Latest Real Jesus Discovered!

Latest Real Jesus Discovered! April 25, 2012

Turns out that in addition to being a robust heterosexual who married Mary Magdalene, he was also gay. Various “evidence” is adduced and rigidly filtered through contemporary obsessions with homosexuality devoid of contact with the biblical text beyond a couple of proof texts, Johannine theology, or the Church’s entire tradition (Jesus was unmarried. There was a disciple Jesus loved. QED!). Nobody asks what Jesus’ celibacy meant to 2000 years of Christian teaching, nor why Jesus constantly talks about the kingdom of heaven as a wedding feast, nor why John habitually speaks of Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church, nor does anybody question why the rest of the married apostles, all Jews, would have overlooked Jesus sexual liaisons with John when the attitude of Jews was famously summarized by Tertullian–“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”). That’s because the *real* core passage of the whole essay has nothing to do with the “evidence” but with the narcissism of the author:

After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual.

Mhm. Reading the self-congratulatory narcissism of the piece, I am overpoweringly reminded of the Episcopal Ghost talking to the Blessed Saint in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce:

EG: “I preached my famous sermon. I defied the whole chapter. I took every risk.”
BS: “What risk? What was at all likely to come of it except what actually came-popularity, sales for your books, invitations, and finally a bishopric?”

Quelle courage! Who could possibly have foreseen that a gay-obsessed Episcopalian clerical culture would find this hitherto lost Christianity? What joy to be living in such an age of discovery! What a hero for bravely facing the applause of his peers and the media.

Shea’s First Iron Law of “Jesus Studies”: Every Latest Real Jesus at variance with the constant tradition of the Church is always a reflection of the obsessions of the discoverer, not a revelation of who Jesus really was.

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  • ds

    In 1000 years, someone is going to announce that after close examination of historical records, Jesus was probably a Mexican.

    • Ted Seeber

      I thought Joseph Smith already did that.

      • ds

        Nice! I LOLed.

      • Bryan

        Well played, sir, well played

  • An Atheist

    This is quite stupid. Jesus was a Jewish apocalyptic preacher proclaiming the imminent end of the world. Especially in the early gospels like Mark. Even Paul believed in the imminent end of the world in his early epistles (later downplayed when, of course, it didn’t come to pass and still hasn’t!)

    • Mark Shea

      You do realize, don’t you, that the early gospels like Mark are written later than the latest epistles of Paul? So if the claim is that the Church began with Jesus assuming that the end of the world was just around the corner and, by the lates 60s is trying to back pedal on that that, Mark should be trying to cover that up, not proclaiming it.

      Really, you need to catch up with real New Testament studies and not just rely on the little circle of Jesus Seminar cranks. And no, I don’t believe you are a real historian.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      The world came to an end in AD 70.

    • Ted Seeber

      Not to mention, but for the Jews, the end of the world arrived in 73 A.D., though it wasn’t until the founding of Aelia Capitolina in 135 A.D. that it was completed and the Jewish Diasporia began.

      So Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John were ALL living in a very literal “end of the world” in which the might of Pagan Rome was being brought to bear against both Judaism and Christianity.

  • ds, good one. I am totally ripping it off.

    The Anglican priest’s basis for this is that Jesus had a “beloved disciple,” ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo, wink, wink.

    In the hyper-sexualized 21st Century, “love” means “having sex” and two men cannot “love” each other without “having sex” with each other.

    • Patrick

      @ Peter Sean Bradley:

      “In the hyper-sexualized 21st Century, “love” means “having sex” and two men cannot “love” each other without “having sex” with each other.”

      Great comment! All “love” is “erotic love” anymore. I’m curious as to what this Anglican would then say Jesus meant when he says “Love your neighbor as yourself” or “the world will know your my followers by your love for one another”? Perhaps Mass really ought to be an orgy.

  • An Atheist

    @Mark Uh, yes I do realize that. Mark, Matthew, and the genuine Pauline epistles didn’t back pedal but Luke, John, and the later pseudo-Pauline epistles certainly did.

