Don Edwards Literary Memorial

May 21, 2006

Jesus in antiquity


The research I did for the early separation of “followers of Jesus” which was, at least in the beginning, mostly Jews, and later on Christians (the first time used in Antioch around 135 AD) including gentiles, was most enlightening. I think there can be no doubt Jesus existed if only because there were so many written accounts of his life, at least forty known gospels. The gospel of Thomas was included in the canon originally and then dropped for some reason. But as you point out, Jesus was likely illiterate, neither nor any of his disciples wrote anything about him during his life. It is unlikely he was thought of as very important otherwise there were would have been more written about him by historians of the time.

They didn’t teach this kind of stuff when we were Brothers. I doubt they taught it to seminarians either. When you see just how fluid beliefs were, how the early Christians were almost making it up as they went along, some deifying Jesus, some not, some like Marcion who made up a new God of the New Testament who was superior to the Old Testament God. Some insisted on Jewish rituals, some not. Peter, according to the Acts of the apostles, had dinner and baptized Cornelius the Centurion, a gentile, and convinced his followers it was ok because he had a vision and God told him “Why should you not eat something I have made” or words to that effect.

And then the Council of Nicea….that was a piece of work, called by Constantine himself. There Jesus was officially deified, the Holy Ghost to come sometime later. Of course justifying three entities, all of whom were God, took some very convoluted logic to explain: “Three Persons in One God.”

I believed it all when I was a Brother….but I was a child, after all, not fully cooked yet. Over the years some beliefs eroded, some just seemed preposterous and some seemed sensible. As I’ve said, I believe in the basic messages of the gospels: try to lead a good life, take care of the poor and infirm, care for children, treat people the way you would like to be treated.

My best,


Filed under: DON POSTS — Don @ 4:13 am

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