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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Q 1: What should this article be named?
To balance all religious denominations this was discussed on this talk page and it was accepted as early as 2004 that Jesus, rather than Jesus Christ, is acceptable as the article title. The title Christ for Jesus is used by Christians, but not by Jews and Muslims. Hence it should not be used in this general, overview article. Similarly in English usage the Arabic Isa and Hebrew Yeshua are less general than Jesus, and cannot be used as titles for this article per WP:Commonname.
Q 2: Why does this article use the BC/AD format for dates?
The use of AD, CE or AD/CE was discussed on the article talk page for a few years. The article started out with BC/AD but the combined format AD/CE was then used for some time as a compromise, but was the subject of ongoing discussion, e.g. see the 2008 discussion, the 2011 discussion and the 2012 discussion, among others. In April 2013 a formal request for comment was issued and a number of users commented. In May 2013 the discussion ended and the consensus of the request for comment was to use the BC/AD format.
Q 3: Did Jesus exist?
Based on a preponderance of sources, this article is generally written as if he did. A more thorough discussion of the evidence establishing Jesus' historicity can be found at Historicity of Jesus and detailed criticism of the non-historicity position can be found at Christ myth theory. See the policy on the issue for more information.
Q 3a: Is "virtually all scholars" a term that can be used in Wikipedia?
The term is directly used by the source in the article, and is used per the WP:RS/AC guideline to reflect the academic consensus.
Q 3b: What about asking on the reliability noticeboard?
Yes, people involved in the page can discuss matters, but an independent opinion from the reliable source noticeboard can further clarify and confirm the sources. An outside opinion was requested on the noticeboard. The outside opinion there (by user:DGG) stated that the issue has been discussed there many times and that the statement in the article (that virtually all scholars of antiquity hold that Jesus existed) represents the academic consensus.
Q 3c: What about the books that claim Jesus never existed?
The internet includes some such lists, and they have been discussed at length on the talk page, e.g. a list of over 20 such books was addressed in this talk page discussion. The list came from a non-WP:RS website and once it was analyzed it became clear that:
Most of the authors on the list were not scholars in the field, and included an attorney, an accountant, a land surveyor, a film-maker, as well as a number of amateurs whose actual profession was less than clear, whose books were self-published and failed the WP:RS requirements. Some of the non-self-published authors on the list were found to just write popular books, have no academic position and not scholars, e.g. Christopher Hitchens.
Some of the books on the list did not even deny the existence of Jesus, e.g. Burton Mack (who is a scholar) holds that Jesus existed but his death was not due to his challenge to Jewish authority, etc. Finkelstein and Silberman's work is about the Old Testament and not really related to Jesus. Tom Harpur holds that Jesus existed but mythical stories were later added to the gospel narratives about him.
The analysis of the list thus indirectly shed light on the scarcity of scholars who deny the existence of Jesus.
Q 3d: Do we have to survey the scholars ourselves?
The formal Wikipedia guidelines require us not to do our own survey. The Wikipedia guideline WP:RS/AC specifically states: "The statement that all or most scientists or scholars hold a certain view requires reliable sourcing that directly says that all or most scientists or scholars hold that view." Given that the guideline then states: "statement in Wikipedia that academic consensus exists on a topic must be sourced rather than being based on the opinion or assessment of editors." we should not rely on our own surveys but quote a scholar who states the "academic consensus".
Q 3e: Why even mention the existence of Jesus in the article lead?
A: This was discussed on the talk page. Although scholars at large see existence as a given, there are some self-published, non-scholarly books which question it, and hence non-scholars who read this article need to to have that issue clarified. And note that the statements regarding existence and other attributes need to be kept separate and stating that "Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus was from Galilee" would not be accurate, because scholarly agreement on existence is much stronger than on other items.
Q 4: Are the scholars who study Jesus all Christian?
