Who Do You Say That Jesus Is?

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.

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  • Sounds like a fun, open-minded group of folks you’ve got. Wish we had Baptist churches like that in Texas.

  • if you want to read an even more ludicrous [yet really funny] version of Jesus’ childhood/adolescence, check out Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Friend…it’s worth your time if you like satire and comedy and are willing to have an open mind…

  • I think the more pertinent question to ask ourselves about concerning the Infancy Gospel of Thomas is why the author sought to portray Jesus this way and what instigated him to develop his narrative the way he did. Particularly, I am interested in the models that the author used to develop his narrative. I see hints of 2 Kings, and with the references concerning the use of the pitcher to fetch water which broke, leaving Jesus to fetch it in his shirt (and the “mystery” there) there seems to be a strong draw on the Hebrew Bible. The incidents concerning the learning of Greek from a teacher are interesting to me as well. Particularly because the author has Jesus learning from private tutors which is very abnormal in classical authorship (considering the only way to learn Greek was at a gymnasium with a class of spoilt children). Maybe I’ll give this some consideration and post about it.