Did Jesus’ Writings Survive?

Perhaps the most influential figure in history is Jesus Christ Whether or not you believe he was the Son of God, you cannot deny history has been shaped by people inspired by the world’s largest religion

That faith grew out of the remarkable lessons he taught, and the miracles attributed to him Christianity, like Judaism before it, is built around holy scriptures Yet many historians have puzzled for many decades over why Jesus never put anything in writing Or did he? Did Jesus' Writings Survive? In 2013, Michael Paulkovich argued that the absence of any writings by Jesus prove he did not really exist Surely such a significant religious leader, a deity made flesh no less, would leave proof of his existence behind in the form of clearly written instructions for his followers? A lot of misinterpretation, strife and death could have been avoided if generations of Christians had not had to argue over which accounts of Jesus’ life were the most accurate

However, Candida Moss and Joel Baden argue that we should not expect to have inherited writings by Jesus himself Probability dictates that the Messiah could not read or write A study by William V Harris estimates that only about 5% of the population of the Holy Land in Jesus’ time were literate We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic, because it was the standard language spoken by Jews in the first century, and because there are many Aramaic words preserved in the New Testament, especially in the books of Mark and Matthew

But the original New Testament was written in Greek, which was the official language of the elite Scholars Chris Keith and Bart Ehrman both argue that, since he was raised as a carpenter in an unimportant town in Judea, it is highly unlikely that Jesus knew Greek, and therefore could not have contributed to the Bible in writing However, there is one document that might have come from Jesus himself – a letter to an Arab king in Mesopotamia King Abgar V died around AD

40, having ruled from the city of Edessa for nearly three decades He may have been one of the first Christian kings in history, perhaps even during Jesus’ lifetime, according to a letter copied down and shared around the Christian world during the middle ages In the letter, the king says: “to Jesus the good physician who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting I have heard of you and of your healing… without medicines or herbs… that you make the blind to see and the lame to walk… that you heal those afflicted with lingering disease, and raise the dead And having heard all these things concerning you, I have concluded that… you, who does these things, are the son of God” More incredibly, appended to the letter is the reply from Jesus: “Blessed are you who have believed in me without having seen me For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, and that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved… I will send to you one of my disciples, that he may

give life to you and yours” Were these words written down by Jesus Christ? The earliest known example of the letter was read by the father of church history, bishop Eusebius, in the fourth century, and he records he only saw a copy Although Eusebius believed the letter is from Jesus, the Church has never considered it real

The phrasing of the letter is suspiciously similar to a second century compilation of the gospels by Syrian theologian Tatian Regardless of whether or not the letter to King Abgar is genuine, Eusebius says Jesus dictated his reply to a messenger, and did not write it himself However, there is strong evidence in Bible that Jesus could write The book of Luke, chapter four verses sixteen to twenty-one, says Jesus could read Hebrew Scriptures: “On the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him

Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, Because he has anointed me To proclaim good news to the poor…’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down” Furthermore, the book of John, chapter eight verses three to nine, tell us Jesus could write: “The Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery… and said to Jesus… ‘In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women Now what do you say?’ Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger… and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” We do not know what Jesus wrote on the ground, and this passage is disputed by many scholars, but at least from the Bible's perspective it is confirmed he was able to write Yet if he could, why did he not leave any writings behind? Well, practically speaking, there was no need for him to do so Jesus may have been one of the 5% who could read and write, but he was preaching to the 95%

His followers were poor, disadvantaged and rural Like overturning tables in the temple, healing the sick, or dying on the cross, Jesus in the Bible spoke through his actions as much as his voice His audience did not need written prose to believe in him We can say with certainty that no writings by Jesus have survived into the modern day We can say that Jesus could possibly read and write

We can only speculate that he ever actually wrote any document, even if it was just a short note As history has shown, Jesus’ message had such power that it echoed across the world without his having to write it down The passion of his followers was, and still is, enough

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