Biography of Jesus Christ
QUESTION: Is there a biography of Jesus Christ? What does it say?ANSWER:
Many scholars, theologians, philosophers, and skeptics have set out to construct writings about Jesus Christ, albeit with varying motivations. However, a true biography, a volume which chronicles the life history of Jesus Christ, does not exist outside of the Gospel writings found in the New Testament.
It is quite fascinating to ponder the possible reasons for this. Perhaps, the most obvious reason to consider might be the actual providence of God. The Bible lets us know that the sixty-six books which comprise the canon of Scripture were divinely authored: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
A biography written by a man or woman not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could not do justice to the life of One who is the express image of the God of the universe. God Himself may have divinely disallowed such writings that the glory of His Son might be upheld. Another possibility for the lack of a real biography of Jesus Christ may be due to how Jesus of Nazareth lived for most of His earthly life. Except for His birth, infancy, and His interaction with the elders in the temple at age 12, Jesus life was lived in virtual obscurity. Even the Scriptures are silent as to any notable happenings before His baptism by John at age 30, though He apparently lived a life that was considered respectful: "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52). Nevertheless, to many who knew Him, He was merely Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter, no surprise that He was rejected by those in His own hometown.
There have been ambitious studies of the history of Christ such as those done during Funk's convening of The Jesus Seminar
and notable film versions of His life such as Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth and, more recently, Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
. And while these studies and dramatic works contain the personal interpretations of the individuals who wrote and produced them, they are still depictions or treatises derived from the texts of the four Gospels.
Thankfully, the Bible has given us a biography of Jesus Christ. In a very real sense, the entirety of the scriptures may be called a biography of Christ; prophesies concerning the coming Messiah begin in the third chapter of Genesis and continue throughout the Old Testament. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus Himself, when walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus indicated in His words that the Law and the prophets told about Him. "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:27).
The four Gospel books found in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John contain all that God saw fit to make known about the earthly manifestation of the Son of God. These scriptural biographies tell us about Christ's birth and earthly ministry. His earthly ministry consisted of rich teachings, including parables and His discourse to His disciples, commonly called the Beatitudes. Jesus miracles are enumerated, from turning water into wine to raising the dead. We see His interaction with rich and poor, hypocrites and sinners, the Romans and the Sanhedrin. We are made aware of His deep love for His disciples and His total submission to the will of His Father. The gospels show His relentless, inevitable sojourn along the path leading to His death, His agony on the cross. Have any more poignant words ever been written or spoken than, ". . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" In Matthew 27:46, we are given hope by His glorious resurrection from the dead.
However, even as Luke, the Physician set out to tell the world all that Jesus did, "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven. . ." (Acts 1:1-2). The beloved disciple, John, summed it up best, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" (John 21:25).