The vast majority of historians, theologians, religious, believe, as Bart Ehrman does, that Jesus of Nazareth was an apocalyptist, and that Jesus thought the end of the world was nigh, including final judgment and the inauguration of God’s Kingdom. Therefore, these folks assert, Jesus believed it was urgent that the Jews repent their sins and make themselves right with God before the end came. The hills were alive with the sound of would-be messiahs, magicians, and assorted fakirs promising the end of the world. Of course, Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion were not part of this plan—he couldn’t be the messiah if he died without “saving” his people; explaining that state of affairs required the remarkable imagination and inventiveness of his followers, including the resurrection, the new conception of messiahship, the divinity of Jesus, dying for “our” sins, etc.
From this convoluted interpretation even more complex and fantastic interpretations of Jesus and his world were developed. There is the virgin birth and the immaculate conception, transubstantiation, etc., etc. It also seemed necessary to some scholars that Jesus be considered an ignorant, illiterate, peasant.
And of course, since none of the promised events have ever transpired, it’s difficult to believe that millions, possibly billions of people, accept these apocalyptic ideas. But they do. Even as these preposterous prophecies prove false, true believers (whatever that means) remain convinced that the Christian scriptures are true.
But what if they’re not? What if Jesus wasn’t an ignorant, illiterate peasant? Is it possible there is a simpler, more plausible view of Jesus, his life, his goals? Of course there is, and I explained it all in an historical novel, about which one reviewer wrote, “I find this writer’s story more believable than the official version.”
But that’s for another post.