediterranean, which was finished in 10 BC and taken over by the Romans as their headquarters in this region.

Reliable knowledge of the life of Jesus is limited. Though Josephus, amongst others, confirmed that Jesus did live and die, we have to rely on the Gospels to tell us about the circumstances of his birth, his life and the ideals he lived and died for. Jesus left no written statements. And there is no evidence to suggest his followers kept written accounts of his actions or teaching during his lifetime. But we are almost certain the Gospel writers got the essentials of Jesus's life story correct even though these were stories handed down for at least forty years. Over the years the complimentary work carried out by historians, archaeologists and scientist is making it easier to establish and understand what went on in the world that Jesus lived in. Details are gradually being clarified and confirmed.