We live in an increasingly diverse and multi-cultural world. Once, one rarely encountered anyone who did not know who Jesus of Nazareth was and, indeed, did not already possess considerable information about him. That is not as true today. What we know, or think we know, about Jesus of Nazareth derives from many different sources: what we learned in church, what we have read in the New Testament, what the popular culture says about him, and so forth. All of this information gets folded into our contemporary understanding of Jesus. As a backdrop for our serious inquiry into Jesus of Nazareth, it is important to have a clear and self-conscious portrait of who we understand Jesus to be now, before we begin our serious study of Jesus in the primary sources, the four Gospels. Following a serious study of Jesus in the Gospels, we might discover that our portrait of him has changed, or not. Either way, our current portrait of Jesus becomes a “benchmark” of sorts for the study ahead.
Imagine you are a reporter for your local television affiliate reporting for the 6 o’clock news. Write about yourself doing a “field report” on “Jesus of Nazareth” to a television audience that is hearing about him for the first time through your report. Set the paper in your time (today), not in the first century. Be sure to include where you are currently reporting from in your paper. Include in your report what you consider to be the irreducible minimum of information your television audience must know about Jesus in order to know who he was. You decide what that is. Keep in mind that you are describing Jesus as you currently understand him. This is not a “research project” on Jesus of Nazareth. Because technically you only have three (3) minutes in which to capture Jesus for your audience, you may wish to compose a short script to memorize or a set of bullet points from which to work, as television reporters do.
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