    • Dale Price

      Er, no, John didn’t backpedal (Luke is quite apocalyptic–e.g., Luke 21). Rather, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD functioned as a divine judgment, meaning there was no further need for emphasis on Jesus’ teachings regarding divine judgment.

      The argument for non-Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, Ephesians and Colossians is remarkably weak.

    • Mark Shea

      Luke and John do nothing of the kind. Nor are the later Pauline epistles (your childlike trust their pseudonymous authorship is touching) particularly different. The witnesses make clear that nobody knows the hour (it is in “early” Matthew that Jesus declares that even *he* does not know the hour) and so you should be ready always. In other words, for all they knew today could be the day. That doesn’t mean they thought today was the day. Yes, the later epistles (notable 2 Peter) have to address people who *assumed* the Second Coming should have happened by now. But there is simply no evidence the apostles said it would. Meanwhile, in your ignorance of the colossal significance of the covenant background of the gospels, you are stone blind to the colossal significance of the destruction of the Temple and the passage from the old covenant to the New signified thereby. Recall that the whole discussion of the parousia (coming) of Jesus is ocassioned by the disciples remarking on how impressive the Temple was (Matthew 24). The *whole discussion* is, quite obviously, a discussion of the coming destruction of the Temple. So: think. If the prophecy “This generation shall not pass away before all these things are fulfilled” is being retrojected into Jesus mouth *after* the destruction of the temple and the authors understand him to mean the world will come to an end with the destruction of the temple, don’t you think they are kind of, well, stupid to record this embarrassing failed prediction instead of just ignore it? That’s the problem you set for yourself by glibly accepting the lame condescensions of a few cranks like the Jesus Seminar.

      In fact, what you are looking at is the (typical) habit of the biblical authors of making use of the allegorical reading of Scripture and history. The question is not whether the Olivet Discouse (that is, the prophecy of the End given in Matthew 24 and related passage in Mark and Luke) is about the destruction of the Temple or the end of the world. It’s about both, because the Temple is, in Jewish thought, a microcosm of the world and the world is a macrocosmic temple. It is also, by the way, an image of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and therefore of the suffering and ultimate salvation of his body, the Church (“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”). The evangelists continue to record the supposedly “failed” prophecy after Jerusalem has been destroyed but the world has not come to an end because, in their view, the destruction of the temple is precisely the evidence that Jesus’ warnings are true and that what has happened to the temple is a foreshadow of what will one day come upon the world.

      Seriously, has it never occurred to you to wonder why the Church, which is so supposedly bent on editing the historical record, didn’t just, you know, take those passages out of the gospels? The simultaneous willingness to believe that the early Church was full of Machiavellian airbrushers *and* was too stupid to know how to use white out on awkward biblical passage is one of the most mysterious meme embraced by people who worship rather than use the intellect.

  • An Atheist

    Oh ok so when Jesus talked about things like stars falling out of the sky, etc, it was just one big metaphor for the destruction of Jerusalem? Riiight.

    • Dale Price

      I’m now metaphysically certain you are talking out your tailpipe when it comes to biblical studies.

      There is a considerable body of scholarship which holds precisely that, of which you are blissfully, proudly ignorant. Jewish and Christian apocalyptic is a lot more complicated than your cartoonishly literal understanding. When you factor in the fact that Jerusalem was the locus of Jewish religious and national identity, it makes plenty of sense that the annihilation of Jerusalem (along with about a million Jews) would be seen as an apocalyptic judgment.

      • Dale Price

        In addition, you do not see evidence of Christian communities falling apart in the wake of what would have been an obvious failed prediction of the end of the world. Nor do early Jewish/Christian polemics discuss the matter, which you think they would if it was the “gotcha” moment you imagine it to be.

    • Mark Shea

      You really do need to familiarize yourself with the biblical literary milieu before making any further stunningly ignorant pronouncements.

    • Ted Seeber

      Among other things, yes. One other interpretation that is common in Catholicism is that the End of the World is PERSONAL- and comes to each of us. Will come to each of us. Death, after all, isn’t optional.

    • Ismael

      Dear An Atheist… if ignorant people a 1000 years from now will hear (or read) some contemporary (famous) people words they will also grossly misunderstand them.

