The Question (ID Number 475)...
...and the response:The Jesus who comes to us through New Testament is fundamentally the creation of Paul (and the followers of Paul, who wrote the Gospels). According to Paul, Jesus was not understood by the apostles he chose during his lifetime, including his brother James, the immediate successor to Jesus and the head of the Christian church in Jerusalem. There is no indication that James and his followers (who actually KNEW Jesus) subscribed to the Pauline vision of Jesus as one whose death served as a redemptive sacrifice for mankind. Nor is there anything in the sayings of Jesus that confirms this vision. According to Paul, this was uniquely revealed to him directly by the ascended Christ. The Jerusalem church disappeared in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., so we can't be sure which version of Christianity might have prevailed otherwise. The Pauline version went on to dominate the Roman Empire and to become the established version throughout the world. I would say that my view of Jesus corresponds roughly to that of the group of scholars known as the Jesus Seminar; he was a highly influential prophet of the Jews of his era. Jesus has no special importance to me personally, no more than, say, Zoroaster or Diogenes.
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