Joshua the Nazarene (fl. AD 27-35) is the person most commonly associated with the religious figure of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. He is best known as the author of the Q Document (dated AD 29), of which only a few fragments- containing the Sermon on the Mount, the Golden Rule and the Pericope Adulterae- survive. Very little is known of Joshua's life, including the manner of his death, although some reconstructions of Q assert he addresses it to his mother, Miriam.
Joshua and Jesus
Much of the basis for the argument that Joshua is the person most identified with the historical Jesus comes from the fact that his writings in "Q" are too similar in style and writing to Jesus' known sayings in the Gospel to be a mere coincidence. The vast majority of the differences are spelling and grammatical errors that the Gospel writers corrected later, lending more credence that a commoner like Joshua wrote them.
Although still debated today, the accepted depiction of Joshua was that he was a commoner who lived in Palestine during the early first century AD. He was likely a well-travelled man who was well-liked and often gave profound wisdom and advice to anyone who sought him out. The belief here is that his popularity was what inspired people like Paul the Apostle and Mark the Evangelist to write about him later, with these later writings evolving into who would become Jesus. As the Sermon on the Mount is itself attested- Pontius Pilate writes that he heard it and was inspired by it, although he did not elaborate much on its contents- it is said that this particular event was what helped Joshua become a popular figure in the region. It is not known if Joshua was actually a carpenter, as the Gospels state he was, though scholars do not deny this since the job would allow him to travel. There is a belief, due to the spelling errors and the fact he did little actual writing, that Joshua had limited skills in literacy, meaning he was likely a far better orator. The reasons for the production of the Q document are unclear, although some speculate that since it is possibly addressed to his mother it was meant as a message for her for some reason, likely because either he or Miriam was facing some difficulties.
The rendering of “Nazarene” within Q is hotly debated. Joshua, writing in Aramaic, uses the term to refer to himself, though scholars generally agree that his usage is a misspelling of another term. At first, it was thought that Joshua referred to Nazareth, but doubts over Nazareth's existence in his time mean fewer accept this explanation. The most commonly accepted explanation is that Joshua meant to refer to himself as a “Nazirite”, the sect of Judaism that Samson belonged to. This is mostly reasoned with Jesus' descriptions in the Gospels as well as the fact the message of Q is consistent with Nazirite beliefs. However, this rendering is far from certain.