Since we recently wondered What Did Jesus Look Like Throughout History? we might wonder too what he talked like. Mike Connell (pictured) in The Times Herald asks, So did Jesus talk funny, y’all? Actually, it is about many things about Jesus and the Shroud of Turin is briefly mentioned:
Paul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he knew many of the original apostles, making it impossible to imagine him writing this passage if Jesus had worn his hair long. Indeed, those who doubt the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin often cite Paul’s admonishment and point to the length of the dead man’s hair.
Oh, no. Not that hair thing again. The rest of the article is better. And it is appropriate for Christmas Day.
Whether Jesus was 5-foot-2 with eyes of blue or 6-foot-4 with hair galore, matters not a whit. Even if he spoke with a hillbilly twang and could lift a donkey with one hand, and I’m not saying either is true, these are not among the reasons why he is remembered as vividly as ever after two millennia.
Perhaps he was born in March or September rather than December. So what? Perhaps he was known as “yeah-shew-ah” rather than “gee-zuhs” or “hey-zooce.” Fine.
Christians aren’t celebrating a birth date this week; they’re celebrating a birth. They’re not remembering a man; they’re honoring their Savior.
Jesus talked funny! He was raised in Nazareth in Galilee. That’s how the maid-servant recognised Peter as a Galilean! You gotta speak the local lingo! Kiwis working in the USA often come back with that American drawl or twang. I picked it up myself after six months working with state-side consultants in Auckland. But the Orstrahlians from Oz across the ditch have another dialect entirely. They think the same about Kiwis!
Did you ever see Band of Brothers, a several part HBO television series. It followed a company of US paratroopers from the US to England to combat in Europe to peace. When the paratroopers were getting ready to board their aircraft for their Normandy jump, there was an interchange between a US Trooper and an Aussie over a German Luger the Aussie had and the GI thought the Aussie was giving it to him as the gift. The language and the minds didn’t meet. Having been raised singing Waltzing Matilda and totally bummed out by On the Beach, I was surprised by the “pure” Aussie dialect employed by the writers of Band of Brothers for that sequence. It really was unintelligible to these stateside ears.
Side note on the the JFK thing. When Oswald was in Russia everybody in the interior took him for a native Russian but with a Leningrad accent. Pretty good trick for a HS dropout who self-taught himself Russian listening to phonograph records. Somehow I kind of doubt it. I have nephew who was military attache to the American Embassy in Moscow for a part of his career. He was a Rhodes Scholar with an Oxonian degree. He ended up speaking Russian quite well but he didn’t do it by listening to phonograph records in a barracks. He had months of personal instruction. Russian, I am told is difficult for English speakers because it doesn’t have the common German, Latin admixture that English has.That Oswald, must have been a genius.
I don’t recall seeing “Band of Brothers” specifically, although like most when young I did go through a bit of a war film phase, more particularly popular war histories, Douglas Bader’s “Dam Busters”, history on Gen Rommel (he had great respect for Kiwi soldiers and Gen Montgomery in the Western Desert), Colditz Castle etc.
Even in Australia, there are variations in local speech patterns, Queenslanders have their own variations from Sydneysiders, and in NZ, Southlanders have inherited a Scottish burr.
I attempted both elementary Russian, also Dutch, when young, and still have some of the texts I used (Fourman, University of Kiev). There are again local variations, a slight drawl, or a kind of sing-song. Fourman asserts that Russian spelling is essentially phonetic, and that a high standard of pronunciation is attainable.
– Jesus was born June 17, 2 BC. The Magi and entourage visited Jesus on December 25, 2 BC.
Arbitrary assertions without proof are no strong argument, or are you writing a novel? My own view is that the Magi may well be only a literary device, suiting Matthew’s purpose to include gentiles in his scheme, and to get Jesus into Egypt so he can bring him out of there like Moses, and to get him to Nazareth. King Herod died in 2 BC.
Dave, there is probably more truth in the Magi story, than most critics are willing to admit -but it is long story to tell. Throwing everything as fantasies, ‘literary device’ is simple and non-demanding (intellectually) -but there may still be some surprises.
Less scepticism, more faith.
– Obviously, I can’t be sure of my claims, but I do have some evidence and logic to support them. Check out http://messiahornot.com/Virtually1.php (it’s pretty long). I haven’t had time to work on the website for the last couple of years, and I need to insert a lot of links, but sure seems like a whole lot of interesting coincidents during that time period.
An error in my note above: Herod the Great died in 4 BC, not 2 BC. For a good historical perspective, I can only recommend John P Meier’s “A Marginal Jew”, specifically Vol 1, and also Pope Benedict XVI, “Jesus of Nazareth”. Meier sets a stringent discipline for himself, specifying some five criteria in his selection of facts he is prepared to accept. He concludes that Jesus was born about 7-6 BC, most probably in Nazareth, rather than Bethlehem, was baptised by John in 28, and accepts John’s version that he died on Preparation Day, making the year either 30 or 33AD. He opts for Friday, April 7, 30AD, at age about 36 years old.
