The 2,000 Year Old

A Wife & Christianity as a Hoax,
Highlights of the Year in Jesus

Off-the-beaten-path news about Jesus are hard to come by. But there’s been at least a couple in the past year, that in the unlikely event of being proven true, could shake the very foundations of his church and recast the entire religion built after his death.
Since it’s that time of the year again, whether you like it or not, to rehash stories about his official birthday today, why not retell instead those odd tales, about a supposed wife and Christianity as a possible hoax, along with a few others not easily dismissed.

Before getting into those two highly spicy arguments, which despite having been given short shrift by religious scholars, had their share of intriguing historical research to back them up, let’s do some housekeeping about four other interesting news about the carpenter of Nazareth.
The latest one is the Naked Jesus discussion (we tried to warn you). Just a few months into his papacy and the Franciscan Pope Francis’s inkling for restoring the church’s empathy for the poor has ignited all sorts of disconcerting ideas about religion and, grasp, Christ’s sexuality.
Invoking art scholar Leo Steinberg’s research into the pictorial representation of JC in Renaissance paintings, a recent Lee Siegel story frames the pope’s open attitude towards gays and the dispossessed within the Franciscan order’s very own credo, ‘follow naked the naked Christ.’
Like the Renaissance masters, to present the naked body of Jesus was the proper way to express his own humanity and contempt for material goods. His nudity, thus, was to be perceived as more authentic and pure than the copious and expensive paraments worn by church bishops, priests and officials.

It’s an idea that has been dormant, and socially all but absent, from religion as we know it, as the Vatican, for instance, is closer to a powerful political organization than whatever Jesus’s followers had in mind. And sexuality remains a taboo as it was during the Inquisition.
Comparatively, research into the historical figure and places he may have inhabited have advanced at a more pragmatic pace, albeit most of the supposedly breakthroughs discoveries about his life have so far failed to live up to the hype. Take the tomb a robot, of all things, uncovered in Jerusalem.

Despite enormous opposition from orthodox Jews and Israeli authority, and accusations of sensationalism, Simcha Jacobovici leading a team of archaeologists, did discover an ancient burial site with a 2,000 year old engraving on the side of a coffin known as an ossuary, whose drawings could be about the resurrection of Christ.
The ossuary was nearby another site Jacobovici claimed a few years before to be the tomb of Jesus, to widespread skepticism. Such skepticism led to the seal of the site by Israeli authorities, which forced him to continue to dig but with a robot arm. That’s how the ossuary was found and brought to the surface.
Such technological advances, combined with new historical research, are bound to produce puzzling findings not very easy to put aside.
A team of geologists, for example, has recently determined that an earthquake in or around 33CE could confirm the events the Bible reported during the crucifixion.

The theory has some good foundations, in what the earthquake is concerned, but is shaky when it comes to what the Bible reports. In fact, it’d be one of the very rare occasions that the good book would offer proof of anything remotely close to reality. Besides, technology is not that advanced to prove it.
The Bible is not the only one full of hard-to-prove tales. In Shingõ, Japan, there’s a well-known story about how Jesus didn’t even die on the cross, but went on to fall in love (again?) with a farmer’s daughter, fathered three children and die at 106 in the land of the rising sun. And yes, they knew who he was.
Apart from the obvious holes in this narrative, one that implies Jesus made a 6,000-mile trek through the frozen tundra of Siberia to get to Japan, after having faked his own death and (sit down for this one) left his unknown brother Isukiri to be a martyr in his place, it seems like a story like every other.
Because let’s face it, considering all the extraordinarily unlikely events related to his life, that many accept at face value, the tale of a poor carpenter who ended his days on the other side of the world doesn’t sound so out of character. Or 20,000 pilgrim who visit Shingõ every year are all wrong.
If anything else, the story of Jesus being buried in Japan or India, another late entry on this race for his place of burial) offers a refreshing alternative to the equally absurd vision of a blond, blue-eye Middle East prophet, who turned his back on his own heritage and decided that he, of all people, was the true son of god, those who said, good luck with that, notwithstanding.

