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Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of Christianity. Christians believe that he was (and still is) divine, while Islam considers him to have been a prophet, messenger and the Messiah. Since the time in which he is said to have lived, a number of noted individuals have criticised Jesus.
Early critics of Jesus and Christianity included Celsus in the second century and Porphyry in the third.In the 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche was highly critical of Jesus, whose teachings he considered to be "anti-nature" in their treatment of topics such as sexuality. More contemporary notable critics of Jesus include Ayn Rand, Hector Avalos, Sita Ram Goel, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, and Dayananda Saraswati.
The Pharisees and scribes criticized Jesus and his disciples for not observing Mosaic Law. They criticized his disciples for not washing their hands before eating. (The religious leaders engaged in ceremonial cleansing like washing up to the elbow and baptizing the cups and plates before eating food in them— Mark 7:1-23 , Matthew 15:1-20 .) Jesus is also criticized for eating with the publicans ( Mark 2:15 ). The Pharisees also criticized Jesus' disciples for gathering grain on the Sabbath ( Mark 2:23–3:6 ).
The most striking characteristics of the utterances of Jesus were his claim to godhood, for which the Jews often attempted to stone him, and succeeded in handing him over to crucifixion, for committing blasphemy:
"“We are not stoning You for any good work,” said the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because You, who are a man, declare Yourself to be God.”
There was also the tone of authority adopted by him and the claim that spiritual peace and salvation were to be found in the mere acceptance of his leadership. Passages like: "Take my yoke upon you . . . and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. xi. 29); "whosoever shall lose his life for my sake . . . shall save it" (viii. 35); "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matt. xxv. 40), indicate an assumption of power which is certainly unique in Jewish history, and indeed accounts for much of modern Jewish antipathy to Jesus, so far as it exists. On the other hand, there is little in any of these utterances to show that they were meant by the speaker to apply to anything more than personal relations with him; and it might well be that in his experience he found that spiritual relief was often afforded by simple human trust in his good-will and power of direction.
Jesus' family and contemporaries seriously regarded him as delusional, possessed by demons, or insane.
And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself”. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el′zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons”.
The accusation contained in the Gospel of John is more literal.
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and he is mad; why listen to him?”— John 10:19-20 (RSV)
In the latter half of the first century and into the second century, Jewish and pagan opponents of Christianity argued that the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus and his followers were the result of magic.
A number of writers, including David Strauss,Lemuel K. Washburn, Oskar Panizza and Friedrich Nietzsche, have questioned Jesus' sanity by claiming he was insane for believing he was God and/or the messiah. Psychologists and psychiatrists Georg Lomer, Charles Binet-Sanglé, William Hirsch, Georges Berguer, Y. V. Mints, Władysław Witwicki, William Sargant, Raj Persaud, and Anthony Storr, have said Jesus suffered from religious delusions and paranoia.
Avery Robert Dulles held the opinion that "Jesus, though he repeatedly denounced sin as a kind of moral slavery, said not a word against slavery as a social institution", and believes that the writers of the New Testament did not oppose slavery either. [ attribution needed ] the first statement in the first sermon of Jesus (Luke 4:18) , is a call to free the slaves: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the slaves from war,...." (see Cornilescu translation).In his paper published in Evangelical Quarterly , Kevin Giles notes that Jesus often encountered slavery, "but not one word of criticism did the Lord utter against slavery." Giles points to this fact as being used as an argument that Jesus approved of slavery. In certain major non-English translations,
Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th-century philosopher, has many criticisms of Jesus and Christianity, even going so far as to style himself as The Anti-Christ . In Human, All Too Human , and Twilight of the Idols for example, Nietzsche accuses the Church's and Jesus' teachings as being anti-natural in their treatment of passions, in particularly sexuality: "There [In the Sermon on the Mount] it is said, for example, with particular reference to sexuality: 'If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out.' Fortunately, no Christian acts in accordance with this precept...the Christian who follows that advice and believes he has killed his sensuality is deceiving himself: it lives on in an uncanny vampire form and torments in repulsive disguises." Nietzsche does explicitly consider Jesus as a mortal, and furthermore as ultimately misguided, the antithesis of a true hero, whom he posits with his concept of a Dionysian hero. Nietzsche was repulsed by Jesus' elevation of the lowly: "Everything pitiful, everything suffering from itself, everything tormented by base feelings, the whole ghetto-world of the soul suddenly on top!"