The Last Supper is to be seen as a farewell meal, rather than a Passover meal, although there are some calendrical variations that might allow it to be a Passover meal. In John’s scenario, the crucifixion occurs while the Paschal lambs are being ritually slaughtered at the Temple, making the timing particularly poignant.
Meier considers that the brothers and sisters mentioned in Mark’s gospel are blood-siblings rather than opting for other patristic explanations, the perpetual virginity of Mary being a late doctrine of the 4th century. I believe that adoption might offer an alternative explanation, as adoption was a widespread practice in those times, because of high mortality rates resulting in many orphans, and adoption conferred the same rights as birth under both Jewish and Roman law.
We need to keep in mind that the gospels were not intended to represent history in the style of Josephus, notwithstanding that the gospels draw on actual historic events. Each one of the evangelists has his own agenda, with the intention of proclaiming Jesus variously as Messiah, the Son of Man (c.f. Daniel), and Lord. Raw Mark tends to tell the crude bare facts as he sees them, Matthew sees Jesus as the new Moses and is writing for a Syriac congregation, seeking to bring in Gentile elements, Luke has his own agenda and is most obviously anti-Jewish, while John is more elevated, identifying Jesus as the timeless Son of God, and totally in control of his destiny.
All of the evangelists have a most remarkable familiarity with the ancient scriptures which they use to an astonishing degree to bolster their message.
I repeat, each of the evangelists has a specific agenda of proclaiming, and the message is more important than the literal text. Remember too, that Jesus was following a strong tradition of conveying his message in parables, and much of what we read in the gospels is itself intended as parable. Perhaps this is the best and only way of communicating deep and profound truths of great significance.
Did you ever read Garry Wills: What the Gospels Meant? It distinguishes among the four Gospels in approximately the way you do. (he also wrote “What Jesus meant” and “What Paul Meant.”
With respect, John, Garry Wills is not a theologian and is way outside his area of expertise. We used his book for a study on Paul and he goes way way out on a limb all by himself. Big stretch that Wills is anywhere close to the truth. I marked up half the book with errors spouted by this author.
He concludes that Jesus was born about 7-6 BC, most probably in Nazareth, rather than Bethlehem,
Based on what sources? The concept of “probability” doesn’t apply here, as Jesus was not a “statistical Jew” of its times.
Meier considers that the brothers and sisters mentioned in Mark’s gospel are blood-siblings rather than opting for other patristic explanations, the perpetual virginity of Mary being a late doctrine of the 4th century.
Nonsense. The traces of the doctrine canbe found as early as 2nd century in the Protoevangelium of James.
– I have several reasons for the dates suggested. The first is given in Beyer, David W. “Josephus Rexamined: Unraveling the Twenty-Second Year of Tiberius,” pp. 85-96. Chronos, Kairos, Christos II: Chronological, Nativity, and Religious Studies in Memory of Ray Summers. ed. E. Jerry Vardaman. Mercer University Press: 1998. ISBN 0-86554-582-0. This book appears to prove that there was a typo in a printing press version of Antiquities, and scholars began referring to the 20th year of Tiberius instead of the 22nd year, and consequently figured Jesus’ birth in 4 BC instead of 2 BC.
– A good summary of the story can be found a little over halfway down the page, posted by Alleymom, at http://www.jehovahs-witness.net/jw/friends/24979/1/Christs-BirthYear#.Ur8BFyjC420.
– If anyone is interested, I can probably dig up the data underlying my other reasons.
O.K.: If you haven’t read already read Meier, then you will need to do so to grasp the full srength of his arguments. They are too complex to summarise easily here. About half the book comprises citations, notes and references. Nevertheless he is sparing in his acceptance of apocryphal source.
For deciding what comes from Jesus as distinct from early Christian tradition he proposes five primary criteria:
– 1. The criterion of embarrassment: Why invent what would invite difficulty for the early church?
– 2. The criterion of discontinuity: Why reject as words or deeds of Jesus what cannot be derived from the Judaism of Jesus’ time or the early church?
– 3. The criterion of multiple attestation: Is it more plausible to deny words, sayings, or deeds attributed to Jesus in more than one independent literary source (e.g., Mark, Q, Paul, and John) or literary genre (e.g., parable, miracle story, or prophecy)?
– 4. The criterion of coherence: Given the claims to historicity from any of the above criteria, are different sayings or deeds evidently inconsistent?
– 5. The criterion of rejection and execution: If Jesus’ ministry came to a violent, public end, what of Jesus’ words or deeds could have alienated people, especially powerful people?
The criteria are to be used in tandem for mutual correction. Still, any claim is only to the probable, not the certain.
