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Jews consider that Jesus was a only a teacher and leader, assuming he existed. Some of them think he only created a Jewish sect among many other Jewish sects, and that the one who really founded what we call Christianism was Paul [2]. Jesus was not the Messiah because he did not fulfill the mission of the Messiah. For example, he was not a real king, he did not bring peace to the world and he did not come from the lineage of David (since Joseph was not his real father). Therefore, Jews are still waiting for the Messiah.

Early Christians had very divergent opinions about Jesus Christ before the counciles unified the doctrine. During the first decades, some Christians thought that Jesus was about to come back very soon. Some denied that Jesus had been crucified and asserted that Simon the Cirenean (Basilidians) or Judas Iscariot (Gospel of Barnabas) had taken his place. Docetists said that Jesus was only a God and not a man; his birth, Passion and death were an illusion.

Arius thought that Jesus was a creation of God, i.e he was not to be put on the same level as the Father. His doctrine was condemned by the Nicene council, but was very successful during the 4th century. Arianism may have become the mainstream flavour of Christianism.

Catholics think that Jesus was the son of God, and a part of the Holy Trinity (the other two being the Father and the Holy Spirit, in no particular order). He was born of a virgin, made miracles, died and resurrected. During Mass, the substance of bread and wine is replaced by the substance of his real flesh and blood (transubstantiation). He saved us from Adam and Eve's sin. He will come sooner or later. And yes, Jesus loves you.

Protestants think that Jesus is the incarnation of God, and is also a part of the Trinity. Luther thought that the flesh and blood coexisted with the substance of bread and wine in the Mass (consubstantiation). And yes, Jesus still loves you.

Muslims believe that Jesus (also known as Isa'l-Masih, Isa bin Maryam or simply Isa) was born from a virgin named Mary by the power of Allah. He was one of the great prophets of Allah, like Moses, and the last one before Muhammad. He was not the son of Allah, but he was Allah's Messiah, and he will eventually return. He also made miracles such as curing people or raising them from the dead. Jesus was not really crucified; the Jews crucified an image of him, or maybe someone else: the Jews plotted and Allah plotted: but of those who plot, Allah is the best.

Mormons believe that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, only begotten. Jesus himself in his resurrected form created the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and leads it today (thanks xWakawaka). The Journal of Discourses says he was married at Cana [1].

Archaelogists and historians know almost nothing about him, since the Gospels' purpose was spiritual, not historical. They usually think that Jesus went preaching around Judea for a year or two, and was eventually crucified by the Roman authorities. The only source is Josephus' account [3], but its historical value is a highly debated topic (thanks mirv!)

The Monty Python think that Brian might very well have been Jesus, if things had only turned out that way.

I think that the gospels would be much more funny if Brian had been Jesus.

Buddhists, shintoists and ancient Greeks have no opinion about Jesus Christ. However, you should read quijote's interesting writeup about Hindus below.

Atheists think Jesus was not a god at all. Some of them doubt he ever existed.

Agnostics have no opinion: Jesus may be God, or he may be a normal man, or he may be an alien, or he may be an avatar of Elvis. Nobody has ever proved that Jesus was not an avatar of Elvis, and agnostics are too wise to reject any opinion unless it has been rationally refuted.

The greatest mystery of all is what Jesus considered himself to be. Most of the time he speaks like a preacher and a reformer, and he compares himself to a prophet (Matthew 15, 57). In Matthew 16, he says he's the Christ, i.e the Messiah, which usually meant a king (not a God) sent by God. However, nobody knows what Jesus really said and what his followers understood later, since he never speaks very clearly in the Synoptics. shyHyena mentions an interesting discussion on this subject at http://www.tektonics.org/tekton_01_02_01.html.

[1] See http://www.concordance.com/jrd1.htm and http://personal.nbnet.nb.ca/nbbi/morm3trc.html.
[2] See http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Campus/8065/jewsforj.htm.
[3] Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, book 18, chapter 63. About its historical value: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html.

About the gospels (and why none of them was directly written by apostles): http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/4027/gospelwriters1.html
About Jesus in the Quran: http://www.ualberta.ca/~sganam/Jesus.html

And many thanks to mirv, mr100percent, Spasemunki, ymelup, proj251, WyldWynd, xWakawaka, Footprints, hotthamir and others who /msg'ed me some information.

The Baha'i Faith on Jesus:

There is an entire section in the Baha'i book "Some Answered Questions" regarding the Baha'i perspective on Jesus Christ.

Feel free to read each chapter and section (they're very short) at:
http://www.ibiblio.org/Bahai/Texts/EN/SAQ/

In short, Baha'is see Jesus thus:

He was a man, born of a mother and divinely conceived by God within her womb- therefore, Baha'is believe in Christ as being the Son of God. And by "divinely conceived" I am referring to the spiritual and not the physical, or more appropriately, God divinely conceived of Christ. The physical conception of Jesus can be brought to Joseph's doorstep, since Joseph was the descendant from David and that aspect of the prophecy needed to be fulfilled.
He was a magnificent teacher and spiritual guide of His time and age, Who admonished humanity as a whole to regard each other with peace, kindness, patience and wisdom.
He was a Jew, killed by His fellow Mosaics, and promised to return to Humankind once again, in a different form (physical? spiritual? both?).
That whole stint in the New Testament wasn't the first time Christ was visited upon Humanity. It won't be the last.
Jesus never stopped loving you.

There is a great deal more on the subject of Christ, from the Baha'i perspective, which is logical and reasonable at the URL posted above.

What Hindus think of Jesus might be of some interest. Historically, Hindus have had a shared experience with Christianity (especially with British rule, and extensive missionary efforts).

  • At one extreme, Hindus can share the position that many Atheists have of Jesus -- he was just a man, if he ever existed, that is. I was raised a Hindu, and generally held this viewpoint.
  • My grandfather is a Hindu, but like many others, he is a liberal, ecumenical sort of guy. He doesn't believe Jesus is God, but he is confident that Jesus existed and made a positive difference. He has a copy of the New Testament, which he has read many times. My grandfather has even voiced the view that Christ travelled to the East during his young adult life (when the Gospels are largely silent), and later preached what he learned during this period.
  • Some Hindus go so far as to consider Jesus an avatar of God. (An avatar is an incarnation of God on earth, but not a unique one; Rama, Krishna, and Buddha are tradionally considered avatars. Some say Gandhi was one.) My grandmother, a simple, devout woman, bows her head in repsect whenver she passes a Church, Cross, or Crucifix. To her, Jesus being God does not contradict any of her Hindu beliefs.
  • At the other extreme, some Hindus are Christians in the strict sense. Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (A fiery nationalist opposed to British rule in India) was a Hindu by birth, culture, language, and philosophy. But in terms of religion and faith, he maintained his devotion to the Catholic Church to his death. We may doubt whether he was truly a Hindu or truly a Catholic, but he called himself both.

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