Just the facts on religion.

Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ, is one the most fascinating and enigmatic figures in history. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions calls Jesus "arguably the most important figure in the history of western civilization."

Despite his humble origins (a son of a carpenter from the Judean countryside), short life (about 33 years), and very short public career (between one and three years), Jesus is the central focus of the world's largest religion and has meant many things to many people since his death almost 2,000 years ago.

In addition to mainstream Christianity, Jesus is important in many new religious movements that grew out of Christianity and even in some non-Christian religions such as Islam, the Baha'i Faith, and Cao Dai. Jesus is respected as a wise teacher by many Buddhists, Hindus, some Jews, and even many non-religious people.

The English word "Jesus" comes from the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, a common name which means "savior." "Christ" is not Jesus' last name but a title; it comes from the Greek form of the Hebrew for Messiah, meaning "anointed one." Since the time of the earliest Christians, "Christ" has been used both with "Jesus" and as a stand-alone to refer to Jesus.

Christians believe, and most modern scholars agree,1 that Jesus of Nazareth was an actual historical figure. The earliest available records of the life of Jesus are the four Gospel narratives, which were written by Jesus' followers within a few decades of his death. A handful of other sources from the first and the second centuries, including Christian, Roman, Jewish, and Gnostic sources, also mention Jesus.

In recent years, both scholarly and popular attention has been focused on the "quest for the historical Jesus," an attempt to distinguish the human Jesus who lived and taught in Galilee from the "Christ of faith" - that is, religious doctrines about who Jesus was.

"Christology" is the branch of Christian theology that seeks to answer the question, "Who is Jesus Christ?" from a theological perspective. Today, most Christian denominations agree that Jesus was: a real human being; the Messiah predicted by the Jews; the Son of God; and God made flesh.

The articles in this section explore the life and teachings of Jesus as well as religious beliefs about him.


  1. “Jesus Christ.” Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1996) “His historical existence was not doubted by early Roman sources (Pliny, Tacitus, Suetonius), by Josephus, or later by the Talmud, and the modern so-called 'Christ myth' theory (that Jesus never lived) has convinced few.” 

  • Crucifixion of Jesus

    In the Gospels Jesus repeatedly suggests to his disciples his end is near, but they do not fully understand or accept the idea. The clearest expression of this is at the "Last Supper," which took place on the night before his death... full article →
  • Is Jesus the Messiah? Christian and Jewish Views

    > "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ." (Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20) > "I firmly believe, in complete faith, in the coming of the Messiah, and although he may tarry, I daily wait for his coming... full article →
  • Jesus Image Gallery

    A gallery of images of Jesus, arranged in chronological order from the most ancient to the most recent. full article →
  • Jesus as Son of God

    One of the titles used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament is "Son of God." In the Old Testament, this phrase had a general meaning of "belonging to God... full article →
  • Jesus as a Human Being

    Christians believe that Jesus was an actual, historical, real human being. The humanity of Jesus is now one of the least controversial areas of Christology, but this was not always so... full article →
  • Jesus as the Son of Man

    "Son of Man" is one of the more interesting and enigmatic titles of Jesus. It used 81 times in the Gospels, and always by Jesus himself. No other character in the Gospel narratives nor any other biblical writer uses the term... full article →
  • Jesus' Teachings and Miracles

    According to the Gospels, Jesus began his public career at about the age of 30 when he was baptized by John the Baptist (see [Baptism of Jesus](/baptism-of-jesus))... full article →
  • The Baptism of Jesus Christ

    Jesus reenters the Gospel narratives at about the age of 30 (circa 26 CE). The four gospels agree that Jesus' first act was to be baptized by John the Baptist, a charismatic and ascetic figure who called people to repentance and baptized those who responded... full article →
  • The Birth of Jesus

    The birth of Jesus, also called the "nativity of Christ," is a topic of both religious significance and scholarly interest. According to the Christian scriptures, the event was miraculous and fulfilled prophecies about the Messiah. Modern scholars date his birth to about 6-4 BCE. full article →
  • The Divinity of Christ

    The divinity of Christ - the doctrine that Jesus of Nazareth was in some sense God - dates from early Christianity and is believed by all major Christian denominations today... full article →
  • The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

    A central Christian belief is the resurrection of Christ — that three days after [Jesus](/jesus) was executed by crucifixion and buried in a stone tomb, he miraculously came back from the dead... full article →

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Further Reading