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How Old Was Jesus at His Baptism, Start of His Ministry & Death?

You’ve probably seen the popular inspirational quote that goes something like this, “Jesus didn’t start his ministry until he was 30 years old, and yet he changed the world.”

I guess this is supposed to encourage people in their teens and twenties that haven’t accomplished much in their life.  (As if comparing their potential future to the accomplishments of the supposed “son of God” is supposed to make them feel better!  Ha!)

It also illustrates a common assumption (or perhaps misconception), that Jesus was 30 years old when he began his ministry.

Is that a fact?  If so, where does the Bible say so?

Do we also know how old was Jesus was when he was baptized or when he died?

How Old Was Jesus When He Died?

This is not a slam dunk answer.

In fact, I ask all my students at Chapel Hill this question (many of whom answer incorrectly) on their first-day quiz.

Almost everyone who thinks about the matter thinks that Jesus was 33 years old when he died.  But the New Testament never says so and I bet most people don’t know how that age is calculated.  Moreover, I bet even more people don’t know that there was an early Christian tradition (attested in the second century) that he was much older than that!

Yesterday I was reading one of the most important proto-orthodox authors of the second century, Irenaeus, whose five-volume work “Against the Heresies” is a sustained attack against various Gnostics (and other Christians that he considers to be “heretics”).   In doing so I ran across a passage I had highlighted many years ago, when I first read the text.  It involves Jesus’ age.  And it has a surprising view of the matter.

So let me start at the beginning.  Why do people always say that Jesus was 33 when he died, if the New Testament never says so?

It is by combining two pieces of evidence that come to us from two different Gospels.

ONE – Jesus’ Age at His Baptism and Start of Ministry

According to Luke 3:23, Jesus was “about thirty” years old when he was baptized by John.  Now, let me say that, historically, there’s no way to know whether Luke had special information about this or if he was just guessing.   Mark gives no indication at all of Jesus’ age.  Either does Matthew or John.  How would Luke, writing so many decades after Jesus’ life, know?  Either he (a) had a reliable source unavailable to the others; (b) had an unreliable source; or (c) came up with it himself.  My guess is that it is the latter, but there’s no way to know for sure.

In any event, that is the starting point for the calculation.

TWO – The Duration of Jesus’ Ministry

The second datum comes from the Gospel of John, where Jesus attends three separate Passover feasts during his public ministry.   Since this is an annual festival, it means that in John his ministry must have lasted somewhat over two years.  But it is normally taken to be three years.

As to this second datum, I should point out that in the other Gospels there is only *one* Passover Feast mentioned, the one at the end, during which Jesus is executed.  In fact, Mark’s Gospel – where Jesus’ age is never mentioned – seems to take place only over the course of months.  It appears to start in the fall, when there is grain to be plucked in the fields (2:23; Or maybe it’s the spring harvest?)   And after that, everything happens “right away.”  Read Mark carefully.  One thing happens after the other.  One of Mark’s favorite words is “immediately.”  And then we come to the Spring Passover festival, and Jesus is arrested and executed.  It seems that the ministry lasted only a few months.

In any event, if you take the “about 30 years old” of Luke and the three Passovers of John, you come up with 33 years at the time of death.

But, as I indicated, there was a contrary tradition embraced rather emphatically by Irenaeus, who claims…

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Were the Disciples Martyred for Believing the Resurrection? A Blast From the Past
Explaining Jesus’ Apocalyptic Assumptions

108

Comments

  1. Lev
    Lev  October 11, 2017

    In the 5th century text, ‘Concerning the Star; showing how and through what the Magi recognized the Star, and that Joseph did not take Mary as his wife’, it claims to reproduce a tradition (that was discovered in 119 AD) that Jesus was born 6 years before Herod the Great died, that is 10 BC, making Jesus 40 or 43 years old when he was crucified in 30 or 33 AD: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_star.htm

    I think it’s noteworthy that both Moses and Mohammed were 40 years old when they began their public ministry. I also think it’s more likely that Jesus appears closer to 40 than 30 when his opponents complained he was “not 50 years old!”

  2. Avatar
    John Uzoigwe  October 11, 2017

    Dr Bart do you think the zoroastrianism in any influenced Christianity considering the fact that they share some key concepts on eschatological issues?
    Are there any books on these you could recommend? Thank you

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      I fluctuate on the matter. For one view, see the article on Zoroaastrianism by A. Hulgard in John Collins Encyclopeida of Jewish Apocalypticism; for the other, see Jan Bremmer’s book on the Afterlife.

