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Ethnography of Christianity

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The Life of Jesus
(Abridged From the Gospels)

What we know of Jesus' life comes almost exclusively from the four “gospels” of the Christian New Testament.(The word “gospel,” from Greek roots meaning “good news,” refers to each of the first four books of the “New Testament,” i.e., from the portion of the Bible not shared with Judaism.) Each gospel recounts the life of Jesus and each is of interest on its own, but the materials included differ, and any biography inevitably must combine materials from all of them.

This section is aimed at students with little or no familiarity with the story of Jesus in order to provide a general familiarity with his life as the four gospels collectively represent it. The files linked to this page extract brief gospel passages, arranged to present events roughly in chronological order. Jesus frequently taught using illustrative “parables,” which are included in the gospels.

For present purposes, I have added titles describing the content of each extract, using terms often used in titles of western paintings of these subjects and I have identified the parables in the chapter titles.

The translation here in most cases is from The New American Bible, the full text of which is available on-line (link). (Caution: There is more than one translation with this name.) From Shakespeare’s time through the middle of the XXth century, the dominant English translation was the “King James Version.” Although now largely displaced as a teaching text, the King James Version (KJV) remains the “classic” English rendering, from which schoolchildren formerly memorized passages, and which gave birth to countless hymns, allusions, quotations, book titles, proverbs, or turns of phrase in English.

The selection and ordering of extracts here largely follows Eleonore Beck 1997 Dio parolas al siaj infanoj: bibliaj tekstoj Estella, Navarra (Spain): Editorial Verbo Divino.




Chapter 1 The Annunciation (Luke 1:27-38)
Chapter 2 Joseph’s Dream (Matthew 1: 18-25)
Chapter 3 The Nativity & the Adoration of the Shepherds (Luke 2: 1-19)
Chapter 4 Adoration of the Magi (Matthew 2: 1-12)
Chapter 5 The Flight Into Egypt & the Massacre of the Innocents
   (Matthew 2: 13-23)

Chapter 6 Jesus With the Teachers in the Temple (Luke 2: 41-52)
Chapter 7 John the Baptist (Luke 3: 1-18)
Chapter 8 The Baptism of Jesus (Luke 3: 21-23)
Chapter 9 Jesus Teaches in the Synagogue (Matthew 1: 14-15, Luke 4: 16-30)
Chapter 10 Fishers of Men (Matthew 4: 18-22)

Chapter 11 Healing the Lame (Mark 2: 1-12)
Chapter 12 The Twelve Apostles (Mark 3: 13-19)
Chapter 13 The Beatitudes (Matthew 4: 23-25, Matthew 5: 1-12)
Chapter 14 Other Teachings
   (Matthew 5:21-24, 27-28, 43-45; Luke 6: 35-36, 37-38)
Chapter 15 The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13)

Chapter 16 Raising the Dead (Luke 7:11-17)
Chapter 17 Calming the Sea (Mark 4: 35-41)
Chapter 18 The Feeding of the Five Thousand (Luke 9: 10-17)
Chapter 19 The True Bread of Life (John 6: 14-35)
Chapter 20 The Messiah (Luke 9: 18-22)

Chapter 21 The Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36)
Chapter 22 Parable: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37)
Chapter 23 Parable: The Separating the Sheep From the Goats
   (Matthew 25: 31-46)
Chapter 24 Parable: The Rich Man’s Bounty (Luke 12: 15-21)
Chapter 25 Parable: The Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 1-7)

Chapter 26 Parable: The Good Shepherd (John 10: 11-15, 19-21)
Chapter 27 Parable: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)
Chapter 28 Parable: The Beggar Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16: 19-31)
Chapter 29 Parable of the Tax Collector (Luke 18: 6-14)
Chapter 30 The Little Children (Luke 18: 15-17)

Chapter 31 Healing the Blind Man (Luke 18: 35-43)
Chapter 32 The Salvation of Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10)
Chapter 33 The Entry into Jerusalem (Mark 10: 32-34, Mark 11: 1-10)
Chapter 34 The Betrayal of Judas (Mark 14: 1-2, 10-11)
Chapter 35 The Last Supper (Luke 22: 7-20)

Chapter 36 The Foot Washing (John 13: 1-15, 21-25)
Chapter 37 The Prayer in the Garden & the Kiss of Judas
   (Luke 22: 39-53, Mark 14: 50-52)
Chapter 38 The Three Denials of Peter (Luke 22: 54-62)
Chapter 39 Jesus Before the Council of Elders (Luke 22: 66-71)
Chapter 40 Jesus Before Pilate (John 18: 28-40, John 19: 1-15)

Chapter 41 The Crucifixion (John 19: 16-30)
Chapter 42 The Descent From the Cross (Mark 15: 42-47)
Chapter 43 The Empty Tomb (Mark 16: 1-8)
Chapter 44 The Apparition in Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35)
Chapter 45 The Apparition in Jerusalem (John 20: 19-23)

Chapter 46 Making Disciples of All Nations (Matthew 28: 16-20)
Chapter 47 The Ascension (Acts 1: 3-11)
Chapter 48 The Gift of Tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-24, 37-41)