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Characters: The Four Gospels

Jesus Christ

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

  • All-Loving Hero: Jesus is the Trope Codifier; in fact, this trope's former name was "The Messiah" because of him.
  • Angel Unaware / God Was My Copilot: Appeared to His disciples after His death, but they did not recognize Him at first.
  • The Atoner: He was sent to atone for the sins of mankind.
  • Back from the Dead: "But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him."
  • Badass Pacifist: See The Determinator below.
  • Badass Preacher: While He was pretty much nonviolent, the time He trashed the moneychangers' stalls in the temple certainly qualifies.
  • Berserk Button: Don't treat His Father's house like a marketplace. Or alternatively, don't use it as a cover for cons and scamming the poor and downtrodden.
  • Bigger Than Jesus: Strangely enough, Jesus Himself used this trope, at least in the eyes of the Jewish priesthood at the time. From Luke Chapter 11:
    Jesus: The Queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom; and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now one greater than Jonah is here.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Sure, He will die for your sins, but if you ever happen to push His Berserk Button, may God help you...actually, He wouldn't.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Frequently a target of this.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Christians (and many translations of The Bible) often capitalize pronouns referring to Jesus out of reverence for Him.
  • Catch Phrase: Often starts His sentences with "Verily I say unto you" ("I tell you the truth" in modern translations).
  • Celibate Hero: Some people think that Jesus was married, but that His wife was not mentioned in The Bible (there are also a lot of speculations about why this is). Other people see this idea as heresy.
  • Child Prodigy: At about 12, Jewish boys were expected to start joining in religious discussions. At 12, Jesus was teaching at these discussions, and astonishing everyone with His understanding and answers.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: When asked if an adulterer should be stoned, Jesus wrote or drew something in the dirt with his finger instead of answering, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Compelling Voice: He can stop storms with His voice.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The Trope Codifier.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Crucifixion was actually a standard public execution method in ancient Rome, but it was most definitely cruel. Certain aspects of His death were made to be crueler than usual, like the Crown of Thorns.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If you happened to be Pharisees or Sadducee.
  • Deal with the Devil: Averted, though not for lack of trying on Satan's part. (It helped that Jesus had Incorruptible Pure Pureness.)
  • Depending on the Writer: A lot of people forget that one of the first things Jesus does in the Gospels is preach an "eye for an eye" system of law enforcement. This is, in fact, the origin of the phrase. It's quite out of line with how He's depicted at other points in the Gospels.
    • It Makes Sense in Context: He does refer to the Old Testament "eye for an eye" ethic, but then adds that it's much better to Turn the Other Cheek.
      Jesus: You have heard that it was said "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
  • A God Am I: "Before Abraham was, I Am." (Double points for invoking the name of God revealed to Moses in the Old Testament.) Justified, if Jesus was, as He claimed, the Son of God Himself.
  • God in Human Form: He claimed to be, leading to accusations of blasphemy from the Pharisees.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Although this attitude is mainly aimed at Satan who tried to tempt Him, the Pharisees who were being hypocrites, and the merchants who defiled His temple.
  • Good Shepherd: Jesus calls Himself this, and lives up to it, including the part about laying down His life for the sheep.
    • Dark Shepherd: Then, there's His warnings of eternal damnation in Hell if one doesn't repent of their sins. He's more gentle about it, though.
  • Healing Hands: He healed a lot of people, usually by laying hands on them.
  • The Hero: Of the New Testament. Specifically, a Guile Hero who used cleverness rather than violence.
  • Heroic Sacrifice / Someone Has to Die: Jesus had to die and suffer punishment for mankind's sins in order to make it possible for people to be saved and not have to suffer punishment for their own sins.
  • Humble Hero: Shows this in many ways.
  • I Have Many Names: Jesus son of Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, note , the Son of Man, Jesus Son of David...
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Jesus was even tempted by the Devil himself, but didn't buckle.
  • Internal Reformist: Of Judaism and the law of Moses. A contested issue among His disciples, Paul argued for worldwide evangelization while Peter interpreted it as restricted to Jews. In any case, Jesus updated Yahweh's message.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Oh, yes...
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Many people see Him as this. He was definitely seen as this by His contemporaries.
  • Jews Love to Argue: Jesus was Jewish, of course, and much of the action in the Gospels involves Him arguing with other Jews (the Pharisees or His own disciples) about the correct interpretation of the Laws of Moses.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: Jesus' 40 days and nights in the desert, sort of.
  • Kung-Fu Jesus: Despite forcibly kicking shady merchants out of the temple on more than one occasion, this is mostly averted. In fact, the people turned against Him because He wasn't this; they expected their Messiah to lead a revolt against Rome.
  • Large Ham: Yes.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: In many Bibles, His words are written in red. Also, He is often portrayed wearing purple robes, purple being a color long associated with royalty in the West.
  • Light is Good: He could also be considered Good Is Not Soft.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Subverted. Jesus is both the legal and biological heir of David. Legally through Joseph, but it turns out that the genealogy in Luke is actually Mary's, (though this is never explicitly stated) tracing her back to David. In addition, there are a few women so well-respected that Matthew felt the need to mention them: Tamar, Bath-sheba, Rahab and Ruth.
