Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

November 23, 2013

GLOBAL FAITHS: Stories of Jesus go beyond the Gospels

Jesus is central to Christianity, likely more so than Mohammed is to Islam or the Buddha to Buddhism, and this importance of Jesus seems to have produced claims about him beyond the story in the canonical Gospels.

Recently Karen L. King, a professor at Harvard, discovered a fourth century Coptic papyrus fragment that contains the words, “Jesus said to them: My wife …” The report of this fragment created quite a stir in the world of biblical and early church scholarship over the question of whether Jesus may have been married. The suggestion that he was would be contrary to the long-standing Christian view that he was not married, a view that has given support over the centuries to the Catholic practice of priestly celibacy.

A claim that created quite a stir toward the end of the 1800s proposed to shed light on the so-called “hidden years” of Jesus the Gospels don’t treat, the time between his appearance in the Temple at the age of 12 and his age at the beginning of his public ministry, usually thought to be about 30. The originator of this claim about the “hidden years” of Jesus was a Russian by the name of Nicolas Notovitch.

In a book published in 1887 Notovitch said he had broken a leg while in India, and while it was healing spent time in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, where he was read the story of how Issa (Jesus) came to India at the age of 13 with a caravan of merchants and spent many years there absorbing Eastern religious wisdom before returning to his own country to engage in the mission we read about in the Gospels. The suggestion that Jesus studied in India reflects a popular view of a couple of generations ago about the reputed “wisdom of the East.”

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