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PaulS

The Real Jesus

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After leaving traditional Christianity I always wondered about what Jesus and his real existence was actually like.  By real, I mean the extensive part of Jesus' life that we know nothing about - We only have a snapshot of a very, very brief period of his life provided to us in the Gospels and the NT in general, yet traditional Christianity tends to have a pretty certain model of Jesus and some would say that Jesus was the perfect man (human).

I always wondered about the details that were never provided and how Jesus may have actually been in real life (as opposed to perhaps only favourable versions of him portrayed by adherents).  

For example:

  • did Jesus ever lose his cool, as most everybody I know has done at some time or another? 
  • as a teenager, was he ever rebellious to his parents as every male I know has done at some point in their youth/adolescents at least?
  • did Jesus ever get drunk?
  • did Jesus ever have a girlfriend in his younger years or was he ever keen on a girl?
  • did Jesus masturbate, as most males do at some point (or regularly) in their lives?  Was he a virgin at his death?
  • did he ever swear, get angry, 

I understand it is speculation, but do others care to speculate what the rest of Jesus may have been like outside of the pretty portrait minimally portrayed?

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I must admit I struggle with this. I try and work out from first principles  how to develop my behaviour. That Jesus or Buddha or whoever reflect my interpretation of their behaviour in me (or not) is simply a confirmation bias on my part.

It is only interesting (from my point of view) that so many people put stock in some supposed and irrelevant ideality of Jesus.

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1 hour ago, romansh said:

It is only interesting (from my point of view) that so many people put stock in some supposed and irrelevant ideality of Jesus.

Which is why I am curious what people may think of the 'unknown' Jesus.  Like you say, a lot of stock is put into the writings of the Gospels and Paul about who Jesus was, with no confirmation outside of those few writings we have (let alone their accuracy).

So to take that small speck of his life and decide Jesus was the penultimate human seems a huge jump for me and doesn't at all seem to stop and ask the questions about anything else to do with the other 30+ years of Jesus' life.  If one is to have that much trust in their understanding of Jesus then surely they have stopped to consider how he might have handled all the other human things that would have occurred to him in a normal human life (love, sex, risk-taking, career, teenage years, etc).

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13 hours ago, PaulS said:

After leaving traditional Christianity I always wondered about what Jesus and his real existence was actually like.  By real, I mean the extensive part of Jesus' life that we know nothing about - We only have a snapshot of a very, very brief period of his life provided to us in the Gospels and the NT in general, yet traditional Christianity tends to have a pretty certain model of Jesus and some would say that Jesus was the perfect man (human).

I always wondered about the details that were never provided and how Jesus may have actually been in real life (as opposed to perhaps only favourable versions of him portrayed by adherents).  

As we know, the gospels and Paul are not biographies but faith statements and they concentrate on the 'public life' of Jesus. It is this life, and his decisions and actions as a grown man that are significant to the writers (and believers). I do agree that many Christians have taken the Jesus who is professed to be the son of God and have colored in his life as the perfect man in every moment of that life (without sin). 

I certainly hope (and suspect) he had the life of a normal Jewish kid of his time. And to have a girlfriend, to masturbate, to have moments of anger, moments of restlessness, doubt and rebellion - seems part of a normal grown process (and is not sin). The model of Jesus as the perfect human (so to speak) is in his actions as a grown man.

Curiosity abounds about the boy Jesus, but all is speculation and will never be known unless he speaks of it in his secret Vegan writings.

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10 hours ago, thormas said:

As we know, the gospels and Paul are not biographies but faith statements and they concentrate on the 'public life' of Jesus. It is this life, and his decisions and actions as a grown man that are significant to the writers (and believers). I do agree that many Christians have taken the Jesus who is professed to be the son of God and have colored in his life as the perfect man in every moment of that life (without sin). 

I certainly hope (and suspect) he had the life of a normal Jewish kid of his time. And to have a girlfriend, to masturbate, to have moments of anger, moments of restlessness, doubt and rebellion - seems part of a normal grown process (and is not sin). The model of Jesus as the perfect human (so to speak) is in his actions as a grown man.

Curiosity abounds about the boy Jesus, but all is speculation and will never be known unless he speaks of it in his secret Vegan writings.