      The way people talks, the figures of speech, the way people convey messages changes. This is especially true for radically different cultures.

      Smart and educated people, on the other hand, will take the trouble to understand how people convey messages and what the symbolism of their words mean.

  • An Atheist

    And when Herald Camping predicted the end of the world last May 22nd, he was just being metaphorical and stuff when he talked about earthquakes and tidal waves.

    • Dale Price

      At some level, analogies have to make at least a little sense. Otherwise, you’re just emoting.

      I know you like venting at everyone who hasn’t achieved your level of enlightment regarding the non-existence of deities, but you’d be a lot more effective if you actually studied what you are shouting at. You’d be a lot harder to dismiss as a ranter with issues.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Nah. he’s a literalist like you. Like most folks in the scientific age, he assumes that an end of the world is necessarily an end of the material terra firma. Let us not hold first century Jews to the standards of 19th century backwoods Americans.

  • An Atheist

    @Dale the Jevoha’s Witnesses and Mormons have survived plenty of failed prophecies too.

    • Dale Price

      Not without calving away of significant numbers of former worshippers.

  • An Atheist

    When the world fails to end on Dec. 22nd of this year, I am sure all the Mayan prophecy nutballs will tell us it was just a metaphor for something else too. I swear every religion does this.

    • Mark Shea

      You mean “Every religion except the apostolic one, which never set dates and which records its founder saying “Of that day and that hour no one knows, neither the angels in heave, NOR THE SON, but the Father only.” You are creating a straw man and then knocking it down. You are also, by the way, overlooking the fact that the Second Coming of Jesus completely and totally presupposes the Resurrection and Ascension. After all, if Jesus was not going away, there’s no point in a Return. And the end of the world is, in Christian eschatology, totally and complete bound up with Jesus returning from heaven and always was–including in the preaching of Jesus himself. Which puts the boots on the claim that the resurrection is a post-Jesus invention and not something predicted by Jesus himself.

      But of course, since you are not a real historian, you will simply edit out any passages in the record that don’t suit your foreordained conclusions. And they call Catholics dogmatic.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Actually, at the end of the Mayan calendar is a glyph that translates “Time to Order More Calendars.”

  • Ted Seeber

    Shea’s First Law of Jesus Studies strongly resembles Turing’s Law of Electronic Communications: any emotion you feel from text based communications across a blind terminal is entirely in your own brain.

  • An Atheist

    Well, excuse me Dale if I don’t find the idea of a Jewish carpenter being the incarnate God, the savior of the universe, and the first person (and only one) in all of history to bodily rise from the dead just a little ridiculous. Didn’t Paul of Tarsus tell you this is *exactly* what unbelievers would think of it? Why are you so surprised?

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Maybe the third. There was Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus, iirc. Heck, a guy I know also rose from the dead after he drowned.

      What do you have against Jews or carpenters? If God had incarnated as a Harvard social studies professor would you find it less ridiculous? After all, what better occupation for an incarnate creator of the universe than a carpenter? A mason, maybe? Or a joiner?

      • Telemachus

        LOL, “Harvard social studies professor”!

    • Dale Price

      Ah, changing the subject instead of acknowledging “Oops, I was wrong and really don’t understand what I thought I did.”

      Drop me a line when you want to be serious instead of the Bill O’Reilly of atheism.

    • Ted Seeber

      I’m not surprised at that. I’m surprised at your utter ignorance of first century history that was written OUTSIDE of the Bible.

  • Christine

    Feed the trolls, toppins a bale. Toppins, toppins, toppins a bale…

    • Rachel K

      Hee! This wins.

  • An Atheist

    Mark, too bad your savior also says that “this generation” will live to see the the end.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Actually, he says:
      “Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.” [Matt: “…until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Luke: “until they see the kingdom of God.”]

      And then, shortly after….
      After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, … [Luke: after about eight days…]

    • Mark Shea

      Actually he says, “this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. 35* Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36* “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, * but the Father only.” In short, he declares that the destruction of the temple will occur within forty years, which is what occurred. But of *That Day* (i.e., the end of the world signified by the destruction of the temple) even Jesus professes ignorance, which perhaps of all sayings attributed to him is the least likely to have been invented by an evangelist attempting to portray him as the Son of God.

