Catholic Tradition: Jesus of Faith and Jesus of History
In an attempt to explain the difference between the Jesus of faith and the Jesus of history, it may be noted that sometimes a remark is made as ‘The Jesus of History and the Christ of Faith.’ It is significant as it distinguishes between the historical Jesus and the Christ as asserted by the Catholic Church through the revelations of the Bible.
There have been several studies that make the distinction between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith. The most pertinent elements of the understanding of this distinction can be summarized as follows. The teachings and actions of Jesus were with great power, and those closest to him began to consider him in a dignified sense, hoping that they were in touch with God through him but not really understanding all its meaning. It may also be seen that because of the resurrection of Christ through the working of God, those closest to him came to recognize him as Messiah and Lord and to apply such a confession to their lives.
Materials such as a Passion Narrative, an Eschatological Discourse, and a Sayings Collection, whether in written or oral form, which was used in their preaching, were central to their proclamation of Jesus. All four evangelists used these materials in constructing their Gospels, and they presented these in their own manner and contextualized the Jesus tradition for the respective audience. This is the reason for the numerous differences among these in the selection and arrangement of material, wordings, etc. It is important to recognize that the four gospels as producing a credible, historical portrayal of Jesus’ ministry and person, even while these portrayals differ among themselves on many matters, both of event and language.
Finally, it is significant that “the Gospels were written “out of faith and for faith” – that is, with a faith perspective in order to engender faith and support faith in Jesus as Messiah and Lord – and so their readers are called on to respond in faith.” The historical view of Jesus sees his life from the time of his baptism till the time of his arrest in the historical perspective, and his teachings are seen as the general contribution by a historical figure. On the other hand, the eyes of the faithful see Jesus as the real son of God that came from God to save the world. This is a fundamental distinction between the two perspectives.