All about Jesus – History of Christianity

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The birth of Jesus - a Nativity scene. Baby is in a cradle. A donkey and an ox look on.

The birth of Jesus – a Nativity scene from a Roman sarcophagus, 300s AD. Arles, France

Everything we know about the life of Jesus comes from the Bible. Jesus’ name is not mentioned in any other source written during his lifetime. No book written within the lifetimes of people who might have known him mentions him either. (Find out more about this). According to the Bible, Jesus was born during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, about 4 BC. (There is some disagreement about exactly when.) The Bible says he was born in Israel, in the town of Bethlehem. And he grew up near Bethlehem, in Nazareth. When he was about 30, Jesus took to preaching in public like his cousin John the Baptist. That was in the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius,

One of the earliest drawings of Jesus - here he is healing a man who was paralyzed. Now he gets up and carries his own bed. (Dura Europos, Syria, ca. 232 AD)

One of the earliest drawings of Jesus – here he is healing a man who was paralyzed. The man gets up and carries his own bed. (Dura Europos, Syria, ca. 232 AD)

Jesus had many new ideas to talk about. He told people that after the Last Judgment at the end of time they would either go to Heaven or go to Hell. He told people that faith in God, and in Jesus as the son of God, were the most important ways of getting into Heaven. And Jesus said that God no longer wanted animal sacrifices, because Jesus himself was going to be the biggest sacrifice ever. And if you believed in Jesus then his sacrifice would be for you too.

Jesus raises the dead man Lazarus back to the living world (mosaic from Ravenna, 500s AD)

Jesus raises the dead man Lazarus back to the living world (mosaic from Ravenna, 500s AD)

Like some other men of his time, Jesus acted like a holy man. He wore simple clothes. He wouldn’t take money for anything he did for people. Jesus healed sick people, and he travelled around.

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss (mosaic from Ravenna, 500s AD)

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss (mosaic from Ravenna, 500s AD)

After a few years of preaching, (again according to the Bible) Jesus got in trouble with the Jewish leaders in Israel. They didn’t believe he was the son of God. So they didn’t like him going around telling people that.

An early crucifixion: Jesus is on the cross, but Judas has hanged himself in shame. About 420 AD (The Maskell Ivories, British Museum)

An early crucifixion: Jesus is on the cross, but Judas has hanged himself in shame. About 420 AD (The Maskell Ivories, British Museum)

The Jewish leaders went to the Roman governor of the province, Pontius Pilate. (His name does appear in an inscription found by archaeologists.) They told Pilate that Jesus was getting too powerful. Pilate was afraid that Jesus might be leading a rebellion against Rome. So he ordered his soldiers to hang Jesus from a cross until he was dead. (This was a normal Roman punishment for criminals.)

Learn by doing: read the book of Matthew in the Bible
More about the Apostles

Bibliography and further reading about the history of Christianity:

  

The Apostles and Saint Paul
More about Christianity
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By | 2017-08-22T12:22:21+00:00 August 22nd, 2017|Religion, Romans|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. All about Jesus – History of Christianity. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 22, 2017. Web. November 20, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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