History & Religion

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30) was a spiritual Teacher, who preached a gospel of faith, love and forgiveness. His life and teachings led to the emergence of a new religion – Christianity, which became the dominant religious force in the western world. The Christian religion reveres Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Jesus is also an important prophet in Islam, and his teachings are widely admired by other religious traditions.

  • Born circa 6 BC, Bethlehem, Palestine
  • Died 30 AD, Jerusalem, Palestine
Adoration of the Shepherds. Gerard van Honthorst (1622)

Early Life of Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea – then part of the Roman Empire, under the rule of Herod. Jesus was born into a Jewish family; his parents were Mary and Joseph of Nazareth. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because his father had to travel to his place of birth to take part in the Roman census. Because of over-crowding due to the census, the family were offered a place in a stable, and hence Jesus was born in the humblest of surroundings – in a manger surrounded by animals.

According to the Gospels, the birth of Jesus was proclaimed to shepherds in nearby fields. Later on, Jesus was visited by three wise men from the east offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Herod was told a ‘future king of the Jews’ had been born in his kingdom. Feeling his temporal power threatened, he ordered all young Jewish boys to be killed. The Gospels relate how Joseph was warned in a dream and, as a result, took his family to Egypt before returning to Nazareth when it was considered safe.

Not much is known about Jesus’ early life, the Gospels concentrate on the last couple of years when he was active in his ministry. However, Jesus is believed to have followed in his father’s footsteps and trained to be a carpenter. Some have also suggested during this period Jesus travelled to India and Persia where he learned something of India’s spiritual tradition before returning to Nazareth to begin his ministry.

All three synoptic gospels say Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, in the River Jordan. This symbolic baptism was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Following his baptism, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert where he was tempted by the Devil. However, he passed the test and refused any temptations of wealth or worldly gain.

Jesus’s teachings were characterised by short, pithy statements that used striking imagery to capture the imagination of listeners. His most famous teachings are the sermon on the mount.

Biography of Jesus Christ, Oxford, UK – Link: