Apocryphal Thoughts from Smallville

I am about to embark on a journey into touchy territory. Those of you who know me personally will not be surprised at all by this. It is common knowledge among my friends that I tend to speak before I think and talk straight from the tip of my brain most of the time. I also am willing to acknowledge error in my ways. The fact that I have a keyboard in front of me makes it worse because I type faster than I think! However, so many thoughts lately spring to the surface and this is my forum for writing them down! I plan to have multiple postings concerning the personality of Christ, the Apocrypha and so on…it might take days, weeks or months. So, I add the following disclaimers and apologies up front:

1. I am a Christian who believes in the Holy Triune God. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his sacrifice, made for me, defeated death itself to reconcile me to God. I believe the Bible is truth.

2. The subject matter discussed in this and subsequent similar posts are merely thoughts and questions, peppered with opinion and designed to stimulate thought.

3. I welcome feedback and comments, but abhor snarkiness, so don’t bother if you’re just around to pick on people. I want intelligent thought.

4. I apologize to anyone who may read anything I write and doubt for a minute where my faith lies…um…dad.

5. It’s kinda long.

Most Christians will loudly tell you that they believe in the following supernatural events recorded in scripture (just naming a few):

 Moses parting the sea and all those plagues! Job being tortured by Satan himself. Sodom and Gomorrah and a woman turns to a pillar of salt. Angels appearing all over the place. The VIRGIN birth, water into wine, raising the dead, healing the sick. Last, but definitely not least, the resurrection of Christ himself, who is the Son of God. Let’s face it…belief in God himself requires a little thinking beyond the earthly realm.  If we, as Christians, believe these things to be true and factual without question or denial then why do we have such a hard time with some other events recorded but not included in the Bible as it now stands?

Let’s be honest about interpretation and translation, admitting that some human agenda did, in fact, go into comprising the Bible in the form it is in today. That is not to say God has not inspired His Word or had influence on the decisions of the Council of Nicea or whoever else was involved. But, each translation is a tad different. And PEOPLE decided which books to include and in that simple fact lies the potential for humanity to creep into the mix. (I am sure that right here some of you are wondering where my belief lies…I told you so, I told you so.)

So, I’ve been reading the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. It is a gnostic gospel. Some argue that it is a forgery and some argue it is authentic and came before other gospels in chronolgy. I don’t want to concentrate on the validity of the writings, but on some of the content as it raises interesting questions. The stories told are of miracles and supernatural acts that Jesus performed as a very young child. Stories about healing people who were injured, creating life from clay and instructing his teachers rather than learning from them. My favorite is the one describing him helping his father, Joseph, build a bed. The wood beams were uneven, so young Jesus stretched one to the right size so it would fit. I can picture it: “Here, Dad, let me help with that….” Yikes!

Sometimes young Jesus seems to be using his “powers” to exact revenge on someone who has wronged him in some way. That would be contrary to our image of the loving, gentle Jesus. He actually had the townspeople scared of him and wanting him gone since he wasn’t playing nicely with other children; he was striking them down dead! But, he always undid the “bad” things he caused to happen and healed people when someone acknowledged his holiness. We accept, that as a man, he got really riled up and fashioned whips to empty the temple, His Father’s house…why not as a child? It seems to me that is in the very nature of God to do things that way. He is a vengeful God, yet one full of grace and mercy. If Jesus was God, then how could this nature not be in him? If we admit that he, at the age of 12, was preaching and teaching in the temple…somewhere before that he had to have exercised some supernatural powers…right?  I mean, did he just suddenly develop this habit of performing miracles when he hit the age of 33? I doubt it. He knew who he was and he reacted with the heart of his Father. If the stories in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas are true at all…people living around Jesus must have felt like they were living in Smallville with Clark Kent down the street!

Why are those events so implausible when the rest of it is accepted as fact? One day God the Father spoke out loud and said “Here is my son…” and a dove descended and landed on Jesus’ head and everyone saw it…yet we can’t believe that as a child he would have had SOME kind of divineness? The scriptures leave a whole lot of the life of Christ out. Those parts, I hope, don’t impact our salvation, our faith or our eternity. They aren’t “necessary” for teaching, preaching and rebuking. But they are mighty interesting, I am sure, and I wonder how much of what is recorded in writings like Thomas and others is based in truth.

To be continued….

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leon
    Apr 09, 2007 @ 10:24:44

    Audrey

    For a long time now I too have been considering Mary the mother of our lord, in a different way from how I grew up thinking about this amazing woman. One aspect of her life is that the church for more than 1000 years called her ‘ever virgin.” Many of the reformers totally kept this understanding of Mary, including Balthazar Hubmeir an early Anabaptist leader.

    The fact that Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to John his friend is a strong argument for his having been the only child to whom she gave birth. Had there been a younger brother or sister in the picture his loving action from the cross would have constituted the ultimate insult. To be sure everything else we read of him while on the cross demonstrates a very different attitude.

    To be sure the scriptures speak of his family. But then Lot is also called the brother of Abraham when in fact he was his nephew. Back then and in that culture the word brother was used in a much broader way than we use to today.

    Protestants really need to re-consider Mary and her role in bringing salvation to humanity. Thanks for your post!

    Reply

  2. Grits n' Grace
    Apr 09, 2007 @ 21:57:31

    Hey Audrey,

    I’m really digging your blog. Very thought provoking. I’ve been Episcopalian (a series of posts in its own right ;-)…) for about 10 years, but I was born and raised a Roman Catholic, so the Apocrypha is not foreign to me.

    I think you are spot on. It is important to understand that PEOPLE are responsible for what is “published” in the Bible. I haven’t really stopped to formulate where this response is headed, so I’ll just run with it. We humans have been trying to define who and what God for centuries. We want Him to be what we want Him to be. To think that the events of these “hidden” books are implausible implies that God has limits. If Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, why wouldn’t he be able to stretch a timber? Are we really arrogant enough to think we can define or place limits on the very One who created us?

    I wish we knew more about Jesus’ youth. Have read “Christ the Lord, Out of Egypt” by Anne Rice? I plan to, but haven’t yet. I’m very curious to see how she depicts Jesus as a boy. I understand it presents Jesus as nature mystic, healer, prophet and very much a real young boy. Jesus is grappling to understand his miraculous gifts and numinous birth. He animates clay pigeons, causes snowfall and dazzles his elders with unheard-of knowledge.

    I look forward to your continuation.

    Reply

  3. Rich
    Apr 25, 2007 @ 17:05:56

    Enjoyed your post. Whether it’s true or not it’s pretty cool to think about the stories of Jesus as a child. We know he was sinless, but was he perfect in everything? You know the perfect model kid. Does the image of the meek and mild mannered man we have of him hold true even through his childhood? Did he go through the terrible twos, was their some mischievousness in him through his adolescent years? He was human after all. He was like us in every way. I like to think there was more to him then what we give him credit for. I’d like to believe the stories like those in the Gospel of Thomas have the possibility of being true. Because I think it makes Jesus more real, more like me. We’ve made God and Jesus to safe, to watered down, to sterilized. To borrow from someone else, he’s not safe, he’s wild, he’s dangerous, he’s uncontrollable and unpredictable. But he’s good.

    Reply

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