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From Jesus Christ: "The Islamic faith recognizes Jesus as a wise man and a prophet"

-- suggest we find out the Arabic/Muslim term for "prophet" and include it in parentheses here as clarification. (27 September 2001)


Would you mind terribly to give this article some kind of structure? ;-) No, honestly: I guess this entry is going to be difficult, so I guess it would be better to clearly separate the different layers. I would propose a structure like this:

  • historical facts: the stuff currently located in the last paragraph (BTW, do you think it is a good idea to write he was born in the year 4 B.C.? I think BCE would be more appropriate here...)
  • biblical accounts: i.e. what the gospels have to say
  • other accounts: what the Talmud and Roman sources claim to know
  • later discussion: the discussions about Jesus, e.g. the councils of Nicaea, Chalcedon etc. This would be a convenient place to relate the different interpretations of the relation Godfather - Jesus.

What do you think about it?


I'm all for this sort of structure. So, go ahead and add it! --LMS

Re this wording--

was [miraculously caused to conceive]? him through union with the god of Judaism

I have to say that it sets my teeth on edge. I'm not a Christian, so maybe I shouldn't care about this sort of thing, but it sounds somewhat like saying "God and Mary had sex." What Christian doctrine would require us to describe the Immaculate Conception as the "union" of God and Mary? I am very far from being a theologian, so I'm asking you, because you seem to insist on this. I trust you have a good reason for doing so.


The other problem I have is with the phrase "the god of Judaism." If the Immaculate Conception happened, then the God that made Mary pregnant with Jesus would best be described as the God (capitalized in proper English, whether you're a believer or not) of Christianity. Of course, the reason you describe the thing as "the god of Judaism" is in order to emphasize that Jesus' birth was supposed to be a fulfillment of Jewish prophesy--and that's all very well and good, that needs to be said.

I would simply change these things back, but I thought I would give you a chance to explain why I shouldn't. --LMS


Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary lived all her life without sin, beginning from her conception. It refers to Mary's conception, not Jesus's.

You're right to point out that there's been a lot of confusion on this point; anyway, I know that "immaculate conception" refers to Mary's purity (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm ) but the implication is very often taken to be that Mary didn't have sex in order to become pregnant (sex would make her impure). --LMS

Okay this disagreement about the immaculate conception in the article reflects a very old split between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics do believe that the immaculate conception refers to Mary's sinlessness. Protestants believe that it refers to the miraculous way Christ was conceived.
Ok, here's a two minute theology lesson from the Protestant perspective(I'll let a Catholic explain their beliefs). In the beginning GOD created Adam and Eve who were creatures with free will and were sinless and were to be the progenitors of a race of sinless beings. But when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying the one and only rule GOD gave them(by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) the human race became flawed. All of Adam and Eve's children inherited their flawed sinful nature, a doctrine called original sin. The only way to redeem mankind was to offer a blood sacrifice but according to the Torah the sacrificial lamb needed to be "without spot or blemish", in other words perfect, lacking original sin. When GOD incarnated into the person of Jesus Christ he became that perfect sacrifice, a "new" sinless Adam who could become the 'father' of a new sinless humanity. The protestant idea of the Immaculate Conception is that Jesus was conceived without Original Sin. Protestants do not believe that Mary was sinless or that she remained a virgin forever as Catholics believe. The disagreement stems largely from the fact that the Catholic Bible contains several books that Protestants reject as apocryphal.
Larry: "Mary didn't have sex in order to become pregnant (sex would make her impure)"
Christians don't believe that sex inside of marriage is sinful. Mary needed to be a virgin so Christ's birth would be perceived as a miraculous sign that fufilled old prophecies and so there would be no doubt of his parentage. No human man could be his father because they would all pass on 'original sin'. The conception needed to take place without sex not so she[Mary] would be 'pure' but so that he[Jesus] would be(again admittedly from a Protestant perspective). Shalom --MemoryHole.com

