1. Jesus had a reputation as a pisshead
The gospel of Matthew records this: “The Son of Man[aka Jesus] came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.”‘ (Matthew 11:19) Many of Jesus’ contemporaries fasted, for example the followers of John the Baptist and the Pharisees, and this passage shows their contempt for a man who was not so fond of abstinence. This passage likely records a historical reality. In other words Jesus had a reputation for drinking alcohol when the others were fasting.
2. Jesus’ own family thought that he was mad
“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” (Mark 3:21)The would-be messiah was disdainful towards his family and throughout the gospels Jesus is portrayed as having a less than harmonious family life. Famously he could not even perform miracles in his hometown. Historians suggest that the emerging Catholic Church taking root outside of Palestine had to compete with the remaining Jewish Christians and they had drastic differences in belief. The Jewish Christians did not for example revere Jesus as a divinity. By claiming that Jesus’ family thought their famous son was insane the Catholic Church was actually aiming to downplay the influence of the Jewish Christians.
3. Jesus was a political revolutionary
There is a train of thought that the historical Jesus was more of a political activist than a religious holy man. Among his twelve disciples was Judas Iscariot and Simon the Zealot. The Sicarri (from whence Judas got his surname) were a sect of Jewish assassins and the Zealots were a bunch of rebels who opposed Roman rule through military force. This might explain why at least one of Jesus’ followers was armed: “With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” (Matthew 26:51)
4. Jesus cured blindness by spitting in the eyes
“He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” (Mark 8:23) Of course in the old days there was no understanding of modern science and spit was considered to have healing properties. Jesus was not alone among the ancients for spitting in eyes to heal the blind. The Roman Emperor Vespasian also healed a blind man by spitting in his eyes according to his chronicler Tacitus. (Tacitus, The Histories 4.81)
5. Jesus’ brother took over after Jesus died
James was the brother of Jesus. Paul tells us: “I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas [aka Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.” (Galatians 1:18-19) So James was in Jerusalem around 50ce when Paul visited, and the impression given elsewhere is that James was the leader of the movement. In the Book of Acts for example when everyone is arguing whether new converts needed to be circumcised or not, it is James who presides over the meeting and offers his judgement. (see acts 15:13-20) So why isn’t James as well known as his counterpart Peter? Why did the church want to forget James? Read the Christ Conundrum to find out.