Who was Jesus?

March 10, 2009

The historical person Jesus of Nazareth - beyond the accounts in the creeds and the Gospels, which are all characterized by religious belief - is the focus of Tobias Hägerland's dissertation from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Jesus' proclamation of the forgiveness of sins is the key to understanding how he perceived his own identity: as the Prophet-Messiah of the end-time, with a message to the Jewish people in the first century CE.

In order to extract historical information from the strongly tendentious biblical stories about Jesus, and to understand how this historical material may have been interpreted in an early Jewish environment, Tobias Hägerland has studied numerous source texts in different languages including Greek, Aramaic, Coptic and Ethiopic. He also builds on the research conducted internationally today on a common academic basis into the historical Jesus.

"The texts about Jesus and the of sins are good examples of how the Gospels weave together historical information with religious notions and interpretations," explains Tobias Hägerland. Jesus' view on forgiveness, as shown in the text material, differs on a number of points from the way the first Christians thought about forgiveness, and this points towards the existence of a historical core in the texts. On the other hand, the story in the Gospels of the very negative reaction of opponents of Jesus to his actions on the issue is not historically credible in light of other Jewish texts about human mediation of forgiveness. Here, a comparison with ancient school rhetoric shows how the polemic features in the story may have been caused by rhetorical strategies rather than by a historical conflict between Jesus and the scribes of his day.

The dissertation draws attention to a couple of previously partly overlooked passages by early Jewish authors who appear to express in words the notion that prophets could forgive sins - that is to say convey forgiveness from God to human beings. The fact that the historical Jesus was perceived as a prophet by himself and others is also one of Hägerland's conclusions.

"But not just any prophet, 'the Anointed One of the Spirit', the last and greatest prophet that God, according to a common view, would send to the people of Israel. As a miracle worker and preacher, Jesus entered into this role in different ways, including by preaching and conveying forgiveness."

Source: University of Gothenburg

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not rated yet Mar 11, 2009
While amusing (although this very subject has been debated for 2000 years already), I'm not entirely sure what this article has to do with physorg.com. This site already posts a hundred or so articles a day... might be time to pair down the scope a bit guys.
5 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2009
There are few books by historians saying that there is no historical proofs of the existence of Jesus, 2000 years ago ..or any other guy relatively similar to what is described in some religious texts.
All texts describing his life were created at least one century after his supposed existence. And most events described are very similar to myths existing in previous religions anyway (see the life of Horus in Egypt, for example).

I hope his next dissertation subject will be the psychology and influence of Frodon the hobbit during his later years..
1 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2009
I agree that this is a strange topic for a science website. I think that Tobias' life experience is not long. All through my experience, when I have challenged existing ideas or norms or have seen them challenged by others, the cry of "By what authority do you do/say these things" is heard over and over. Contrary to Tobias' assertion of negative reaction to %u201C%u2026the story in the Gospels of the very negative reaction of opponents of Jesus to his actions%u2026%u201D, I find them to be the most credible examples of the results of Jesus' message.
1 / 5 (2) Mar 11, 2009
"Science" is supposed to be a "search for truth". In this field "Physorg" plays a role. What we have learned we should share. Those who know nothing about the subject need not contribute, but they can ask questions if they are open for answers!
5 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2009
What can we learn about christians and jews who support killing of 1st born sons? Even pray and revere the god who ordered children to be slaughtered!

Well, Jesus seems to be OK with that, so f... him, who needs this type of spiritual leader?
not rated yet Mar 16, 2009
to E L Earnhardt.
Yep, everyone is entitled to search for truth, and new ideas are always welcomed, but in this case this definitely does not bring any new element(just open any comentary on the Gospel from any liberal theologian and you will find much more original and interesting (so called) "discovery"! ;-). These thesis can sometimes be 200years old, so I definitely don't see any new element in this article.
"Physorg" is not "Science" ;-)
To Bob B :
I think it is a little bit more complicated than that!... ;-) (always easier to reduce its "enemies" to stupids.The problem is that it can be done in either way then...)
not rated yet Mar 17, 2009
It's science if it is analyzing as the article claims.

Whether or not this person existed doesn't really matter when millions (billions?) believe that he did exist. Understanding how these beliefs grew is of interest even to a life long atheist like me.

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