Yeshua of Nazareth, now better known as "Jesus" due to several centuries of Language Drift, was a Jewish rabbi who lived in the Roman province of Judea from ~8 BC/BCE to ~30 AD/CE.note Worshipped by Christians as God incarnate in a man and revered by Muslims as one of the most important prophets to ever live, Jesus is a strong contender for the title of "most influential person in history".
Jesus was born in either Nazareth or Bethlehem as the son of a carpenter (or joiner) named Yosefnote and a young woman (possibly a virgin) named Mariamnote . He excelled in Torah study, became a rabbi, and began preaching throughout Judea aged around thirty. His message was mainly of love, peace, mercy, kindness, charity, forgiveness, and compassion (most of which were considered signs of weakness in Ancient Rome, to one degree or another). He also gave some trenchant criticisms of local religious authorities on the subject of their corrupt practices, and was said to have performed many miracles. Accused of defying Mosaic law and challenging the authority of Rome, Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion by Roman procurator Pontius Pilatus (a.k.a. Pontius Pilate) and executed in Jerusalem around 30 AD/CE.
The Four Gospels say He was arrested and, despite being innocent of any wrongdoing, crucified after being betrayed by Judas Iscariot (Yehudah of Kerioth/Yehudah the Sicarius) as part of a conspiracy among Judea's corrupt high priesthood (often conflated with the Jewish population as a whole by antisemitic Christians due to some rather poor word choices on the priests' parts and possible embellishment by the Apostles within the context of a worsening Christian diaspora), but returned Back from the Dead 3 days later.note He appeared before His Disciples (minus Judas, who was dead by that point) and many others before ascending to Heaven. The New Testament is mostly about Him, His life, His sayings, and His deeds, and is the second part of the Bible. It concludes by prophesying He will return a second time to defeat Satan once and for all and set up His kingdom on Earth.
There are numerous views and speculations about Jesus' nature and deeds. Jesus is probably best known as the founder and central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe that Jesus Christ (from Christos, "anointed", from the Hebrew word Mashiach, "Messiah") is no less than the Son of God as well as being the incarnation of God on Earth.note Needless to say, this makes Jesus the Big Good of the Christian faith.
Muslims acknowledge Jesus (whose name they translate as Isa) as the second-greatest prophet after Muhammad himself. However, they dismiss the idea that any human can be the Son of God or an aspect of God, but do believe that Jesus was born of a virgin mother and will someday return to Earth. They also believe that Jesus did not die on the cross, as God intervened to prevent it, carrying Jesus's physical body to Heaven. Jewish teachings vary on whether they acknowledge Jesus or not (and of course the Jewish version of the Bible— the Tanakh— doesn't include the New Testament at all), but almost all would argue that, despite any good qualities, he's not the Messiah. Gnostic teachings maintain that Jesus was a spiritual being sent to teach us how to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, but these are considered unorthodox by most Christians. And even people who don't fit into any of the above religions may still believe Jesus Was Way Cool.
Outside the context of scripture, there's plenty of evidence to indicate that Jesus was, in fact, a real person— so much so that the idea of Him being a fictional character is widely considered a fringe theory at best by Biblical scholars and even non-Biblical historians. While the divinity of Jesus is most definitely a matter of debate between different faiths and between religious, atheistic, and agnostic folks, for all intents and purposes the idea that a first-century Jew named Jesus existed, taught a reformist perspective of Mosaiac law, and was executed by the Romans in His 30's after being presided over by Pontius Pilate is widely agreed upon as historical truth (even the Romans themselves had independent documentation about at least the crucifixion). In His lifetime, the people who weren't interested in His teachings generally regarded Him as the contemporary equivalent of a hippie at best and a dangerously subversive radical at worst, which in hindsight makes His teachings probably the biggest example of being Vindicated by History in light of Christianity becoming one of the most widely-practiced and accepted organized religions on Earth. That said, most historians agree that Jesus' end goal wasn't to create a brand new religion or even a distinct sect of Judaism, but rather to break away from increasingly literal interpretation of the Torah and try to offer a more nuanced reading that better captured the intended meanings behind the scripture at a time when Judea's religious oligarchy had become horrendously corrupt and eager to use literal interpretation to serve their own ends.