  3. Avatar
    Franz Liszt  October 11, 2017

    Would you consider Matthew’s dating of Jesus’ birth, combined with the knowledge we had that Pilate reigned from 26-36, to be an independent attestation of his age being around 30?

  4. Avatar
    caesar  October 11, 2017

    I assume there’s no consensus on the dates for Jesus’ birth/death?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      The consensus seems to be birth sometime before 4 BCE and death around 29-33 CE

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  October 15, 2017

        But is the birth dating based on anything but NT birth narratives that don’t agree and are almost surely non-historical? What reasons might the early Christians have had for wanting to think he was about 30 when he died?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 15, 2017

          That’s right — the date of birth is based on Matthew and Luke independently placing it in the days of Herod the Great. “About 30” comes straight from Luke.

  5. Avatar
    barrios160679  October 11, 2017

    Bart, how does this “50-year old Jesus” hypothesis align with (apparently, historical) attestation that he was crucified under Pilate? And, speaking of Paul, when did his conversion happen? If in the early 50’s AD he already writes his first epistles.

  6. Avatar
    deanegalbraith@yahoo.co.nz  October 11, 2017

    I was discussing the conflicting data earlier this year with another Jesus scholar. It’s all over the place. And this makes it somewhat exciting thinking through the implications: Jesus experienced the Caligula crisis? Paul wrote in the 60s-70s, after Mark? etc etc. To be clear, these conclusions are no more firm, but they do get opened up.

    Also:
    – Josephus’s Testimonium Flavianum is buried in a section of the Antiquities in which all the other events occur in 19 CE. While there are lots of possible explanations, there’s nothing quite like this anachronism(?) from Josephus elsewhere in books 18-20 of the Antiquities
    – Similarly, based on Bk 18, does John the Baptist die in 35/36 CE? So Jesus dies after that?
    – Lönnqvist argues that the lead was taken out of Judean coinage from 17/18 CE, which must have been to make the aqueduct – i.e. Pilate’s aqueduct (although he’s not meant to arrive there before 26 CE).

    At the very least, do you think all this should give us some hesitation about the precise dating of Jesus’ life and ministry – not to mention much of the New Testament?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      Yup! I think the certain datum is that Jesus was executed sometime during the reign of Pilate, 26-36 CE

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  October 15, 2017

        Is there any reason historically to rule out the possibility that John was a disciple of Jesus who founded a sect apart from the Christians — or that Jesus and John never met? If memory serves, Acts records an encounter between Christians and disciples of John who were unaware of Jesus. Could the Baptist movement have been a competitor, rather than a precursor, which the Christians eliminated by absorbing it into their mythology?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 15, 2017

          Yes there is: Christians would have been far more comfortable to make John Jesus’ disciple than the other way around; so they almost certainly didn’t invent the independently attested tradition you find in our sources.

          • Avatar
            Wilusa  October 15, 2017

            On the one hand, I’m sure you’re probably right. But on the other, I’ve always thought that with John himself being dead, not a living rival, early Christians *might* have lured some of his followers into their movement by falsely claiming that Jesus himself had looked up to John and been baptized by him.

  7. Avatar
    Tony  October 11, 2017

    Irenaeus used the Gospels to arrive at Jesus’ old age. But there is worse. Epiphanius tells us about a Christian sect called the Nazoreans (sounds familiar?), who thought Jesus lived and died about a hundred years before CE 30…. This is confirmed by the Babylonian Talmud. How can this be?

    Obviously, nobody had a clue where, or when, Jesus was born. The reason, of course, is that the Gospel Jesus is a fabricated entity, sourced from the celestial Jesus, as described by Paul in his Letters.

    Here is what Paul said on the nature of his Jesus (Caps mine):

    Rom 8:3 “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the LIKENESS of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh”.

    So, Jesus, God’s son, took on human form only to atone for human sin. Nothing here about an itinerant preacher killed in Jerusalem.

    What was in it for the followers of Paul’s mystery religion? Nothing less than becoming equals with Christ!

    Rom 12:16-17 “..but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and JOINT HEIRS WITH CHRIST—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.“. And,

    Rom 8:29-30 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    That takes care (again) of the James the “brother of the Lord” issue. They were ALL Brothers of the Lord!

    Again we see a good fit with the Mythicist model, but a complete disconnect from the historical Jesus theory.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  October 13, 2017

      “Again we see a good fit with the Mythicist model, but a complete disconnect from the historical Jesus theory.”