  • Magnetic Hero: Jesus had no trouble gathering His twelve apostles. In fact, most of them Jumped at the Call.
  • Man in White: Usually depicted this way. In the Gospels themselves, His robes become pure white in the Transfiguration sequence.
  • Manly Tears: "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).
  • Meaningful Name: "Yahweh saves."
  • Meekness Is Weakness: Jesus actually described Himself as being "meek and lowly in heart," but He otherwise totally subverts this trope.
  • Messianic Archetype: The Trope Maker.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours: Often took the Pharisees down a notch or two.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: The Trope Namer and the page quote-provider. Yeah, He wasn't exactly popular in Nazareth.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • When the guy known for using His powers for good turns and curses a fig tree in a fit of anger, causing it to wither and die, you know something serious is about to go down. Sure enough, Jesus went to His death a few days later.
    • Ditto with the merchants in the temple. He goes absolutely berserk when He sees them.
  • The Paragon: He told His disciples, "Love one another as I have loved you."
  • The Power of Love: One of Jesus' most remembered teachings is to love God and to love your neighbor. Jesus emphasizes love as the most powerful thing in the universe. (Faith and Hope being the two runners-up.)
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Jesus is praying at the Mount of Olives just before His arrest, and His sweat appears like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). This is actually a documented medical phenomenon in some cases of extreme stress, likely brought on by His knowledge of what's about to go down.
  • Race Lift: Jesus was a Middle Eastern. He was born in Palestine, the Middle East, but, at least in Western art, he's almost universally depicted as a white person.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The four Gospels emphasize different sides of Jesus based on each evangelist's target audience. Matthew showed Jesus as an Expy of Moses and cited a myriad of Old Testament prophecies to really drive the whole Messiah thing home. Mark's Gospel was Darker and Edgier because his audience was persecuted Christians. Luke's Gospel is Lighter and Softer, emphasizing Nice Guy qualities of Jesus because he was targeting non-Jewish converts. John's Gospel is the most mystic-like of the four and writes a Higher Self version of Jesus to emphasize His divinity.
  • Purity Personified: In a heated debate, Jesus once asked the Pharisees, "Which of you convicts me of sin?" There was no response.
  • Scars Are Forever: He still had the scars from His crucifixion after He rose from the dead, probably because the Apostles would not believe unless they felt them.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: His ethics in a nutshell. See the parable about the eye of the needle.
  • Self Restraint: He went along with being sentenced to death. He even remarked at the time that, if He really wanted to, He could summon four legions of angels to bust Him out.
    • He declined to even open his mouth in his own defense while on trial. This likely has at least something to do with his track record of mopping the floor with the Pharisees' other arguments—if he'd made an active effort to rebut their accusations, it might have complicated the Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact: He preached actively for only three years and died at age 33, and here we are 2,000 years later still talking about Him. Not to mention the little matter of the religion He started currently having over three billion followers worldwide.
  • Take a Third Option: One of His specialties.
    • Notable example: saving the adulteress from stoning by telling those who wanted to kill her that it wasn't like they were so pure either.
    • There's also the time where the Pharisees asked if it was legal to pay taxes to Rome, hoping they could get Jesus arrested for his answer; Jesus outsmarted them with a simple answer of "if it belongs to Rome, give it to them."
  • Take That: It's hard to read His words and not think He's talking about someone today, but He was more talking about the people of his time, their hypocrisy and blindness to injustice. But, since He's omniscient, He very well could be talking about people today, so this can be Double Subverted. Or, simply, his message is one that can speak to all people across time.
  • Thanatos Gambit: He comes Back from the Dead.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Trope Namer.
  • The Unreveal: To settle a dispute, Jesus wrote something in the ground that apparently blew them away and made everyone stop fighting. This is the only recorded instance of Jesus ever writing anything. But none of the books ever tell us what He wrote, maybe because we couldn't understand it?
    • The incident in question is recorded in John 8, when the people brought the woman who was caught in adultery in yet another attempt to trap Jesus by His own words. Commentators have suggested that what Jesus wrote on the ground was the accusers' own sins, as a way of calling them out for hypocrisy.
  • Verbal Tic: In the book of John, "I tell you the truth" or "Truly, truly I say to you."
  • Wham Line: "Tonight, one of you will betray me."
  • With Us or Against Us: As far as He is concerned, neutrality in Him doesn't exist. Either one accepts Him or rejects Him.
  • Wrongfully Attributed: Jesus' birth is often believed to be the original reason people celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. In reality pagans already held winter rituals and festivities centuries before Jesus' birth. The Church, not knowing when his birthday actually was, chose to celebrate it on this date so that Christmas could replace these festivals. Jesus probably wasn't actually born in winter, either; among other evidence, the shepherds wouldn't have been in their fields in December. Some astronomers suggested his real birthday was the 17th of June. Of course, given the sheer number of pagan (and Jewish) festivals, it would be hard to come up with a date that had not been used by some religion before...