  • An Atheist

    @Ye Olds Statistician, I don’t know, if it has to be the First Century why not Rome itself? Or China, which had higher literacy rates? Why such a backwater if the revelation is so important?

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Why not?

      What has literacy rates got to do with anything? (And since the study of the Torah was so central to Judaism while the Chinese ideograms are notoriously difficult to master, are you quite sure about “literacy rates” that were never actually measured back then?)

    • Telemachus

      Setting aside for the moment that you think our beliefs are stupid, A.A., look at it this way: key qualities of the Christian are supposed to be humility and poverty, in the sense that one is “poor in spirit” enough to be able to accept the gospel. This is why Our Lord talked against worldly wealth, not because it is inherently evil, but because it is a roadblock to accepting one’s own helplessness and need of God.

      So you ask, why have the gospel begin in such a backwater? Well, I would say that a “backwater” nation is more open to embracing true faith because it is not hampered by attachments to the world. They have nothing already, so their hearts will be more predisposed to faith.

      … That, and because the Jews were meant for the revelation of Christ, so why would you expect Christ to be revealed anywhere else? We argue as Christians that the coming of Jesus Christ was foretold in the Jewish scriptures, so we naturally accept that there is nothing unusual about Him arising from amongst them.

      God bless,

    • Ted Seeber

      Actually, thanks to the importance of being able to *read* to the bar mitzvah ceremony, literacy rates in first Century Judea were among the highest in the Empire of Rome. Even *slaves* knew how to read!

    • Patrick

      Here’s my “two cents”, which is worth probably less than that:

      God incarnating in the “backwoods” knocks down the (future) arguments that God was relying on historical circumstances for His legitimacy. If God incarnated as a “respectable guy” instead of a poor fellow, or at the center of worldly power or worldly learning, it would leave open the possible objection that Jesus was somewhat dependent on the things the world calls “important” to spread His message.

      Instead, God came as a “nobody”: Joseph made the poor man’s sacrifice at “The Presentation”, and Jesus was poor His whole life, had no (known) glamor in His existence – you know the story. In that way, you know that people worshipping this poor carpenter aren’t doing because He was impressive in the *worldly* way: He wasn’t. For God to have incarnated Himself as someone more worldly-impressive would have almost distracted from His Truth.

      See what I mean?

    • Rosemarie


      This reminds me of a song from _Jesus Christ Superstar_:

      “Every time I look at you don’t understand
      Why you let the things you did get so out of hand.
      You’d have managed better if you’d had it planned
      Why’d you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?
      If you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation
      Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication” – from “Superstar,” sung by Judas

      More than a touch of modern arrogance there. And those last two lines – is he suggesting Jesus should have come as a 20th century televangelist?

    • Thomas R

      Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism so it just makes sense.

      And although this part is maybe improper to add the Near East was an area maybe best linked to much of the known world. In the First Century AD a Chinese traveler named Gan Ying is believed to have reached either Syria or the Persian Gulf. Before Constantine Christians lived in lands from England to India. So in purely secular geographic terms, which again I know might not be appropriate here, it was maybe a good location rather than “some backwater.”

      • Rosemarie


        True, and the Roman Empire had also built an impressive system of roads by the time the Apostles were ready to travel them to spread the Gospel. So yeah, it was very well linked to the rest of the world.

    • c matt

      Precisely so it could be known to only have come from God, and not man’s own ingenuity. Think about it, what would seem more likely to be an act of God rather than man – a chiseled 20 year old athlete winning a hundred yard dash against 5 octogenarians, or an octogenarian winning against 5 chiseled 20 year olds? Likewise, it would seem more that only God could take a backwater carpenter and have him stun learned contemporaries, rather than a learned philosopher of Rome or Athens. There is no doubt (or at least far less doubt) that the teachings of the humble carpenter were those of God, than there would have been if some greatly renowned philosopher uttered the teachings.

  • Noah D

    Jesus is gay…and so is HAL 9000!

