Jesus As A Religious Icon Term Paper

Length: 7 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Mythology - Religion Type: Term Paper Paper: #9895772 Related Topics: Religious Traditions, Religious, Gospel Of John, Scholarship
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Many of the writings cited were produced decades after Christ died, and not by men who knew him but by those reacting to the stories they heard. The gospels as well were accounts written by men who did not know Jesus directly, and the desire to promote a religious ideal and to help shape the emerging church makes some of these suspect. Many existing writings and stores were brought together in the form we know today long after Jesus died, as was true of many of the Jewish writings cited by Powell, from the Babylonian Talmud. Much of what is known of the historical Jesus derives from the Epistles in the New Testament, notably the letters written by Paul, who has much to say about the teachings of Jesus as known at that time. These accounts have great value because they were written so early, some two decades before the gospels.

Also of great interest is the section Powell writes on how different sources are judged as to authenticity. He notes that writings such as the gospels are suspect because it is clear that they were written so the writers could convey what they wanted to say, which might not match with historical reality. Another way of putting this is that these writers were not themselves historians and had a different agenda than the objective historian.

Powell recognizes that there is no one portrait of Jesus that is accepted and that serves as the historical Jesus. His analysis shows the history of historical attention given to Jesus and some of the sources and methods used to develop different portraits of the man. He offers an in-depth discussion of six major historical accounts, offered by historians John Dominic Crossan, Marcus J. Borg, E.P. Sanders, John P. Meier, N.T. Wright, and the Jesus Seminar, a group founded in 1985 that has produced noteworthy and controversial writings on Jesus as a historical figure.

Before offering an analysis of these specific versions of the story of Jesus, however, he notes some of the trends and the images of Jesus produced by historians. Some agree with Horsely that Jesus was a prophet and fits in the prophetic tradition. Geza Vermes offers the view of Jesus as a Charismatic Jew, a holy man in the Jewish tradition more than a seminal figure in a new religious vision. Morton Smith sees Jesus as a magician, producing controversial miracles that gained followers and created disbelievers at one and the same time. Ben Witherington III sees Jesus as a Jewish sage, differentiating Jesus from the...


F. Gerald Downing sees Jesus as a cynical philosopher, and Powell says this is the "single most influential of the nontraditional images associated with Jesus in recent scholarship" (60).


These different contemporary visions of Jesus are filled out even more as Powell discuses the six different contemporary accounts he features in his book. Powell does not see any of the accounts as definitive and notes that the search for the historic Jesus continues and will be developed into different visions of the man over the coming decades. He analyzes the different accounts and discerns certain issues of importance. First, the question of sources remains vital, not only finding sources but determining their value and gleaning what they have to say on the subject and how it relates to other accounts. This leads to the second issue, that of criteria, meaning how it is determined that a given source is credible and has something worthwhile to add to the debate. The third issue is approach, meaning how historical research should proceed and how it should be analyzed. Different traditions exist today which may color the historical analysis, and Powell cites some of these, such as Judaism, the image of Jesus that is preferred, and eschatology, relating to how Jesus viewed the future. Issues such as these extend beyond the question of who was the historical Jesus and veer into ideas about scholarship and about the meaning of the teachings of Jesus. It is clear that having a religion has become more of a spiritual experience in order for a person to become closer to Jesus and have a better understanding of themselves. Powell does a good job of bringing these different elements together and showing how the search for the historical Jesus relates to these questions, utilizes these questions, and leaves even more questions to be answered.


Powell, M.A. (1998). Jesus as a Figure in History. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.

Powell, M.A. (1998). Issues in Jesus Research and Scholarship. 20 March…

Sources Used in Documents:


Powell, M.A. (1998). Jesus as a Figure in History. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.

Powell, M.A. (1998). Issues in Jesus Research and Scholarship. 20 March 2008.

Cite this Document:

"Jesus As A Religious Icon" (2008, March 20) Retrieved December 9, 2021, from

"Jesus As A Religious Icon" 20 March 2008. Web.9 December. 2021. <>

"Jesus As A Religious Icon", 20 March 2008, Accessed.9 December. 2021,

Related Documents
Jesus' Teachings, Prayer, & Christian Life He
Words: 35411 Length: 109 Pages Topic: Mythology - Religion Paper #: 95862373

Jesus' Teachings, Prayer, & Christian Life "He (Jesus) Took the Bread. Giving Thanks Broke it. And gave it to his Disciples, saying, 'This is my Body, which is given to you.'" At Elevation time, during Catholic Mass, the priest establishes a mandate for Christian Living. Historically, at the Last Supper, Christ used bread and wine as a supreme metaphor for the rest of our lives. Jesus was in turmoil. He was

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel
Words: 1409 Length: 5 Pages Topic: Art  (general) Paper #: 876756

Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel This work has been and truly is a beacon of our art, and it has brought such benefit and enlightenment to the art of painting that it was sufficient to illuminate a world which for so many hundreds of years had remained in the state of darkness. And, to tell the truth, anyone who is a painter no longer needs to concern himself about seeing innovations and

Roles of Tradition, Convention, Changing
Words: 3261 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Art  (general) Paper #: 80137907

The Byzantine artists are well-known for the icon of Symeon with the Christ Child. The icon was effectively changed by Byzantine artists toward the ending of the iconoclastic controversy in the ninth century. Originally the artistic protocol for the depiction has Symeon submissively approaching Mary who is holding the Christ child in her hands however the changes in the icon are of the nature that show Symeon holding the

Basic Beliefs and Practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church
Words: 1496 Length: 5 Pages Topic: Mythology - Religion Paper #: 28769892

beliefs and practices of the Eastern Orthodox Church can be somewhat differentiated from the basic beliefs and practices of the Western Church due to its veneration of iconography or spiritual imagery of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church can be differentiated as well from the Western Church in that they pray for the dead and are stated to believe that icons "…are a meeting point between the

Buffy the Vampire Slayer &
Words: 1086 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Mythology Paper #: 29145082

Even the pagan concept of a goddess resembles Buffy's character, wherein the pagan concept of a goddess is based on the assumption that the goddess exists to protect humankind from the threat of mortality -- that is, the goddess exists for the purpose of ensuring humanity that they live a long and fulfilling life on earth. The pagan goddess, then, is the protector of the earth, humanity, and everything it

Catholic Church in Spain and the United States
Words: 12567 Length: 40 Pages Topic: Mythology - Religion Paper #: 80066192

Catholic Church in Spain and the United States The Catholic Church has been a very significant religious and political institution in the Europe. Its origins can be traced to a thousand years when Christianity was itself in its infancy. It was a symbol of colossal authority and was much regarded as an institution that was as similar to the installed governmental mechanism of any nation state. Its power and influence spread