Joseph of Nazareth

  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome / Disappeared Dad: Theological scholars speculate Joseph's lack of appearance post-Nativity may be due to Joseph dying at some point.
    • Joseph shows up in that episode when Jesus was 12 and He was in the Temple showing off his knowledge to the rabbis. Mary and Joseph were both mentioned here. After this, not much is known. Most sources say Jesus was an adult when Joseph died.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Although he is from the lineage of King David, he earns a modest and meager living as a carpenter. And his social status is essentially "a nobody." (Or, if you like, the Average Joe.)
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Averted. After finding out that Mary was pregnant, he decided to (quietly) divorce her rather than make a big deal about it and have her be humiliated. That was really decent of him, considering the time and place he was in, he probably saved Mary's life (though he did come back for her).

The Virgin Mary

"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!"

  • Arranged Marriage: Is engaged to Joseph at the time she becomes pregnant with Jesus.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Became Queen of the world according to some Christian traditions. Her "Assumption" had been floating around for centuries, but it wasn't until 1950 that the Catholic church accepted this as doctrine, replacing the original accepted theory that she went into eternal sleep or "Dormition."
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Although her appearance is not mentioned or commented on at all (not even in passing), Catholics always describe her as being extraordinarily beautiful.
    • Divine Race Lift: And that she conforms to whatever the ideal of feminine beauty is in the describer's culture.
  • Breakout Character: In Catholicism.
  • Celibate Heroine:
    • Played straight at the time of Jesus' birth; there's a reason she got her title. Possibly averted afterward, depending on whether you translate references to Jesus' "brothers and sisters" as literal or metaphorical.
  • The Chick: The most feminine figure in Christianity.
  • The Chosen One: Chosen by God out of many different young women to be the mother of Jesus.
  • The High Queen: To those who believe that she became Queen of Heaven and Queen of the World at the end of her earthly existence.
  • Humble Heroine: Despite the point that Mary's decision to become pregnant with the Messiah would make her a very important figure to many, Mary's few recorded actions after her son's birth reflected her son's importance. Many Christians honor her greatly, as her son did, because of that very humility.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception states that she had to be pure from the very beginning in order to be a suitable mother for Jesus, and so she was spared from Original Sin.
  • The Ingenue: See above
  • Jewish Mother: Well, literally but the trope varies by the gospel.
    • In Mark (the one written for a Jewish audience) she up and tells Jesus that what he's doing is crazy, along with his brothers and sisters. Jesus handily ignores her though, telling her that his real family is whoever hears God's message and listens to it.
    • In the other gospels she's not a Control Freak.
  • Miko: According to extrabiblical tradition (and Islam), she was the equivalent of this, from a very young age.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; there are at least two other women named Mary in the New Testament alone.
  • Proper Lady: Considered by some to be the Trope Codifier.
  • Put on a Bus: To those who believe she was simply floated up to Heaven at the end of her Earthly life, instead of dying.
  • Something about a Rose: Roses are a flower associated with her, notably the most iconic prayer about her is the rosary (meaning "rose garden")
  • Team Mom: To Catholics. In fact, they actually pretty much call her this. See below.
  • True Blue Femininity: Traditionally depicted wearing blue robes.
  • Virgin Power: In that she becomes pregnant and gives birth while still a virgin. To Catholics (who believe that she remained a virgin her whole life), she also has powers of intercession for such things as healing.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: In Catholic doctrine. (Her appearance is not mentioned even in passing in any of the Gospels.) Additionally, those who report seeing visions of her report that she conforms to whatever the ideal of feminine beauty is in their culture.

