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 are some clips of me working out some standup bits at open mics. I make fun of such sacred things as The Bible, President Obama, and Facebook.
“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.”
JESUS’S TEMP by Jeremiah Murphy (OPEN ON: AN OFFICE. JESUS IS SITTING AT A DESK TALKING ON THE PHONE)
JESUS I’m sorry, Mr Davenport. What can I say? (TIMMY ENTERS, HE HAS A CAST IN HIS RIGHT FOOT) I’m sorry. I know what it says in the Bible but I’m sorry. Myself I got chronic ear infections and was circumsized without consent. I apologize for the mental image, Mr Davenport.
TIMMY Am I in the right place?
(JESUS MAKES A MOTION SIGNALLING THAT HE IS ON THE PHONE)
JESUS Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. OK, Peace to you too, Mr Davenport. (HANGS UP) Bum.
TIMMY I’m here from Big Time Temps. Are you Mr “Hey-Zeus?”
JESUS Yeah, I’m “Hey-Zeus.”
TIMMY Oh Good. Sorry, I’m a few minutes–
JESUS The name is Jesus, wisebutt. Perhaps you’ve heard it before? What do they teach in Sunday School these days? Mickey Mouse? I’m Jesus, baby, baby Jesus. You’re looking at the Second Coming. We’re doing it, kid! Please tell me you can mail merge in Word Perfect. I trust Microsoft like I trust the MTA. I waited forty-five minutes last night, damn N train. You’d think the Son of God could afford a little more then a two bedroom share on Ditmars. I’ve slept in tombs that are bigger.
TIMMY Um, I’m sure I can figure my way around Word Perfect, I’m familiar with most Microsoft programs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint.
JESUS What’s PowerPoint?
TIMMY It’s for presentations. You can make slide shows with it.
JESUS Cool. Jesus’s temp knows PowerPoint. How fast you type?
TIMMY Sixty-five words per minute.
JESUS You wouldn’t last a day in Rome. We got a lot of work to do. This Second Coming is very, very nasty business. Look at me. I’m a wreck. I’m supposed to spread peace throughout the world. And what do they give me? An ugly office, Windows 98, and a temp with one leg. I’m sorry, what’s your name kid?
JESUS (PHONE RINGS) Hello. What do I look like? (HANGS UP) I knew a Tim once, a cheapskate. You cheap, Tim?
TIMMY Only on dates.
JESUS My man! (HIGH-FIVES TIMMY) What do you do kid, you an actor? A stand-up? I love that Greg Proops. (JESUS IS DISTRACTED BY A PIECE OF PAPERWORK) Aye-yi-yi! I wish my dumb roommate would split the freaking cable. I cannot say how much I need my own place. He’s one of those anguished writers. (SHUDDERS)
TIMMY I’m a screenwriter.
JESUS No kidding. That’s great. Following your dreams. I’m jealous. You ever see “Brain Donors” with John Torturo?
TIMMY I’ve never heard of it.
JESUS Rent it. Now. What I’m looking for is help in making sure my message is sent out in the world. Due to my budget, I’m focussing my attention SOLELY on email forwards. They’re fast. They’re easy. They’re now. I trust that you’re familiar with Eudora.
JESUS It’s an email client, Tim, similar to Outlook–again, the Microsoft thing. Stay with me, kid. Focus. We got a millennium of peace to set up. Just you, me, and this litter box of an office. Yesterday I was sitting at the right hand of my father. The chair fit the shape of my back, kid. Look what I got now. Look at this!
TIMMY I’m sorry, Mr Jesus. But I’ve gotten a lot of those email forwards before and I have to say most peole just trash them.
Hey, hey, hey, I’m the Jesus, you’re the temp. You want your sixteen an hour or not, Tim? Doesn’t trust email forwards! Taste these chocolate chip cookies, someone paid $500 for that recipe! Neiman Marcus!
TIMMY I’m sorry, Mr Jesus.
JESUS It’s just Jesus, like “Cher” or that “Beck.”
JESUS You know him. A few rules: Rule Number One: I hear so much as ONE Simon and Garfunkel CD playing, you’re fired. And I mean fired. I spent three days in Hell, kid, and I’m not talking about Jersey City–I was in the actual Hell. Flames. Bat People. Three Days, Tim. Rule Number Two: See rule number one. Rule Number Three: See rule number two.
TIMMY I mainly listen to 80’s soundtracks.
JESUS My Man! (HIGH FIVE) Oh, if a “George W.” calls, just hang up.
TIM No problem, Jesus.
JESUS You’re good, Tim. If you stick with it maybe you’ll go perm.
JESUS Hello? Yeah, I don’t do those.
I have no patience for people who use Christianity as a tool for hatred. This misuse of a message that calls for peace and charity is never more blasphemed than when people decide to pimp Jesus into picking on Gays, Lesbians, and Bisexuals (and anything in between).
We all have our prejudices, false stereotypes, and fears but to act on them in the name of a great teacher who preached acceptance and selflessness is to drop a turd in the punchbowl of peace.
In the Episcopal Church, which I was raised, there are still those who want to make a stink about having homosexuals in the Church as clergy, bishops, or even parishoners. Some of these people, who are so disgusted with the love certain people share, have decided to leave the Episcopal Church and form their own churches or join equally close minded organizations overseas. I’m all for recognizing people’s different points of view, but perhaps if you’re leaving one church because of the gay people in it, you should leave the whole Christian Church to worship some deity which celebrates fear, ignorance, and the petty cowardice that refuses Christ’s dare to love one’s neighbor.
I’m sick of people who continually perpetrate the false image of Christianity as a house of ignorance, intolerance, and a high-strung fear of God’s creation with all its many nuances. Christian churches all over the world have done great work in feeding the hungry, mending the sick, and speaking out against violent governments (anybody remember the 60s?). Yet nowadays, the Christian image has been stolen by frightened, small-minded folks who wish not to bring about peace and fellowship, but strife and hatred. It’s a shame. If people have such a problem with gays that they have to condemn them, they should question their Christianity.