He was a grown man for a lot longer than is portrayed in the NT, so I'm not just asking about his childhood.  In fact, by far the majority of his adult life is missing from any record anywhere.  It seems to me that only a certain 'side' of Jesus has been presented (his Ministry) which naturally leads to the suspicion that the authors wanted to portray a particular version of Jesus and not necessarily include the bits that might contradict their 'Jesus message' (although we see glimpses of these contradictions with stories that show another side or sides of Jesus - as one would expect quite frankly of a human being).  

For me, when some Christians hold Jesus up as a shining example of what it is like to be fully human, I just find it too simplistic.  The Jesus portrayed in the NT naturally meets all the wonderful criteria people worshipping a figure would be expected to portray.  It's the bits in between that I am more interested in - what did Jesus 'really' do, who was he 'really' as a man, how did he carry himself when not in the public eye, etc.  Again, admittedly it has to be pure speculation because we simply don't currently know.

Maybe one day some genuine previously unknown writings will be discovered that may shed further light (favourable or not) on the Jesus legend.  Again, one can only speculate.

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True, but it is the period of his ministry (1-3 years) that is the focus of these faith statements; they aren't records and no external source would have even known or cared he existed (even Josephus had minimal info). Of course they wanted to portray a particular version: that the man they knew was the Messiah of the Jewish (and the True) God and he began/brought/announced the Kingdom of God: not a suspicion an obvious conclusion. Sorry but the cover up of contradictory information seems to be the stuff of conspiracy theories. And, as previously discussed, I think the supposed contradictory bits are overstated and inaccurate.

The truly human or fully human Jesus is simply the words and actions of a man in whom Love/God (and therefore others) is paramount. I have long though that the idea of Jesus as sinless in unnecessary overkill and as previously mentioned it is doubtful if the things you mentioned are or ever were 'sins.' 

When I read biographies of 'great men and women, I care far less about their early years or their foible, I care what they did, who they were that first made them memorable for others.

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31 minutes ago, thormas said:

True, but it is the period of his ministry (1-3 years) that is the focus of these faith statements; they aren't records and no external source would have even known or cared he existed (even Josephus had minimal info). Of course they wanted to portray a particular version: that the man they knew was the Messiah of the Jewish (and the True) God and he began/brought/announced the Kingdom of God: not a suspicion an obvious conclusion. Sorry but the cover up of contradictory information seems to be the stuff of conspiracy theories. And, as previously discussed, I think the supposed contradictory bits are overstated and inaccurate.

I think you are missing my point.  In short, I think we have been handed a glorified version of Jesus, written by faithful adherents who have a desire to paint Jesus and his message in a particular way.  So in essence, I suspect there was an awful lot more to the 'real' Jesus than what is portrayed in the NT.  But we don't have that.  So I was simpy interested in other people's speculation about how Jesus may have been.  

I don't think there was a 'cover up' per se of an alternative Jesus, demonstrated by several glimpses of very human behaviours of Jesus that did make it into the NT (cursing the fig tree, losing his cool in the temple, speaking down to non-Jewish 'dogs', etc), and I think it would have been entirely natural for Christian writers/editors to leave out or edit out the bits that didn't quite paint the 'Jesus of Love' portrait that was largely the picture painted.

31 minutes ago, thormas said:

The truly human or fully human Jesus is simply the words and actions of a man in whom Love/God (and therefore others) is paramount. I have long though that the idea of Jesus as sinless in unnecessary overkill and as previously mentioned it is doubtful if the things you mentioned are or ever were 'sins.' 

I'm not saying Jesus' words and actions that we do know of aren't paramount, I'm just asking about the words and actions that we don't know of and entertaining the notion that if this 'fully human/truly human' ideal is not perhaps a bit of biased reporting, when in fact Jesus' fully human-ness may actually be more human that what we care to consider. 

I couldn't care less about 'sin' because I don't believe there is any 'sin' per se.  We do things - they have consequences - whether those consquences are seen as positive or negative is perhaps the closest I get to calling something 'sin'.

31 minutes ago, thormas said:

When I read biographies of 'great men and women, I care far less about their early years or their foible, I care what they did, who they were that first made them memorable for others.

