Strange Details About Jesus That Everyone Ignores - Reportgist

Strange Details About Jesus That Everyone Ignores

Reportgist
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Given that he has to be one of the most-discussed people to exist in the history of the human species, it’s hard to believe that there are things about Jesus that get ignored. But, despite the ubiquity of his story in many places around the globe, the truth is that bits and pieces of that story do get swept under the rug. And the details that you do uncover can start to make this singular man seem very, very odd indeed.>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

Some of these details and incidents from the life of Jesus may occasionally come up in a class or Bible study, but you’re unlikely to hear them on a regular basis. A priest or pastor is probably loathe to build their entire Sunday sermon around, say, the multiple stories that involve Jesus spitting into a blind person’s eyes. Other bits are so nitpicky or awkward that you might only hear about them in a divinity school classroom, and even then only after a bit of digging and asking uncomfortable questions about Jesus’ marital status. Yet more may come from parables and passages that many have heard, but when they are considered from a different angle, take on a tinge of oddness that is rarely the topic of discussion. These are some of the strange details about Jesus that practically everyone tries to ignore.

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Jesus didn’t preach for very long at all

Given the long history of Christianity, you’d think there would be a pretty impressive collection of sermons, parables, and tales of Jesus’ life. And there are, judging by the closely packed text of the Gospels alone. But while you could get a good year of Sunday school lessons out of all that, if not more, the reality is that Jesus probably only preached for a couple of years. His messianic career was cut short when the Roman authorities and their local allies in Judea were sufficiently spooked by his upstart ways to engineer his execution.

That short career was in part because Jesus was a bit of a late bloomer. After what must have been over a decade spent working as a craftsman alongside his earthly adoptive father, Joseph, he went into ministry at about the age of 30. This was shortly after he was baptized in the River Jordan by his similarly-minded preaching cousin, John the Baptist (at least as far as the Gospels have it).

He was hardly considered an old man at this point in his life, but neither would he have necessarily been a fresh-faced whippersnapper. Perhaps this late start should be discussed a bit more, given that plenty of modern people may feel down on themselves if they haven’t struck upon a calling as their 20s wind to a close. Then again, maybe some are also worried about the slacker tinge this might cast on Jesus.

No one knows for sure that he was single

You’d think for such a major figure in human history, we’d know more basic facts about Jesus, but we can’t even be sure whether he was single or married. However, raising that question may make your pastor or religious people in your community blanch. That’s because, in many churches, the traditional view is that Jesus was not only single but that he remained celibate for the entirety of his life.>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

Some deviate pretty widely from that view — for instance, early leaders in the Mormon church maintained that Jesus had multiple wives. More recently, the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife apparently contains a mention of the titular spouse of Jesus in the 7th to 8th-century fragment, but serious doubts have been raised about its authenticity despite the parchment’s championing by a Harvard professor of history. Ultimately, the intriguing document doesn’t make a fully convincing argument.

The uncomfortable reality and one of the things people often get wrong about Jesus is that the Gospels are pretty mum on the matter, neither definitively saying that Jesus had a wife … or that he didn’t. That leaves theologians scrambling for details, like noting the absence of a wife of Jesus in passages where it would have been a doctrinal slam-dunk to mention her, such as Paul’s take on marital relationships in 1 Corinthians 7. For some, that’s good enough, but for plenty of others, that perpetually unanswered question is an odd detail indeed.

We call him by the wrong name

Sometimes, getting a name wrong can be a mild faux pas, but other times, blanking on an important person’s name can incur serious social demerits. To many faithful, it’s hard to consider anyone more of a big deal than Jesus. Too bad his real name wasn’t Jesus.

How did we get it all so mixed up? It’s a matter of translation. The man in question started with the Hebrew name of Yeshua, a shortened version of Yehōshu’a. However, the Gospels were written in Greek, so Yeshua had to be shoehorned into a different language. There, it came out as Iēsous, the best the Greek writers could manage. Then, English came along. Iēsous got translated again, morphing once more into Jesus. In short, if you could travel back in time to first-century Galilee and greet the man himself by name, calling him Jesus would probably merit you a confused stare.

