An Outline of Jesus’ Life

Reading Assignment 1: An Outline of Jesus’ Life.
Jesus of Nazareth
Paul Fischer

Sanders undertakes the considerable task of outlining Jesus’ life with some sense of humility. He understands that many great parts of Jesus’ life will remain obscure to academic criticism. There is no need too explore that which is impossible to know, so it is better to speculate on real occurrences, with hard data. Instead, his outline relies heavily on the facts agreed upon and well explored by various sources and branches out from there to more controversial material. Between the two, he presents a reasonable narrative and accurate chronology of what happened with Jesus of Nazareth.

The narrative does not go easy on Jesus: his actions before his arrest are described as “attacking the temple.” But, still, otherwise the overall story is nearly identical to that described in the New Testament. The little introduction only gives the reader  background knowledge about Jesus, and a bit on his passion. The Acts, in contrast, deals completely with the crucifixion and the resurrection after.
The difference between Acts and Sanders’ outlines is primarily one of audience. The selection from the Acts is a propaganda-like summary of events, explaining to believers (once again) the importance of belief above all else. Sanders’ outline is also a summary, but more it covers more expansively the questions of Jesus’ birth and life. The Acts are really just a source used in Sanders’ outline, one of many, and provide a biased description of the passion of christ. Sanders would like to think that, being in modern times and separated from the events in question, he can be a reasonable and enlightened judge of man’s behaviours and bias. The Acts, written more closely to the actual events and in a contemporary time, have a very high level of bias shown by the glorification of Christ and through what they report.
While the Acts seem to assure the reader that the Christ really did rise from the dead, the bias from the selection also makes the reader critical and doubtful. The text specifically says that only  the disciples saw him rise, but does not explain why no one else saw him.The natural shrouding of mystery around the incident only creates more confusion. The tampering with gospels to fit political or personal agendas over the centuries has created a patchwork of a holy book, and obscures the word of God from those that wish to speak it.

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