Even the gospel writers have many differences in their descriptions of the story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Who was this Jewish man (from modern day Israel) born over 2000 years ago? Many people don’t seem to realize that the version of events differ in many ways from the Gospel of Mark and John as well as the Gospels of Luke and Mathew.
In the summer of 2004, I spent seventeen days comparing versions of the Gospels at Four Springs Retreat Center, located in the wooded mountains just north of the beautiful Napa Valley in Northern California, USA. I was struggling in my life, feeling tired and confused about my faith. I had been attending church many years and even had read the bible from many years, yet I was unaware of many of the facts of Jesus’ life. The leaders only asked questions and did not tell me what I was supposed to think; I made up my own mind comparing the sections of the Gospels of Mark, Mathew, and Luke. I began to question my assumptions about Jesus and what he was teaching. My experience working with the Gospels at Four Springs Retreat Center changed me deeply and led me to be a more self-responsible, compassionate, and mature person.
The Roman historian, Tacitus, who lived from 55 to 111 C.E., documented the persecution of Christians and the trial by Pontius Pilate of a man who appears to be Jesus who “suffered the extreme penalty (crucifixion).” Yet some people even question these basic facts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. How do we know which version of the story of the life of Jesus is accurate and what he was teaching to his followers?
There are many different ancient languages, such as Aramaic and Greek, as well as the variety of languages into which the modern day bible has been translated. The texts of the Gospels of Mark, Mathew, Luke, and John were changed many times, even before they ended up in the modern day bible. There are scores of other early documents which describe the life of Jesus, like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Phillip. Biblical scholars have been writing and disagreeing about these differences for centuries.
Manuel Costa writes: “Jesus was gripped to his very core by the reality of what he called God or Father. It was as if some unseen Force sank its claws into his heart and brain and would not let him go. He lived in an intimate relationship with God and wanted others to do so, too. That they, too, could experience such a relationship with God was the ‘good news’ (gospel) Jesus proclaimed.” What do you believe?
In this video, Manuel Costa, talks about his book, “A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus,” which describes what he has learned from studying the bible and spirituality for many years – in the seminary, as a Catholic priest, through graduate studies in Religious Education and Counseling Psychology, and for over three decades as both a marriage and family counselor independently and also as a workshop leader with the Guild for Psychological Studies.
Manuel Costa, Jesus of Nazareth
Blogs by Daniel Davis, Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus of Nazareth, book
“A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus”
“Who Do You Think Jesus Was?”