Painting – Jesus the Nazarene

Jesus (from Greek: Ἰησοῦς, translit. Iesous; Hebrew: ישוע‎, translit. Yēšū́aʿ, lit. ‘Yeshua; “YHWH saves”‎; c. 4 BC – c. AD 30), also referred to as Jesus Christ, was a Jewish preacher and religious leader who has become the central figure of Christianity. Christians believe him to be the Son of GOD and the awaited Messiah (Christ, the Anointed One) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Jesus the Nazarene

The word nazarene  is used to translate two related terms that appear in the Greek New Testament: Nazarēnos (Nazarene) and Nazōraios (Nazorean). The phrases traditionally improperly changed as “Jesus of Nazareth” is more legitimate be translated as “Jesus the Nazarene” or “Jesus the Nazorean”, since the town Nazareth where he allegedly grew up, was never reported in any pre-christian tradition/books. This town in Galilee, now in northern Israel, was never mentioned in the entire Old Testament and not even from the vast literature in the Talmud or by ancients historian and geographer.

The title “Nazarene” may have a religious significance instead of denoting a place of origin. Both Nazarene and Nazorean are irregular in Greek and the additional vowel in Nazorean complicates any derivation from Nazareth.

The Gospel of Matthew explains that the title Nazarene is derived from the prophecy “He will be called a Nazorean”, but this has no obvious Old Testament source. So many scholars point to a passage in the Book of Judges which refers to Samson as a Nazirite.

The Greek New Testament uses “Nazarene” six times (Mark, Luke), while “Nazorean” is used 13 times (Matthew, Mark in some manuscripts, Luke, John, Acts). In the Book of Acts, “Nazorean” is used to refer to a follower of Jesus, i.e. a Christian, rather than an inhabitant of a town. “Notzrim” is the modern Hebrew word for Christians (No·tsri, נוֹצְרִי) and one of two words commonly used to mean “Christian” in Syriac (Nasrani) and Arabic (Naṣrānī, نصراني).

Read also: Jesus the Nazarene not “from” Nazareth


Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, and they consider the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) to be the best sources for investigating the historical Jesus, although not everything in the New Testament gospels is considered to be historically reliable. Often referred to as “rabbi”, Jesus preached his message orally, was baptized by John the Baptist, was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate. Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow GOD’s will, performed some healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. After Jesus’ death, his followers believed he was resurrected, and the community they formed eventually became the Christian Church. His birth is celebrated annually on December 25 (or various dates in January for some eastern churches) as a holiday known as Christmas, his crucifixion is honored on Good Friday, and his resurrection is celebrated on Easter. The widely used calendar era “AD”, from the Latin “Anno Domini” (“in the year of our Lord”), and the alternative “CE”(“Common Era” or “Current Era”) are based on the birth of Jesus.

Christians believe that Jesus has a “unique significance” in the world. Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, whence he will return. Most Christians believe Jesus enables humans to be reconciled to GOD. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian Eschatology; though some believe Jesus’s role as saviour has more existential or societal concerns than the afterlife, and a few notable theologians have suggested that Jesus will bring about a universal reconciliation. A majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of GOD the Son, the second of three persons of a Divine Trinity. A minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural.

Judaism’s view of Jesus

Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah. He was an itinerant preacher, but not the Son of GOD, has not performed miracles, and after the death on the cross, did not rise nor ascended into heaven and that his resurrection is a Christian legend.

Judaism has never accepted any of the claimed fulfillments of prophecy that Christianity attributes to Jesus. Judaism (like Islam) also forbids the worship of a person as a form of idolatry, since the central belief of Judaism is the absolute unity and singularity of GOD. Jewish Eschatology holds that the coming of the Messiah will be associated with a specific series of events that have not yet occurred, including the return of Jews to their homeland and the rebuilding of The Temple, a Messianic Age of peace and understanding during which “the Knowledge of GOD” fills the earth, and since Jews believe that none of these events occurred during the lifetime of Jesus (nor have they occurred afterwards), he is not a candidate for Messiah.

Traditional views of Jesus have been mostly negative, although in the Middle Ages Judah Halevi and Maimonides viewed Jesus as an important preparatory figure for a future universal ethical monotheism of the Messianic Age.

Mosaic of Jesus in the city of Ravenna (526CE)

Jesus in Islam

In Islam, Jesus (commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of GOD’s important prophets and the Messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was a bringer of scripture and was born of a virgin but was not the Son of GOD. The Quran states that Jesus himself never claimed divinity. To most Muslims, Jesus was not crucified but was physically raised into Heaven by GOD.

The Quran and most hadith (testimonial reports) mention Jesus to have been born a “pure boy” (without sin) to Mary (Arabic: مريم‎, translit. Maryām‎) as the result of virginal conception, similar to the event of the Annunciation in Christianity. In Islamic theology, Jesus is believed to have performed many miracles, several being mentioned in the Quran such as speaking as an infant, healing various ailments like blindness, raising the dead to life, making birds out of clay and breathing life into them. Over the centuries Islamic writing has referenced other miracles like casting out demons, having borrowed from pre-Islamic sources, some heretical, and from canonical sources as legends were expanded. Like all prophets in Islamic thought, Jesus is also called a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of GOD), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path”.

In Islam, Jesus is believed to have been the precursor to Muhammad, attributing the name Ahmad to someone who would follow Jesus. Islam traditionally teaches the rejection of divinity, that Jesus was not GOD incarnate, nor the only Son of GOD and, according to some interpretations of the Quran, the Islamic view of Jesus’ death and crucifixion is widely denied and not believed to have occurred. Despite the earliest Muslim traditions and exegesis quoting somewhat conflicting reports regarding death and length of death, the mainstream Muslim belief is that Jesus didn’t suffer death but was instead raised alive to heaven.

Muslim tradition believes Jesus will return to earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal (“the false messiah”, also known as the Antichrist) with the help of the Mahdi.


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