Probably no other piece of news about Jesus has irked more Christians everywhere than Harvard Professor Karen L. King’s translation of an ancient papyrus containing the phrase, ‘Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ The roar heard across the world has arguably had only other match during the whole year.
What? Reza Aslam’s Zealot, of course, a book that tries to rescue Jesus’s revolutionary role in the changing politics of Galillee circa, well, about the time the calendar was reset to fit the rise of Christianity.
Despite his serious research, Aslam’s was the target of repulsive charges: that of being a Muslim writing about Jesus. How dared he? One thing that these kinds of ignorant charges uncover is, of course, the profound animosity remaining between the two major religions of the past millennium, while at the same time, ignoring the contribution of Christian scholars in the study of Islam, without the same vicious reaction.
Dr. King, who’s published several books on the gospels and is a specialist in Coptic linguistics, made the fourth century papyrus public last year, to be exact, but the controversy of her findings did shake some people’s beliefs about how far Jesus’s personal life may differ from the public account.
Which is, as most scientists have proved, not to be taken literally anyway. So far, Mary Magdalene was the sole figure reigning supreme in the context of JC’s possible sexual liasons, which by the way, was not even mentioned as such in the Bible. Now, apparently, she has a powerful rival.
Thing is, no one knows, if she ever existed, who she is, and the papyrus is certainly of no help, according to Dr. King. It did however mention a female disciple, and that got many Christian scholars with their knickers on a twist, so to speak. More research is needed, of course, and that is also slow to come to fruition.
The theme has been considerably expanded and explored in context by Anthony Le Donne, whose ‘The Wife of Jesus’ explores even further the sociocultural aspects of having a certainly over-confident young man spreading his own particular brand of the gospels, and its likely sexual connotation to his contemporaries.
One last thing: the latest research, unlike the Dan Brown‘s series of preposterous fiction books, is well grounded in solid evidence. That’s bound to advance, as new means of establishing historical facts become available. In the meantime, for many people around the world the question may be: so what?

We understand we’re not making many new Christian friends with this post, but we really don’t believe in shooting the messenger. Thus is natural that the we’ve saved the most irksome piece of research about Jesus and Christianity for last.
But it all comes from a Christian, biblical scholar: Jonathan Atwill. He based his new theory, that the New Testament may have been written by first-century Roman aristocrats, therefore fabricating the entire story of Jesus Christ, on Josephus’s ‘Wars of the Jews,’ ‘the only other surviving first-person historical account of first-century Judea.’
Since when Christianity research became such a risky enterprise? Since pretty much the first century of the Common Era, if you have to ask. In Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus, he describes startling parallels between Josephus’ book and what’s known as the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies. ‘What seems to have eluded many scholars is that the sequence of events and locations of Jesus ministry are more or less the same as the sequence of events and locations of the military campaign of [Emperor] Titus Flavius as described by Josephus,’ Atwill writes, which may point to a pre-fab narrative tailored to Jesus times.
Behind it all, would be the clever intention by the Romans to divert and control Jewish dissatisfaction about the occupation of their land, with a well concocted tale and just the right mix of heroism and doom that could offer comfort to those who, otherwise, would be dangerously eager to fight their occupiers.
Obviously, it didn’t go well with pretty much anyone but atheists, and religious and even established, non-Christian academics were quick to point flaws in Atwill’s theory. Let’s leave to them, however, to sort it all out what’s clearly their lives’ missions. We may be busy with something else. Anything else, in fact.

One thought on “The 2,000 Year Old

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    “The latest one is the Naked Jesus discussion (we tried to warn you).” OH you crack me up! 🙂

    I liked this: “His nudity, thus, was to be perceived as more authentic and pure than the copious and expensive paraments worn by church bishops, priests and officials.” I hadn’t realised that, but yes it would seem to be. In my opinion, all the crap the bishops etc adorn themselves with is like sexy lingerie, layer upon layer, under a burkha. That’s my view. And they feel good in it, and then they do What They Do.

    Wow, I’ve never heard of that unknown story. Sure, seems fictitious, but the fact that there’s an alternative to the commonly accepted telling is very intriguing, Wesley.

    Ah, you are each interesting, well penned and enlightening in one, Wesley. To think of those aristocrats making that all up…. oh my GOD!!!


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