Reader's Encyclopedia

Jesus (or Jesus Christ [Heb, " the Messiah "] or Christ Jesus)

Known also as Jesus of Nazareth. Born between 4 and 6 bc and crucified about ad 28. One of the world 's major religious figures, Jesus is regarded by his followers as the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament prophets (Isa. 9:2 - 6). The events of his life are recorded in the four Gospels of the New Testament. His genealogy is traced through David to Abraham.

Miraculous events occurred at his birth, but little is known of his youth and young manhood. He was born and lived in a time of distress and oppression. After his baptism by John the Baptist, he gathered twelve disciples (see apostles) and began to teach his message of God's redeeming love for all mankind, the necessity of repentance, and the duty of the individual to God and to other men. Through his doctrine of salvation for mankind and his extraordinary healing powers, he had a large following among the common people. He became suspect with the authorities, both Roman and Jewish, because of his popularity and his attacks on the hypocrisy of the privileged. He foretold the advent of a new Kingdom of God, which the priests regarded as blasphemy and the Romans as sedition.

After his ministry in Galilee, Jesus went to Jerusalem for the observation of Passover. There, after the Last Supper, Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, betrayed him to the authorities. He was arrested by the Roman soldiery, tried, and crucified. His followers believe that after three days he rose from the dead and later ascended to heaven to assume his rightful place with God.

The Christian Church was founded by the followers of Jesus, after his death. He is viewed as the word of God made flesh (John 1:14), the divine Incarnation that became fully human to redeem mankind. Through a series of Church councils, the nature of Jesus ' exact relation to the Godhead was defined in the concept of the Trinity, the three - person union of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.