Annotation by Robert:
If there were a prize for someone who had the most written about them based on the least amount of information, Jesus of Nazareth AKA Jesus Christ AKA Yeshua AKA J-Dog would undoubtedly win every year. It is (generally) historically accepted that he existed for a while. It is also fairly certain that he was executed via crucifixion, on account of the fact that crucifixion was considered a horrific and somewhat embarrassing way to die – not the kind of thing that people would make up to flatter him.
Everything in between, however, is hearsay and guesswork. As they were usually in hiding, early Christians of the Roman Empire seldom wrote things down, so the earliest complete texts we have regarding Jesus are letters written roughly twenty years after he died. Add in the fact that Paul the Apostle was a slightly odd fellow, and the accuracy of his descriptions of Jesus becomes less certain. The Gospels that tell Jesus’ life came about nearly a century after he was gone, and while the Q document provides potentially useful information, it’s still not certain which of the events were “Jesus did this” or “this is totally in Jesus’ idiom, he probably did this”.
In any case, Jesus of Nazareth had enough charisma, boldness, and kindness that he became a moral compass for hundreds of people, who in turn span more stories into him for the thousands, and later millions, that followed. The Jesus of the Christian world’s mind – and often, even the post-Christian world’s mind – means something exceptionally deep. The actual man that started it all is less clear, and that is why he is so fascinating.
Belief in miracles is a personal opinion, but the Gospel of Peter is apocryphal for a reason – the early Church had a line that faith wouldn’t cross. We can probably safely assume that Jesus did not grow several hundred metres tall at any point, nor was he accompanied by angels or a talking cross. The appearance of an enormous Jewish man would have attracted Roman attention, given that he could easily kick them out of Judea by literally kicking them out of Judea, and crucifixes are, as a general rule, silent.