I concur that the earliest assertion as to Mary’s perpetual viginity is the James Protevangelium ~145AD, but it was not accepted as doctrine until very much later. It is also the source that asserts that Jesus’ siblings were from a previous marriage of Joseph. Meier rejects this on the basis that the Greek word used for sibling is “adelphos” rather than “anepsios”, implying a direct full sibling relationship. The James source is first mentioned by Origen in the early 3rd c. “which was of recent and dubious appearance”, sharing some common ground with the “Gospel of Peter”. It also asserts certain Jewish practices for which there is no other evidence. As I previously mentioned, I believe that adoption would be a credible alternative, would admit the term “adelphos”, and it would reflect the generous spirit of Mary and Joseph.
Note that at Matthew 1:20, the Angel tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary his wife into his home. I see that as potentially undermining the traditionally accepted doctrine. i.e. Joseph may take Mary as his wife.
Further comment on the distinctions between the individual gospels: When does Jesus become God? For Mark, it is when the Holy Spirit descends on him at his baptism by John in the Jordan; For Matthew and Luke it is at his conception; But for John, it is from the beginning, before time ever was. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God (distinct?) and the Word was God (identical?)” The mystery of the Trinity already!
One of the problems with this blog, and possibly its strength, is that all opinions are treated equally and contrary authorities easily trashed equally. Thus Gary Wills and John Meir are both cited and then renounced.
Maybe Garry Wills is too much a popularizer of religion for some tastes. But no one can deny that John Meier is a very serious scholar. He started out two write a three volume history of Christ and now he’s working on volume five with no end in sight. I have found N.T. Wright helpful but he writes hundreds of pages to every dozen for Wills.
We are in a very blessed generation. For nearly two millenia the Shroud has been among us but its lessons were undecipherable until unlocked by Secondo Pia’s camera and the thousands of hours of scientific study that have ensued.
I believe that the demonstrated facts square with the Gospel accounts and create a positive feedback. Excuse the following sentence in all caps. THERE IS NO OTHER HISTORICAL EVIDENCE OF CRUCIFIXION OF ANYBODY THAT MATCHES WITH FACTS OF THE SHROUD OTHER THAN JESUS CHRIST. Please, no speculation. We have a name and we have time established, by the way, by a pagan Roman historian – Tacitus.
The Shroud is a Revelation, that the proposition is not entirely devoid of reason that perchance it is THE Revelation. Christ is being brought to us by the scientists in their white lab coats.
As anybody noticed that the four horseman are loose again. The again, they seemed to have been loosed on most generations. Humanity suffers and Christ returns.
John, John P. Meier has an end in sight, and that is when it comes to the Resurrection. He has said that this is off-limit for him. By the way, did you notice #29 on the thread “Did the Apostles notice an Image on the Cloth?” It has something to do with what we have exchanged on this blog before.
I hadn’t noticed his statement about the Resurrection. I think he wrote that about Virgin birth not being within the scope of his work. Obviously he is concerned about the theological impact of his work and that limits his scope. However, if he is to draw the curtain on the essential mysteries of Christ, why bother? He certainly demurred from the High School explanation I received that “brothers and sisters” didn’t mean “brothers and sisters” but cousins.
I think it’s quite clear: You should know the truth and the truth shall make you free. To the extent he averts his gaze, he surrenders the field to “naturalists” like Crossan who I demur from.
John, J.P. Meier got two papal gold medals when studying in Rome but it is Benedict XVI, writing as Joseph Ratzinger, who has given a better explanation in his “Jesus of Nazareth”. It seems that Meier is wrong in judging that the Resurrection is beyond what the historian can tackle. After all, what can be deduced from the Gospels is that the Resurrection was a less historical event, but isn’t that sufficient for a historian or should it be left to those in the field of psychical research to decide?
As for Crossan, I did read his lengthy book on the Historical Jesus for review. How can one who believes that Jesus’ dead body was eaten by wild dogs be considered a Christian? Only as an Unitarian, perhaps. I once questioned the editor of a Protestant magazine about the decision to interview him, where he was presented as the world’s best Jesus scholar! That was obviously said in order to sell as many magazines as possible — the money line again! — and the editor told me that Crossan still had faith. It could be in the supreme being we call God, but certainly not the Christ of faith.
Nevertheless, I believe I obtained some very valuable insights from Crossan’s “Power of Parable”, which I had not found elsewhere. We can still learn from the less well-informed.
“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.” [Desiderata – Max Ehrman 1927]
I want to make it clear that I have found Meier’s work extremely interesting and helpful. The only thing about him that bothers me is his drawing a curtain on certain items like Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. I’m not sure the Virgin Birth is nearly as important as the Resurrection. There are no conception stories in Mark and John.
I anxiously await he completion of is task which in the beginning contemplated two volumes. I expect the next, Volume Five will be the last.
Meier made a statement that one of the difficulties in writing about Jesus is that he left no artifacts. Excuse me, this is the precise issue we are dealing with. The Shroud is an artifact, certainly of his death. The issue is whether it is an artifact of what he refuses to deal with for is purposes of avoiding “pure” faith issues such as :the Resurrection.
That is the final challenge of the Shroud to scientists … and theologians.
Comments are closed.