Perhaps I am unique in this regard then.  Although, certainly a couple of thousand of years ago the author of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas felt there was a need to document Jesus' childhood.  Maybe it's just me and that single author then who are the only people in the world that like to think about what influences a great person and makes them become who they become.

 

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9 hours ago, PaulS said:

I think you are missing my point.  In short, I think we have been handed a glorified version of Jesus, written by faithful adherents who have a desire to paint Jesus and his message in a particular way.  So in essence, I suspect there was an awful lot more to the 'real' Jesus than what is portrayed in the NT.  But we don't have that.  So I was simpy interested in other people's speculation about how Jesus may have been.  

I don't think there was a 'cover up' per se of an alternative Jesus, demonstrated by several glimpses of very human behaviours of Jesus that did make it into the NT (cursing the fig tree, losing his cool in the temple, speaking down to non-Jewish 'dogs', etc), and I think it would have been entirely natural for Christian writers/editors to leave out or edit out the bits that didn't quite paint the 'Jesus of Love' portrait that was largely the picture painted.

I'm not saying Jesus' words and actions that we do know of aren't paramount, I'm just asking about the words and actions that we don't know of and entertaining the notion that if this 'fully human/truly human' ideal is not perhaps a bit of biased reporting, when in fact Jesus' fully human-ness may actually be more human that what we care to consider. 

I couldn't care less about 'sin' because I don't believe there is any 'sin' per se.  We do things - they have consequences - whether those consquences are seen as positive or negative is perhaps the closest I get to calling something 'sin'.

Perhaps I am unique in this regard then.  Although, certainly a couple of thousand of years ago the author of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas felt there was a need to document Jesus' childhood.  Maybe it's just me and that single author then who are the only people in the world that like to think about what influences a great person and makes them become who they become.

 

I didn't miss the point and it is a version in which the writers already know (believe) Jesus is the Messiah and his resurrection the first step in the fulfillment of God's plan, so, sure, that is the focus, 'glorified' in this sense and no real interest in the minutia of his life. Jesus is 'painted' a particular way in an effort to present the Good News. 

I suspect the 'awful lot more' is the stuff of any life and has no impact, or better, does not take away from the Jesus portrayed. However, any speculation is more about us than Jesus: the info is just not there.

Actually the things you mention would typically be considered the 'things' people would leave out: as evidenced by your position, they raise questions. That they are present speaks volumes. However, as previously mentioned, I have read extensively on these stories and there is more to it than you seem to allow, even when presented with this information. 

I totally agree, hope and believe that Jesus was human like the rest of us. But I grew up with people who didn't swear, didn't drink, liked girls but didn't use them and brag and some who were virgins into their later teens. I for one never had the need or desire to 'rebels' against my parents although they probably didn't know we occasionally went into NYC while in high school. So, even what is 'normal' behavior is not universal when it comes to kids or teens or young men/women. However non of this is determinative of being/becoming fully/truly human. This is not determined from the beginning, it is, like all growth, a process, whose twists and turns are not identical (nor are they sinful). All the things you speculated on are, for some, part of their 'fully human-ness' and do not, whether they are done or not in one's life. take away from becoming fully/truly human.

I use sin because of the association with Jesus. However, interestingly, you have defined sin.

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16 minutes ago, thormas said:

I suspect the 'awful lot more' is the stuff of any life and has no impact, or better, does not take away from the Jesus portrayed. However, any speculation is more about us than Jesus: the info is just not there.

That's fine if that's enough for you - it just isn't for me, and I like to ponder what else might Jesus actually be like.  If I were to regard somebody as the embodiment of being truly and fully human, I'd probably like to know what guidance they can provide on living life - like how to manage a marriage, how to raise children, how to behave during active combat for your nation, how to deal with political ideologies in a democracy, how to deal with criminals in society, etc - I could make a list with a thousand bullet points but I just picked a couple to get the conversation going.  But no problem if you're content with the Jesus presented in the NT and don't need to have any consideration for his influences, role models and experiences in the greater than 90% of his life than is portrayed in the NT.

