Religion: Who Was Jesus?

The debate among scholars is as heated as the one in Hollywood

In bygone centuries, an unorthodox vision like Martin Scorsese's might have prompted heresy trials and burnings at the stake. Perhaps even a quick crusade mounted by ragtag armies. In the summer of 1988, the preferred methods of resistance are picket lines, economic boycotts and angry appearances on talk shows. If the furor surrounding Scorsese's Last Temptation of Christ proves one thing, it is that in any era, seismic emotions are involved when people probe the nature of the man who is worshiped as God by well over a billion souls.

How is Jesus to be understood? Did he stride out of...

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