If one goes and googles ‘the best known person ever’, the name of Jesus comes up in numerous searches. What do we know about Jesus from texts apart from the Bible?
Jesus is mentioned in the writings of both the Jewish historian Josephus “Antiquities of the Jews” (Bk.XVIII.III.3 written about 93 AD) and the theologian Origen, in his book “Contra Celsum” written about 248 AD.
Texts from the holy writings of other faiths would also indicate references to Jesus including Purana, Veda and Upanished (Hindu Holy Writings), the Qur’an (Muslim Holy Writings) and the Bible (Christian Holy Writings)
Because of the brevity of this paper I have endeavoured to restrict the examples to three main tenets about Jesus. His birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. For the convenience of the reader I have included the original and the translation in reference to Jesus in the Hindu sacred scriptures, the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible.
1. Birth of Jesus
Bhavishya Purana in the 3rd book, 2nd chapter and the 31st verse
Ko bhavaanithi tham praaha Sobhovaachamudaanwitha; Eshaputhram cha maam vidhi Kumaaree garbha sambahavam Aham Eesa Maseeha nama.
Surah19 (Maryam) 19-21
“He said, ‘I am but a messenger come from the Lord, to give thee a boy most pure.’ She (Mary) said, ‘How shall I have a son whom no mortal has touched, neither have I been unchaste?’
He said, ‘Even so the Lord has said: “Easy that for Me; and the We may appoint him a sign unto men and a mercy from Us; it is a thing decreed.”
Surah 3 (Al-i'Imran) 45
When the angels said, ‘Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus son of Mary; high honoured shall He be in this world and the next, near stationed to God.’”
The announcement of the birth of Jesus was also from an angel.
Luke 1: 26 -28.
“But the angel said to her,
2. Death of Jesus
The sacrificial death of Jesus is predicted by Sama Veda Dandiya Mahabhramanam. “Prajapathi devapyam aathmanam yagnam kruthva prayachita”
Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection - Surah 19 (Maryam) 33,34
“Peace be upon me, the day I was born and the day I die, and the day I am raised up alive! That is Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting.”
The death of Jesus and his final words to us, after hanging on the cross for six hours are recorded for us in the book of John 19: 28 -37. The climax is when Jesus uttered “” and with that He gave up His spirit and died.
3. Resurrection of Jesus
The Bruhad Aranyaka Upanishad
“Yad Vrusksho vrukshano rohati, mulannaavatharah punah, martyah svinmrutyuna vruknah, kasmaanmulaat prarohati, Retasa iti maavocata, jivatastat praja yate, dhanaruh a iva crau vruksho, anjasaa pretya sammbhavha”’
See Surah 19 (Maryam) 33,34 quoted in the previous section.
The resurrection is more fully explained in the book of Matthew 28: 1 -15.
The angel said to the women who were looking for Jesus at his burial site, ‘
Seventy percent of the world’s population belong to one of these three major religions. Figures from the Pew Forum for 2010 show that Christianity has about 2.2 billion adherents followed by the Muslim faith with 1.6 billion and the Hindu faith with 1.03 billion.
What other suggestions are there of the significance of this person, Jesus?
Until recently the usual way to referred to the calendar year was by using the abbreviations BC and AD. BC was short hand for ‘before Christ’ and AD was shorthand for ‘anno domini- in the year of our Lord (Latin). Despite being unable to establish the exact date of Jesus’ birth, it was used as the fulcrum for the Western way of marking time.
In many countries around the world, the events of Christmas and Easter are celebrated. They came to be celebrated because of the significance of his birth, death and resurrection.
The use of phrases attributable to him, include the famous ‘Golden Rule’ (also articulated in slightly different ways by others), ‘Treat others as you want them to treat you’, ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ are but a few.
In a time and culture that was almost exclusively patriarchal, Jesus did not shy away from expounding the value of the women and children.
The largest volume and most authenticated writings about the teachings of Jesus was recorded by those ‘eye witnesses’ who actually lived with and were taught by Jesus himself. The accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as recorded in the Bible have stood the test of time and the sceptics. Millions of followers of Jesus around the world can attest to the value and transformational nature of his teachings.
One would draw the conclusion that it would beneficial if people could be encouraged to examine and explore the teachings of Jesus. He is already mentioned in the sacred teachings of the three major religions, which account for seventy percent of the world’s population.
Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. XVIII.3.3, in Josephus, . Translated by William Whiston. Foreword by William Sanford LaSor, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1981). Josephus, The Jewish War, translated by G. A. Williamson, revised with a new introduction, by E. Mary Smallwood, (Harmondsworth, UK: 1986). 12. Josephus, Flavius, Flavii Josephi opera, edidit et apparatu critico instruxit Benedictus Niese, (Berolini: apud Weidmannos, 1955, reprint of 1885-1895 edition), vols. 1- 7
The Pew Forum
The Qur’an: English Translations Oxford World’s Classic Version
The Qur’an: Arabic translations: http://www.theonlyquran.com/quran/
The Bible: New International Version NIV
Graham McDonald is the President of Diduno