The principal sources of information regarding Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels. Most critical scholars believe that other parts of the New Testament are also useful for reconstructing Jesus' life; some scholars believe apocryphal texts such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel according to the Hebrews are also relevant.
Most critical historians agree that Jesus was a Jew who was regarded as a teacher and healer, that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire. Critical Biblical scholars and historians have offered competing descriptions of Jesus as a self-described Messiah, as the leader of an apocalyptic movement, as an itinerant sage, as a charismatic healer, and as the founder of an independent religious movement. Most contemporary scholars of the Historical Jesus consider him to have been an independent, charismatic founder of a Jewish restoration movement, anticipating an imminent apocalypse. Other prominent scholars, however, contend that Jesus' "Kingdom of God" meant radical personal and social transformation instead of a future apocalypse.
Christians traditionally believe that Jesus was born of a virgin,:529-532 performed miracles,:358-359 founded the Church, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven,:616-620 from which he will return.:1091-1109 Most Christian scholars today present Jesus as the awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament and as God, arguing that he fulfilled many Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, one of three divine persons of a Trinity. A few Christian groups, however, reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, believing it to be non-scriptural.
Judaism rejects assertions that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh. In Islam, Jesus (Arabic: عيسى, commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of God's important prophets, a bringer of scripture, and the product of a virgin birth; but did not experience a crucifixion. Islam and the Baha'i Faith use the title "Messiah" for Jesus, but do not teach that he was God incarnate.
"Jesus" () is a transliteration, occurring in a number of languages and based on the Latin Iesus, of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs), itself a Hellenisation of the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yĕhōšuă‘, Joshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic יֵשׁוּעַ (Yēšûă‘), meaning "Yahweh delivers (or rescues)". "Christ" () is a title derived from the Greek Χριστός (Christós), meaning the "Anointed One", a translation of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Messiah).:274-275
A "Messiah," in this context, is a king anointed at God's direction or with God's approval, and Christians identify Jesus as the one foretold by Hebrew prophets.
There is no contemporary historical evidence demonstrating the date of Jesus' birth. The common Gregorian calendar method for numbering years, in which the current year is 2011, is based on an early medieval attempt to count the years from a point of reference — namely, Jesus' birth — which Dionysius Exiguus placed, either mistakenly or intentionally, sometime between 2 BC/BCE and 1 AD/CE. The Gospel of Matthew states Jesus' birth occurred during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BC/BCE, but also with the intimation that Jesus may have been as much as two years old when Herod ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, and therefore that he may have been even older at the time of Herod's death. The Gospel of Luke similarly points to Jesus' birth as having occurred during the reign of Herod the Great (i.e., sometime between 37 and 4 BC/BCE), but the author of Luke also describes the birth as taking place during the first census of the Roman provinces of Syria and Iudaea, which is generally believed to have occurred in 6 AD/CE. Most scholars generally assume a date of birth between 6 and 4 BC/BCE. Other scholars assume that Jesus was born sometime between 7—2 BC/BCE and died sometime between 26—36 AD/CE. Additional evidence uncovered in 1923 by archeologists digging in the ruins of a Roman Temple near Ankara, Turkey points to 8 BC based on descriptions of three empire-wide censuses, one of which occurred in 8 BC.[vague]
Christmas or Christmas Day is a holiday observed mostly on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus. The earliest evidence of celebration of Jesus' birth comes from Clement of Alexandria, who describes Egyptian Christians as celebrating it on May 20, although other early sources have Christians celebrating the event in March, April, or January. According to Epiphaneus, Christians in the East had largely settled on January 6 by the 4th century. The wide-spread affiliation of Christmas with the Roman festival of Sol Invictus is disputable: there is no evidence that the feast of Sol Invictus was affixed by Aurelian to December 25. The celebration of Sol Invictus feast on December 25 is not mentioned until the calendar of 354 and, subsequently, in 362 by Julian the Apostate in his Oration to King Helios. However, there is no month of the year to which respectable authorities have not assigned Jesus' birth.