No. According to Bart D. Ehrman in How Jesus Became God (ISBN: 978-0-06-177818-6, page 187), "most New Testament scholars are themselves Christian". However, scholars of many faiths have studied Jesus. There are 3 aspects to this question:
Some of the most respected late 20th century scholars involved in the study of the historical Jesus, e.g. Amy-Jill Levine, Geza Vermes, Paula Fredriksen, etc. are Jewish. This trend is discussed in the 2012 book Soundings in the Religion of Jesus: Perspectives and Methods in Jewish and Christian Scholarship by Bruce Chilton Anthony Le Donne and Jacob Neusner (ISBN0800698010 page 132). While much of the older research in the 1950-1970 time frame may have involved Christian scholars (mostly in Europe) the 1980s saw an international effect and since then Jewish scholars have brought their knowledge of the field and made significant contributions. And one should note that the book is coauthored by the likes of Chilton and Neusner with quite different backgrounds. Similarly one of the main books in the field "The Historical Jesus in Context by Amy-Jill Levine, Dale C. Allison Jr., John Dominic Crossan 2006 ISBN0691009929" is jointly edited by scholars with quite different backgrounds. In the late 20th and the 21st century Jewish, Christian and secular agnostic scholars have widely cooperated in research. The Muslim Reza Aslan wrote the #1 Bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
Regarding the existence of a historical Jesus, the article lead quotes Ehrman who is an agnostic and Price who is an atheist. Moreover, G. A. Wells who was widely accepted as the leader of the non-existence movement in the 20th century, abandoned that position and now accepts that the Q source refers to "a preacher" on whom parts of the gospels were based - although he believes that the supernatural claims were just stories that were then attributed to that preacher. That is reflected in his 2004 book "Can we Trust the New Testament", pages 49-50. While scholars continue to debate the historicity of specific gospel narratives, the agreement on the existence of Jesus is quite global.
Finally, Wikipedia policies do not prohibit Buddhist scholars as sources on the history of Buddhism, Jewish scholars on Judaism, or Muslim scholars as sources on the history of Islam provided they are respected scholars whose works meet the general WP:RS requirements in terms of publisher reputation, etc.
Q 5: Why are some historical facts stated to be less certain than others?
The difference is "historically certain" versus "historically probable" and "historically plausible". There are a number of subtle issues and this is a somewhat complicated topic, although it may seem simple at first:
A large majority of scholars agree that he debated the authorities and had "followers" - some scholars say there was a hierarchy among the followers, a few think it was a flat organization.
More scholars think he performed some healings (given that Rabbinic sources criticize him for that etc., among other reasons) than those who say he never did, but less agreement on than the debates with authorities, etc.
As the article states Amy-Jill Levine summarized the situation by stating: "Most scholars agree that Jesus was baptized by John, debated with fellow Jews on how best to live according to God's will, engaged in healings and exorcisms, taught in parables, gathered male and female followers in Galilee, went to Jerusalem, and was crucified by Roman soldiers during the governorship of Pontius Pilate." In that statement Levine chose her words very carefully. If she had said "disciples" instead of followers there would have been serious objections from other scholars, if she had said "called" instead of "gathered", there would have also been objections in that some scholars hold that Jesus preached equally to all, never imposed a hierarchy among his followers, etc. Scholars have very specific positions and the strength of the consensus among them can vary by changing just one word, e.g. follower to disciple or apostle, etc.
Q 6: Why is the info box so brief?
The infobox is intended to give a summary of the essential pieces of information, and not be a place to discuss issues in any detail. So it has been kept brief, and to the point, based on the issues discussed below.
Q 6a: Was Jesus Jewish?
Yes, as mentioned in the article, but not in the infobox. An RfC at the Village Pump says to include religion in the infobox only if it's directly related to the subject's notability and there's consensus. Some editors want to include his religion in the infobox and others do not. With no consensus, the default is to leave the religion out of the box.
Q 6b: Why is the birthplace not mentioned in the infobox?
The question came up in this discussion and there is no solid scholarly agreement on Bethlehem, so the infobox does not address that.
Q 7: Why is there no discussion of the legacy/impact of Jesus?