      You may see something, but all I see is a silly conspiracy theory.

      • Avatar
        Tony  October 15, 2017

        What conspiracy theory? Nobody I know thinks this is a conspiracy. Except for the fact that you are out to get me of course….

  8. Avatar
    juliecalder  October 11, 2017

    Can we get an inkling from historical events with known dates?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      Just Jesus’ death: sometime during Pilate’s reign, 26-36 CE.

  9. Avatar
    anthonygale  October 11, 2017

    Since Mark is so focused on immediatelies and imminence is part of apocalyptic thinking, do you think Mark may have portrayed a shorter ministry to fit the theme? Im sure there are many possible explanations for why Jesus’ ministry is portrayed as shorter in Mark. I just find it hard to believe it really was that short and wonder if this was something deliberate

  10. Avatar
    cjeanne  October 11, 2017

    If Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher and if Rome thought he was subversive does it make sense that the authorities would have allowed an 18 year ministry?

  11. Avatar
    Carl  October 12, 2017

    Luke could have had a reliable source for Jesus’ age as could John. Specifically the words of Judas.

    In Acts, Luke mentions that Peter replaces Judas with Matthias. Thus Judas is no longer in the twelve. In 1 Corinthians, Paul states that Jesus appeared to ‘Cephas’, then to the twelve. Also In Acts 9 Paul is said to have been praying at the ‘house of Judas’. In Galatians 1 Paul says he went to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him 15 days. Which suggests that some of Luke’s information could be accurate.

    Why would Paul visit Judas? the same reason why Judas out ran Peter to the empty tomb in the book of John. Because Judas would believe, more than anyone else, that Jesus had appeared to Paul and shown him undeserved mercy. And so if Judas is the disciple that influenced the book of John, then a ministry of three years could be more accurate than Luke’s one.

    Plausible?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      You’d have to explain the independent traditions that he was dead before Paul’s conversion.

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  October 15, 2017

        Why would anyone get the idea that Judas Iscariot is the unnamed disciple in John? And wouldn’t Luke have offered some explanation of how Paul could stay with the same Judas that Peter had already said died in Acts 2?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 15, 2017

          Im not sure what you’re asking. Are you asking why anyone would think Judas Iscariot was the beloved disciple? No one does, to my knowledge.

          • Avatar
            Carl  October 15, 2017

            It was my intention to suggest that Judas could be the beloved disciple.

            Mainly because
            -It explains how no one perceived what was happening in John 13:26.
            -Judas had a reason for being familiar to the high priests in John 18:15.
            -Judas was the one who outran Peter to the empty tomb because he had more invested.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 16, 2017

            I don’t think that can be, given a passage like John 13:21-30 where the beloved disciple is *distinguished* from Judas.

        • Avatar
          Carl  October 15, 2017

          Is that Acts 1:18-19? I was under the impression that it is a parenthesis. And assumed that without it Peter was only addressing the replacement of Judas as an overseer.

  12. Avatar
    peterstone  October 12, 2017

    If Jesus lived longer than 33 years–if he lived to be 50, for example–then either he was born much earlier than 1 CE or he lived much later than 33 CE. If the former, then the accounts of his birth during the reign of Herod the Great and/or Quirinius must be wildly wrong. If the latter, then the 50-year-old Jesus must have been crucified right before Paul started his ministry. Don’t both of these possibilities create big problems for the history of early Christianity?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      You’d have to put his birth much further back in Herod’s reign. That would run amok of Luke’s chronology, but I suppose only that.

  13. Avatar
    ardeare  October 12, 2017

    As near as I can tell, Irenaeus appears to have had absolute contempt for the Gnostics. If my math is correct, Irenaeus would have been around 50 years old when he wrote “Adversus Haereses.” It causes me to wonder if one of the the sects within Gnosticism were advocating that Jesus *saved* only those with whom he shared similar experiences with such as humility, faith, meekness, chastity, knowledge, (age?) which would have subsequently excluded Irenaeus had Jesus died at age 33.

    Of course, it could have been his personal reflections or indeed, the teachings of John the son of Zebedee. To quote you in this article, ” In book 5, ch. 22 Irenaeus claims that since Jesus saves all people – infants, children, youths, and oldsters – he necessarily himself lived through each age of those whom he saved, setting an example of piety for people of every age.” Something or someone outside of proto-orthodox Christianity seems to have motivated him, in my opinion.

