The Jesus of Faith and the Jesus of History

The use of science to study the Bible is fascinating but ultimately futile.

There is very little we can ever know about the historical Jesus, there is simply too little surviving information.

It is like enlarging a photograph, at first you may see more and more detail, but eventually you reach the resolution of the picture.

You can continue to enlarge the photograph, but you only see larger and larger dots.

If we are clever, we may be able to play 'connect the dots' and see more details, but again there is a limit.

Still it is fascinating to approach the Bible trying to be as unbiased and analytical as we can.

It is like performing an autopsy, we may learn a hundred different facts about a person - their height, weight, whether they smoked, had any diseases, their age, if they were weak or strong.

But it can't tell you the most important things - what kind of person were they? Were they kind or nasty? What did they believe in? Who did they love? What was their passion in life?

In short, what was their personality like?

No, these are virtually impossible to recover scientifically.

So why bother?

I can only tell you that the study of the Bible is fascinating and I believe that reading it for any reason is beneficial.

But make no doubt about it, it is the Jesus of faith that is real and the Jesus of history that is the illusion.

Return to "Origins of Christianity"

(c) 2004 Thomas F. Swezey All rights reserved.