Biblical Historians Archive

Why is Jesus Christ Called the Son of Man?

Why is Jesus Christ Called the Son of Man?

Why is Jesus Christ called the Son of Man?  While others in the Scriptures (particularly the Old Testament) who are called “son[s] of man” (Jeremiah 49:18, Ezekiel 4:16, Psalms 8:4), the word “son” is uncapitalized.  Elder James E. Talmage, a Biblical scholar, sheds light on the answer in his renown work, Jesus the Christ.  He says, “In applying the designation to Himself, the Lord invariably uses the definite article. ‘The Son of Man’ was and is, specifically and exclusively, Jesus Christ. While as a matter of solemn certainty He was the only male human being from Adam down who was not the son of a mortal man, He used the title in a way to conclusively demonstrate that it was peculiarly and solely His own. It is plainly evident that the expression is fraught with a meaning beyond that conveyed by the words in common usage. The distinguishing appellation has been construed by many to indicate our Lord’s humble station as a mortal, and to connote that He stood... Read the rest of this entry »

The Law of Sacrifice Part III – In Remembrance

The Law of Sacrifice Part III – In Remembrance

The evening before the Lamb of God was to be crucified for the sins of the world and hours before He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus was sitting with his Apostles in a “large upper room” (Mark 14:15). It was here that He first instituted the sacrament: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples,” (Matthew 26:26). Then He said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” 1 Corinthians 11:24). Then, “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). Thus, the purpose of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is to look back and remember Jesus the Christ and what He has done for each of us. Everything points “to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice [is] the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal” (Alma 34:14).... Read the rest of this entry »

The Law of Sacrifice: Part II – A Great and Last Sacrifice

The Law of Sacrifice: Part II – A Great and Last Sacrifice

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ “embraces, sustains, supports, and gives life to all other gospel doctrines.  It is the foundation upon which all truth rests and all things grow out of it and come because of it.”1 “The wondrous and glorious Atonement was the central act in all of human history.”2 Because of these statements, all things also point to Christ and His atonement.  Those who lived before Christ looked forward to Him and His infinite and eternal sacrifice.  Those who live after Christ look back to this greatest of all events and “remember what was done.”3 There were many different ways in which the blood sacrifices before Christ were types and shadows of the great and last sacrifice.  Note a few of the details: First, like Christ, the [sacrificial] animal was chosen and anointed by the laying on of hands. (The Hebrew title Messiah and the Greek title Christ both mean “the Anointed One.”) Second, the animal was to have its life’s blood spilt. Third,... Read the rest of this entry »

The Law of Sacrifice: Part I – Looking Forward

The Law of Sacrifice: Part I – Looking Forward

The atonement of Jesus Christ is the central doctrine of Christianity, and all other Christian doctrines come out of and are appendages to it.1 Not only can these other doctrines be connected back to the Savior and His Atoning Sacrifice, but if they are not, “there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them,” to use a phrase by President Boyd K. Packer, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.2 It is therefore not only important, but necessary, when studying any doctrine or teaching or appendage of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to connect it back to Jesus Christ and His eternal sacrifice. When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, they were commanded “that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord” (Moses 5:5).  Yet M. Russell Ballard, another apostle of the Church, has said that some have wondered, “How could the slaughtering of an animal upon an altar... Read the rest of this entry »

Why is Jesus Called the Son of David?

Why is Jesus Called the Son of David?

In the first verse of the first gospel as it appears in our New Testament, Matthew calls Jesus Christ “the son of David” as if it were a sort of preface to the genealogy he is about to write, and perhaps, a preface to Matthew’s entire testimony of the Savior. Following this preface is the line of royal descent from Joseph, Mary’s husband, back to David, King of Israel (Cf. Matthew 1:1-16).  Because Joseph is listed as a descendant of David, Joseph can also be called a son of David. Joseph treated Jesus as if He were his own son, and by those who knew not of His divine origin Jesus was presumed to be “the son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23), or “the carpenter’s Son” (Matthew 13:55).  It may be said, then, that Jesus is the adopted son of Joseph.  However, Joseph was not Jesus’ literal Father.  As James E. Talmage explained, “That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation... Read the rest of this entry »