  14. Avatar
    HenriettePeterson  October 12, 2017

    I am new to the blog and would like to ask a question I’ve never seen answered before. I even tried to search in old blog posts.
    In the THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT on page 22 it is written that “…scribes left no spaces between words or sentences” In MISQUOTING JESUS on page 48 it is written that “in all early Christian writings” (I assume this means all the original manuscripts that we no longer posess) “…no marks of punctuation were used, no distinction between lowercase and uppercase letters, and, even more bizarre to modern readers, no spaces used to separate words.”
    I am more than interested in knowing who and when inserted exclamation marks in the text.

    Thank you very much. I hope you find the time to answer me.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      As soon as printers started publishing Bibles (15th century) they were more or less required to take guesses about punctuation marks. The earliest manuscripts don’t have them, though the majority of manuscripts come from the middle ages, when scribes did use them.

      • Avatar
        HenriettePeterson  October 13, 2017

        Ok, so is it safe to conclude that the authors almost certainly did not use any punctuation and that all the question marks and exclamation marks (which definitely modify the way a modern reader reads the text) were added by people who lived hundreds of years after the originals were written? By people who were just guessing?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 15, 2017

          That’s right. But these were not just wild guesses. There are grammatical indications, in many places, whether a question is being asked or an exclamation made.

          • Avatar
            HenriettePeterson  April 26, 2018

            I need to know very precisely for a project of mine what you mean by “grammatical indication for an exclamation.” What exactly does “exclamation” mean in this context. I mean can you grammatically indicate in Greek whether a person is speaking, screaming or shouting? Or do you simply mean that one can differentiate between a question and a statement?

          • Bart
            Bart  April 26, 2018

            The word order is usually the guide. Of course, in modern printed texts questions are marked by their punctuation.

  15. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

    The time of Jesus’ death (ca. 30 CE) is the only sound frame of reference, wouldn’t you say? All the other data points — Herod the Great, Caesar Augustus, Tiberius, etc. might have been introduced by the gospel writers to support their chronologies.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      yes, that’s what I think: Jesus’ death must have occurred sometime during Pilate’s reign, 26-36 CE.

  16. Avatar
    Tony  October 12, 2017

    On the question as to where the dearly departed are heading – Paul’s mystery religion says nothing about a Kingdom on earth. Instead, the Christ believers, after acquiring imperishable bodies, will go to heaven – with Jesus.

    1Cor 15:51-52 , “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

    1Thess 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever “.

    I continue to be amazed with NT scholars wondering around the Gospel dungeons trying to determine what Jesus was all about – while lamenting the paucity of Jesus information from Paul. Of course, Paul’s Jesus is a mismatch compared to the Gospel version. It appears that the scholarly strategy is to ignore Paul…

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      I don’t think anyone can look at the scholarship on the NT and think that it largely neglects Paul!!!

      • Avatar
        Tony  October 13, 2017

        I wrote ignored, not neglect. But yes, there is much selective ignoring of Paul – our earliest commentator – when his writings create an inconvenient truth for historicity. Take the persistently ignored explanation of the “brother of the Lord” phrase as provided in Romans 8. Also, Paul mentions James four times: 1Cor 15:7, Gal 1:19, Gal 2:9 and Gal 2:12. Only in one of these do we find the “brother” controversy. That one selectively created “brother” James – while studiously ignoring the fact that 75% of Paul’s James references omit this critical designation.

        • Bart
          Bart  October 15, 2017

          OK, but I think you are wrong to say that NT scholars ignore the evidence of Paul. Off hand I can’t think of any NT scholar who does. (We all know perfectly well how Paul uses the term “brother”! This is our day job, after all!) Are you thinking of any New Testament scholar in particular?

          • Avatar
            Tony  October 15, 2017

            My observation is that you, and the other NT scholars you can think of, appear to lack the motivation to re-analyze the basic premises of the (absolute) historicity position. I’m speculating that this reluctance is the result of vested interests (day jobs-ha) and cognitive dissonance.

            For example, I’ve yet to see a well evidenced argument that discredits the “Brothers of the Lord” argument from Rom 8. I know NT scholarship is not an exact science, but imagine that four medical trials were conducted on a drug and only one showed a possible positive result. The other three trials were negative. No regulatory body would allow approval of that drug! Compare that to Paul mentioning James four times, but “Brother” James only once. Absolutely, Jesus had a brother – and “we” all know it!

