Our Knowledge Of Jesus Is Very Limited


#1

Why didn’t the Apostles and the early Church leave us more information about Christ? We have the Gospels, but they only tell us what we need to know in order to be saved.

In reality, we know little about Jesus as a person, for example:

[LIST=1]
*]We don’t know what he looked like
*]We don’t know his true birthday
*]We don’t know the exact date of his crucifiction
*]We don’t have many details of his childhood
*]We don’t know his full family tree
[/LIST]

I wish the Apostles had left us with a full, complete, accurate biography of Christ. Why didn’t they?


#2

Many historians would also love to have more details.

I submit that oral history was used in the early church, instead of texts, because the first followers believed in an imminent parousia.In fact Paul and others preached the return of Jesus, very soon. So why bother making a historical record of everything?

That’s my bet.


#3

dont get caught up in trivial matters, it profits nothing. the Church has the fullness of truth and the means to achieve salvation.

if you want to see what Our Lord looks like. strive for heaven and you will see first hand, rather than reading a description in a book


#4

I too wish they had remarked more on those little human details that mean so much to us. I often wonder about what Jesus must have been like as a teenager. But I think since they had such an urgent message to get across after the Great Commission before they were all pretty much hacked for spreading the Gospel, they spared no time for things that weren’t pertinent to salvation.


#5

Jesus sent the Apostles out to spread the Gospel and not what he looked like or what his childhood was like. While it might be interesting these things are of no importance.


#6

I believe there is another Gospel, not accepted by the Church, that details stories from Christ’s childhood. Whether they’re true or not, well, I go with the Church’s authority on that one. I think it was the Gospel of… James? I forget. In one of the stories, Little Jesus is making pigeons out of clay when the Pharisees see him and yell at him for making birds out of clay on the Sabbath, when creative work is prohibited. He claps His hands, the clay pigeons turn into real ones and fly away, and He says to the Pharisees, “What pigeons?”

While a funny story, I doubt those sorts of things would be written down during a time when very little was recorded. It’s a big deal that we even HAVE as many writings of the early Church as we do- you couldn’t just go down to your local PapyrusMax and buy a sheaf of paper and ink.


#7

That’s the point. Our knowledge of Jesus is very limited because He wanted it to be so. What Jesus looked like as a Human is totally irrelevant.

He is God, He only took on human flesh to teach us, to sacrifice and to die for our sins.

Perhaps our knowledge about His human appearance and traits is limited so that each person would focus on the Truth, not on appearances.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

Mark


#8

Saint Gertude the Great was once told by the Evangelist John that he felt the pulsations of Jesus’ Heart when He leaned his head on His bosom, and there came this exchange:

“And why” she inquired: “have you neither said nor written anything of this for our edification?” He replied: “Because I was charged with instructing the newly formed Church concerning the mysteries of the uncreated Word, that those truths might be transmitted to future ages, as far as they would be capable of comprehending them, for no one can comprehend them entirely; and I deferred speaking of these Divine pulsations until later ages, that the world might be aroused from its torpor, and animated when it had grown cold, by hearing of these things”.


#9

Actually, that also appears in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas, which has a more darker portrayal of the child Jesus (literally a “holy terror”), such as cursing a kid who bumped Him – or threw stones at Him or punched Him; different versions of the gospel say different things – who then dies, and blinding the neighbors who came to complain to Mary and Joseph. Joseph is then said to have wrung Jesus’ ear, angering Jesus and prompting a sharp retort. :eek:

Jesus then starts receiving lessons from a teacher, but ends up teaching the teacher thoroughly instead, upsetting the teacher who suspects supernatural origins. Jesus is amused by this suspicion, which He confirms, and heals the people He had struck blind.


#10

John apparently gives his own reasons as to why (20:30-31; 21:25):

Jesus truly did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

…And there are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

The main purpose of the Gospels is not to provide a very detailed biography of Jesus’ life in the sense that we moderns understand it but as a tool to help Christians continue to believe and help non-Christians come to believe in Him. The Gospels are not written to detail what Jesus looked like or what His favorite food is or how many of His disciples had a missing tooth. They were viewed as unnecessary side details that do not need further elaboration (after all, filling your papyri sheets up with tangents and side details would be a waste of a good papyrus!).


#11

You need to begin with the word “Evangelium”. It does not mean biography. It means Good News. The writers were like reporters of the Good News. God’s promise to Israel had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.

The hstorical details that we find interesting, are not part of the Good News. So they were left out.

The few details that we find in the Gospels, such as the name of his mother and father were there because they were part of the story of the Incarnation. Otherwise we wouldn’t know those either.

We can extrapolate some information, but not much. The Gospel speaks about Mary’s sister. Therefore, we can conclude that Jesus had an aunt and probably cousins. There may even be family members alive today. But there were no historical records of brith kept in those days. Also, the Roman destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in the year 70. Israel collapsed. Their entire infrastructure collapsed. Any historical documents may have disappeared.

We also know that Jesus belonged to a clan. The scriptures mention his mother and his brothers, which was typical Jewish language for “your people”.

Joseph was a carpenter. We can extrapolate that the Holy Family were not poor. They belonged to the working class. They were not beggers. Jesus wore quality clothes. They cast lots for his tunic.