In any case, there's one more important thing to note: Christ is not Jesus' last name, but His title designating His role as Messiah and Savior. It comes from the Greek Christos, meaning "anointed", in turn a translation of Māîăḥ. This is why phrases like "The Passion of the Christ" make sense. Note that this also means that referring to Jesus as "Christ" or "Jesus Christ", rather than just "Jesus", constitutes an implied claim that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah, and thus should be avoided when you're trying to draw a distinction between the Christian view and the "historical" secular view of Jesus. Those who wish to refer to Jesus in a secular or historical way can refer to him as simply Jesus, as he's pretty well known, or Jesus of Nazarethnote if you want to be specific ("Jesús" is a fairly common male name in Spain and Latin America, and to be honest the word "Jesus" is the result of a game of interlingual telephone for "Yeshua"—a name that appears in the Old Testament, where it is translated "Joshua"note ). Yehoshua in itself is Hebrew for "Jehovah salvages" or "Jehovah is salvation" which is pretty appropriate.
Trope Namer for:
- Bigger Than Jesus
- Clone Jesus
- Crystal Dragon Jesus
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory
- Hijacked by Jesus
- Hippie Jesus
- If Jesus, Then Aliens
- Jesus Taboo
- Jesus: The Early Years
- Jesus Was Crazy
- Jesus Was Way Cool
- Kung-Fu Jesus
- Looks Like Jesus
- No Such Thing as Space Jesus
- No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus
- Pals with Jesus
- Real Men Love Jesus
Also directly inspired the following tropes:
- All-Loving Hero
- Away in a Manger
- Crucified Hero Shot
- Go and Sin No More
- Good Samaritan
- Good Shepherd
- A House Divided
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness
- "Last Supper" Steal
- Messianic Archetype
- Never Accepted in His Hometown
- The Paragon
- Passion Play
- Pietà Plagiarism
- Second Coming
- Turn the Other Cheek
- Walk on Water
Works about Him:
Anime and Manga
- Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Steel Ball Run, in which He appears as a recurring character, with the remnants of His corporeal body also serving as the series' MacGuffin.
- My Last Day, a short Anime depicting the Passion.
- Saint Young Men, pals with Buddha
- Gustave Doré's illustrations (of The Bible, Paradise Lost, and the Paradiso) keep a pretty standardized picture of Jesus throughout, with the beard, long hair, a mostly naturalistic Holy Halo, and gestures of teaching/benediction featuring throughout his many works, even those where Jesus hasn't incarnated yet.
- The Conversion of Saul depicts Jesus shooting a beam of light down from the Heavens towards Saul.
- The Doni Tondo shows the (quite muscular) infant Jesus being handed over between Joseph and Mary.
- The Risen Christ is a sculpture of Jesus casually holding the cross while relaxing in his glorified body.
- His Pieta depicts Jesus' unblemished corpse held in the arms of his youthful mother.
- The Disputation of the Sacrament depicts Christ enthroned, with God the Father above him and the dove of the Holy Spirit descending into the Eucharist, communicating the doctrines of the Trinity and the Real Presence.
- The Transfiguration shows Jesus surrounded by light and floating above his followers.
- Sistine Chapel:
- The altar painting sees Christ making the Last Judgement while shrouded by light.
- One of the walls of the Chapel is dedicated to six portraits telling the life of Christ, from his nativity through his temptation, ministry, death, and resurrection.
- Leonardo da Vinci:
- The Last Supper depicts Christ amidst his confused Apostles.
- The Christ Child in The Virgin of the Rocks sports a circular, hollow halo and makes a sign of benediction towards the infant John the Baptist, who is bowing in adoration of his cousin.
- Jesus is a recurring character in Ghost Rider, always there to help Johnny Blaze through some of his toughest spots. Interestingly, he is never referred to by name because Johnny can't bring himself to admit who he is.
- Child of the Storm features an average-looking Middle Eastern man named Joshua, who occasionally appears to Harry to give him good advice. He's kind, wise, and quite dry-witted (it is speculated that Thor and Loki were a bad influence on him, though some wonder if it wasn't the other way around), and Harry is unsurprisingly floored when he realises who he is.
Harry: Jesus fucking Christ!
- The Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Passion Of The Smurfs", where the time-traveling Smurfs appear during the final week of Jesus' life before His crucifixion.
- From the Manger to the Cross (1912), one of the first feature films ever made.
- The Gospel According to St. Matthew, in which Jesus is depicted as more of an angry rabble-rouser.
- The Gospel of John
- Jesus (1979), a word-for-word adaptation of the Gospel of Luke with Brian Deacon in the title role.
- The King of Kings, a silent film by the director of The Ten Commandments.
- King of Kings, a 1961 Epic Movie narrated by Orson Welles.
- The Gospel According to St. Matthew, a 1964 Italian film with the dialogue ripped straight from Matthew.
- The Greatest Story Ever Told, an 1965 Epic Movie with starring Max von Sydow.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian gives him a bit part in the beginning (reciting the Sermon on the Mount), and features a man whose life parallels his to an extent.
