Chances are you’ve at least heard of Jesus. He’s been a popular person throughout the past two-thousand years, and lots of people claim his name and follow his teachings.
But who was Jesus anyway? Or better yet, who is Jesus today?
Jesus is lots of things, to many different people and cultures across the world. To make it a little easier to understand, we’ll provide a 3-part breakdown of Jesus here. We’ll focus on his life on earth (the historical figure of Jesus), Jesus as the Savior (the Messiah), and Jesus as part of The Holy Trinity (the ascended Jesus). Each description of Jesus will hopefully give you a little insight as to why people follow his teachings, and how you can get to know Jesus better.
Jesus of Nazareth
Almost all modern scholars (both those who identify as Christians and those who do not) of antiquity agree that Jesus was a real man that lived over two-thousand years ago. Our modern calendar is centered around his life and ministry and most likely was born around 4 BC.
In the time of Jesus’ life and work it was common for people to have just one name (think Adele or Madonna) although sometimes their father’s name was added at the end for clarification, or in other cases your hometown acted as your last name. So it’s not surprising that we see Jesus being referred to as Jesus of Nazareth in the Bible and other texts from antiquity.
Jesus was from a region in northern Israel called Galilee, and his hometown was Nazareth. Most of what we know about Jesus comes from Scripture (the books of the Bible) and other ancient texts that describe and document what was going on in that part of the world at the time.
We know that Jesus worked and the Biblical author Mark refers to him as a τέκτων (tekton) which is typically translated into English as a carpenter, but technically could mean any type of builder or construction-trade.
We are also told that Jesus could read and write, which was particularly rare in Roman Palestine. However we don’t know if Jesus was formally educated or not, mainly because there is not much recorded about his upbringing.