          • Bart
            Bart  October 16, 2017

            I’d suggest strongly that you delve into some New Testament scholarship for a few years without bringing previously held conclusions to it, and come to see how it looks from the inside. You might be surprised at how much experts in the field actually know and how they go about coming to know it!

        • Avatar
          dragonfly  October 16, 2017

          I’m not sure you will be very convincing by implying scholars don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  October 14, 2017

      1 Corinthians 15: 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

      Paul’s description of Jesus’ death and resurrection followed by appearances are a quick succession of events. Jesus appeared to The Twelve. Okay, The Twelve what? They’re a preexisting group put together by who and for what purpose? Why does Jesus appear to this particular group in the first place?

      If we’re to assume that there was no man named Jesus whom anyone knew, then that would mean a celestial being appeared to The Twelve and what is their automatic assumption? An *ordinary* angel? That would seem logical to a point, but no, they see a heavenly being–an archangel no less– and believe it’s a crucified messiah, named Jesus, who died for their sins, resurrected and now they’re probably not going to die but meet him in the air to live forever. I find that highly unlikely. It makes more sense that a man named Jesus put together a group of twelve, set them up with certain expectations, died unexpectedly which threw them into a chaotic state that spurred visions of him.

      Paul comes across to me very caught up in his religious experiences so much so that he compares everything happening in the real world to the spiritual realm. There’s times where I think Paul actually sees himself in the scriptures. He doesn’t describe Jesus in human terms very often because he’s fixated on these cosmic events that are currently taking place as well as the very near future. There’s no reason to think that Paul’s theological assumptions reflected the earliest beliefs of Christians. Paul wasn’t much for listening and taking advice from others until he found himself hot water. I don’t find him to be the most honest person either. He said he met the esteemed leaders in response to a revelation. Really? It’s more likely his response was due to accusations made against him and he was feeling the pressure from it.

      I think the gospels came later because the movement began with illiterate leaders, so it took a while longer for their message to reach us.

      • Avatar
        Tony  October 15, 2017

        “Jesus’ death and resurrection followed by appearances are a quick succession of events.”
        Paul places the appearances during his lifetime, but neither dates nor locates the death of Jesus.

        “It makes more sense that a man named Jesus put together a group of twelve”
        Ask yourself, would you come to that conclusions if you’d never heard of the Gospels?

        “There’s no reason to think that Paul’s theological assumptions reflected the earliest beliefs of Christians”
        Why not? Paul adopted their beliefs after persecuting them. Paul could see the Pagan mystical religion components clearly and probably, as a Pharisee, initially did not like that.

      • Avatar
        dragonfly  October 16, 2017

        I think you might be right about Paul there. He might be seeing himself as the prophet that everyone is against, but always turns out to be right.

  17. Avatar
    Wilusa  October 12, 2017

    I haven’t believed in the “three-year ministry” for years, so I guess I’ve imagined him as being about 30. He must have been physically fit to do all that hiking back and forth between Galilee and Judea! There are plenty of 50-year-olds who could do it nowadays. But with the poorer nutrition in Jesus’s era, people probably did “age” more rapidly than we do now.

  18. Avatar
    godspell  October 12, 2017

    The idea of an older Jesus–on the verge of being an old man, by the standards of his day–has this much to say for it. Why is he so eager to provoke a confrontation with the Sanhedrin, and therefore with Rome itself? If he’d only been preaching for a few years, wouldn’t he have been more willing to wait a bit for the Kingdom to manifest itself?

    I strongly believe he was trying to force the issue by what he did in Jerusalem. That itself is open to debate. But it makes more sense if he was older. Late 30’s, early 40’s might work as well. Nobody in that era of that class was considered a young man by then.

    James the Just is supposed to have died in the 60’s AD. If he was Jesus’s younger brother, that would mean–hmm–what would it mean? Mary would have had her children fairly close together–maybe spaced a year or two apart, if she was nursing a while (not the most reliable form of contraception, but does slow things down a bit). James probably wouldn’t have been a lot younger than Jesus. He was still alive and active in the 60’s.

    Pilate was prefect from 26-36, we think. So going by that, Jesus couldn’t have been crucified any later than 36, probably sooner. If he was born a few years before the traditional birth date, he could have been 40. If he was born much sooner than that, hard to see how James would still have been around in the 60’s.

    Luke and John are poor sources. Irenaeus has a clear agenda in making this claim, and was far separated from Jesus in time.