- The Nativity Story
- The Last Temptation of Christ, a novel and film which paint Jesus as a flawed man whose life goes differently at the Crucifixion.
- Parable, an allegorical short film featuring Jesus as a circus clown.
- The Passion of the Christ, a film centered around the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, and graphic torture.
- Risen, a mystery story about two Centurions investigating the Resurrection.
- Son of God, a Compilation Movie adapted from the History Channel's The Bible.
- The Visual Bible: Matthew
- Last Days In The Desert, where Ewan McGregor plays Jesus during his temptations in the desert.
- The Young Messiah
- The Bible, of course.
- The Four Gospels are specifically about Jesus' life, death, and resurrection.
- He makes a cameo in Acts of the Apostles, appearing to Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus.
- The Book of Revelation, which depicts a vision of Jesus' Second Coming.
- Outside of these books considered canonical by most churches (the Orthodox church has always been a bit iffy on Revelation), there's numerous works of apocrypha where his authority is used to affirm whatever religious or philosophical notion contained therein, primarily amongst the Gnostics.
- The Qur'an. As explained above in the introduction, Jesus is considered a great prophet of Islam, second only to The Prophet Muhammad himself. His life and teachings constitute a significant part of the Qu'ran.
- The Book of Mormon, climaxing with his post-resurrection visit to the American continent.
- The Divine Comedy explores the aftermath of Christ's descent into Hell and Dante sees Him within the Godhead at the end of the poem.
- Left Behind, in which Jesus shows up near the end of the series to defeat The Antichrist.
- Paradise Lost imagines his role in casting the rebellious angels out of Heaven and into Hell.
- Ben-Hur, the novel and films, features Jesus as a supporting character.
- Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, a very Affectionate Parody.
- Aslan, the lion god of Narnia in The Chronicles of Narnia, literally is Jesus according to C. S. Lewis, and repeats Broad Strokes of parts of the Bible in books one, two, and seven (respectively Genesis, The Four Gospels, and Revelation).
- Messiah by George Frederic Handel, an oratorio in three sections, depicting the prophesy of the coming Messiah, the Passion, and Resurrection, respectively. The page quote gets its own chorus, with Melismatic Vocals out the wazoo, as was common in Handel's time.
- The Seven Last Words of Christ, an orchestral suite (later arranged into a string quartet, and then an oratorio) by Joseph Haydn, is a musical depiction of the seven last utterances of Jesus before His death on the cross.
- The Man Born to Be King, twelve radio plays depicting Jesus's story in highly modern language.
- Jesus (1999)
- Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter
- Jesus of Nazareth, a 1977 television mini-series.
- ABS-CBN's May Bukas Pa, a 2009 children's religious drama series, which depicts an orphan boy interacting with Jesus.
- Some episodes of The History Channel's The Bible.
- Some episodes of NBC's AD: The Bible Continues, a follow-up series to the above.
- Black Jesus, a Divine Race Lift in present day Compton, Played for Laughs.
- Some episodes of American Gods (2017)
- The History Bites episode "Rebel With a Cause", which depicts Jesus' final week in Jerusalem from the perspective of the Romans.
- Jesus Christ Superstar, a 1970 rock opera and Broadway musical focusing on Judas and Christ.
- Godspell, a 1971 musical based on the parables of Jesus.
- Hero, a modernized 2003 rock opera telling of the Gospel.
- The Miracle Maker, a stop-motion film told through the eyes of a Jewish Ill Girl.
- The Star, a computer animated film about his birth story told from the perspective of various animals.
- Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, Nestor helps Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, get to Bethlehem. Jesus has a small appearance as a newborn baby towards the end.
- The Little Drummer Boy, a stop-motion television special based on the Christmas carol of the same name. Like Nestor The Long Eared Christmas Donkey, Jesus appears towards the end as a newborn baby.
- The 2011 animated film The Lion of Judah is set during the final days of Jesus' life on Earth and ends with his resurrection moments before Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary get notified by an angel that Jesus has risen. It's mainly focused on a baby lamb named "Judah", whose mission is to "Set people free" by rescuing animals (such as lambs and doves) from being killed. After Jesus dies on the cross, the temple where Judah is close to being killed suddenly cracks during an earthquake and sets him free. Judah is determined to finally encounter Jesus despite dying on the cross. The animals attempt to lure Judah away from Jesus' tomb, but he is determined to see him and decides to wait two days. On the morning of his resurrection, he finally meets Judah and the six main animal characters before leaving Earth.
Not to be confused with the manga Jesus, about a hitman-turned-teacher.