However Nietzsche did not demur of Jesus, saying he was the "only one true Christian". He presented a Christ whose own inner life consisted of "blessedness in peace, in gentleness, in the inability for enmity". There is much criticism by Nietzsche of the organized institution of Christianity and its class of priests. Christ's evangelism consisted of the good news that the kingdom of God is within you."What are the 'glad tidings'? True life, eternal life is found—it is not promised, it is here, it is within you: as life lived in love.... 'Sin', every kind of distancing relationship between God and man, is abolished - precisely this is the 'glad tidings'. The 'glad tidings' are precisely that there are no more opposites...."
Dayananda Saraswati, a 19th-century philosopher and the founder of Arya Samaj, in his book Satyarth Prakash , criticized Christianity and described Jesus as a "great thing in a country of uneducated savages":
"All Christian missionaries say that Jesus was a very calm and peace-loving person. But in reality he was a hot-tempered person destitute of knowledge and who behaved like a wild savage. This shows that Jesus was neither the son of God, nor had he any miraculous powers. He did not possess the power to forgive sins. The righteous people do not stand in need of any mediator like Jesus. Jesus came to spread discord which is going on everywhere in the world. Therefore, it is evident that the hoax of Christ’s being the Son of God, the knower of the past and the future, the forgiver of sin, has been set up falsely by his disciples. In reality, he was a very ordinary ignorant man, neither learned nor a yogi."
Saraswati asserted that Jesus wasn't an enlightened man either, and that if Jesus was a son of God, God would have saved him at the time of his death, and he wouldn't have suffered from severe mental and physical pain at last moments.
Noting that the Bible writes that women held the feet of Jesus and worshiped him, he questions:
"Was it the same body which had been buried? Now that body had been buried for three days, we should like to know why did it not decompose?"
In the 1927 essay Why I Am Not a Christian , Russell pointed to parts of the gospel where Jesus is saying that his second coming will occur in the lifetime of some of his listeners ( Luke 9:27 ). He concludes from this that Jesus' prediction was incorrect and thus that Jesus was "not so wise as some other people have been, and He was certainly not superlatively wise".
Though Russell believed Jesus 'had a very high degree of moral goodness', he also felt there were some notable flaws in his character.In his essay he wrote:
There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching -- an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation.
Russell also expresses doubt over the historical existence of Jesus and questions the morality of religion: "I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world."
Novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand denounced the altruist recipe that Jesus passed down to his pupils, and with it the idea of vicarious redemption. She thought that even Christians, who think of Jesus in the highest possible terms, should feel outraged by the notion of sacrificing virtue to vice.Not surprisingly, her understanding of love as a consequence of the rational mind looking after embodied values considers the ideas Jesus is most famous for as immoral. Consider the following excerpt from a 1959 interview conducted by Mike Wallace:
Wallace: Christ, every important moral leader in man's history, has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral?
Rand: It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself. It is more than immoral, it's impossible. Because when you are asked to love everybody indiscriminately. That is to love people without any standard. To love them regardless of whether they have any value or virtue, you are asked to love nobody.
Notwithstanding disagreements over the value of faith and the existence of an afterlife, Rand saw Jesus' insistence on procuring the eternal happiness of individuals as confirmation of the moral confusion and inconsistency in which much of religious ethics operates, including Christian altruism.
In For the New Intellectual , Rand further accuses Judeo-Christian tenets such as the doctrine of original sin for their conspicuous immorality. "The evils for which they damn him [man] are reason, morality, creativeness, joy — all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn. They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man." And proceeds to charge religious leaders with fostering a death cult: "No, they say, they do not preach that man is evil, the evil is only that alien object: his body. No, they say, they do not wish to kill him, they only wish to make him lose his body."
Historian and Hindu activist Sita Ram Goel accused Jesus of being the intellectual author behind Western imperialism and the Holocaust.Goel further writes that Jesus "is no more than an artifice for legitimizing wanton imperialist aggression. He does not symbolize spiritual power or moral uprightness."