John the Baptist

And there was a cry from the wilderness...

  • Hermit Guru: Lived in the wilderness, surviving mainly on grasshoppers and honey, during his ministry.
  • Off with His Head!: What happened to him in the end.

The Apostles/Disciples

Peter, Andrew, James the brother of John, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the Lesser, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the Betrayer. Matthias was later brought into the group as Judas' replacement. Peter, John, and Judas have their own sections below.
  • Flat Earth Atheist: Thomas has this reputation if the phrase "doubting Thomas" is anything to go by, but it's fairly unjustified. All the Apostles had trouble accepting Jesus' resurrection without physical proof; Thomas was just singled out because he arrived late. In addition, Jesus readily offered said proof and they immediately believed upon seeing it.
  • Literal-Minded: The Apostles were often clueless about the things Jesus taught. They thought that Jesus was coming to restore the monarchy that David started even after Jesus rose from the dead. It wasn't until after Jesus sent the Holy Spirit that the Apostles understood everything.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with two Jameses, the two Judases, and also with a second John (the first being John the Baptist). Played straight with Simons, as Jesus named one "Peter"—but even then, yet another Simon was involved in the crucifixion.
  • Red Baron: James and John, the "Sons of Thunder."
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Jesus gathered together fishermen, carpenters, a tax collector and a freedom fighter.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Since many of the apostles worked in blue-collar occupations such as fishing and carpentry, it's fair to assume they were manly men—and loved Jesus, of course.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Matthias, who replaced Judas after his death.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tradition states that, except for John, they were all martyred in different places around the world. Without any concrete evidence, their fates still remain vague.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jesus did this to the disciples after they rebuked people for bringing their children to see Jesus.

Simon Peter/Cephas

"And I name you Peter, for you are the rock from which I will build My church."

  • Character Development: Post-Pentecost, Peter becomes one of the new leaders of Jesus's movement and gains maturity from it.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: Jesus predicts that this will signal Peter's Friendship Denial. He's right.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: He was crucified. Upside down. Also counts as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, as he specifically requested to be crucified upside down; he felt he didn't deserve to die the same way as his lord. This is why one of the symbols of Christian fealty is an upside-down cross, and not a Satanic Anti-Christian symbol.
  • Friendship Denial: Peter was warned by Jesus that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows, and a few moments later, Jesus was right. This didn't go well for Peter at all.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • During two accounts of Jesus's arrest scene, Peter cuts off a soldier's ear with his sword (and one of these accounts makes it clear that, yes, Jesus healed it). This is just one of the many times Peter opens his mouth and inserts his foot.
    • Also, the time when Jesus tells Peter that anything he asks by faith will be granted. The first thing Peter asks for? That Jesus doesn't have to die. Jesus immediately rebukes it, repeating that his death is preordained.
  • Meaningful Rename: Jesus gave Simon the name Peter, which means "rock," to symbolize Peter's solid faith. Catholics also take Jesus' pronouncement "On this rock I will build my church" to mean that Peter became the first Pope.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: After His resurrection, Jesus tells the women to "Go tell the disciples and Peter." This is an inversion of the trope, however, since Jesus is saying "Despite his Friendship Denial, make sure that Peter knows he's still included."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction after realizing that not only was Jesus right about his Friendship Denial, Jesus was right there and heard him say it.
  • One Steve Limit: Enforced. Since there was another Simon among the twelve, Jesus gave him the Peter nickname instead.
  • Red Baron: Jesus gave him the name Peter, which is from the Greek word for "stone," petros (cephas is an Aramaic word meaning the same thing). How cool must that have been to have Jesus call you "Rocky"? (Though, to be fair, Jesus was also quick to point out when he wasn't living up to the name.)
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Initially, Peter was the Hot-Blooded foil to Jesus's calm demeanor, but post-Pentecost, he got better and became Paul's foil.
  • Take Up My Sword: According to Roman Catholic dogma, Jesus left Peter in charge of the movement he started.

