Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

3. About Jesus / Son of David |
Madman or God?

This is a continuation of the second segment (Resurrection of Jesus) of Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God?. It is from Volume One, The Veil is Torn, of the twelve-volume historical series: The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years. This section of the chapter is about the lineage of Jesus, the ignomities surrounding his birth, and the implausibility amongst Jews that their great messiah and saviour could be so easily killed at the hands of their Roman oppressors.

Trial reveals embarrassing evidence that the accused Nazarene Jesus, born in a barn, is a ”son of David”

In any event, it had been disclosed during his trial that this man Jesus was not, in fact, Galilean-born. His mother, a direct descendant of King David, incidentally, and her husband had traveled south to Judea, specifically to the town of Bethlehem, six miles south of Jerusalem, to conform to one of the census schemes devised by Quirinius, governor of Syria at the time, who had jurisdiction over Judea.1 You can”t properly govern without assessing taxes, the Romans knew. To create a reliable tax roll, everyone had to be named, recorded and counted. And the most efficient means of assuring accuracy, the Romans decided, was to require everyone to go back to the town of his birth.

This brought Jesus” heavily pregnant mother and her husband to Bethlehem, impossibly overcrowded because of the census. There, in the only space available, an animal stall behind a hotel, the child was born. Eight days later he was circumcised in the Temple at Jerusalem and given the name Joshua, or Jesus.2

The name, though historic, was not distinguished. There could easily have been a dozen or more Jesuses in every Judean village. However, the venue of his birth had definite theological implications. Jesus” adherents claimed him as the Messiah, the promised savior of Israel. According to one widely held theory, the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, of one of David”s descendants. In addition, as a child in the Temple, so the story went, two ancients, both of them revered as prophets, had recognized the child as the future “Anointed One,” which is what “Messiah” means.

How preposterous, many genuinely pious Jews would respond. Was Israel”s Messiah to be born in a stall and die on a Roman cross—a death as universally recognized for its shame as it was for its excruciating pain? The concept of the coming Messiah, the real Messiah, was the only sure hope of the Jewish people, they would say. For a dozen or more centuries they had struggled to survive and preserve the Law and the sacrificial rituals in the Temple with which God had entrusted them. And survive they had, as a recurrently battered and beleaguered buffer state between the superpowers of East and West.

To continue reading from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years, Volume One — The Veil is Torn, Chapter One on Jesus of Nazareth entitled Madman or God? and would like to proceed to the next section on Who is the Messiah.