The famous parables of Jesus cursing a fig tree and chasing moneychangers from the Temple, widely touted by both believers and nonbelievers as morally warranted, illustrate a kind of unreasonable entitlement that reveals an unflattering side of the character of the New Testament Jesus. In this essay Stephen Van Eck tackles the tendency by believers and doctrinally influenced nonbelievers to hold to a pre-existing conception of a morally perfect Jesus that leads them to overlook otherwise blatant character flaws revealed through such parables. Van Eck also provides grounds for understanding the approval of abusive treatment portrayed at the hands of the New Testament Jesus as one historical root of anti-Semitism.
A probable idea of the "historical" Jesus is that he was a working man who propounded traditional Jewish values, adapted to his belief that the end of the world was near. Jesus left no writings, so those who regarded themselves as his followers were able to modify his supposed precepts, and their ideas about his nature and significance, to suit their needs and circumstances. The question arises: if Jesus-as-he-really-was could in fact be reconstituted now and were shown the character, effects, and history of the religion that regards him as its founder, what would be his reaction? In this essay, Michael D. Reynolds demonstrates why Jesus would be horrified, disgusted, despairing, and angry.