16 minutes ago, thormas said:

Actually the things you mention would typically be considered the 'things' people would leave out: as evidenced by your position, they raise questions. That they are present speaks volumes. However, as previously mentioned, I have read extensively on these stories and there is more to it than you seem to allow, even when presented with this information. 

I don't think they speak 'volumes' as I think they are just snippets that were either left in or just scraped in to the NT.  Logic demonstrates that lots of life's occurrences for Jesus, in fact by far the majority of Jesus' life, was left out of the NT.  You don't care about what's missing, so no problem - not sure why you would want to participate in this thread then.  Do you feel the need to defend Jesus, or your beliefs in Jesus,  to some degree?  I raised the thread for those who DO wish to speculate.  You'd rather just shut me down and say "nothing other than what is portrayed about Jesus in the NT matters".  Why?

16 minutes ago, thormas said:

I totally agree, hope and believe that Jesus was human like the rest of us. But I grew up with people who didn't swear, didn't drink, liked girls but didn't use them and brag and some who were virgins into their later teens. I for one never had the need or desire to 'rebels' against my parents although they probably didn't know we occasionally went into NYC while in high school. So, even what is 'normal' behavior is not universal when it comes to kids or teens or young men/women. However non of this is determinative of being/becoming fully/truly human. This is not determined from the beginning, it is, like all growth, a process, whose twists and turns are not identical (nor are they sinful). All the things you speculated on are, for some, part of their 'fully human-ness' and do not, whether they are done or not in one's life. take away from becoming fully/truly human.

All things I speculated on?  I've made some bullet points to get the conversation going.  It is precisely the growth process, the life experiences of Jesus that I am trying to speculate and discuss here.  You have made it clear that you have no interest in Jesus' formative years or influences, so I am not sure why you wish to continue speculating that none of these could have possibly had an influence on who he was.  It is precisely the growth processes, the twists and turns of Jesus' life that I was asking people to discuss.  I am not saying one thing is bad and another thing is good - I'm not boxing in Jesus like that.  I was simply framing the opportunity for people to feel free to discuss things that they may think Jesus did, liked, didn't like, didn't do, carried himself in his youth, etc etc.  Yet you seem to be about defending this Jesus who really, you know nothing about other than what was represented of him, by biased authors, who only wrote during a brief period of his life (roughly 10% of it and even then, who perhaps only captured a minor window even of that 3-yr period).  Again - I'm not sure why you feel the need to defend rather than consider or speculate on the remaining 90% of Jesus' life.  If it simply doesn't interest you, then no problem, no need to contribute more on the matter I guess.

16 minutes ago, thormas said:

I use sin because of the association with Jesus. However, interestingly, you have defined sin.

It's not that interesting really - 'sin' came from human thought, so not really a surprise that one can easily relate what is natural to what became a religious icon.

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

I'm not sure why you feel the need to defend rather than consider or speculate on the remaining 90% of Jesus' life.  If it simply doesn't interest you, then no problem, no need to contribute more on the matter I guess.

Paul,  

I am interested, however, as with other threads, agreement is not the price for admission.

No one is shutting you down and I did offer speculation. Actually I am one of two that took the time to speculate.

I feel no need to defend Jesus but I do have the right to comment. Any are free to comment on a thread - I have and will again when I want to - as will everyone else.

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7 hours ago, thormas said:

Paul,  

I am interested, however, as with other threads, agreement is not the price for admission.

Nobody is asking for your agreement.

7 hours ago, thormas said:

No one is shutting you down and I did offer speculation. Actually I am one of two that took the time to speculate.

You have presented a very strong case for why thinking about the 90% of Jesus' life, that is not captured anywhere, is of no consequence.

7 hours ago, thormas said:

I feel no need to defend Jesus but I do have the right to comment. Any are free to comment on a thread - I have and will again when I want to - as will everyone else.

It certainly looks like a defence of your understanding of Jesus, but of course you have the right to comment.  Nobody is saying you don't have that right and I am truly glad that you will continue to do so on this or other threads when you want to.  My only point in the above is that your argument was all about why there is no need to speculate about Jesus' life influences, role models, life experiences etc outside of the tiny life span we get a glimpse of in the NT.  I beg to differ and hoped this thread would encourage others to discuss and speculate along with me.  If you don't want to do that it is entirely fine with me - just not sure of your point in this thread then was all.