MemoryHole, if that's 'what Protestants believe', then they're misinformed. The theology of the Catholic Church from WELL before the Reformation had developed 2 separate events - the Virgin Birth and the Immaculate Conception - but had not come to a definitive decision about the second. The Virgin Birth is the bit about no-sex-for-the-conception-of-Christ. Any Protestant who says otherwise isn't correct. It's a matter of terminology. Calvin, for one, understood the difference and was sure about the Virgin Birth and dismissive about the Immaculate Conception. The I.C. was a hot issue in theological debate from the 14th through the 19th century, when it was finally defined authoritatively. The Protestants missed out on the second doctrine because they left before it was defined. Some of them more or less believe it, but in an undogmatic way.
On protestantism and the perpetuation of Virginity -- The Virgin Birth is fiercely defended by all the Reformers against attacks. Calvin believed that she remained a Virgin, some did not (I'm basing that on memory, but he had a pretty high regard for the status of the Virginity of Mary). Luther I'm not so sure about. --MichaelTinkler

LOL, well I'm not about to step into the bear trap of whether or not Protestants are right when they use the term. I only assert that (at least some sects) do use the term that way. Its my understanding that the Immaculate Conception didn't become official Catholic dogma until 1854, after the Reformation. Perhaps the term existed in a more nebulous form when the split happened and the two meanings evolved seperately(?) A Google search for "Immaculate Conception of Mary"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22immaculate+conception+of+mary%22&btnG=Google+Search]] shows 1,980 hits, the "Immaculate Conception of Jesus"
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22immaculate+conception+of+Jesus%22&btnG=Google+Search shows 224 hits, so while people seem to use the term more often when referring to Mary they certainly don't exclusively use it for her. Thomas Jefferson uses the term "Immaculate Conception of Jesus" in a letter dated 1819 so the usage of the term is at least that old.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

--MemoryHole.com

Hmmm. Thomas Jefferson. Not the best witness for any kind of orthodox protestantism. HE sure was a Humpty Dumpty of the spirit - cut up scripture to match his preconceptions of what it SHOULD have said. :) --MichaelTinkler

I only mentioned him to prove that the term "Immaculate conception of Jesus" was in use hundreds of years ago. For the record he mentions it only in a footnote and he is in opposition to it.
Here's the letter: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl259.htm
While trolling around Google I found something interesting, Muslims believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary and Jesus. --MemoryHole.com


Someone should also check up on the Jewish beliefs about the Messiah at that time. Isaiah does say that "a virgin shall conceive", but was that the primary sign they were looking for? Does "virgin" in the OT verse even definitely refer to the sexual sense and not just the "young woman" sense?

The Jewish beliefs about the messiah at the time are well documented by historical scholars. Their views of the messiah have *nothing* to do with what Christians call the messiah. It may be the same word, but their meanins are totally divergent. The Israelites expected a descendent of King David to restore Israel. This person would be the messiah. There was nothing supernatural about him, he was not considered to be the son of God, part of the God Himself, or anything like that. RK

Three Comments.

First I agree, there's some serious need for structure on this page...

Second, I don't think Christ should simply redirect to Jesus Christ since christ is simply the Greek word for messiah. Some historical Jesus scholars such as John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and Sanders, make a strong distinction between the Jesus of history, and the Christ of Faith, and I think simply redirecting christ to Jesus Christ therefore makes an unattributed, unsupported statement on a controversial issue.

Many people make a distinction between "Jesus Christ", worshipped by Christians, and "the historical Jesus", the actual person who lived.

Second, My understanding is that the Hebrew word used in Isaiah is in fact translated both as virgin and "young woman" in various contexts. I can get references for this, though I don't think this is important, as it is commonly believed that the contemporary Jewish Messianic view of the messiah had more to do with Daniel than Isaiah. It's my understanding that the figure in Isaiah is associated with "servant of the Lord" terminology, which is not associated with messianic themes in any records before the time of Jesus.

To the best of my knowledge, this word is *never* translated as virgin by Jews or by serious Biblical scholars. It is only translated this way by people who want to prove that the Tanach was not a Jewish Bible, but was really a long list of prophecies "proving" that Jesus was the messiah. But these claims about the text in Isaiah didn't appear until _after_ Jesus died. RK

Technically, christ is the Greek word for "anointed one". A king, a priest, or a prophet might be anointed. Christian belief is that Jesus Christ was all three.

The Hebrew word in Isaiah is Almah, the greek word translating that in the Septuagint is parthenos. Later Jewish scholars have claimed Almah includes the meaning of young woman, but early jewish scholars (at the time) apparently thought they were synonymous. Probably a changing meaning based on changing society, with 'virgin' being a good translation of the word when originally written.

