Today in Sunday school class we began our series on the person of Jesus. We began by briefly discussing what historical study can and cannot do, and our tendency to project our interests and values onto Jesus.
Rather than follow that with a survey of the New Testament writings relevant to the subject, or the creeds, we began by simply bringing up questions that we hope to look at and to which we are seeking answers. Some of the topics that came up include how Jesus understood himself, whether Jesus shared concepts from his time (such as demons), what Jesus was like growing up and formative influences on his life, Jesus’ sense of humor (including the question of whether he ever nailed Peter’s sandal to the floor).
In talking about the childhood of Jesus, I mentioned the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. I think everyone interested in this topic ought to read it, not because it will give the “inside scoop” about Jesus’ childhood, but because as we react (most likely with horror) to the story it tells, it prods us to ask ourselves, “If this isn’t how we imagine Jesus’ childhood, then how would we imagine it?”
We’ll resume our study the Sunday after next with an overview of Mark’s Gospel.