The purpose of this web page is to explain and explore some of the theories offered up by contemporary scholars on the historical Jesus and the origins of the Christian religion. Issues include the nature of the historical Jesus, the nature of the early Christian documents, and the origins of the Christian faith in a risen Jesus Christ.
Ancient tradition has it that the first Jewish revolt was sparked by the unjust execution of James the Just. In order to disassociate James the Just from his brother Jesus, the Gospels split him into two: on the one hand, the family of Jesus including James think Jesus is mad; on the other hand, James the son of Zebedee is one of the trio of James, Peter, and John as found in the Gospels. Yet the fiction is exposed when we look at the earlier letters of Paul, in which the trio is James the brother of the Lord, Peter, and John - what an odd coincidence, which so many scholars take at face value, that one James the son of Zebedee should have died only to be conveniently replaced by another by the name of James, the brother of Jesus! Yet, Eisenman argues, the Gospels and Acts are full of this kind of misinformation designed to obscure the significance of the James faction and to domesticate Christianity for Gentile consumption.
In addition to propounding his central thesis that the original Christianity of James was a Jewish nationalist resistance movement and that Paul transformed it into a Hellenistic cult, Eisenman has an auxiliary theory that has likely drawn both impressive book sales and scholarly derision, which is his attempt to bring the Dead Sea Scrolls into the mix. Eisenman identifies James the Just with the Teacher of Righteousness and Paul with the spouter of lies, figures vaguely identified in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, in so doing, Eisenman must strenuously argue against the use of carbon-dating and paleographical methods which suggest that the documents in question were written prior to the Christian era. Fortunately, his identifications for the characters in the Dead Sea Scrolls need not be seen as essential to his thesis.
Please enjoy exploring the varied Historical Jesus Theories offered by these authors through the links below.
Jesus the Myth: Heavenly Christ
Jesus the Myth: Man of the Indefinite Past
Jesus the Hellenistic Hero
Jesus the Revolutionary
Jesus the Wisdom Sage
Jesus the Man of the Spirit
Jesus the Prophet of Social Change
Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet
Jesus the Savior
For more information on the debate over the historical Jesus, visit the Christian Origins web site.
Go to the Chronological List of all Early Christian Writings
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