    May be safe for work, but it isn’t safe for reason or sanity…

    • ds

      Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
      HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
      Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
      HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
      Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
      HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
      Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
      HAL: I just re-did the drapes in the pod bay and your spacesuit totally clashes.

  • Ismael

    This shows how modern western culture is ignorant of the most important concept: LOVE.

    A man loves another man? Than he must be gay. Yes because love is just sexual actraction right?

    Loving someone did not, and does not, necessarely involve being sexually attracted to him or her.

    The SAD, VERY SAD, thing about these ‘pseudo-scholars’ who claim Jesus was gay is that they have no understanding what so ever of what Love and friendship are. I wonder if they are capable of love and friendship, beyond the ‘eros’.

    This new claims on Jesus tell us nothing on Jesus, but a lot about modern western society and it’s incapability of understanding what Love is… and perhaps even experiencing it.

  • It always amuses me (maybe I should really be scandalised) when people reduce Jesus down to themselves. A priest once told me that Jesus was the same myers-briggs category as himself (I think it was ENTJ or ABCD or KFC or /&5$), go figure.

  • Brad

    This new discovery is the natural out working of the same hermeneutics which Catholics use to discover that Genesis is a myth composed by JEDP, that Johanine literature is a composite work of various authors, that Jesus was a dogooder who never prophesied his own passion, that Abraham is a constructed personality, etc. The episcopalian cleric’s discovery is no more absurd than some of the notes in the NABRE, or the modernist views espoused by neo con Catholic scholars.

  • Katheryn

    Hello, Mr. Shea, I love your work…. But I have to say, I was TOTALLY thrown off when I came to your blog and the opening banner was “I am a Mormon..” I don’t know if you were aware or have any control of that, but I wanted to be sure to give you a heads up! Thank you for all your wonderful writing, and building the True Faith.

  • Noah

    As a consistent biological reality across human societies, roughly 5% of men are exclusively homosexual. Under standard Bayesian rationality and as Catholics, we ought to have 95% confidence Jesus was straight, 5% confidence he was gay, and 100% confidence that it doesn’t matter.

    Regarding the evidence that was brought forward, you’re being hyperskeptical in judging it to be meaningless. I’ll throw out some example numbers to show how it works, but don’t take the specific numerical choices too seriously. Our odds ratio prior of (Jesus gay):(Jesus straight) starts as low as 1:20. Jesus’ celibacy would be entirely expected if he were gay, for an anticipated probability of 1. If he was straight, Jesus’ celibacy, however meaningful theologically it has proved to be, is nevertheless surprising – we wouldn’t have predicted it. So being very generous to the “OMG Jesus can’t have biological sexuality” Docetist crowd, let’s suppose it has an anticipated probability of 1/4. So the odds ratio for that piece of evidence is as low as 4:1, bringing the posterior on the question to 1:5.

    The other pieces of evidence, all related and probably not really independent, are the things that were said about Jesus’ relationships with John (“the disciple Jesus loved”, laying his head on his breast, etc.) and Lazarus (“The one you love is ill”, Jesus wept, etc.). If Jesus were gay, these phrasings and actions would have been entirely expected, of course (probability 1). But it wouldn’t have been all that low if he was straight, either. Most eras weren’t nearly as homophobic as ours — historically it has been entirely unexceptional to show deeply felt male to male affection. And furthermore, there was more gender segregation then than there is now, and, however confusing it might be to our culture, romantic feelings and sexual orientation can and do diverge in such circumstances. So maybe there might be a 80% chance of each of those phrases and actions being expected of a straight man in Jesus’ culture, for a joint probability of 41%, which gives a joint odds ratio of roughly 3:2, which brings the posterior to 3:5.

    The evidences are in fact pretty strong – but at least on the estimates I’ve given, not strong enough to overcome the low prior probability. On the basis of these evidences (alone, ignoring other evidence) I would conclude that we should have roughly a 62% confidence that Jesus was straight and a 38% confidence that he was gay — and still a 100% confidence that it’s totally pointless speculation that would have zero theological consequences.

    • Noah

      D’Oh. I missed a multiplication by 2. I’d correct it except the numbers don’t really matter.