Having finished our treatment of the ancient pre- and non-New Testament sources for Jesus’ life, we turn now to a final assessment of this material. Our first interest is to present an integrated summary of all the reports concerning Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection from Part Two of this volume. Then we will give a final evaluation of the strength of these sources in establishing the facts.
Synopsis of Sources
Many aspects of Jesus’ life have been reported by the four categories of evidence that we have examined. The ancient material from creedal (plus critically-ascertained facts), archaeological, non-Christian, and non-New Testament Christian sources presents quite a detailed look at the career of Jesus. We will begin this chapter by summarizing all of the reports from these four areas, which will help to give us a complete view of this data.
The Life of Jesus
It is reported (1)that Jesus became a man (creeds: Phil. 2:6ff.; 1 John 4:2; Barnabas) and (2)lived on the earth in human history (Ignatius). (3)He came from the tribe of Judah (Justin) and (4)was of the lineage of Jesse and David (creeds: Acts 13:23; 2 Tim. 2:8; Justin; Ignatius).
Archaeological discoveries have shown that, before Jesus’ birth, (5)a taxation was proclaimed by the Roman authorities, (6)who required that people travel back to their home cities. (7)Required nearly every fourteen years, just such a taxation apparently occurred at approximately the same time as Jesus’ birth.
(8) Jesus was born of Mary (Ignatius), (9)who was a virgin (Ignatius; Justin), and (10)he had a brother named James (Josephus). (11)Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem, located about five miles from Jerusalem, and it is recorded (12)that his birth could be verified by the records of Cyrenius, who was the first procurator of Judea (Justin). (13)Later, Jesus was visited by Arabian Magi, who had first seen Herod (Justin). (14)He was also from the town of Nazareth (creeds: Acts 2:22; 4:10; 5:38). With regard to his public ministry, Jesus (15)was preceded by John (creeds: Acts 10:37; 13:24–25), (16)was baptized by him (Ignatius; cf. creed: Rom. 10:9– 10), and (17)chose his apostles (Barnabas; Justin). Geographically, (18)Jesus’ ministry began in Galilee and (19)extended to Judea in Palestine (Tacitus; Lucian; Acts of Pilate; creed: Acts 10:37).