Thursday, April 10, 2014

Janet Christ!

Got to thinking about this when my cousin posted this article from the Times talking about some sort of 4th to 8th Century manuscript that contains a fragment where Christ talks about the missus:
"Skepticism about the tiny scrap of papyrus has been fierce because it contained a phrase never before seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife...’ ” Too convenient for some, it also contained the words “she will be able to be my disciple..."
Now I have as little religion as the most Godless heathen. But I got to thinking about this a bit in the context of the period when the guy is supposed to have lived and wondered...why not?

I once read somewhere that one of the strongest lines of evidence that the Christ - assuming that there was an actual person living in Galilee around 32AD who claimed to be the Son of God and went around talking about that until he was arrested and executed and the whole magilla isn't a Book-of-Mormon-level scam - was married was the importance of marriage as a social signifier in Roman Judea.

Bottom line; a thirty-something Jewish guy with no wife and family? Slacker, or worse. Can't hold down a job long enough to afford to marry? Too poor? Too chancy?

Who the hell would listen to that joker talk about God? What the hell would he know?

The bizarre Christian obsession with celibacy really sort of turns up associated with Paul of Tarsus. He was sort of a freak about that. I tried a quick search for "What did Christ say about chastity" and result was, pretty much, "nothing".

Here's the Mormons trying to come up with something. The best that Bishop Elder "of the Seventy" can do is cite the Matthew version of the Sermon on the Mount where Christ says "Don't commit adultery."

Here's the Catholics talking about it and the best the Church webmaster can come up with is "Sexual intercourse outside marriage is formally condemned I Cor 5:1; 6:9; 7:2; 10:8 Eph. 5:5; I Tim 1:10; Heb 13:4; and with explicit reasons I Cor 6:12-20."

Get the connection there?

No Gospels.

First Corinthians, Ephesians, First Timothy, Hebrews...those are all Paul getting all pissy while riding his usual hobbyhorse, "Fucking is the Devil's horizontal rhumba and only if you're married it's only just barely preferable to depopulating the Earth." The sonofabitch was just obsessed with his purity of essence; I'll bet he had something going on about his precious bodily fluids, too. Dude was a freak. Period.

Jesus, based on what got written down, seems to be a whole 'nother guy.

He gives the usual prohibitions against adultery, but physical chastity?

Doin' the nasty so long as it was with your legally-sanctioned partner?

That seems to have been jake with Jesus.

(And, along those lines, Paul Rudnick has a funny "I was Jesus' wife" story in the New Yorker.)


Is this odd little scrap a forgery?

Who the hell knows? We don't even know if Jesus himself isn't a massive 1st Century practical joke, much less whether he really was married if he really was real.

But if there was an actual person, was it likely that he was married?

Seems to me, what the hell - it's as likely as not.

To which, being who I am and what I am, I have to close with this delightful image of "The Bride of Christ" from Pastor Dobi's blog:

Which I found searching for an image of "The Bride of Christ".

Pastor Dobi, "your sister in Christ" describes the little scene as:"...The Bride of Christ coming to her beloved! Look at the picture closely. We see our dear Jesus coming to His bride..."

And as instructed I looked at the picture closely and my immediate thought was:

"I'll bet! I just hope that dear Jesus is thoughtful enough to tip His bride the hint before he comes so she knows that she's about to get a faceful of the Holy Spirit..."

Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry. I just can't help it.

Proof once again if any was needed that a) I have a filthy, filthy mind, and b) I better hope that all this really is a big practical joke because, if it's not, when Jesus returns I am in SO much trouble...


Leon said...

Actually it's pretty definite that there was someone called Jesus (or at least this anglicised name) around the turn of the century. It's actually captured in Josephus.

Now from an athiests point of view, he was just one of many prophets plaguing Judea at the time but unfortunately his message of namby-pamby peace won out over those other cooler prophets advocating cookies or mandatory oral sex or even topless tuesdays.

Lisa said...

Per Paul (Saul):

I'll bet he had something going on about his precious bodily fluids, too.

... he certainly was the Gen. Jack D. Ripper of his day, no?

FDChief said...

Thing is, Leon, is, yes...but.

First, it turns out that you couldn't swing a cat in 1st Century Judea without hitting a Jesus; the Wiki entry says that Josephus' work lists at least 20 people with that name, including some who were very definitely NOT the Jesus of the Bible.

In The Antiquities of the Jews Josephus talks about a James the brother of Jesus called the Christ, so there's that.

There's also a lengthy passage in the same work called the Testimonium Flavinium where Josephus pretty much literally repeats the Gospel stories, including the Resurrection.

Here's the thing, though; Josephus was a young man in 70AD - meaning that he was born at least 20 years after Jesus' lifetime. He may well - probably DID - know people who had known the Christ.

But that's not eyewitness testimony.

