A look at Jesus and the world's major religions
Much of the world recently celebrated Christmas; on a spiritual level and/or a secular level. As you know, it is not uncommon for non-Christian families to give Christmas presents, have a tree, or even be visited by the infamous Elf on a Shelf. That got me thinking about Jesus and his place in the world beyond Christianity.
As I thought further about this, I came to the following question. Is Jesus acknowledged by every major religion? Is he the only religious figure with that level of recognition? Let’s take a look at the Abrahamic religions as well as the “Karmic” religions for more information…
Jesus in Judaism:
Christians and Jews alike acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew. They of course disagree on whether or not he was the Messiah but it is safe to say that Jesus’ existence is at least recognized and/or acknowledged by Judaism. Some Judaic texts view Jesus as a stumbling block whose rise and “fall” was foretold by Daniel in the Book of Daniel. Others view him as a noteworthy Jew who did amazing things, just not the Messiah they were searching for. The non-profit Jews for Jesus was founded in 1973 for Jews who believe that Jesus was in fact the promised Messiah for the Jewish people.
Jesus in Islam:
From my understanding and research Islam views Jesus as a messenger of God and he is referenced in the Quran by name approximately 25 times. He is viewed as an earthly messenger, not divine by nature, but who was divinely chosen to spread the word of God.
Jesus in Hinduism:
Jesus is at time referred to as the Saint Ishu in Hinduism. In the Bhavishya Purana, there is mention of a future appearance of the Son of God (Isha putra) which is often believed to have foretold the coming of Jesus. Some Hindus even believe Jesus was an avatar of Lord Vishnu and more specifically a reincarnation of Krishna, but there does not appear to be any mention of this in Hindu literature.
For these Hindus, Christmas is sometimes translated to Krish-mas, which means the month of Krishna. Regardless, it appears at the least, that Jesus is acknowledged if not warmly embraced by Hinduism
Jesus in Buddhism:
There is school of thought amongst some Buddhists that Jesus was a Buddhist Monk. In fact there was actually a BBC documentary entitled “Jesus was a Buddhist Monk.”
In 1894 Russian war corresponded Nicolas Notovitch published his story / research that Jesus abandoned Jerusalem at the age of 13 and traveled to Puri Jagannath where he studied the Vedas under Brahmin priests. According to Notovitch Jesus then spent six years in Puri and Rajgirh, near Nalanda, the ancient seat of Hindu learning. Then he went to the Himalayas, and spent time in Tibetan monasteries, studying Buddhism, and through Persia, returned to Jerusalem at the age of 29.
Biblical scholars have since refuted Notovitch’s book. Nonetheless, there are many theories and stories tying Jesus to Eastern philosophies and religions (both Hinduism and Buddhism). If you do an Amazon search on books and videos related to the topic, you will be surprised to see how many deal with Jesus' life in India. These theories center on two main philosophies – that Jesus either visited India during the “missing” adolescent years that are unaccounted for by the New Testament, and/or Jesus lived in India after his resurrection.
I find it fascinating that Jesus is both acknowledged if not embraced, by historians as well as the 5 major religions in the world. Do you know of any others? What is the significance, if any, of this global acknowledgement?