I’ve been talking about how we remember things — or misremember things, or make up memories of things — as a way of getting to the question of how, in our heads, we think about what Jesus said and did. This is all part of my larger project that came incarnated (inletterated?) in my book Jesus Before the Gospels.
As I point out early in the book, we remember most things just fine, but we also often get things either partially or completely wrong. Memories can be frail, faulty, and false. And not just our individual memories, but also the “memories” we have as a society. In previous posts I illustrated the point by talking about social memories of Abraham Lincoln and Christopher Columbus.
But what about faulty memories of Jesus (see my last post if it doesn’t make sense to talk about “remembering” someone we never knew!). To get to this question, in my book, I talk about some of the modern representations of Jesus by current-day scholars and popular authors – for example, Jesus as political insurgent and revolutionary, or Jesus as a kind of proto-marxist, or as a kind of proto-feminist, or as an apocalyptic prophet, or as a divine guarantor of great success and wealth, etc.
In my book I introduce the question of how Jesus was remembered in antiquity I begin by discussing how figures connected with him were remembered. Here I deal with “memories” of the apostle Peter, Judas Iscariot, and Pontius Pilate by telling some of the stories in circulation about each of them, stories that today can be seen as apocryphal, but for some early Christians were the ways these people were remembered.
That takes me then to apocryphal stories about Jesus which, again, appear clearly to us as