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The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.” According to Discovery News, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences, analyzed earthquake activity in the area by studying three cores from the Ein Gedi Spa beach.
The research confirmed that two major earthquakes hit the area specified, one during the period between 26 BCE and 36 CE, and could be the one referred to in the Gospel of Matthew.
Yet how much history is really known about the man at the center of Christianity is a subject of much debate, with scholars in agreement over some elements of Jesus of Nazareth's life and hotly divided on others.
There are no "eyewitness" accounts written about Jesus during his lifetime, so historians have to rely on interpretations of the four main canonical gospel texts, mostly scrawled several decades after his death.
"[With] this approach," he continued, "it does not matter whether Jesus was born of a virgin or changed water into wine or walked on water.
Though a few books have recently argued that Jesus never existed, the evidence that he did is persuasive to the vast majority of scholars, whether Christian or non-Christian," said Marcus Borg, a retired professor of religion and culture at Oregon State University and current fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of preeminent academics that debate the factuality of Jesus' life as portrayed in the Bible.
The following "facts" about Jesus would be affirmed by most history scholars, Borg said: Factuality not important In between those points, the historical details are hard to verify, says Borg, who believes that the importance of the less "plausible" stories found in the Bible — such as the resurrection — lies not in whether they actually happened but in what they meant to Jesus' followers.
Untangling the man from the myth is a delicate undertaking, but should be of interest to those of all faiths, said Tobias Hagerland, a doctoral candidate at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
"I think it's natural for human beings to ask questions 'why' something happened, and those are not exactly the questions dealt with in the Gospels," said Hagerland.
There is controversy among some Christians about the true day of Jesus’ death.