Looking at the god-man … again.
I am forever caught in a flux of belief/disbelief over the historical veracity of the character Jesus the Nazarene. I’m sorry, I can’t help it.
Already I can feel a disturbance in The Force as Tim O’Neill, who has visited my blog to offer his very erudite and vernacular-peppered contributions in a similar vein as an incontinent pigeon would behave, begins gagging over his intestine-shaped Cheerios at the mere hint of the phrase Jesus Myth. Yes, I have *faith that he hates the guts of all Jesus Mythers.
Uncle Bart doesn’t read my blog. He has his hands full fending off his publishing agent (lucky fella) who keeps nagging him to finally Come Out of the Closet and admit Jesus the Nazarene has less street-cred than Micky Mouse.
However, I think this subject always warrants a second look; and a third. In fact as many looks as it takes … or until I finally feel disinclined to venture into this quagmire.
Besides, it’s always fun contemplating the ‘Tim O’Neills’ of the world sitting there thinking up new and interesting expletives while reading along.
So what prompted this latest foray into the Is He –Isn’t He? world of Jesus, the Lake Tiberias Pedestrian?
Well, I came across a name I was unfamiliar with: Justus of Tiberias.
Justus lived at Tiberias; which seems reasonable otherwise the qualifier might have been Macedonia or similar.
Tiberias is just up the metaphorical road from Capernaum – 16.5 kms – where the character Jesus the Nazarene supposedly did some of his best work.
The point here is that Justus was a historian and was also a contemporary of Josephus. And while they were not exactly best buddies, apparently, Justus never once mentioned anything about Jesus the Nazarene. Nothing. Nada, Zip.
How can we explain, then, that the Jewish historian Justus of Tiberias, another contemporary and a closer fellow-countryman of the alleged historical Jesus he lived at Tiberias, not far from Capernaum, where Jesus is supposed to have been especially active is also silent about them? Justus wrote a chronicle of the Jewish kings down to the time of Agrippa II. The original work has been lost. We know it only from a reference in Photius, a patriarch of Constantinople of the ninth century. Photius assures us, however, that he read through the Chronicle of Justus in search of references to Jesus, and found none; he attributes it to “the disease”—that is to say, the unbelief—of the Jews that such a man as Justus does not mention the appearance of Christ, the fulfilment of the prophecies by him, and the miracles he wrought. As, however, we learn from Photius that the chronicle was merely a brief treatment of a subject that had no direct connection with the life of Jesus, we must not lay too much stress on the absence of any reference. Still the fact remains that Photius himself believed there ought to be some mention of Jesus, and was surprised to find none.
Definitive? No, of course not. Interesting? Certainly.
*Used the word faith just so’s we could all imagine JB jumping about in his PJs with their Golgotha Motif.