By Ryan Smith
It is, as a rule, very hard to uncover the historical facts of the Christian inception, and whatever we can say must be stated with great reserve. On the other hand, it is easily demonstrable that many pertinent and illuminative facts are left out of most Christian accounts. In this article, I shall attempt to supply some of these facts, so as to give the reader a full understanding of the doctrines of Jesus. As with my articles on Buddhism and Hinduism, I shall not say anything about the spiritual truth of these doctrines, for I could not settle that question even if that had been my aim; it is a matter that everyone must decide for themselves.
First, it is almost completely certain that Jesus existed; that he was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by the Romans (probably while he was in his early or mid-30s). But beyond these facts, almost nothing can be known for certain of him. This paucity of information has caused considerable division in the modern interpretations of Jesus’ life and works. Did he preach a coming apocalypse? Did he identify himself as the Jewish Messiah? Was he a charismatic wonder-worker akin to Empedocles? Was he simply a moral teacher and social reformer? Or was his aim to preach a Jewish variant of Cynicism? ...
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