He made his case based on the gospels, which he thought cast too dark a shadow on unconverted Jews (see for instance John 8:38-47 ). From there he drew parallels between Jesus and Adolf Hitler, the latter of whom was, in Goel's words, the first to "completely grasp the verdict passed on the Jews by the Jesus of the gospels".
Ram Goel also ridiculed what he termed "the cult of the disentangled Christ", whereby Christian revisionism attempts to salvage the figure of Jesus from the atrocious historical outcomes he inspired — and only from the bad ones — as though missionary proselytism and Western expansionism were to be perceived in the separate as mere coincidence.
Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens, one of the leading exponents in the "New Atheism" movement, was extremely critical of Jesus, Christianity and any religion in general. Regarding Jesus' teachings on hell, Hitchens wrote:
"The god of Moses would call for other tribes, including his favorite one, to suffer massacre and plague and even extirpation, but when the grave closed over his victims he was essentially finished with them unless he remembered to curse their succeeding progeny. Not until the advent of the Prince of Peace do we hear of the ghastly idea of further punishing and torturing the dead."
Hitchens also felt that a divine Jesus would be the more morally problematic by virtue of the problem of evil, asking:
"If Jesus could heal a blind person he happened to meet, then why not heal blindness?"
Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith , has expressed ambivalent views on Jesus' teachings. He argues that while Jesus may have been an insightful spiritual master of compassion at times, he also taught his followers to fulfill the barbaric law of the Old Testament, and gave his followers specifics on how to execute heretics. To Harris, Jesus' unresolved frustration and hatred of non-Christians runs contrary to the imagination of contemporary religious moderates, and actually lends honesty to more fundamentalist interpretations of salvation and hell. He wrote:
In addition to demanding that we fulfill every "jot" and "tittle" of Old Testament Law, Jesus seems to have suggested, in John 15:6, further refinements to the practice of killing heretics and unbelievers: "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." Whether we want to interpret Jesus metaphorically is, of course, our business. The problem with scripture, however, is that many of its possible interpretations (including most of the literal ones) can be used to justify atrocities in defense of the faith.
To the same end of exposing Jesus in relation to the doctrine of hell, Harris quotes Luke's version of the parable of the talents,which ends with the nobleman character saying:
"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."
Which is taken to be a self-portrait of Jesus and his own eschatological views.
Hector Avalos is perhaps the first openly atheist biblical scholar to write a systematic critique of the ethics of Jesus in his book, The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics. Koowon Kim, an associate professor in the Old Testament at Reformed Graduate University in South Korea remarks in his review of The Bad Jesus: "Whether or not one agrees with the author’s conclusions, this book is the first systematic challenge to New Testament ethics by an atheist scholar firmly grounded in the Hebrew Bible and its ancient Near Eastern context and well-versed in New Testament and Early Christianity."
In a review in Bilbilcal Theology Bulletin, Sarah Rollens, a New Testament scholar at Rhodes College, remarks: "Hector Avalos aims not only to convince us that many portrayals of Jesus based on New Testament texts are morally or ethically problematic, but also to demonstrate how scholars have engaged in questionable distortions to minimize, explain away, or otherwise ignore any textual evidence that might not comport with modern ethical standards."
While most scholars agree that the baptism of Jesus and the crucifixion of Jesus really happened,they do not agree on the historical reliability of the Gospels, but believe many of the words and actions attributed to Jesus are interpolation. David Strauss said Jesus' miracles were myths. Johannes Weiss and William Wrede both said that Jesus' messianic secret was a Christian invention. Albert Kalthoff believed Jesus' claims to divinity and his humble beginnings were two different accounts. Arthur Drews said Jesus did not exist at all, but was simply a myth invented by a cult.
The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry of Tyre (c. 232–c. 304) authored the 15 volume treatise Against the Christians, proscribed by the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius II, of which only fragments now survive and were collected by Adolf von Harnack. Selected fragments were published in English translation by J. Stevenson in 1957, of which the following is one example:
Even supposing some Greeks are so foolish as to think that the gods dwell in the statues, even that would be a much purer concept (of religion) than to admit that the Divine Power should descend into the womb of the Virgin Mary, that it became an embryo, and after birth was wrapped in rags, soiled with blood and bile, and even worse.
