Yeshua of Nazareth (also known as Yeshua bar Yosef), now better known as "Jesus" due to Language Drift, was a Jewish preacher who lived in the Roman province of Judea from ~8 BCE/BC to ~30 CE/AD.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".
While some skeptics believe Jesus to be a wholly mythical figure, the overwhelming majority of modern scholars — secular and religious — reject this as little more than a glorified Conspiracy Theory; handfuls of surviving first century Roman records clearly describe a popular Jewish preacher matching his description who was executed under circumstances roughly matching the traditional stories of his death. Any further details, however, are somewhat Shrouded in Myth — while detailed accounts do exist for pretty much the entirety of Jesus's life, all of them date to a century or more after his death, the earliest being transcribed from the secret oral traditions of his followers. While most historians accept these early accounts as generally accurate, they are nonetheless regarded as biased sources by secular scholars.
The commonly-accepted version of events holds that Jesus was born in either Nazareth or Bethlehem as the son of a carpenter (or joiner) named Yosefnote and a young woman (believed by Christians and Muslims to have been a virgin) named Mariamnote . He excelled in Torah study, became a rabbi, and began preaching in Galilee aged around thirty. His message was a reformist perspective on Judaism, emphasizing principles of peace, mercy, charity, and compassion (most of which were considered signs of weakness in Ancient Rome, to one degree or another), and he took particular efforts to appeal to Judea's downtrodden and oppressed. He is said to have gathered an inner circle of 12 trusted Disciples during this period who helped him spread his message, most notably Yohanannote the Baptist and Yehudah Iscariot.note
Tradition holds that Jesus became extremely popular and somewhat infamous due to his outspoken opposition to corruption in Judea's religious and secular authorities, and anecdotes from his followers claim that he was capable of performing miracles such as raising the dead, transfiguring water into wine, and multiplying food to feed the hungry. This eventually led to Jesus being accused of defying Mosaic law and challenging the authority of Rome, and around 30 CE/AD, he was arrested and found guilty (tradition holds that the conviction was unjust, and that Jesus was captured after being betrayed by Judas Iscariot). He was executed via crucifixion shortly afterwards, on the orders of Roman procurator Pontius Pilatusnote .
From here on, records verge much more strongly into religious tradition. The Four Gospels hold that three days after His execution, Jesus returned to life,note appearing before His Disciples and their followers (minus Judas, who had killed himself out of shame and regret) to deliver some final lessons and prophecies before ascending to Heaven. Spurred on by unshakable faith, the Disciples and their followers spread and preserved Jesus's teachings in secret for centuries, even in the face of systemic persecution by the Roman Empire, until eventually the faith became so widespread that its Nicaean sect was declared the Empire's state religion in 380 CE/AD.
There are numerous views and speculations about Jesus' nature and deeds. Jesus is probably best known as the founder and central figure of Christianity. Christian doctrine holds that Jesus Christ (a religious title, not a surname) is both the human Son of God and the divine incarnation of God on Earth.note 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. 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, to the extent where he's mentioned by name in the Qu'ran more times than Muhammadnote . Muslims also regard Jesus as the direct precursor to Muhammad, heightening His importance in the faith, and like Christians believe that Jesus was born of a virgin mother and will someday return to Earth. However, they dismiss the idea that any human can be the Son of God or an aspect of God; they also believe that Jesus did not die on the cross, as God intervened to prevent it, carrying Jesus's physical body to Heaven.
The mysterious Gnostic sects diverged significantly from the above, mainly due to their radical departures from traditional teachings of the Bible. They maintained that Jesus was a divine being sent by the "true God" ("Monad") to teach humanity how to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence and free themselves from the tyranny of the "false God" ("Yaldabaoth", or "The Demiurge"). Naturally, these views are considered anywhere from unorthodox to outright blasphemy by most Christians, Muslims, and Jews, due to Gnostic scripture conflating the God of the Old Testament/Torah with this evil "false God".
Even people who don't fit into any of the above religions may still believe Jesus Was Way Cool — many Buddhists, for example, believe Jesus was a "Bodhisattva", an enlightened being who abstains from Nirvana to help other humans reach it, while some Hindus believe Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu. Jewish teachings, meanwhile, 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 wasn't divine.
That said, most secular 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 Tanakh 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. While these efforts were harshly rebuked during his life, the adoption of his teachings as core principles of Christianity and Islam, two of the most widespread and influential religions on the planet, make them one of the world's biggest examples of being Vindicated by History.
In any case, there's one more important thing to note: as mentioned above, 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 Māīyaḥ, a Jewish religious title referring to both historical figures considered "saviors" of the Jewish people and the prophesied ultimate savior of their people (Christianity being founded on the belief that Jesus is this savior, and will fulfill the prophecy upon His return to Earth). 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 come to be known, or Jesus of Nazarethnote if you want to be specific ("Jesús" is a fairly common name in Spain and its former colonies). Alternatively, one can use Yeshua, Jesus's "actual" name, before it passed through a thousand-year game of inter-lingual telephone. Yeshua in itself is a shortened form of "Yehoshua" (commonly romanized as "Joshua"note ), which is Hebrew for "Jehovah salvages" or "Jehovah is salvation" — fairly appropriate given the life he lived and what he inspired.
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
- Crucial Cross
- 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
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, in which He appears as a recurring character, with the remnants of His corporeal body serving as the Part's MacGuffin.
- My Last Day, a short Anime depicting the Passion.
- Saint Young Men, pals with Buddha.
- In Shuumatsu no Walküre: Record of Ragnarok, Jesus appears as a spectator in the Ragnarok tournament. Unlike most depictions of Jesus, this version of Him seems to be a normal human, lacking in any of the divine powers He is known for. He is a member of the Four Sages, alongside Socrates, Confucius, and the Buddha, with Him and the former two cheering on Buddha as he participates in the sixth round of the tournament.
- 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.
- Mentioned in A History of Magic as being an Anomaly-a human who awakened their magical powers without the intervention of the Incubators-and therefore was considered a threat to said Incubators, as an Anomaly powerful enough could cause a Mass Super-Empowering Event. It's why they arranged for him to be crucified. It was believed that Mary Magdalene contracte to become a Puella Magi with resurrecting him as her wish, but Kyubey discovered that 2B had covered up that she had been an Anomaly as well.
- 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 Cecil B. DeMille.
- 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, a 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).
- The Crippled Lamb, a Christmas children's book by Max Lucado about a crippled lamb named "Joshua" who gets rejected from his own flock and feels very lonely about his disability. The story ends with Joshua witnessing the birth of Jesus alongside meeting Mary and Joseph. This story would get adapted into animation in the 1999 Direct to Video film by StarToons.
- 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.
- The Chosen TV Series, the world's largest crowdfunded series, known for humanizing Jesus and giving him a subtle sense of humor
- 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.
- Shortpacked!: In an attempt to stir up some controversy and make more profit, Galasso decides to resurrect Jesus and have him work at the titular store.
Galasso: I brought back the historical Jesus Christ.
Ethan: [Spit Take]
- 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 meet 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 three days. On the morning of his resurrection, he finally meets Judah and reunites with the main animal characters before leaving Earth. note This film is also the most kid-friendly re-telling of Jesus' crucifixion and ends on a much happier note compared to other adaptations (notably The Last Temptation of Christ, The Passion of the Christ, and Jesus Christ Superstar) alongside the removal of blood leading up to his death (such as cutting away to the animals reactions to Jesus getting whipping and nailed on the cross).
Not to be confused with the manga Jesus, about a hitman-turned-teacher.
He was an only son, but don't go around thinking that means you're the chosen one.