Friday, April 13, 2012

Slicing Up Jesus

Was Jesus real?  If so, how real was He?  Should that be "he" with a lower-case "h"?  ;-)

The overwhelming majority of people who call themselves "Christian" believe that Jesus existed, but just how much that real Jesus is accurately reflected in the Gospels is under debate, even among Christians.  For example, many Republican Christians don't seem to believe that Jesus promoted living in poverty and private prayers.  ;-)

Sabio Lantz created a wonderful diagram for a post called "How Do You View the Bible's Jesus?" which splits out four different types of standpoints people take (see his posts and the chart below) when defining their view of Jesus, either in part or in whole.  And then he went a step further, showed his own proportional viewpoint, and offered to make you your very own Jesus pie for free(!) in his subsequent post "The Jesus Pie: Offer & Challenge."

I like pie.  So that was an offer too good to refuse!  Here's mine:

Awesome, huh?  Many thanks to Sabio!

So this is what I think my view is now.  I presently hold the opinion that just over half of the content of the Gospels is at least seeded from some real Jesus doing and saying real things... which then got mythologized, spiritualized, and symbolized to the point of not resembling reality by the time that the Gospels were written.

But I could be wrong, even about what I think I think.  There was a challenge with that offer: basically... prove it!  I am presently writing a summary of Mark, and so yesterday I scored up each the verses based on the four categories as I read Mark 8.  Here is what I got:

Will this prove to be more reflective of my true view of the Gospels' credibility, or is this just a little statistical blip which shows up because of the non-homogeneous nature of the stories in the Gospels?  Time will tell, and I can't wait to find out!


  1. Yeah, I look forward to exploring too --- but it will have to wait until my return from Europe.
    Good writing in this post. I can't understand why you don't have more followers.

  2. Thanks! And, well, it's probably better for my own humility not to have too many followers. ;-)

    By the way, it seems that I am already twisting the categories a little. "Actual" is more like "yeah, he could have said that or something like it." "Close Enough" is more like "that's probably loosely based on what he said." So for me Actual has become Close Enough, and Close Enough borders on Fictional, but is not completely untrue.

  3. Love the graph. Looking forward to more.

  4. Yeah, prairienymph. I think Sabio did a great job on the chart!

  5. I think it's safe to say that EVERY Christian thinks Jesus existed.

  6. Actually, Grundy, as you veer into the territory of Gnostic Christianity, things get a little hazy. It is a very rarefied crowd, for sure, but I was trying to be accurate. :-) Thus the "overwhelming majority."

  7. Grundy, actually just remembered my intent behind that statement. It was not regarding Gnosticism, but rather people who call themselves "Christian" but are not really Christians, in that they've lost the faith and are merely pretending to still believe something that they no longer do, likely due to social pressures.

  8. I guess. But Christ is literally in the name, if they don't think he even existed...seems odd to call themselves Christian. I understand some might not believe he performed miracles...maybe, but still.

    Hell, even I believe he existed.