The denominations of Christianity—and there are several—all trace their lineage to Jesus of Nazareth, a Jew who lived in what is today Israel about 2,000 years ago. The fact of his existence is almost certain. Even the Roman historian Tacitus mentioned him. Yet the particulars of Jesus’ life are not easy to discern. There are no historical accounts of him, only the canonical Gospels, written decades after his death presumably by people without firsthand knowledge of him. The other Gospels were written even later. According to the canonical Gospels, Jesus thought of himself as the Son of God, though this is not quite the same as a declaration that he was God. In one context, Jesus is said to have noted that the “Father is ...

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