Were there two people named Jesus? Well, there was an historical Jewish man who lived and died in Galilee in the late 20’s, who was charismatic and bold and fearless, and then there was a “biblical man/God” who walked on water and rose from his grave and started a new religion. Were they the same person? Most Christians say yes.
But many Scripture Scholars say no. Here’s why:
We have some quasi-historical proof mainly from a Jewish writer, Josephus—born in Jerusalem, whose father was a priest and whose mother claimed royal ancestry—who said that there was a Jewish man named Yeshua who lived during the time of John the Baptist and preached a brand of political and religious sedition. Like hundreds of displaced and persecuted Galileans who fought against the Roman occupation and the Pharisaical hypocrisy, this Jew was crucified.
But here’s the kicker: in all probability, this Jew was illiterate. Of the men who lived in that territory at that time, 98% could nether read or write. And the 2% who could, the Priests and Pharisees, didn’t waste their time writing about peasants. Regardless, it is a fact: this Jesus didn’t write a thing. Nothing. He died in Jerusalem around the year 30, and left nothing in writing. And that was the end of the Historical Jesus.
Now the Biblical Jesus begins, not in writing, but in some kind of oral tradition. Hundreds of Jewish men and women who had listened to him speak, begin to repeat what they heard. These peasants can’t read or write so they recite his stories and parables and pronouncements in their own words, first to their own children and grandchildren, and then to anyone in the synagogue who will listen. This goes on for 40-50 years!
Now we have to ask: did each peasant remember the same words of Jesus, spoken in Aramaic, and pass them down, sometimes in Greek, sometimes in Hebrew or Aramaic, without any changes or additions – year after year, generation after generation, for all these 50 years?
Let’s examine this.
We know that the first gospel was Mark’s, written in Greek sometime in the 70’s or early 80’s. We always put Matthew’s gospel first in our Bibles (even though it was written in the late 80’s) because it starts with the birth of Jesus; Mark obviously didn’t have that story. But let’s ask where Mark did get his stories about Jesus, and his exact quotes, and even those statements that Jesus made in a silent prayer with no one around to hear him (Mk.14:36). I think there are three possibilities:
What do you think?