By the late 50s, we have abundant written evidence that Paul and his companions are organizing home-based churches in communities throughout the Mediterranean and in Rome itself and then writing to the parishioners. And 20-some years on from Paul’s work, we have Mark writing the first canonical gospel.
I don’t want to speculate as to what went on. I want to be there, to light up and penetrate those earliest dark years and to see, to really know, how and why the first Jerusalem community survived its near decimation, its scattering after the murder of its leader, and how it once again coalesced and grew.
I want to have known the charisma of the rabbi who was Jesus. I want to have been among the first to hear his words on justice and the Kingdom of God spoken over and over and over again, throughout Galilee and the south — the striking, illuminating parables, stories and sayings forming a distinctly Jewish paradigm of justice, the basis for all extant gospels.
And then I want my own ears to hear that silence and my eyes to see beneath it, because the story of the companions of Jesus may well be the most unlikely yet overwhelming success story of all unrecorded time.
And what I am wondering, and have long wondered about, is what role the shroud might have played. Of course, we can speculate, but what are the clues, if any?