Not at all. Please provide sources for this claim.

As to the meaning of messiah among first century jewish speakers, I would be surprised if Jesus Christ didn't fulfill their understanding of the term, otherwise, the power of his message would have been diluted or ignored.

This is absolutely incorrect. OBVIOUSLY Jesus totally failed to fit the Jewish definition of the messiah. He failed in every way possible. The only conditions that he filled were LATER conditions that were created after his death. But it is an indisputable historical fact that Jesus never proved that he was a descendent of King David, he never became King of Israel, and he absolutely failed to kick out the Romans. In fact, things just kepting get and worse, until the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 CE and mass-murdered Jews by the tens of thousands. RK

There is also the Moshiach ben Joseph versus Mochiach ben David issues extent in the scriptural understanding and interpretation of the time, too. (Messiah son of Joseph, the Righteous Patriach versus Messiah son of David the King)

Nope. These are later additions to the Jewish faith. They are not Biblical.

I have included a bit from Josephus, from an online record of his works at http://www.studylight.org/his/bc/wfj/antiquities/view.cgi?book=18&chapter=3

I quote from the bottom of the page:

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Most of the quote from Josephus is bogus, however. Josephus could only have written that if he himself were a Christian, which he wasn't. There have been attempts to reconstruct what Josephus actually said, but the only source other than the ones with Christian interpolations is an Arabic text which is also pretty dubious. See, for example http://www.uncc.edu/jdtabor/josephus-jesus.html and various other web-pages. --Zundark


Whether you feel the quote is bogus or not, I don't think it is appropriate to delete it. I did put some effort into finding a copy of it on the net, and in a copy-able format. I certainly have no problem with including the quote from the web address you quote as well. That will provide an alternate view, that would provide some balance.

If I found (and spoke) a copy of Josephus' works in Latin, I would favour including it as well.

The goal of an encyclopedia, in my opinion, is to offer information to those who may not be able to find it. If the quote I found is NOT that which has appeared in printed copies of Josephus's Antiquities, I'd like to hear it, because then it would NOT be appropriate to include in this page.

If the quote I included is the one that most people will find in a collection of Josephus's works, then I think it should be available in the encyclopedia article. A neutral point of view does not mean denying what is the historical record. Such denial is blatant manipulation of facts for the point of view that doesn't like what has historically been known.

The quote in question, which Zundark excised is:

Josephus in his work Antiquities of the Jews in Book 18, chapter 3, Item 3 says:

3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

The page Zundark mentions says this : (I don't know about its copyright status)

Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West:

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders.

I am not trying to build up a controversy, but was trying to follow up on the request in the main page for more details about the extra-biblical mention of Jesus by Josephus... -BenBaker


I excised the quote you put in only because it is very misleading if given without any additional comment, as I don't think anyone seriously believes Josephus wrote it like that. I did consider moving it to the Talk page before excising it, but since it's easy to retrieve from the "View other revisions" page I decided there was no need. I think that if we want to cover this, then it needs to be on a separate page, because any serious treatment of it would overwhelm the Jesus Christ page. You could call the page Josephus on Jesus or something similar, and link it from the Jesus Christ page. (The Tacitus quote could also have a separate page.) --Zundark


I have seen changes disappear from the View other revisions page too quickly in my short time involved in wikipedia. I don't know why, as it is reasonably easy to set the number of days that versions are are retained to a big number like 999999 to keep from losing any.

The idea of putting the quote on a separate page is good. I'll put the link on the main page. Should it be a subpage since it only makes sense in a limited context? or should it be a top level page?


It should be a top-level page, as Larry doesn't like subpages. We would also want to link it from the Flavius Josephus page (when there is one), so it makes sense at top level. --Zundark


Should we really call this page "Jesus Christ"? Calling him Jesus Christ, implies he was/is the Christ (i.e. the annointed one, the Messiah), and a lot of people who don't think he is the Christ wouldn't want to call him that. Wouldn't "Jesus of Nazareth" be a more neutral name for him? -- SJK

Hmm, Jesus "the Christ"? That looks really goofy. :-) The way-NPOV name would be Yeshua benYousef or Yeshua benMiriyam. I don't think that'll work either.