John the Apostle

"He who does not know love does not know God because God is love."

Judas Iscariot

"Have you come to betray the son of man with a kiss?"

  • Deceptive Disciple: Judas was sincere enough to make it into Jesus' inner circle of twelve, but didn't hesitate to sell Jesus out to the authorities.
  • Driven to Suicide: After learning that Jesus was going to be executed.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: See his page quote.
  • Face-Heel Turn: His betrayal, obviously.
  • Finding Judas: Trope Namer via the Gnostic Gospels but somewhat averted and not canon in the Four Gospels.
  • Heel Realization: He regretted betraying Jesus and tried to return the bribe money. The Pharisees were not impressed.
  • Greed: Interestingly, the thirty pieces of silver Judas was paid is the same amount Jewish law requires you to pay someone if you murder their slave.
  • Kiss of Death: How he identifies Jesus to the Romans when they come to arrest him.
  • Les Collaborateurs: A more common villainous example.
  • Meaningful Name: Judas is the Greek form of Judah, the brother who got the idea to sell Joseph into slavery.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After he betrayed Jesus, he had a Heel Realization and was Driven to Suicide.
  • Obvious Judas: Averted, despite being the Trope Namer. When Jesus revealed that he knew that one of the disciples was going to betray him, the others had no idea who it could be.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. He's actually one of two apostle Judases, the other who ends up going by Thaddeus.
  • Only in It for the Money: Possibly. He stole from the poor (see below) and betrayed Jesus for money.
  • Stealing from the Till: This is noted of in John 12:6 when he is among those to complain when Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus:
    "He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it."
  • Token Evil Teammate: John's Gospel goes out of its way to show that Judas was evil from the beginning.
  • Trope Namer: To call someone a "Judas" is to say he is a traitor, hence trope names including Obvious Judas, Finding Judas, etc.

Matthew

Mary Magdalene

  • Alliterative Name: Mary Magdalene.
  • Canon Discontinuity: She had a whole gospel to herself in the Gnostic texts, but it's not considered canon by any modern religions.
  • The Chick: While Jesus likely had other female followers, she is the most prominent.
  • Demonic Possession: Supposedly had seven demons trapped within her, until Jesus healed her.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Traditionally she has been depicted as a harlot, but this comes from tradition and not from Scripture.
    • The harlot actually comes from a passage several chapters after her debut, who is never stated to be Mary Magdalene.
  • One Steve Limit: Another aversion; she shares a name with Jesus' mom.

James the Just

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."

The younger brother of Jesus, who eventually took up leadership of Jesus's movement with Peter and John after Jesus's death and ascension.

  • One Steve Limit: He shares a name with one of Jesus' apostles. Averted if you believe the two are the same person.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Was this for the Jewish-Christians and the Christian movement during the Apostolic Age. When ideological fights between Peter and the Apostle Paul began breaking out, James was the one to settle things.
  • The Magnificent: Earned the title "The Just" by being so true to both the Law of Moses and Jesus's teachings that even non-Christians recognized him as a righteous man.

Herod the Great

Herod Antipas

  • Affably Evil: Had John the Baptist imprisoned, but liked him and had him well-treated.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: On one birthday, he was forced to kill John the Baptist, whom he considered his friend. On another, he was killed for blasphemy.
  • A God Am I: During his birthday party several guests claimed he was a god and he did nothing to deny it. Bad move.
  • I Gave My Word: Tells his daughter he'll give her anything she wants if she dances for him. She does, then demands the head of John the Baptist.
  • Incest Is Relative: Married his aunt Herodias while she was still married to his brother. John the Baptist called them out on it, and it got him imprisoned and eventually executed.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: For claiming A God Am I, he was struck down during his birthday party with a seizure, then eaten by intestinal worms.

