Jesus of Nazareth (4 BCE - 30 CE). Born, most likely out of wedlock, to Joseph, a carpenter, and Mary, a teenager. Despite what Catholics and Fundamentalists might try to make you believe, the Bible strongly implies he was the eldest of several children born to the couple1. Little is known about Jesus' life until he was about 30 years old, at which point he stopped being a carpenter and started being a prophet. Having been an adherent of the Pharisee sect since his teens, he preached a more radical version of their creed, expanding on the traditional Pharisaical notions of resurrection and interpretation of the law. His opposition to the practices of the Temple leaders of his day made him unpopular, and the Sadducees loathed him still more. (His brother James was subsequently assassinated by them by stoning2.)

In about the year 784 AUC, during the governorship of Pontius Pilate, Jesus went to Jerusalem, feeling that he had to make his message more widely heard, even if it were to cost him his life. In the short period that followed, Jesus started a riot in the outer court of the temple in protest against the mercenary acts of the authorities. Caiaphas the High Priest bribed Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' close friends, to track down the prophet. Jesus was arrested and tried for blasphemy. Pilate was unhappy about the verdict, but being a weak man did not attempt to overturn it. He tried to get a popular pardon for Jesus in honour of the approaching Passover, but at the instigation of Caiaphas, the crowd demanded the terrorist Jesus Barabbas be released instead. Jesus bar-Joseph was taken and executed by crucifixion at a place called Golgotha or Calvary. He died fairly rapidly by the standards of crucifixion victims, and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

The above is, if not indisputable, at least fairly widely accepted.

Were he working today, Jesus would very likely be preaching against the church authorities who persist in maintaining sexist employment policies, televangelists who make money at a rate the temple moneychangers would have envied, and all the bigots who 'confess and call themselves Christians' but screw the world up for everyone.

Jesus is also seen spelled 'Jesu', 'Iesu', 'Yeshua', 'Y'Shua' and 'Joshua'.

I love the non-subjective nature of Webster's definition.

1: There's no word for cousin in Hebrew, and although the gospels were not written in Hebrew, it is possible that the 'brothers and sisters' references mean cousins, as the speakers (where the expression appears in reported speech) would have been speaking Aramaic. I don't personally believe so, but it's fair to note that this is another reading. Thanks to lordsibn for the pointer.

2: According to Josephus, James was 'delivered up to be stoned'. Hegesippus claims they tried defenestration first, and then stoned and clubbed him to finish the job.

In Orthodox Jewish lingo, Jesus is known as "Yeishu". This is an acronym for "Yemach Shimo Vi'zichrono", meaning "May his name and his memory be erased". (The reason that the V at the beginning of that last word is seemingly silent is that in Hebrew a V- vav- can also make a long "O" or "U" sound.) He is believed in that doctrine to be not the son of god but merely a good-for-nothing rebel.

He used to come into the grocery store I worked at. He'd ride up on his bike overburdened with his only belongings stored in two barrels strapped precariously to the back of the bike frame. His hair was long, messy, and bleached from the sun. The mass of hair on his chin hung well past his chest. He wore nothing but flip-flops, decaying shorts and many strings of beads and shells around his neck. His skin was blackened from the sun. Sometimes he'd wear a hat made from palm fronds.

He only bought beer. The cheapest he could find.

Eight years later, I still see him at the beach. He's still got a bike loaded with his life.

To most, he's just another beach bum. But the locals have nicknamed him Jesus.

I saw Jesus once.
He was riding a rusty bicycle down the railroad tracks.

He glided along the rail, balanced on the narrow band of steel.
In low gear, the pedals moved slowly. His robe flowed behind him

Six inches above the ground, he rode out of town.

I turned away and put my headphones back on.
We didn't need him here anymore.

Je"sus (?), n. [L. Jesus, Gr. , from Heb. Y'esha'; Yah Jehovah + hsha' to help.]

The Savior; the name of the Son of God as announced by the angel to his parents; the personal name of Our Lord, in distinction from Christ, his official appellation.

Luke i. 31.

Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. Matt. i. 21.

The form Jesu is often used, esp. in the vocative.

Jesu, do thou my soul receive. Keble.

The Society of Jesus. See Jesuit.


© Webster 1913.

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