What do we really know about Jesus? Does modern history really help us to know more about him? In this first volume of a work comprising four, John P. Meier explains how the modern historian should proceed, and with what tools, in order to discover who Jesus was. First of all, it is necessary to closely examine the criticism of the oldest accounts relating to Jesus, whether that be the first Christian, Jewish or Pagan writings. Then Meier carries out a study on the origins of Jesus, his social, cultural and religious environment, as well as his family ties. Lastly, he produces a list of dates which have been retained regarding events marking the life of Jesus: birth, beginning and duration of ministry, last supper, condemnation and execution. Might this critical examination make the figure of Jesus more uncertain? Paradoxically, it is by confronting their own critical examination that historical figures gain consistency. Here believers and agnostics will find an extensive modern encyclopaedia on the Jew that was the historical Jesus. Composed by adhering to modern day historical science, it is recognised as a definitive reference work within current biblical exegesis.