Celsus, 2nd-century Greek philosopher and opponent of Early Christianity, mounts a wide criticism against Jesus as the founder of the Christian faith.He discounts or disparages Jesus' ancestry, conception, birth, childhood, ministry, death, resurrection, and continuing influence. According to Celsus, Jesus' ancestors came from a Jewish village. His mother was a poor country girl who earned her living by spinning cloth. He worked his miracles by sorcery and was a small, homely man. This Rabbi Jesus kept all Jewish customs, including sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. He gathered only a few followers and taught them his worst habits, including begging for money. These disciples, amounting to "ten boatmen and a couple of tax collectors" were not respectable. The reports of his resurrection came from a hysterical female, and belief in the resurrection was the result of Jesus' sorcery and the crazed thinking of his followers, all for the purpose of impressing others and increasing the chance for others to become beggars.
According to Celsus, Jesus was the inspiration for skulking rebels who deserve persecution.
Celsus stated that Jesus was the bastard child of the Roman soldier Panthera or Pantera.These charges of illegitimacy are the earliest datable statement of the Jewish charge that Jesus was conceived as the result of adultery (see Jesus in the Talmud) and that his true father was a Roman soldier named Panthera. Panthera was a common name among Roman soldiers of that period. The name has some similarity to the Greek adjective parthenos, meaning "virgin". The tomb of a Roman soldier named Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera, found in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, is taken by some scholars to refer to the Pantera named by Celsus.
According to Celsus, Jesus had no standing in the Hebrew Bible prophecies and talk of his resurrection was foolishness.
Judaism, which includes Orthodox Judaism, Haredi Judaism, Hasidic Judaism, Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reconstructionist Judaism, Karaite Judaism, and Samaritan Judaism, entirely rejects the idea of Jesus being a god, a person of a Trinity, or a mediator to God who has a special relationship with Him that somehow makes Jesus "divine". Moreover, it is Avodah Zarah ("foreign worship", which means idolatry) to regard or worship a human being as God; in Judaism, as well as in Islam, God is only One, totally transcendent, and cannot be human (Exodus 20:1–19, Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–32).
Judaism also holds that Jesus couldn't be the Jewish Messiah, arguing that he had not fulfilled any of the Messianic prophecies foretold in the Tanakh, nor did he embody the personal qualifications of the Messiah foretold by the Prophets. According to Jewish tradition, there were no more prophets after Malachi, who lived centuries before Jesus and delivered his prophecies about 420 BCE.Thus Judaism is critical of Jesus' own claims and allusions about his alleged messiahship and his identification as the "son of God", as presented in the New Testament, and considers Jesus to be just one of many individuals who claimed to be the Messiah, but didn't fulfill any of the Messianic prophecies; therefore, they were all impostors.
The Mishneh Torah , one of the most authoritative works of Jewish law, written by Moses Maimonides, provides the last established consensus view of the Jewish community, in Hilkhot Melakhim 11:10–12 that Jesus is a "stumbling block" who makes "the majority of the world err to serve a divinity besides God".
Even Jesus the Nazarene who imagined that he would be Messiah and was killed by the court, was already prophesied by Daniel. So that it was said, "And the members of the outlaws of your nation would be carried to make a (prophetic) vision stand. And they stumbled." [Dan. 11:14] Because, is there a greater stumbling-block than this one? So that all of the prophets spoke that the Messiah redeems Israel, and saves them, and gathers their banished ones, and strengthens their commandments. And this one caused (nations) to destroy Israel by sword, and to scatter their remnant, and to humiliate them, and to exchange the Torah, and to make the majority of the world err to serve a divinity besides God. However, the thoughts of the Creator of the world — there is no force in a human to attain them because our ways are not God's ways, and our thoughts not God's thoughts. And all these things of Jesus the Nazarene, and of (Muhammad) the Ishmaelite who stood after him — there is no (purpose) but to straighten out the way for the King Messiah, and to restore all the world to serve God together. So that it is said, "Because then I will turn toward the nations (giving them) a clear lip, to call all of them in the name of God and to serve God (shoulder to shoulder as) one shoulder." [Zeph. 3:9] Look how all the world already becomes full of the things of the Messiah, and the things of the Torah, and the things of the commandments! And these things spread among the far islands and among the many nations uncircumcised of heart.