That issue is inherently controversial, and has been discussed on the talk page for many years, e.g. see the 2006 discussion, the June 2010 discussion, the Nov 2010 discussion, etc. One user commented that it would turn out to be a discussion of the "impact of Christianity" in the end; because all impact was through the spread of Christianity in any case. So it has been left out due to those discussions.
Q 8: Why is there no discussion of Christian denominational differences?
Christianity includes a large number of denominations, and their differences can be diverse. Some denominations do not have a central teaching office and it is quite hard to characterize and categorize these issues without a long discussion that will exceed the length limits imposed by WP:Length on articles. The discussion of the theological variations among the multitude of Christian denominations is beyond the scope of this article, as in this talk page discussion. Hence the majority and common views are briefly sketched and hyper-links are provided to other articles that deal with the theological differences among Christians.
Q 9: What is the correct possessive of Jesus?
This article uses the apostrophe-only possessive: Jesus', not Jesus's. Do not change usage within quotes. That was decided in this discussion.
This article is written in American English, which has its own spelling conventions (color, labor, traveled), and some terms that are used in it may be different or absent from other varieties of English. According to the relevant style guide, this should not be changed without broad consensus.
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Just in case anyone is confused, when the Bible speaks of Asia, that is Asia Minor, also known as Anatolia, which is today Turkey. The Seven Churches of Asia were actual churches in Western Anatolia (west coast of modern day Turkey). When the Bible speaks of Cana for the wedding feast, that is in modern day Lebanon. When the Bible speaks of Babylon, that is modern day Iraq. When the Bible speaks of Samaritans, those were people living in what is modern day Syria, because it was named for Aram, hence the Aramaic language. When the Bible speaks of graven images, it was referring to doing actual engravings of art, the specific context was to completely refrain from making idols and likenesses of things in the heavens, the earth, and the waters beneath the earth. The archaeology is everywhere. You have to be willing to research and admit when you've spoken a lifetime of ignorance to be humble scientists.Jakewayd (talk)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
It isn't even the least bit debatable that these basic, fundamental facts of the utmost importance absolutely belong in the lead, and in the article as well. Multiple editors also "went with me." This actually is very "minor" because it already exists in the article under "Jewish" views on Jesus and Christianity. However, facts of the utmost importance (with factual sources cited) belong in the lead. Multiple editors also "went with me" and I see no "discussion" on this on the talk page. Where are all the "major, controversial" objections of this on the Jesus talk page? I see nothing at all. If these important facts (with factual sources cited) have been edited back and forth for 3 to 4 days, why has this not already been discussed by any one on the talk page in the last 3 to 4 days? If multiple people "went with me" and multiple people "went against me," who decides? Most is already in the article down below in the Jewish section. Why are some people having a visceral reaction when these core principles and basic, fundamental facts (with factual sources cited) of the utmost importance are in the lead and article?Peteski132 (talk) 03:52, 13 December 2019 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
As mentioned over at Talk:Christmas, I was trying to decide whether adding a note on the reason December 25, 1BC was set as the traditional day of his birth. Sure, it was a pagan Roman holiday, but it was also because January 1, 1AD - the first day of the new era - would correspond to Jesus’s circumcision, I.e. the day he would be named and formally accepted as a member of the Jewish community. Thoughts? Jtrevor99 (talk) 21:02, 21 December 2019 (UTC)
Can someone please fix the placement of this for me? I am on mobile and cannot seem to do so. Not sure why the new section appeared under a hat. Thanks in advance. Jtrevor99 (talk) 21:06, 21 December 2019 (UTC)
Hi can you please add Akiane Kramarik's work "Jesus" to the Jesus artwork page. It seems to be in acceptance among a wide group of people and was featured on Oprah and I'm sure she would appreciate it Gev-owen (talk) 07:27, 30 December 2019 (UTC)
I can't seem to upload it because my account is new. Gev-owen (talk) 07:33, 30 December 2019 (UTC)
We can't use it since it does not have a free license. In any case, it is hardly of any historical significance. FunkMonk (talk) 21:20, 12 January 2020 (UTC)