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Historicity of Jesus

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The historicity of Jesus concerns the historical authenticity of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Scholars often draw a distinction between Jesus as reconstructed through historical methods and the Christ of faith as understood through theological tradition. The historical figure of Jesus is of central importance to various religions, but especially Christianity and Islam, in which the historical details of Jesus’ life are essential. With few exceptions (such as Robert M. Price), scholars in the fields of biblical studies and history agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee who was regarded as a healer, was baptized by John the Baptist, was accused of sedition against the Roman Empire, and on the orders of Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was sentenced to death by crucifixion.[1] The four canonical Gospels (most commonly estimated to have been written between 65 and 110 A.D[2]) and the writings of Paul of the New Testament are among the earliest known documents relating to Jesus' life. Some scholars also hypothesize the existence of earlier texts such as the Signs Gospel and the Q document. There are arguments that parts of the Gospel of Thomas are likewise early texts.

Scholarly opinions on the historicity of the New Testament accounts are diverse. At the extremes, they range from the view that they are inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus,[3] to the view that they provide no historical information about his life.[4] The sources extant contain little evidence of Jesus' life before the account of Jesus' Baptism, and it has been suggested by many [5] that the events recorded in the gospels cover a period of less than three years. Historians subject the gospels to critical analysis, differentiating authentic, reliable information from inventions, exaggerations, and alterations.

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