Christianity is a religion based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who lived in what is now Israel from circa 1 AD to 30 AD. His life is recorded in the Gospel, which is part of the Bible, Christianity's major holy text. The largest branches of Christianity include Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism. While Protestant churches tend to be more liberal in their interpretations of the Bible and Christian teachings, Roman Catholics have a more conservative outlook, and Orthodox even more so. While there are different interpretations of Christianity, the major principles of include the existence of an omnipotent God, Jesus as the Christ and Savior of man, the possibility of salvation in Heaven and principles of tolerance, friendship, respect and piety. Christianity is the most widespread of all religions, and is the largest in the world, with an estimated 2.1 billion adherents.
See also: Life of Jesus in the New Testament
The first Christians were ethnic Jews who aimed to spread the teachings of Jesus around the Middle East, their traditions originating among the regional culture of the day. The Bible provides a reasonably comprehensive account of events prior to Jesus, known as the Old Testament, and events after the birth of Jesus, known as the Nativity – the New Testament. The part of the New Testament that contains descriptions of the life of Jesus is called the Gospel. Most modern scholars look at the Bible as only a semi-reliable source, while some discard it entirely. What is certain about the life of Jesus is that he traveled around Roman Judaea preaching and gathering masses of people, was baptized by John the Baptist, and was later crucified by the prefect Pontius Pilate.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to Mary, as prophesied by earlier prophets. Traditionally, this was in the year 1 AD, though most evidence now points to Him being born some years prior, around 4 BC. Jesus preached and performed miracles throughout His life. The most significant events of His life occurred towards its end, when the Jewish people assumed that he was the physical "King of the Jews" but Jesus insisted on a purely spiritual role. This caused anger and resentment that led to the Jews petitioning for his execution, which Pilate hesitantly carried out.