I'd say put the history in Jesus of Nazareth and the Jesus-as-Christ discussion in Jesus Christ. --Damian Yerrick


But did he really come from Nazareth? I've seen it suggested this was just an early confusion between Nazarite and Nazarene, although I don't know how likely that is. I think "Jesus Christ" is OK, because most people just take it as a name, not as an assertion that he was the messiah. But why not simply call the article "Jesus" - no one would expect an article called "Jesus" to be about any other Jesus, would they? --Zundark, 2001 Nov 3

I've heard it put the other way. That early depictions of Jesus with long hair came from confusing Nazirite (see Numbers 6). But the Gospels are extremely clear that Jesus came from Nazareth. The references to the town in Galilee are explicit. <>< tbc 5Nov01
Yes, I know there are explicit references in the gospels. But when I said an "early" confusion I meant really early, pre-gospel. It doesn't sound too likely though, I admit. I don't really care what the article is called - all three possible names are OK. --Zundark, 2001 Nov 5

The translation of the verse in Isaiah as "virgin" is no longer controversial. No professional academic Bible scholar translates it this way. The majority of Christian scholarship in the last century has agreed that it was a totally erroneous translation, and is unsupportable by the text. Many Churches have actaully revoked their claims on this issue! While many Evangelical Christians and all Jehuvah's Witnesses still claim that this word means "virgin", it is indisputable that they are wrong. Why? Because while belief in Jesus (or anyone else) is a religious issue, the mistranslation of a word with a known meaning is a scientific and historical issue; theology has no claim here. Today, the consensus of Christians, Jews and "others" is that this verse has nothing to do with a virgin. RK

Well, many Christians still believe it means "virgin", so in that sense at least it is controversial. It isn't a modern mistranslation either -- the Septugaint translates it as virgin (parthenos), as do the Gospels. And it is always possible that the Septugaint's use of parthenos may be based on a different Hebrew text from the MT. -- SJK
RK, are you referring to the Masoretic text? I'm certainly not a scholar of Hebrew or Greek, but I have done a small amount of background reading concerning the early Church's use of the Septuagint. The most obvious reason of course was that Greek was more widely understood than Hebrew at that time, even among many Jews. The less obvious reason is that in many places, prophecies concerning the coming Christ in the Septuagint are more obviously referring to Jesus Christ, than are the corresponding passages in the Hebrew Masoretic text. I think the most recent Masoretic text we still have only dates to about the ninth century A.D., although it has been at least partially corroborated by the Dead Sea Scrolls.
While most English language Bible translations to date have tended to rely on the Masoretic text, there is an effort now underway by an Eastern Orthodox seminary in the United States to produce an Old Testament translation based entirely on the Septuagint. Details can be found at http://www.lxx.org. --Wesley
the Septuagint text is certainly an issue above and beyond whatever the Hebrew says. One of the problems is the (typically Semitic) rather limited vocabulary of Hebrew as opposed to Greek, which has at least two words in play here - parthenos and kore. Kore means "young woman" in a general sense - unmarried, youngish, etc., with the implied virginity of that station, though not necessarily verified, since the term could also be applied to a newly-wed woman. Parthenos is considerably more specific. It means "virgin." Just think of Athena Parthenos and her temple the Parthenon. It is interesting that the word Kore could be personified and applied as a name to Persephone, daughter of Demeter. Why is this lexical distinction important? Because the Septuagint has 'parthenos'. Now unless the contemporary scholarship has successfully challenged the Septuagint manuscripts (and I haven't read that they have), this is a problem, not a settled issue. The Hebrew may say '(generic) young woman' (though, by the way, the idea that young women in ancient Hebrew society weren't assumed to be virgins unless proved otherwise before marriage is, to say the least, surprising), but the Greek doesn't. The Greek was produced by Jewish translators well before the life of Jesus. --MichaelTinkler

Article currently says one of the tribes of Israel are the Native Americans... is that true? (Long time since I read much on Mormonism...) I thought there were two or three peoples in the Book of Mormon, the good ones who died out... the one's who the Amerinds are descended from are the bad guys... (is it just me who detects the spirit of racism and colonialism in Joseph Smith? :-) Now I thought only the good guys came from Israel, and the bad guys were already there... But I'm not too sure... someone needs to check up on this. -- SJK