Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Thoughts From the Other Side

I'd like to turn this into a regular feature here in hell, where I share all the little things that shaved away at my faith until I realized one day that laughing about Santa while simultaneously believing in other imaginary people is just ridiculous, but I'll forget the title 5 minutes from now because the sun has left me and the cold has invaded and I am now very, very SAD. Oh, and just so you know, it's Casual Grammar Thursday.

Anyhooooooo . . .

Why the age gaps in the story of Jesus? That always bothered me. You only ever get The Jesus Story at 3 ages:

1. O hai, a savyur iz boarn. People stop by with presents no sane person gives an infant, Herod orders The Tenth Plague Two: Electric Bugaloo, and we all run off to Egypt. What Jesus does in Egypt for the next 12 years or so is entirely unrecorded. Uh, hello- savior? Son of God? God in the flesh? I'm guessing his childhood was a little different from yours and mine. He could make 5 fishes into 5,000, turn water into wine and raise the freakin' dead, and there aren't any interesting stories from his youth? Really? The mind boggles.

2. Jesus reappears as the sort of rude, know-it-all, barely pubescent smarmy little asshole you yearn to slap when they appear at your house for some ill advised family affair. Yes, I know it's wrong to assault children, but you know what I'm talking about. The Bible presents the Pharisee's collective reaction to obnoxious, possibly acne prone Jesus as a desire to keep their jobs and deny God's wishes, but I think God should have known that adults do not like to be lectured by people too young to have more than 5 pubic hairs. Fast forward to . . .

3. Jesus, All Grown Up. This Jesus is depicted as pretty much the same as obnoxious, possibly acne prone Jesus, but it plays better, because his voice has stopped cracking. Jesus, All Grown Up is weird in his own way, though. Twelve to thirty is a huge span of time, especially 2,000 years ago, when life expectancies made planning your thirtieth birthday party more than one day in advance a little overly hopeful, and Jesus hasn't changed a bit. He's portrayed in exactly the same way, and he's not married, has no children, none of the accoutrements expected of Jewish men in the time, and no explanation for it. Mary's not pining for grandbabies she'll never have, Joseph isn't worried that Jesus likes pink a little too much, nobody mentions it at all. It's a little odd.

In fact, the sameness of Jesus from twelve to thirty remind me very much of authors with little talent and inattentive editors who write dialogue for every single character exactly the same. Women sound just like men, children sound like adults, Northerners sound like Southerners, you get the drift.

It's almost like somebody started with the barest outline of a story they heard from a guy, who heard it from a guy whose cousin's best friend may have been there, 70 years later, and then filled in some blanks, but left others bare. Mostly because very few people have the literary chops to describe god as both a tantrum-throwing two year old and a surly, rebellious teen.

Btw, do not ever, ever, ever ask a nun about these issues if she happens to have a ruler handy. The stereotype about nuns and rulers exists for a reason.


  1. Biff is wonderful. And it explains many of the pesky details.
    Though I always figured we skipped those teenage years because no one wanted to read about Jesus' emo stage.

  2. "...a tantrum-throwing two year old and a surly, rebellious teen."

    ZOMG! He's Harry Potter! This explains so much...

  3. Biff made me LOL and now I am picturing Jesus with black hair over his eyes, heavy black eyeliner and a no-it-isn't-really-irony retro t-shirt.

  4. « "...a tantrum-throwing two year old and a surly, rebellious teen."

    ZOMG! He's Harry Potter! This explains so much..

    Hey! Leave poor Harry alone! He was so persecuted. As far as we know, Jesus was the one doing the picking on others. ;-)

  5. " I am picturing Jesus with black hair over his eyes, heavy black eyeliner and a no-it-isn't-really-irony retro t-shirt."

    Well, sure. Everybody knows that "Eloi eloi lama sabachthani" can be roughly translated to "Nobody understands me! I hate you all! I'm gonna go live with Dad!"

  6. O hai a savyur is boarn made me lol.

  7. To be slightly more serious for a moment; there is a good reason that Jesus' childhood is basically skipped over. The story is written in the same mold as nearly every other hero story from Mediterranean mythology.

    Theseus, Herakles, Achilles, Aeneas, Gilgamesh, etc., etc., etc. all have the same basic storyline. We generally hear about the birth, particularly is the child is of divine origin or has some sort of destiny to fulfil (often both), and then nothing until adulthood when they start doing heroic deeds. Then they die although whether it is in a heroic or a less flattering manner varies a bit more.

    So really, the only issue is that the adolescent part of the Jesus story doesn't really belong. Well, that and the fact that adult Jesus is nowhere near as reprehensible as most Greek heroes. He has a few moments but he's definitely closer to the Perseus end of the scale rather than the Jason end.

    Also, I'm not sure about Jewish marriage traditions of the time but it may not have been so strange that he wasn't married either. Sure, women were generally married off as soon as they hit puberty but men could often go longer without doing so in the surrounding cultures. Thirty is pushing it a bit of course but it may be possible to make the argument.

    Or maybe Jesus had a wife but she died in childbirth or something before the stories of his preaching. It wouldn't have really warranted a mention if that was the case.

    That said, it could simply have been omitted because the gospel authors either didn't know or didn't care about whether Jesus was married or not and decided to simply skip that part.

    But Biff makes for the better story anyway so lets go with that.

  8. The Emo kid theory makes a lot of mythological sense. What else could you expect from a kid who has really stepped down, is living with a mom who is on his case, and a "father"...well, "The Cherry Tree Carol" probably comes closest to what a real Joseph's mind set would be.

    Boy, talk about a set up for dysfunction...

    Yup, I can see "issues"...

  9. Rhino-- Jesus was supposedly a rabbi, so it would have been very strange indeed for him to not be married. It was pretty much the norm for a rabbi to be married, after all they were pretty important to the community.
    And I have to agree, as far a hero myths go, Jesus is probably one of the nicer ones. After all, unlike many a Greek hero, Jesus isn't a total dick (I'm looking at you Hercules). He has his moments, but so does everyone, and hero stories then did like to point out the humanity in the demigod.

  10. Of the Biblical heroes, Samson was the one who always struck me as reprehensible. But then, he and Hercules are cut from the same mold in some ways.


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