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That’s awkward enough that some churches just ignore it altogether. What makes things even more strange and confusing is that there are plenty of Yeshuas in the Bible. It’s just that their names were often translated as Isasiah or Joshua. Even the man released by Pontius Pilate in place of Jesus, right before the crucifixion, was in some accounts named Jesus Barabbas. Step out of your time machine and shout the name Yeshua, and you might find that a fair portion of the crowd around Jesus might turn in your direction.

People were seriously skeptical of his hick status

While there may be a passing reference or two that mentions Jesus’ humble beginnings as a carpenter, then it’s on to the whole messiah thing. But few want to really lean into Jesus’ earliest job and his kind of awkward hometown rep, perhaps because doing so would mean concluding that he was a blue-collar redneck from an obscure backwater.

Though it’s a bustling city of more than 70,000 people today, Nazareth was considered a hick town in Jesus’ time, with a population that topped out at around 400 people. That put him at a serious disadvantage when convincing people to follow him. For instance, according to John 1:46, a future follower of Jesus, Nathaniel, was initially skeptical of a preaching handyman from next to nowhere. “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” he asked, presumably with a roll of his eyes. To the faithful, that’s downright insulting; but to many of Jesus’ contemporaries, it was only reasonable.

Oh, and the carpenter thing isn’t quite right, either. Instead, the original Greek of the Gospels refers to Jesus as a tektōn, the same job description applied to his adoptive father, Joseph. While many English translations of the Bible call this a carpenter, the true meaning is more vague. A tektōn could have worked as a carpenter, sure, but also as a stonemason, builder, and general artisan. It may be more accurate to think of Jesus as a general contractor.

The fig tree incident is confusing

In Mark chapter 11, a rather odd incident occurs that involves the adult Jesus. The day after entering Jerusalem on a colt, Jesus finds that he’s hungry and walks up to a fig tree. But when he finds the tree hasn’t produced any fruit yet, he essentially tells the tree off. Later in the chapter, after Jesus has famously flipped the tables of moneylenders in the Jewish temple, Peter notes that the tree has withered. The incident is also related in Matthew 21:18-22. A similar situation occurs in Luke 13:6-9 when Jesus urges a farmer to dig up a non-fruiting fig tree.

On the surface, it’s an odd story that doesn’t make for an easy lesson. Jesus seems to be in a bit of a mood and lashes out at the fig tree, which isn’t committing any obvious wrong by being barren. The lesson, at least according to Mark and Matthew, is that if the disciples have faith then they can do much the same, from cursing recalcitrant fig trees to flinging mountains into the sea. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” Jesus concludes in Matthew.

Despite this exposition, thinkers have tussled with this odd story for generations. Some say it’s a demonstration of divine judgment, with others specifying that Jesus is coming down on the corrupt temple in Jerusalem. Others wonder if it’s a sign that Jesus was simply cranky.

The time he allowed demons to decimate a herd of pigs

In Mark 5:1-20, written around A.D. 70, Jesus and his group travel into the land of the Gadarenes, where they find a demon-possessed man living amongst tombs. Jesus speaks to the demons inside the man. They say they are called Legion and ask Jesus to send them into a nearby group of pigs. Jesus does so, and the 2,000-strong herd of demon pigs flings itself off a cliff and into the sea.

Matthew 8:28-34 (written around A.D. 90) tells much the same story, though this time Jesus is in the land of the Gergesenes and casts demons out of two men. In Luke 8:26-39, written sometime between A.D. 90 and 120, his incident happens in Gadarene country and concludes with the Gadarenes asking him to take his spooky powers elsewhere.

The strangeness comes not just from the encounter with a possessed man, but also the eerie spectacle of thousands of pigs flinging themselves into the sea. Neither does it jive well with modern takes on animal welfare — why did the pigs have to get involved in the first place? This story has been a subject of uncomfortable debate as to whether or not Christians ought to care about animal welfare. Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas concluded that we don’t have to worry about being kind to animals, while others place more of the blame on the demons and point to Jesus’ parables about good shepherds as a counterbalance.

