Who Was Jesus of Nazareth?

“Jesus of Nazareth is easily the dominant figure in history…the historian disregarding the theological significance of his life, writes the name of Jesus of Nazareth at the top of the list of the world's greatest characters.” ~ H. G. Wells

 

Few can say that they have never heard of Jesus Christ.  In a 2010 TIME Magazine article entitled, “Who’s Biggest? The 100 Most Significant Figures in History,” in which the authors attempted to rank “historical figures just as Google ranks web pages, by integrating a diverse set of measurements about their reputation into a single consensus value,” Jesus came out first1.   Loved or hated, the name of Jesus Christ is a “household name,” and has been for centuries.  Everybody’s heard of Jesus.

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Jesus & the Evidence I

Some doubt that Jesus ever existed. But they’re in the minority. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary: The first century Roman historian Tacitus (born c. AD 55) mentions Jesus in his Annals (15:44). Tacitus’ Jewish contemporary, Josephus (born c. AD 37), references Jesus twice in his Antiquities of the Jews (18.3.3; 20.9.1). Pliny the Younger (born AD 61), the Roman magistrate, mentions Jesus in his letter to the Emperor Trajan (Letters, vol. 2, 10:96). And the second-century satirist, Lucian of Samosata (born AD 125), speaks of Jesus in his work The Death of Peregrine (11-13).

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Signal vs Noise

Have you heard of the signal vs noise ratio? It is a science and engineering ratio used to measure the desired signal being received in a transmission versus the amount of noise in the background. Even if you are unfamiliar with the ratio itself you are certainly familiar with the concept. Ever listened to the radio, talked on cell phone or played walkie-talkie as a kid? Then you are familiar with the concept.

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