Why are Mormons interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Why are Mormons interested in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Like many Jews and other Christians, Latter-day Saints (Mormons) were excited when news spread of the discovery of ancient Jewish texts near the Dead Sea beginning in 1947. Eventually, eleven caves yielded their treasures—manuscripts dating from about 200 BC through AD 66; collected, copied and made by a group of Jews living in anticipation of a cosmic conflict between the “sons of light” and the “sons of darkness.” These manuscripts, including numerous fragments, are known today collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). At first, like many lay people, sensational stories about the content of the scrolls and related conspiracy theories about their suppression caught the attention of some Latter-day Saints. Rumors and misinformation about the scrolls spread rapidly in the popular media and found an attentive audience. Eventually, as competent scholars cautiously and methodically completed their work, Latter-day Saints and others learned that the scrolls were... Read the rest of this entry »

What does BC and AD have to do with Jesus?

What does BC and  AD have to do with Jesus?

The most popular calendar in use throughout the world today is known as the Gregorian or Western calendar established in 1582. It is based on the assumption that Jesus Christ was born on the year 1. Those years before the birth of Jesus are designated as BC and those years following his birth are designated AD. ? Dinoysius first proposed the use of BC and AD around 525. It took many centuries before all Christian Western countries finally adopted the system, but it was finally incorporated in the Gregorian or Western calendar. In English, BC refers to “Before Christ.” However, AD does not refer to “After Death,” as many assume. Rather, AD represents the Latin words, Anno Domini which mean “year of the Lord” or more properly “Anno Domini Nostri Iesus Christi” (the year of our Lord Jesus Christ), referring to the birth of Jesus Christ. Read the rest of this entry »  Read More →

What does Tacitus say about Jesus and the early Christians?

What does Tacitus say about Jesus and the early Christians?

Tacitus’ Annals is best known for its account of the great A.D. 64 fire in Rome. Nero, looking for scapegoats, capitalized on the growing unpopularity of the Christians and their own expectation of a destruction of the world “by fire,” opening them to the charge of arson. He initiated a local and brief persecution that resulted in the murders of many Christians. Regarding the Christians, Tacitus wrote briefly, “For this purpose he punished, with exquisite torture, a race of men detested for their evil practices, by vulgar appellation commonly called Christians. The name was derived from Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius, suffered under Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea. By that event the sect, of which he was the founder, received a blow, which, for a time, checked the growth of a dangerous superstition; but it revived soon after, and spread with recruited vigor, not only in Judea, the soil that gave it birth, but even in the city of Rome” (Annals... Read the rest of this entry »

Who is Tacitus?

Who is Tacitus?

Cornelius Tacitus, born about A.D. 56, was from a relatively new senatorial family. His early political career was under the Flavian emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. He successfully survived the senatorial purges of Domitian’s reign, even holding high office under him, and he then received the suffect consulship under the “good” emperor Trajan. After this time, he proceeded to a productive literary career, writing a biography of Tacitus’ father-in-law, an ethnographic study of the Germans, a treatise on oratory, and two noted historical works, both of which survive only in fragments. The first of these, Histories, began with the civil war that followed the fall of the emperor Nero and also traced the rise of the Flavians. It contains important information about the Jewish revolt, recounting Vespasian’s early command of the Roman reconquest of Judea and his own proclamation as emperor by his legions while serving there. Histories then proceeds to describe... Read the rest of this entry »

What does Josephus say about Jesus?

What does Josephus say about Jesus?

Most scholars agree that Josephus wrote about Jesus Christ in his book, Jewish Antiquities (see Antiquities 18.3.3). However, because Christians preserved his writings they argue that Christian scribes to support their claims about Jesus tampered with the original report that spoke of Jesus as Messiah and of the resurrection.  That Josephus was a believing Jew who did not become a Christian seems to support this interpretation of the data. Additionally, no early Christian writers quoted from Josephus to support their claims that seems to suggest that the original composition did not include the confessional elements of the text that has been preserved.  Nevertheless, because most of the text in question is characteristic of his style, except those parts that have been questioned, is seems probable that that portion is original to Josephus. The following is the preferred reading of the text by many scholars: Read the rest of this entry »  Read More →