The Historical Jesus and the Jesus of My Faith

I love to study the man Jesus! I sit with Jesus during the silence of Centering Prayer.

The historical Jesus was a real man who lived on this earth.

Where was Jesus born? Who were his parents? What can I glean from his life events? What can I learn about the Judaism he practiced? What was the corner of his world like when he grew up? How did the Roman Empire impact him? Why was he crucified? Was he resurrected?

“Jesus of Nazareth was a figure of history. That’s where we have to start. He was born somewhere around 4 BC (the people who invented our present system of dating got it nearly right, but not quite) and grew up in the town of Nazareth in northern Palestine. His mother was related to the priestly families, and Jesus had a cousin, John, who in the ordinary course of events would have worked as a priest. His mother’s husband, Joseph, was from the ancient royal family, the family of King David, of the tribe of Judah, though by this time there was no particular social status attached to such family membership. We know very little of Jesus’s early life; one of the gospels tells a story of him as a precocious twelve-year-old, already able to ask key questions and debate with adults. His later life indicates that, like many Jewish boys, he was from an early age taught to read Israel’s ancient scriptures, and that by adulthood he knew them inside out and had drawn his own conclusions as to what they meant. The strong probability is that he worked with Joseph in the family business, which was the building trade.” [1]

Marcus Borg reflects, “Though the story of the historical Jesus ends with his death on a Friday in A.D. 30, the story of Jesus does not end there.” [2] Here we are some two thousand years later. The story is far from over. The historical Jesus has died. The resurrected Jesus, the Jesus of our faith is very much alive and a powerful force in this world. He is a powerful force in my life. I sit with this powerful force during my centering prayer practice. I arise from each sit resurrected with new life!

Go Further:

N. T. Wright, Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters

N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion

N. T. Wright, Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good

N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is

N. T. Wright, Paul: A Biography

Marcus Borg, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith

Courses by N. T. Wright:

N. T. Wright, In The Day the Revolution Began, N. T. Wright once again challenges commonly held Christian beliefs as he did in his acclaimed Surprised by Hope. Demonstrating the rigorous intellect and breathtaking knowledge that have long defined his work, Wright argues that Jesus’ death on the cross was not only to absolve us of our sins; it was actually the beginning of a revolution commissioning the Christian faithful to a new vocation—a royal priesthood responsible for restoring and reconciling all of God’s creation.

N. T. Wright, In this course Simply Jesus, students will be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus of Nazareth. The goal of the course is to look at the story of Jesus from the perspective of a historian. Too many times Jesus of Nazareth becomes interpreted as simply another ‘religious figure’ among many religious figures. But this so often eliminates the understanding of a man who lived in time and space at a critical time of history.

N. T. Wright, How do we know that Jesus was actually raised from the dead in bodily form? This course with Prof. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, examines the extraordinary claim that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead in a bodily fashion to appear in person to people after his cruel death, crucifixion, and entombment. This journey will look at the ancient world’s understanding of the afterlife from Jewish and Greek perspectives along with the implications of their understandings as it relates to the early Christian claim of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

N. T. Wright, Simply Good News is an introductory course based on the teachings of Prof. N.T. Wright and his book bearing the same title. The student will be guided through the idea of what ‘good news’ meant to the 1st Century person living in the Roman Empire. The course will also guide the student to understand how that ‘good news’ is to be understood by readers of the New Testament in the 21st Century.

[1] Simply Jesus: A New Vision Of Who He Was. What He Did. And Why He Matters by N. T. Wright

[2] Jesus:  A New Vision, Spirit, Culture, and The Life Of Discipleship by Marcus Borg

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2 thoughts on “The Historical Jesus and the Jesus of My Faith”

  1. Borg and Wright have significantly different views of Jesus, The book they wrote together–The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions–is particularly useful for discerning their differences. Wright’s new book with Michael Bird is an impressive summary of Wright’s impressive Christian Origins and the Question of God Series thus far.

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