The Discovery channel feature documentary Who Was Jesus? Set out to trace the scientific evidence for the real life of a man that would be heralded by his followers and future Christians as the son of God. This article provides a summary of the television documentary’s contents and findings.
Jesus Christ the Preacher, Miracle Worker and Rebel
The documentary started by explaining that by the time Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem as a thirty year old he had already gained a large following as a healer and miracle worker. His speeches had also offered hope to his fellow Jews of freedom from Roman oppression.
Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on the feast of Passover, when Jews celebrated the Israelites’ freedom from slavery in Egypt.
Jesus Arrived at Jerusalem, a City Already on the Edge of Revolution/
Dr. Rachel Havrelock of the University of Illinois explained that Jerusalem was already a tinderbox on the edge of revolution at the time.
When Jesus was hailed as the son of God by his followers it was very incendiary. Jesus attracted further attention when he objected to commerce taking place too close to the Jerusalem Temple by overturning tables.
Jesus was angered by the gap between rich and poor, and stayed outside Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. He preached on the Temple Mount.
Jesus Christ Arrested Away from the Crowd
The Romans were wary of arresting Jesus in front of his followers, so they waited until he was making his way back to the Mount of Olives after the Passover meal.
The location of the arrest has been traditionally sited at the Garden of Gethsemani, but this version of events only started in the Middle-Ages, so the experts are not sure of the exact location.
Dr. Allen Callahan of Salvador University in Brazil said that Peter’s account of how he slashed the ear off an arresting soldier and Jesus stopped him resisting more could have been spin doctoring. Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus.
Jesus Tried, Convicted and Sentenced to Death
Callahan explained that Jesus was dragged off for trial, and the Sanhedrin High Priest, Caiaphas, had little choice but to hand him over to Pontius Pilot, the Roman governor, as Jesus was a political and religious threat and the Romans held the Jewish Temple to ransom.
Pilot asked Jesus if he was the king of the Jews and Jesus said he was. It was supposed to have been an extraordinary meeting, as Jesus appeared to be just a poor preacher from the Sea of Gallilee.
Jesus Christ Crucified, Buried and Disappeared
Jesus was taken along the via Dolorosa, the path of suffering, and crucified on Golgotha; a hill overlooking the city.
Joseph of Arithamea took Jesus’ body to the family tomb, saving it from just being thrown on the rubbish tip, but when Mary Magdalene went to finish annointing and wrapping the body Jesus had disappeared.
Callahan said that Jesus’ disappearance from the tomb is where scientific evidence ends and religious faith takes over.