Pontius Pilate

  • Anti-Villain: Depicted as a mostly fair ruler who was caught between killing an innocent man or setting him free and risking the people's rebellion.
  • Batman Gambit: When carrying out the tradition of freeing one prisoner on the Passover, he had the other choice be the criminal Barabbas in hopes that people would pick Christ over him. It didn't work.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Some stories say he converted to Christianity.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: When compared to the primary evidence we do have. By all contemporary accounts Pilate was a rude, undiplomatic, chauvinistic, and authoritarian colonial Prefect who went out of his way to rub the Jews down with his Cultural Posturing before getting recalled when it got too much even for Tiberius Caesar. Granted, as far as Roman officials went (especially in uncooperative regions) this was not unusual and we don't have much reason to believe he was overly corrupt, bloodthirsty, or venal; just that he was not exactly passive.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: He's often depicted as the man directly responsible for ordering the death of Jesus. Actually, in the Gospels themselves, he only does so reluctantly because he has no choice.
    • Though the validity of those is questionable in and of itself, given what scant historical records say about him and the position of Prefect. See Historical Villain Downgrade.

The Pharisees

"Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone."

  • Dramatically Missing the Point: See quote. They followed the ceremonies of the law to a T, but they completely over looked the more important spirit of the law.
  • God Never Said That: God gave a number of general rules, but by Jesus' time, these had been analyzed and quantified into strict rules by the Pharisees. When the Pharisees tried to call Jesus on his "rule-breaking," He often explained that they had over-analyzed the letter of the law and missed the spirit completely. For example, the Pharisees said He violated the Sabbath's ban on work by healing someone; He explained that while the Sabbath is a day of rest, it's never against God's law to help a person or show mercy on them (see Matthew 12).
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent."
  • Greed: They turned the temple into a bank.
  • Holier Than Thou / Pride: Their besetting sins, according to Jesus.
  • Hypocrite: They followed the ceremonies of the law to a T, but they completely over looked the more important spirit of the law. Their religion was more to make them look good in front of men than out of any real love for God. For example, they got mad at the disciples for eating with unwashed hands, but they themselves plotted murder and stole from people.
  • Irony:
    • They had a reputation as being very religious. They also were some of Jesus's worst enemies.
  • Insane Troll Logic: They accused Jesus of being Demonically Possessed because He healed people and cast out demons.
  • Loophole Abuse: Sort of; they had to make up a new rule to do it. They had a tradition that if something was declared "Qorban" or "devoted to God," it was not to be used for secular use, and they would use that as a excuse not to use whatever it was to help their parents.
  • Morton's Fork: One of their preferred strategies for trying to entrap Jesus: Should we execute this woman for adultery (defying the law of Rome), or not (defying the law of Moses)? Should we pay taxes to Rome (a very unpopular idea) or not (Caesar would like to have a word with you)? (In each case, Jesus Took a Third Option.)
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Jesus called them out not only for being holier-than-thou, but for putting unnecessary restrictions on the average folk.
  • Rules Lawyer: And really didn't like it that Jesus' Rule Fu Was Stronger.
  • Token Good Teammate: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea. Early in Christ's ministry, Nicodemus came to him in secret to ask about his doctrine. He also assisted in burying Christ, while Joseph gave his own pre-bought tomb for Jesus to be buried in.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: They were not really heroes; they only claimed to be, but the Pharisees made the temple into a den of thieves and Jesus rebuked them for this.

The Three Wise Men

  • Badass Beard: All have it.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Fourth Wise Man.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfuffle: Should kids in Hispanic America (especially in Puerto Rico) get their presents from Santa or the Magi? The eternal debate!
    • The Magi are often pictured in Arabic headgear despite not actually being Arabs.
      • Then again, what people might call "Arabic Headgear" is generally common less because of ethnic identification and more because it's one of the best things to use in a desert.
  • The Determinator: Artaban spent *his whole life* trying to deliver his present to Jesus.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: While gold and frankincense are valuable and holy gifts, myrrh was used in burials and thus was unusually morbid to give to a newborn. It's implied it may have been as a Call Forward to Christ's eventual death to atone all sins.
  • Numerological Motif: Three Kings, three presents.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like traveling around the world on camel to deliver presents to the Son Of God personally.
  • Rule of Three: Naturally. (Except in "The Fourth Wise Man.")
  • Samaritan Syndrome: What kept Artaban from finding Jesus.
  • Token Minority: Melchior is often depicted as being black.
    • Five-Token Band: Many depictions actually make them three different races to symbolize the entire world coming together in awe of Christ.
  • Word of Dante: The Scripture doesn't say that there were three Magi exactly; that's a later tradition that probably came from them bringing three gifts. They're also often depicted in Nativity scenes, even though the Bible records them arriving at "the house", not a stable, suggesting they arrived well after Jesus was born.

Book of EstherCharacters/LiteratureActs of the Apostles

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