The concept of the Christ in Christianity originated from the concept of the messiah in Judaism. Christians believe that Jesus is the messiah foretold in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. Although the conceptions of the messiah in each religion are similar, for the most part they are distinct from one another due to the split of early Christianity and Judaism in the 1st century.
Christianity is rooted in Second Temple Judaism, but the two religions diverged in the first centuries of the Christian Era. Christianity emphasizes correct belief, focusing on the New Covenant as mediated through Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament. Judaism places emphasis on correct conduct, focusing on the Mosaic covenant, as recorded in the Torah and Talmud.
The Gospel According to Mark is the second of the four canonical gospels and of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb. There is no miraculous birth or doctrine of divine pre-existence, nor, in the original ending, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. He is also the Son of God, but keeps his messianic nature secret, with even his disciples failing to understand him. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.
In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of mashiach, messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible; a mashiach (messiah) is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. Messiahs were not exclusively Jewish: the Book of Isaiah refers to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.
A. Roy Eckardt, a pioneer in the field of Jewish-Christian relations, asserted that the foundation of antisemitism and responsibility for the Holocaust lies ultimately in the New Testament. Eckardt insisted that Christian repentance must include a reexamination of basic theological attitudes toward Jews and the New Testament in order to deal effectively with antisemitism. While the consensus among historians is that Nazism as a whole was either unrelated to Christianity or actively opposed to it.
Messianic Judaism is a modern syncretic religious movement that combines Christianity—most importantly, the belief that Jesus is the Jewish messiah—with elements of Judaism and Jewish tradition. It emerged in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Messiah in Judaism is a savior and liberator figure in Jewish eschatology, who is believed to be the future redeemer of the Jewish people. The concept of messianism originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible a messiah is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. However, messiahs were not exclusively Jewish, as the Hebrew Bible refers to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.
The religious perspectives on Jesus vary among world religions. Jesus' teachings and the retelling of his life story have significantly influenced the course of human history, and have directly or indirectly affected the lives of billions of people, even non-Christians. He is the most influential person to have ever lived, finding a significant place in numerous cultural contexts.
The Nazarenes were an early Christian sect in first-century Judaism. The first use of the term is found in the Acts of the Apostles of the New Testament, where Paul the Apostle is accused of being a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes before the Roman procurator Antonius Felix at Caesarea Maritima by Tertullus. At that time, the term simply designated followers of Jesus of Nazareth, as the Hebrew term נוֹצְרִי, and the arabic term نصارى still do.
In Judaism, Jesus is viewed as having been the most influential and, consequently, the most damaging of all false prophets. Since the traditional Jewish belief is that the messiah has not yet come and the Messianic Age is not yet present, the total rejection of Jesus as either messiah or deity has never been a central issue for Judaism.
Pauline Christianity or Pauline theology, c.q. Gentile Christianity, is the theology and Christianity which developed from the beliefs and doctrines espoused by the hellenistic-jewish Apostle Paul through his writings and those New Testament writings traditionally attributed to him. Paul's beliefs were rooted in the earliest Jewish Christianity, but deviated from this Jewish Christianity in their emphasis on inclusion of the gentiles into God's New Covenant, and his rejection of circumcision as an unnecessary token of upholding the Law.
Jewish Christians were the followers of a Jewish religious sect that emerged in Judea during the late Second Temple period (first-century). The sect integrated the belief of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah and his teachings into the Jewish faith, including the observance of the Jewish law. Jewish Christianity is the foundation of Early Christianity, which later developed into Christianity. Christianity started with Jewish eschatological expectations, and it developed into the veneration of a deified Jesus after his earthly ministry, his crucifixion, and the post-crucifixion experiences of his followers.
Most scholars who study the historical Jesus and early Christianity believe that the canonical gospels and the life of Jesus must be viewed within their historical and cultural context, rather than purely in terms of Christian orthodoxy. They look at Second Temple Judaism, the tensions, trends, and changes in the region under the influence of Hellenism and the Roman occupation, and the Jewish factions of the time, seeing Jesus as a Jew in this environment; and the written New Testament as arising from a period of oral gospel traditions after his death.
Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
Criticism of Christianity has a long history stretching back to the initial formation of the religion during the Roman Empire. Critics have challenged Christian beliefs and teachings as well as Christian actions, from the Crusades to modern terrorism. The intellectual arguments against Christianity include the suppositions that it is a faith of violence, corruption, superstition, polytheism, bigotry, and sectarianism.
This article relates to a number of episodes in the New Testament in which Jesus was rejected in accordance with the Jewish tradition which was followed during his lifetime.
The New Testament frequently cites Jewish scripture to support the claim of the Early Christians that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah, but only a handful of these citations are actual predictions in their original contexts. The majority of these quotations and references are taken from the Book of Isaiah, but they range over the entire corpus of Jewish writings. Jews do not regard any of these as having been fulfilled by Jesus, and in some cases do not regard them as messianic prophecies at all. Old Testament prophecies about Jesus are either not thought to be prophecies by critical scholars or do not explicitly refer to the Messiah. Historical criticism is simply unable to maintain that Jesus was the Messiah because he would have fulfilled messianic prophecies—as such it isn't a historical claim.
This is a glossary of terms used in Christianity.
Christianity in the 1st century covers the formative history of Christianity, from the start of the ministry of Jesus to the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles.
Traditionally in Christianity, orthodoxy and heresy have been viewed in relation to the "orthodoxy" as an authentic lineage of tradition. Other forms of Christianity were viewed as deviant streams of thought and therefore "heterodox", or heretical. This view was challenged by the publication of Walter Bauer's Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum in 1934. Bauer endeavored to rethink Early Christianity historically, independent from the views of the current church. He stated that the 2nd-century church was very diverse and included many "heretical" groups that had an equal claim to apostolic tradition. Bauer interpreted the struggle between the orthodox and heterodox to be the "mainstream" Church of Rome struggling to attain dominance. He presented Edessa and Egypt as places where the "orthodoxy" of Rome had little influence during the 2nd century. As he saw it, the theological thought of the "Orient" at the time would later be labeled "heresy". The response by modern scholars has been mixed. Some scholars clearly support Bauer's conclusions and others express concerns about his "attacking [of] orthodox sources with inquisitional zeal and exploiting to a nearly absurd extent the argument from silence." However, modern scholars have critiqued and updated Bauer's model.
That the other members of his own family considered him insane, is said quite plainly, for the openly declare, "He is beside himself."
He was thought to be insane by his own family and neighbors in 'when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself ... (Mark 3:21-22 – The Greek existemi translated beside himself, actually means insane and witless), The Greek word ho para translated friends, also means family.
Perhaps, even earlier, Jesus Christ might simply have returned to his carpentry following the use of modern [psychiatric] treatments.
Two thousand years ago Jesus received a crown of thorns. Today the Messianic have electro-convulsive therapy.
A Son of God, Lord of the World, born of a virgin, and rising again after death, and the son of a small builder with revolutionary notions, are two totally different beings. If one was the historical Jesus, the other certainly was not. The real question of the historicity of Jesus is not merely whether there ever was a Jesus among the numerous claimants of a Messiahship in Judea, but whether we are to recognise the historical character of this Jesus in the Gospels, and whether he is to be regarded as the founder of Christianity. (Image of p. 28 at Google Books)
Image of p. 39 at Google Books
Case [Shirley Jackson Case] then provided some of the history of the problem, noting the contributions of the French in Charles Dupuis and Constantin Volney (end of eighteenth century), Karl Bahrdt and Karl Venturini in Germany, Charles Hennell in England, as well as the influence of D. F. Strauss and Bruno Bauer. He then listed the main opponents in Germany (Arthur Drews, Albert Kalthoff, Peter Jensen, Samuel Lublinski), in England (J. M. Robertson, G. R. S. Mead, Thomas Whittaker), in Holland (Gerardus J. P. J. Bolland), in France (Charles Virolleaud), Italy (Emilio Bossi), Poland (Andrzej Niemojewski), and America (W. B. Smith).
Among the more eminent scholars and critics who have contended that Jesus was not an actual historical figure we mention Bruno Bauer, Kaithoff, Drews, Stendel, Felder, Deye, Jensen, Lublinski, Bolland, Van der Berg, Virolleaud, Couchoud, Massey, Bossi, Niemojewski, Brandes, Robertson, Mead, Whittaker, Carpenter and W. B. Smith.