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How Old Was Jesus at His Baptism, Start of His Ministry & Death?

You've probably seen the popular inspirational quote that goes something like this, "Jesus didn't start his ministry until he was 30 years old, and yet he changed the world." I guess this is supposed to encourage people in their teens and twenties that haven't accomplished much in their life.  (As if comparing their potential future to the accomplishments of the supposed "son of God" is supposed to make them feel better!  Ha!) It also illustrates a common assumption (or perhaps misconception), that Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry. Is that a fact?  If so, where does the Bible say so? Do we also know how old was Jesus was when he was baptized or when he died? How Old Was Jesus When He Died? This is not a slam dunk answer. In fact, I ask all my students at Chapel Hill this question (many of whom answer incorrectly) on their first-day quiz. Almost everyone who thinks about the matter thinks that Jesus was 33 years old when he died.  But the [...]

2020-04-03T01:56:53-04:00October 11th, 2017|Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

The Baptism of Jesus as an Apocalyptic Event

Over the years scholars have adduced lots of reasons for thinking that Jesus – like many others in his day – was a Jewish apocalypticist, one who thought that the world was controlled by forces of evil but that God was very soon going to intervene to overthrow everything and everyone opposed to him in order to set up a good kingdom here on earth.  As I pointed out in my previous post, this is the view found in Jesus’ teachings in Mark (e.g., ch. 13), in Q (the source used by Matthew and Luke for many of their sayings), in M (Matthew’s special source[s]), and in L (Luke’s special source[s]). There is another very good argument for thinking that Jesus must have subscribed to some kind of apocalyptic view (I’ll lay out what his exact views apparently were in a future post).  In fact, this argument is so good that I wish I had thought of it myself!  But alas, credit goes to others.  The argument, as I usually phrase it, is that “the [...]

2020-04-03T13:08:48-04:00November 18th, 2015|Historical Jesus, Public Forum|
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