    My own opinion would be that Jesus would have needed more time to establish his ministry than two or three years, and more time than that to despair enough of the Kingdom’s coming to try something so drastic. 50 seems hard to justify though.

  19. Avatar
    Wilusa  October 12, 2017

    Just remembering… A while back, I wrote a piece of fan fiction in which I had a TV series hero travel back in time and play an important role in the origin of Christianity. Pure fiction, not an attempt at historical accuracy! But one idea I used was that Jesus had been seven years old at the time of the rebellion against Rome in Sepphoris (near Nazareth)…his father had been one of the thousands(?) of crucified rebels…and he’d been drawn to the apocalyptic movement because he wanted the “general resurrection” to come *quickly*. He wanted his father back!

    I remember thinking he really *might* have wanted to be reunited with *some* deceased loved one. A crucified father was just the most dramatic possibility.

    • Avatar
      Wilusa  October 15, 2017

      That dating would, of course, have made him about 40 when he was crucified. I do think the Sepphoris episode, with a shocking number of crucifixions (and many residents of the *city* being sold into slavery), would have had a major impact on people in Nazareth.

      “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”!

      • Bart
        Bart  October 16, 2017

        Remind me what the date of that was?

        • Avatar
          Wilusa  October 16, 2017

          Either 4 BCE – the year Herod the Great died – or very shortly afterward. But I don’t remember where I read the details about – as I made a note of somewhere – there having been two thousand crucifixions. (That, in addition to most of the city’s residents having been sold into slavery!)

    • Avatar
      godspell  October 16, 2017

      Um–Quantum Leap? Dr. Who? Something Trekkish?

      From a purely storytelling POV, I don’t find your motivation very convincing. My father died almost a year ago. I miss him very much. I knew him a lot longer than Jesus would have known his father. I’m not trying to alter the fabric of reality to get him back.

      Jesus wasn’t really about family ties. It’s one of the most consistent things about him–he may love his mother, his brothers, but he’s preaching that everybody is your brother, your sister. And the only father he ever talks about is God. That doesn’t speak of a man who is obsessed with seeing his earthly father again. I understand you weren’t saying “This is what really happened,” but again, from a storytelling POV, it’s not plausible on an emotional level. If family was so important to him, he’d have stayed in Nazareth.

      • Avatar
        Wilusa  October 16, 2017

        I won’t say what fandom… But to serve my plot, I had Jesus witness the crucifixion – at age seven – and stay there for two whole days while his father was still alive, in agony, on the cross. And he intended to stay with his father by following along until he actually saw the bodies being dumped into a mass grave. But he couldn’t do that, because he’d been without food or drink for so long that he passed out.

        I think that if someone really did go through all that, the memory would…have a lasting impression!

        • Avatar
          godspell  October 22, 2017

          Well yes. It would. And you’re not claiming that happened (and it didn’t). But for me, the lasting impression would have been “I’m not following in daddy’s footsteps nohow!”

          Anyway, all indicators we have seem to show Jesus was much closer to his mother. And not really all that much about blood family ties, as I mentioned. He’s saying everyone is your family. Your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your son, your daughter–everyone you meet should mean as much to you as your closest relations, and in the Kingdom, these things won’t matter at all anymore.

          So it doesn’t track for me. Highlander, eh? There can be only one Son of God? 😉

          • Avatar
            Wilusa  October 24, 2017

            We can’t really know, of course. But as I remember it, all the “mushy stuff” about Jesus’s mother is in the Gospel of John, the *least* reliable. I’m more inclined to believe Mark – in which his mother and, initially, all his siblings, are embarrassed by his preaching and think he’s crazy. I think he would have felt alienated from all of them.

      • Avatar
        Wilusa  October 17, 2017

        I’ll give you a link to the fanfic (though I warn you, it’s pretty long!). This is the version for non-fans, with a brief explanation of the fandom (who the protagonist is, and where he’s come from), and a lengthy Epilogue to identify “Fact, Fable, and Fiction.”

        https://www.fictionpress.com/s/3273151/1/The-Sword-and-the-Cross

  20. Avatar
    gavriel  October 12, 2017

    Do you think there is any historical value in the birth narratives of Luke and Matthew, placing the birth before the death of Herod the Great? The historians have safely fixed Herod’s death to around the Easter of 4 BCE, so this would imply that Jesus was at least 34/35 years old at the time of his death, provided 30-33 CE is a secured, independent date range for his death.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 13, 2017

      I”ve always assumed so — they independently date it to then, for some reason.

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