Guest / Limited Access /

As a writer, I have the wonderful privilege of researching and meditating on one topic for months at a time. My latest project allowed me to focus on the grandest subject of all: Jesus. Growing up in the church, I learned his name as soon as I learned the names of my family members. But now, as an adult, what did I truly think about him? Which childhood impressions had been confirmed and which ones overturned?

As I reflect on what I learned in the process of writing "The Jesus I Never Knew," I have come up with a "top ten" list. Please forgive me if the form seems irreverent. David Letterman style, it begins with number 10 and works upward.

10. Jesus was a Jew

I knew that, of course. But the more I studied Jesus, the more I realized that his humanity had receded far away. Every week in church I would repeat the creed, which, significantly, hustles through Jesus' life. "… Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate," it says. Did anything happen in the interval between birth and death?

Somehow, everything Jesus said and did in 33 years on earth gets swept aside in the rush to interpret his life correctly. For me, as for many others raised in the Christian tradition, the man who walked the dusty roads of Palestine had been all but lost. I knew Christ—"Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made"—but not Jesus, or Rabbi Jeshua bar-Joseph, the Jew from Nazareth.

A remarkable change has taken place in recent years, I learned during my library research: interest in Jesus is resurging among the Jews. In 1925, the Hebrew scholar Joseph Klausner could find only three full-length treatments of Jesus' life by contemporary Jewish scholars. Now there are hundreds, including some of the most illuminating studies ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Saint Nasty
Spiritual giants care about one thing—and it's not people's feelings.
Current IssueThe Cosmos Is Vaster than the Ancients Imagined
Subscriber Access Only
The Cosmos Is Vaster than the Ancients Imagined
Looking at the stars is always humbling. Wrong understandings of their movement are even more so.
Current IssueRon Sider: Why I Am Voting for Hillary Clinton
Subscriber Access Only
Ron Sider: Why I Am Voting for Hillary Clinton
This election, there are only two meaningful choices for president. Why one is the far wiser choice.
RecommendedMormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
Mormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
What should we make of claims that the two faiths are on a path to reconciling?
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickHow Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
How Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
Peer-reviewed research intensifies parenting debates… and can leave us even more confused.
Christianity Today
ARTICLE: Unwrapping Jesus
hide thisJune 17 June 17

In the Magazine

June 17, 1996

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.