This one odd way of paying taxes

It’s widely known that the Bible had some complicated takes on tax collectors. They’re hardly beloved figures in the religious text, but Jesus and some of his associates, like John the Baptist, were known to treat them and their governmental masters with respect. Jesus in particular was recorded as urging his followers to stay on the right side of the law and pay their taxes. In Matthew 22:15-22, he tells people to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

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But that doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t above getting kind of weird with the tax-paying rigamarole. When discussing a temple tax that he ought to pay in Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus admits that he doesn’t really want to do it, but will anyway to keep the peace. So, he tells the apostle Peter to go to the sea and start fishing. “When thou hast opened his mouth,” Jesus says, “thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.”

The broad consensus amongst readers and scholars is that this story means something … but no one’s sure exactly what. Sure, Jesus isn’t into supporting what he sees as a corrupt religious institution and doesn’t want to rock the boat, either, but it’s not obvious why a coin-spitting fish is involved. Most people are likely content to shrug and move on to a more easily expounded parable.

He healed people with his own spit

According to the Gospels, Jesus performed quite a few impressive miracles, from the feeding of the 5,000 (in which Jesus managed to feed a hungry crowd with just five loaves of bread and a couple of fish) to raising the dead (arguably including himself), as he does to the deceased Lazarus in John 11. But what about the times Jesus healed blind people with his own spit?

Perhaps your particular pastor was interested in going over these miracles, but the ick factor may push others to focus on more palatable miracles. For anyone who needs a reminder, Mark 8:23-25 relates Jesus spitting into a blind man’s eyes; the man then reports that he can see again. John 9:6-7 has Jesus mixing his saliva with some clay, applying the mixture to the blind man’s eyes, then telling the man to “go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” When the man does just that, his vision is restored.

But why was Jesus so into the spitting? It wasn’t solely a personal proclivity but could have been based on a more widespread Jewish and Roman belief that saliva could help heal people — especially those with vision problems. Spitting may have even helped boost a person’s faith, which Jesus maintained was key to actually getting healed just a few verses earlier in Mark 8:5-13. The spitting thing might have also been a callback to ancient stories that claimed God created humans from dust.

The first communion seriously creeped out his followers

Many churches today hold communion to be one of the most holy rites in Christianity, in which the faithful can grow closer to God and the community of the church. Yet, the whole sequence at the Last Supper, in which Jesus tells his disciples to eat bread and drink wine while mentioning that they’re metaphorically (or kind of not, as many transubstantiation-believing Catholics have it) consuming his own body and blood, can be creepy.

That’s not just a modern sense of ickiness, either. Some of Jesus’ own followers were so unnerved by his communion statements that they abandoned ship. In John 6:53-66, after Jesus makes his claim of communion — saying, “so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me” — some disciples tell him, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” Jesus doubles down on his statement, and so some followers “walked no more with him.”

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This surely has something to do with Jewish dietary laws, which today forbid cannibalism except to save lives in the most dire circumstances. That’s part of a broader concept known as pikuach nefesh, in which someone must do everything they reasonably can to save a life. Leviticus 19:16 is often cited as support for pikuach nefesh, saying, “Neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor.” However, it’s not as if those at the Last Supper were starving to death, meaning that Jesus’ words were likely supremely controversial and unnerving.

Friends thought he was crazy — and maybe he kind of was

Even a brief scan of the Gospels makes it pretty clear that Jesus was a singular person. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Jesus really unsettled the people around him. In Mark 3:21, they are said to go after a preaching Jesus “to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.” Other translations say that it isn’t just Jesus’ buddies trying to wrangle him, but his own concerned family. It’s all but certain that other people thought there was something really wrong with him, as the high-ranking Pharisees and other members of the Jewish community (who admittedly had an interest in tamping down a religious upstart) likely thought this way, too.

If you spoke to Jesus, you might agree with them. In the context of his time and society, Jesus said some seriously wacky stuff. There was the statement about eating his flesh and drinking his blood as communion, which must have sounded downright ghoulish. And in John 11:17-26, Jesus comforts disciple Martha by saying that her recently deceased brother will live again. She answers that, sure, she believes that he’ll rise again at the resurrection, to which Jesus replies, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” For many, that’s beautiful and affirming. It’s also an odd statement for a man to make, as he’s not only claiming to be a non-human concept but a pretty pivotal one at that>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

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