Jesus’ life is known thanks to the Gospels, which present him as a peaceful Messiah, distant from the anti-Romanian and violent language of the moment in which he lived.
Jesus and his preaching
The message of Jesus broke with both the strict view of the fulfillment of the Torah, which the Pharisees defended, and the most important role that the Sadducees gave to the temple. Nor did it fit the Essenes’ strict ways of life.
He introduces himself as a spiritual teacher and preacher who, after having overcome a series of ascetic tests, became an increasingly popular character and gained a large number of followers – among whom were 12 most close, called “apostles”, Greek word that means “sent”.
After preaching throughout Galilee, Jesus probably entered Jerusalem in the year 30, to celebrate the Passover feast with his followers. There, in the city that constituted the center of Jewish religious life, his presence and what he preached confronted the Jewish authorities and those who obeyed them.
On the eve of Easter, Jesus celebrated a supper with the apostles. This celebration would become the foundation on which the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist is based, which continued to be carried out in early Christianity and continues as the central ritual of the Christian mass until today: communion.
The apostles were 12, like the tribes of Israel. Their names appear in the Gospels in different places, as in the following text from the Gospel of Matthew (10, 2-4):
The names of the twelve apostles are these: the first Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; Santiago, son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Felipe and Bartolomeu, Tome e Mateus, the fundraiser; James, son of Alphaeus, and Judas Thaddeus, Simon, called the Zelota, and Judas Iscariot, was the one who handed him over.
This episode is very similarly narrated in Mark 3, 1 3-19 and Luke 6, 1 2-1 6. The great similarity between the three fragments can be explained as a consequence of the three synoptic Gospels drinking from an earlier common source.
The death of Jesus
Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, one of the apostles, Jesus’ was taken prisoner by the high priest’s guards and taken before the Jewish religious council, the Sanhedrin. He was found guilty of blasphemy and handed over to the Roman authorities to apply the penalty: and death. Then, the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate, at the request of the Jewish authorities, condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion.
Jesus’ followers claimed that he was resurrected on the third day of his death and that he was the Messiah with whom the prophecies were fulfilled. The 11 apostles said that he appeared to them and ordered them to preach his message to the whole world.
In focusing on Jesus as the Messiah and that he had “risen, Christians gradually became separated from the Jewish tradition over the following decades. In addition, after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in the year 70 CE, the Jewish religion became less and less varied, tending towards the Pharisaic and Rabbinic interpretations. Christians ended up creating a distinct and new religion.