He was friendly with the upper classes as well as the lower classes. We see him at dinner parties and weddings. Mary must have been a woman of influence. At the wedding at Cana she speaks to the waiters. “Do whatever he tells you.” They complied with what she commanded. It was not Jesus who spoke to them first.

The narratives of the passion would suggest that he was physically fit. The ordeal that he was put through would have killed a weaker man before he reached Golgotha.

He was probably a friendly man and a cheery person. The children all ran up to him.

We also know that he was not a resident of present day Nazareth. Present day Nazareth was built later. But there was a group of people in that region who were called Nazarenes. They were considered a lower class of Jews. Peter asks, “What good can come from Nazareth?” He’s not referring to a city, but to a community of people.

We also know that he had family in Bethlehem. Joseph went to his home town to register. If that was his hometown, then he had family there. It is likely that Jesus was born in the stable because the house was full of relatives and the stable offered Mary privacy to deliver her child.

He didn’t go to Egypt until he was about two-years old. Herod had boys two and under killed. They did not flee into Egypt the night he was born, nor did the wise men from the East arrive that soon. They entered a house and found him there with his mother. Joseph is not mentioned. It is likely that he did not play a significant role in this visit. Nonetheless, the historical fact that we can gleem from this is that after his brith, he was taken home. We are not told where home was. It could have been the regionof Nazareth or Bethlehem.

He didn’t have family in Jerusalem. Otherwise, they would not have had to borrow a tomb. If they had any family in Jerusalem, they were very poor, not wealthy enough to own a family plot. The Nazrenes did not bury their people in tombs. They did not have them. They burried them in the ground along the side of the road. Therefore, we know that he was not taken back to Nazareth. That may have been the plan and that may have been why they went back to the tomb with everything they needed to prepare the body for final burial.

It’s very interesting stuff. But we have to extrapolate, because the writers wanted to tell the Good News, not the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth.

JR :slight_smile:


#12

Dempsey

Why didn’t the Apostles and the early Church leave us more information about Christ? We have the Gospels, but they only tell us what we need to know in order to be saved.

In reality, we know little about Jesus as a person, for example:

[LIST=1]
*]We don’t know what he looked like
*]We don’t know his true birthday
*]We don’t know the exact date of his crucifiction
*]We don’t have many details of his childhood
*]We don’t know his full family tree
[/LIST]

I salvation isn’t dependent on these things, but rather, what Jesus commanded us to do in the Gospels.

These things are mans curiosity, and are of little concern for God.

Jim


#13

I think that they were of little concern for the Evangelists, because their focus was to report the Good News.

JR :slight_smile:


#14

The Greek word tekton has actually a more wider meaning than “carpenter” and could also mean something like a craftsman, a sort of builder/construction engineer/architect. So Joseph and Jesus would not only have been making woodwork, but were also designing and constructing private and public edifices.

We also know that he was not a resident of present day Nazareth. Present day Nazareth was built later. But there was a group of people in that region who were called Nazarenes. They were considered a lower class of Jews. Peter asks, “What good can come from Nazareth?” He’s not referring to a city, but to a community of people.

Nazareth was not a city, at the time of Jesus it was a small village (with an estimated population of somewhere around 200-400 people) literally “off the beaten tracks” since no major road passed through it; the only way one could get there was through winding footpaths on an upward incline from the Jezreel valley.

Outside of the New Testament, Nazareth is rarely mentioned until the Byzantine period (4th century AD). Archaeological excavations have confirmed that the city was only a small agricultural village during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Due to the lack of any valuable mention (and outdated research), some believed that Nazareth did not exist in the 1st century A.D and was either an invention or interpolation by early Christians. However, recent research and archeology is suggesting otherwise. Paul Barnett’s Behind the Scenes of the New Testament says that:

Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources…

(next paragraph) Some scholars had even believed that Nazareth was a fictitious invention of the early Christians; the inscription from Caesarea Maritima proves otherwise.

Another would be John P. Meier’s A Marginal Jew (citing Eric M. Meyers and James F. Strange’s Archeology, the Rabbis, & Early Christianity):

Despite Nazareth’s obscurity (which had led some critics to suggest that it was a relatively recent foundation), archeology indicates that the village has been occupied since the 7th century B.C., although it may have experienced a ‘refounding’ in the 2nd century B.C.


#15

You’re reading the same sources that I am. Nazareth today is not the Nazareth of the first century.

The early Fathers subscribed to the notion that Joseph was a carpenter precisely because Nazareth was not a Metropolitan area. It was a rural community. It is more probable that Joseph engaged in smaller projects than building large public municipal edifices.
JR :slight_smile:


#16

That reminds me. During Jesus’ early years, Herod Antipas was busy restoring, developing and fortifying Sepphoris. It served as his main residence and the administrative center of Galilee until he built Tiberias in A.D. 18-20 and moved there.

Jesus and Joseph would have found ample work there, considering that it was only four miles from Nazareth. Since Nazareth is too small to support any sort of fulltime tekton, both of them may have travelled to Sepphoris from time to time to find construction projects and sell some of their woodworks.


#17

This is very plausible. Jesus never really traveled more than 50 miles outside of Nazareth. But this was in his neighborhood. They needed the work.

JR :slight_smile:


#18

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