I guess if you held me down and threatened to beat me my position on the whole Jesus Question would be:

1. I believe that there was a man named Jesus, son of Joseph, who lived in Judea around 1-30AD.

2. I believe that he did many of the things he is said to have done; the preaching and the telling of parables. The miracles? I have no idea. But I've seen some pretty weird shit happen and had people tell me other things that they not-shit believed, so there's that.

3. Was he actually the Son of God? Did he really descend into Hell and rise on the third day?

I don't believe that, no.

So I buy his message of love and peace in the same way I buy Gautama Buddha's or Guru Nanak's, but not his divinity any more than theirs...

Now topless Tuesday, tho...

FDChief said...

And the problem, Lisa, is that we've build a whole damn religion largely around his personal squickiness with various issues involving the human body and sex. It's like founding a religion base on the whackadoodle meanderings of a certifiable nutjob.

And, hell, we've got Scientology for that...

Lisa said...

And of course, these testimonies were written after the fact, and people do tend to embellish to further their agendas.


Given that humans have created these many guiding myths, and given that monotheism (certainly, Puritanism) has impacted our nation's evolution / jurisprudence, I wonder how far we will/can go in terms of amending our laws which are rooted there. I'm thinking of the biblical injunction against adultery, which has made its way into our laws (like so many of the 10 Commandments.)

So we have a recent General facing charges of adultery (among other things), and yet ... so many people seem to be adulterous. So, do we scrap the law because human behavior gives it the lie?

I don't know what would be prudent (to use GHWB's term.)

FDChief said...

Well, Lisa, in more than half the Unites States we have. In 2013, adultery was a criminal offense only in 22 states.

Oregon ain't one, I should add.

Of those 22, only five - Massachusetts, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin still treat adultery a felony, that is, a genuine "crime". In the other 17 states its only a misdemeanor.

So, basically, the law is an ass, Lisa. And like an ass, it can be ridden as far as it will take the rider.

In the case of adultery the only real riders left anymore are 1) divorce lawyers and spouses locked in divorce cases, and 2) military leaders because, frankly, "adultery" is one of those "crimes" that injure only those who have an emotional stake in the adulterer, or need to maintain a reputation for sexual probity - like military officers...

I doubt very much that the UCMJ will be amended to omit adultery anytime soon; it's too useful a tool to discipline officers who consider their insignia a sort of shiny pry-bar to someone's panty girdle.

Anonymous said...



Lisa said...

Yes, Chief -- "the law is an ass." Far from absolute in either its application or vision. Yet, it's the best we have.

The naive among us who argue for anarchy or atheism don't see that we have not come that far; we may never. We are not that good.

Thank god that people have contrived religions, and then contrived state systems, which barely keep us walking the line, or at least, some lines. The fear of punishment and guilt are powerful motivators.

And yet, religion cleaves us apart as much as together. Therein lies the rub.

Syrbal/Labrys said...

My mind is similarly "filthy" --- but then according to some I AM a "godless heathen "…so hey.

A single Jesus, someone called a teacher, in Galilee of that time? Never ever made sense to me. And with freaking Paul of Tarsus running the after-game show? We'd all be better off if we DID swing dead and heavy cats at them all...

FDChief said...

Anon: You know that Suetonius pretty much invented the phrase "If the legend doesn't match the facts, print the legend", right?

But kidding aside, I'm not arguing against the possibility that 1) there was someone named Jesus bar Joseph called Christ in Judea around the first half of the First Century, AD, and 2) that this guy made some sort of a religious stir and ended up founding a religion.

The thing I don't know, but am incredibly skeptical about, was whether this guy was a God, any more than I believe that Egon was a God whether he should have told the Gatekeeper he was or not...

So I'm not really sure what the Suetonius citation proves...

FDChief said...

I think the rub, Lisa, is that religion - perhaps more than anything equivalent outside of nationalism/patriotism - "cleaves us together" in ways that are not good for us of those around us.

Sharing a mutual fondness for, say, French cuisine, or the movies of Adam Sandler, or plushies, or curling might produce some very weird agglomerations. But it usually doesn't end up demonizing and anathematizing the people who aren't fond of those things.

Religion, on the other hand...

Having an inside line to God is very convenient for someone who itches to have a bash at the fags, or the Prods, or the Papes, or the wimmens, or the darkies...and just needs God's say-so to heft the cleaver.

So while I have a certain wary respect for the power of faith, IMO it's like radium; it does a great deal of harm for the good it does...

Lisa said...

Cleaves us together and apart, and the "together" is of a bigoted sort. Agreed. "Us" and "them" -- that's the source of the whole absurd tragedy, no?

Some's on the inside, and some out. Some say you can work at being chosen or gaining grace, some say there's nothing to be done about it ... it's preordained, like being born a Bush and living in Kennebunkport.

It's rather absurd to believe that a "god" (if a monotheist) would favor any one religion over another.

almost drafted said...

Just read "Zealot" by Reza Aslan (

Great read.

For general bible studies, I figure there's no better source than a Jewish atheist scientist like Azimov: