On Christmas Eve, I heard a fellow standup comedian mention that there’s no historical proof of Jesus. Fair enough, faith is a big part of any religion. Maybe there was no historical Jesus, maybe he was a creature of myth, like Hercules, or Matlock. But Jesus only frollicking in the land of Honalee doesn’t take away from me the divinity of ”Do Unto Others as They Would Do Unto You” or whatever it is he said. Or She said.
But my curiousity is peaked. And since it’s the thick of the Christmas Season and Jesus’s observed birthday (1) (2) why not search the internet for some non-Biblical, historical accounts of Jesus’s life?
Boo-ya! Here’s what I’ve found:
There’s some cool excerpts from Roman-era historians who speak mostly of Jesus’s trial and early, hippy, anti-Roman Christians.
Here’s Pliny the Younger, a Roman stooge, declaring that he has the crazy Christians under his control in 112 A.D.
They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food—but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations.
This cool site also mentions that some believe Jesus to be referenced in the Talmud as Yeshu, a sorcerer who is hanged. I found this other site which seems to do a pretty good job of examining those passages and laying down the pro’s and con’s of Jesus’s alledged appearance in the Talmud: http://www.angelfire.com/mt/talmud/jesusnarr.html
I also found this little rundown of non-Christian accounts:
Lucian of Samosata is interesting in that he was a Greek satirist who mocked early Christians because they worshiped a lowly man and not a mythical god. He sort of seems like a pre-Christian fundamental Christian.
I wish I could find more contemporary accounts of Jesus instead of the chronicles of Roman squares being annoyed by early Christian hippies. But it looks like there might be a sliver of historical evidence that there was a real Jesus, whether he was the Christian Jesus or just a dude or another mystery altogether…
Here’s 48 seconds of Bible Humor. This was part of an open mic set I did. I broke my recent rule of bringing a cheat sheet up with me. Lately I’ve discovered I seem to do standup better when I don’t have a sheet listing my jokes. I think when I have a piece of paper to reference it takes me out of the moment and I try to remember things as opposed to trying to perform things. Acting is doing, not remembering, to paraphrase my college acting Professor.
“And on the third day Jesus rose again, and checked his Tivo to make sure he had not missed any new episodes of Cash Cab or Dating in the Dark. He then topped up his Virgin Mobile pay as you go phone and ascended into heaven.”
“And the last supper was delayed for Dominoes had failed to deliver within the promised thirty minutes. Jesus’s disciple Simon-Peter then called the parlor of pizza to inquire upon the hold-up. After which Jesus threw up his arms and walked to the bodega in search of Ellio’s Frozen Pizzas. The son of god returned and said take, heat for thirty minutes, this the frozen bread of my bodega. Do this in rememberance of my trip down the street. Two hours passed until Dominoes appeared with free breadsticks. And the tips were very low.”
“On the seventh day God rested until we was awoken by his cat at 5 am who demanded to be fed. God then shushed the beast, yet it still cried. Refusing to succumb to the small animal’s manipulations, the Lord half-slept for three more hours, and upon waking pondered posting an ad on Craigslist for someone to take the nocturnal feline off the Lord’s hands.”