In my previous post I talked about whether Jesus could read.  I came out with a definitely answer: Maybe.   And that brought to mind a related question I often get asked: could Jesus write?

I posted on this a few years ago, and thought it’d be relevant to do it again.  This will take a couple of posts.  I had been asked about ancient “forgeries” — when authors would write claiming to be someone famous.  Do we have any ancient works that claim to be written by Jesus?

Answer this time: Yes indeed, there is a one-time famous correspondence between Jesus and a king who lived in Edessa in Syria named Abgar.  I translated it for the book I published (on all earliest Christian Gospels) with my colleague Zlatko Plese, called The Other Gospels. Here is what I say there about the letters (the one from Abgar to Jesus, then his response); at the end of the post I give my new translations of the two letters.


Jesus’ Correspondence with Abgar

The apocryphal correspondence between Jesus and Abgar Uchama (= “the Black”), king of Edessa in eastern Syria (4 BCE – 7 CE and 13-50 CE) is first mentioned in Eusebius (Church History, 1. 13. 5).  Eusebius claims to have found the letters in the archives of Edessa and to have translated them literally from their original Syriac into Greek.  The first is a short letter from the king, acknowledging Jesus’ miracle working powers and asking him to come to Edessa to heal him of his illness and, at the same time, to escape the animosity of the Jews in his homeland.  In his reply, Jesus blesses Abgar for “believing without seeing” (an allusion to John 20:29), but informs the king that he cannot come because he needs to fulfill his mission, that is, by being crucified.  After his ascension, however, he will send an apostle to heal the king.

This is the first instance of an apocryphal letter written in…To see more about this intriguing issue, you will need to belong to the blog.  If you don’t belong yet, now’s a good time to join.  You get five posts a week, for very little expense.  And every penny you pay goes to charity.  So why not?? Click here for membership options