Note: I first wrote and published this a few years ago. I occasionally revise and republish it.
Two thousand years ago, a carpenter lived a conventional life for 30 years in a tiny village in the Middle East. Then he somehow became as they might say today, “radicalized.”
Historians agree that Jesus did exist. There are reliable ancient records of him. But most of what we know are opaque and contradictory accounts written decades after his death in what we now call the Gospel of the New Testament.
In one sense, those Gospel accounts are profoundly simple. They say Jesus was the Messiah prophesized in the Hebrew Bible. As such, he performed miracles to save those needing saving. He came back from the dead. That’s the word.
But in a personal sense, the Gospels present a more complicated man than the one presented in Sunday School or even adult church services.