Growing up, I thought there was only one story of Jesus, just like there was only one story of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. Of course, at that time, I did not know that the Jesus stories were constructed in a very different way from Lincoln and King.
Not only do the stories of Jesus vary, but the way people visualize Jesus are also different. Think about Jesus in your head — do you get an image? To the right is the well-know BBC reconstruction of a possible generic 1st Century Jewish face which may capture a possible real Jesus’ face closer than all the other Jesus images familiar in the West. I’ll explore more of that later.
But my point is that the Jesus in people’s head is a mix of fictitious images and fictitious stories (well, certainly fictitious to some degree). And today I am just sharing the diagram illustrating the three main origins of Jesus stories: Christian, Pagan and Atheist.
My diagrams terms are as follows:
- “Xians“: People who call themselves “Christians” often are surprised to find out how many different versions their fellow Christians have spun.
- “Pagans“: Religious folks who are non-Christians have several different ways to explain Jesus. Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism all have their own stories.
- “Atheists“: People who decisively don’t believe in any gods, also have several different contradictory stories of who Jesus was.
- “Apathists“: Most Christians are “casual” Christians and could careless about doctrines, no little of the Bible and don’t really worry too much about stories about Jesus. A person who doesn’t believe in God and is apathetic about the issue may call themselves an Agnostics. And many believers in other religions (“Pagans” in this diagram) may care less about Jesus, just as most Christians could care less about the details of Amida. All these apathists.
Blog thread conversations about Jesus get confused easily because of the conflicting view people have of Jesus. I think both Christians and non-Christians sometimes don’t remember that there is a such a huge variety of stories. This diagram, then, is just a reminder.
Questions to Readers:
- Tell us, in 2-3 sentences, the version of Jesus you find most persuasive at this time.
- Name a few versions of Jesus from within your own group (Pagans, Atheists or Christians) which conflict with your view.