Articles

Was Jesus illegitimate? The evidence of his social interactions

James F. McGrath, Butler University

Abstract

This article examines the social status of the historical Jesus in relation to recent studies that place Jesus into the social category of an illegitimate child. After surveying the evidence with respect to the situation of such individuals in first-century Mediterranean and Jewish society, we shall proceed to examine whether Jesus' implied social status (as evidenced by accounts of his adult social interactions) coheres with what one would expect in the case of someone who bore the stigma of that status. Our study suggests that the scandal caused by Jesus' association with the marginalized clearly implies that he did not himself fall into that category.

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