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12 minutes ago, PaulS said:

You have presented a very strong case for why thinking about the 90% of Jesus' life, that is not captured anywhere, is of no consequence.

Quote

Thank you.

 

13 minutes ago, PaulS said:

It certainly looks like a defence of your understanding of Jesus, but of course you have the right to comment.  Nobody is saying you don't have that right and I am truly glad that you will continue to do so on this or other threads when you want to.  My only point in the above is that your argument was all about why there is no need to speculate about Jesus' life influences, role models, life experiences etc outside of the tiny life span we get a glimpse of in the NT.  I beg to differ and hoped this thread would encourage others to discuss and speculate along with me.  If you don't want to do that it is entirely fine with me - just not sure of your point in this thread then was all.

Well, that is not the intention, despite the look.

Yet, I did speculate and also presented reasons why others can see him as the expression of humanity at its best/fullest even though we don't have information on his life before his ministry.

The above is my point ..........

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I used to speculate about Jesus but i now find it a detour and dead end. It seems to me while we are keeping our eyes (so to speak) on the person and his/her life, we lose sight of  what they were pointing to which sometimes can only be represented effectively by parables and koans.

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7 hours ago, JosephM said:

I used to speculate about Jesus but i now find it a detour and dead end. It seems to me while we are keeping our eyes (so to speak) on the person and his/her life, we lose sight of  what they were pointing to which sometimes can only be represented effectively by parables and koans.

Absolutely.  It was a bit of fun and discussion on my part wondering about the real Jesus, but you're right - it is a dead end.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

Absolutely.  It was a bit of fun and discussion on my part wondering about the real Jesus, but you're right - it is a dead end.

So where do we go now? The bits of rewritten Jesus? 

How about for something really novel, learning from our contemporary experience and applying a little bit of rigour to that learning?

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7 hours ago, romansh said:

How about for something really novel, learning from our contemporary experience and applying a little bit of rigour to that learning?

Sounds good.  Kick it off if you like.

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Great questions. It's only when one gets free of the religious bondage within evangelical Christianity that these questions can be asked. Just had a good laugh to myself wondering what response you might get at your local evangelical Bible study if you asked the group whether or not they thought Jesus masturbated. WOW. My best guess would be duck before the bullets start going off in your direction. OUCH. 

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8 hours ago, apexcone said:

Great questions. It's only when one gets free of the religious bondage within evangelical Christianity that these questions can be asked. Just had a good laugh to myself wondering what response you might get at your local evangelical Bible study if you asked the group whether or not they thought Jesus masturbated. WOW. My best guess would be duck before the bullets start going off in your direction. OUCH. 

I would guess no.  Anyone starving in the desert who refused food could probably pass up a wank.

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5 hours ago, Burl said:

I would guess no.  Anyone starving in the desert who refused food could probably pass up a wank.

Do you think Jesus was starving for his whole adult life?  Seems quite a few people around that time still managed to get one away, with children clearly still managing to be born during Jesus' time.

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10 hours ago, Burl said:

I would guess no.  Anyone starving in the desert who refused food could probably pass up a wank.

Is that allegedly starving and allegedly in the desert? 

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47 minutes ago, romansh said:

Is that allegedly starving and allegedly in the desert? 

No.

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5 hours ago, PaulS said:

Do you think Jesus was starving for his whole adult life?  Seems quite a few people around that time still managed to get one away, with children clearly still managing to be born during Jesus' time.

No.  

 

 

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8 hours ago, romansh said:

Is that allegedly starving and allegedly in the desert? 

8 hours ago, Burl said:

No.

 

I can't help but having a Bertie moment here.

Quote

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

 

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11 hours ago, romansh said:

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.” 

 

I doubt that is true, but I'm just not sure.

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3 hours ago, PaulS said:

I doubt that is true, but I'm just not sure.

While I suspect it is an overstatement, things like the Dunning-Kruger effect seem to point some truth to the Russell quote.

And it was not just the last century.

  • "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." Charles Darwin
  • "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." William Shalespeare
  • "the wisest people know that they know nothing." Socrates (attributed by Plato).

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