Once again I find myself side-tracked. I thought my next post would be in response to the first part of the Zeitgeist movie which purports to present evidence that there never was a real Jesus Christ – he is just another myth – and early records about him are not worth the parchment they were written on (or something to that effect). Looking into those early records I came upon the question:

Why didn’t Jesus write anything himself? Why rely on his followers and/or their scribes? Why leave it to his disciples with their faulty memories to spread the “good news?”

We know that Jesus wasn’t illiterate. He wrote on the sand.  He read in the temple:

And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED. And he folded the scroll, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).

Jesus did not live in a time when everything worth remembering had to be in writing. The Jews learned by listening. Their few writings were tediously handwritten  on sheepskin and not widely available.  Moreover,  Jesus didn’t come with a brand new message. In Deuteronomy and in Exodus the Jews had already been given a set of commandments, variously arranged and numbered by various Christians:

I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before Me…”
Do not make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above…”
Do not swear falsely by the name of the LORD…”
Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy”
Honor your father and your mother…”
Do not murder”
Do not commit adultery.”
Do not steal.”
Do not bear false witness against your neighbor”
Do not covet your neighbor’s wife”

In Matthew 22 we read that a lawyer asked: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ [Deut. 6:5] This is the great and foremost commandment.”   “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ [Leviticus 19:18] On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  His message was really quite simple.

Jesus came not to write something to read, but to be himself read. The taught by both his words and his life.  Remember, Jesus is the WORD, the very living Word of God. He came to preach and teach and by the time he died his followers must have heard the same thing over and over again, so they had it down pat. My research tells me that Matthew wrote in Hebrew, Mark wrote in Latin, Luke wrote in Greek. Christ spoke Aramaic and taught, at least some of the time, in Hebrew. Matthew had to translate much but not all of Christ’s words from Aramaic into Hebrew. Some of Christ’s words in Matthew’s Gospel were probably written just as Christ spoke them, in Hebrew. The four gospels are, therefore, often memories translated into another language. While they may be an accurate recording, they cannot be word-for-word.

Jesus didn’t really come to proclaim anything new but to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies, to teach, proving his divinity with accompanying signs and wonders, to start a church, and to “ransom the captives.”   Jesus says in Matthew 5:17:   Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to “fulfill”?

Jesus was not leaving everything up to his disciples. He promised to send the Holy Spirit:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. — John 14:16.

But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, he will bear witness to me. But I have said these things to you, that when the hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. — John 15:26

No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. — Peter1:21

Aquinas is said to have made much of Hebrews 10:16 and Jeremiah 31:33  in thinking about why Jesus didn’t write:

This is the covenant I will make…I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.  No longer will a man teach his neighbor or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest….

The fact that Jesus is not known to have written anything is not nearly the problem for Catholics as it is for sola scriptura Protestants who have no other foundation than scripture. The Catholic church also has tradition – what was believed and taught by the church fathers for centuries before the books of the bible were even discerned and assembled – as well as a 2000 years succession of infallible popes following Peter!

It begins to seem unimportant that Jesus didn’t write anything. His disciples were so on fire and spread the good news so effectively that for a long time most of Europe was known as Christendom. All the apostles except John, who was banished to the Greek island of Patmos, died a violent martyrdom. It is  believed with good reason that people are more likely to die for an experience than for an idea. They were really convinced that Jesus was the real thing.

YWFT on SCAM.COM writes:

What’s the point of having someone else write his biography, when an autobiography would have been far more convincing?

So why did he not leave some evidence of his existence? A lock of hair would be nice. Maybe a photograph? (he could do it, he was GOD after all.)

The obvious answer is…well…obvious, isn’t it?

YWFT thinks the obvious answer is that there really was no Jesus. To him I would only say –

You want a photograph? Take a good look at the Shroud of Turin?

You want a biography?   Read One Solitary Life.

What Jesus chose to do seems to have worked quite well.   (If there was a real Jesus, of course.)

~~~

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1