Editor’s note: Johnnie Moore is the author of Dirty God (#DirtyGod). He is a professor of religion and vice president at Liberty University. Keep track of him @johnnieM .
By Johnnie Moore, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture.
You know the image. It’s the one where Jesus is walking like he’s floating in robes of pristine white followed by birds singing some holy little ditty. He’s polished, manicured, and clearly – God.
But despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God.
He was the “earthly” son of a carpenter, and life in the first-century was both more lurid and unfinished than our collective religious memory seems to recall.
To that end, I suggested recently to several astounded colleagues of mine that Jesus actually had to go to the bathroom, perhaps even on the side of the road between Capernaum and Jerusalem.
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What tipped them over the edge was when I insinuated that Jesus, like almost every other human being living in the rural world in that time, might have even had dysentery on an occasion or two.
Someone said, “You mean that Jesus might have had severe diarrhea?”
“Yep,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I mean.”
It seems like an obvious statement if you believe that Jesus was “fully God” and “fully man” (as most evangelicals believe and call the Incarnation), but to some of us it seems in the least, inappropriate, and at the most, sacrilege, to imagine Jesus in this way. We might believe that God was also man, but we picture him with an ever-present halo over his head.
But, actually, the Jesus of the Bible was more human than most people are conditioned to think.
I call this the dirty side of Jesus. He was grittier, and a lot more like us than maybe we believe, and that’s one of the reasons why so many thousands of people followed him so quickly.
They could relate to him.
He was the teacher from a small town who knew and understood the economic insecurity that was common in the first century. Times must have been rather tough for Jesus at points in his life, for he even spoke of being homeless, having to sleep on the ground with no roof over his head.
He also knew what it was like to have his message rejected and how it felt to be misunderstood. Jesus was regarded with such little significance in his hometown that one of his critics once remarked sardonically, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Jesus eventually had to move to different city (Capernaum) because his teachings so infuriated the people living in his hometown that they drove him out of Nazareth and even tried to throw him off a cliff.
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The real Jesus had dirt underneath his fingernails and calluses on his hands. He probably smelled badly from sweating profusely in the Judean sun on his long hikes to Jerusalem, and Jesus was, without a doubt, rumored to be a hypocrite or absolutely mad for all the time he spent with prostitutes and those afflicted with leprosy.
Not exactly have a clean-cut image.
He had a rather shady reputation.
Some people thought he was a revolutionary. The religious leaders called him a heretic, and others even accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton - in no small part because of the vagabond group of disciples he had with him. No serious religious leader of his day would have ever recruited such people.
For his core 12 disciples, Jesus included a tough-as-nails, bombastic fisherman (Peter), a chief tax collector named Matthew (the most hated popular figure of the time), an eventual traitor who was stealing money out of the offering bucket (Judas), a prolific doubter (Thomas), two jocks nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder” (James and John) and Simon the Zealot, a member of a radical political party which believed in using violence to kick out the Romans.
Jesus was sarcastic, too.
He often snapped back at the Pharisees with a tone fit for late-night television, and in a terribly embarrassing moment for all those around him, Jesus even called these respected religious teachers “snakes” that were probably sons of “Satan.”
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That’s not exactly the behavior of a sweet, self-help teacher with a halo over his head.
It’s the behavior of a frustrated man who might also be divine, but sure knows how it feels for annoying people to get under his skin.
Christians believe that Jesus chose to be born fully human, too, but why?
Lots of theologians have laid out opinions over the centuries, and in their opining they have tried once again to hijack Jesus’ humanity by defining it in philosophical terms. I believe it’s simpler than the philosophy and church councils and centuries of argument.
The brilliance of Christianity is the image of a God, named Jesus, arrived with dirty hands.
Jesus came in a time period when Greco-Roman gods were housed in gigantic temples and portrayed with superhuman powers and with superhuman physiques. Gods were believed to be far away from people on their mountains or hemmed up in their sanctuaries.
Jesus arrived in defiance of this prevailing imagery.
Jesus didn’t come flinging lightning bolts from a mountaintop, or playing politics in Rome. He came to live in a typical Middle Eastern village called Nazareth that was home to a couple hundred typical people. He didn’t decide to brandish his power, but to spend most of his time with the powerless and disenfranchised. And when he started a religious movement that reshaped history, he did it in the most profound and anticlimatic way:
He let himself be killed, and then he busted open a tomb.
In Jesus we meet a Savior who understood the desire to sleep just a few more hours, and who had to control his temper sometimes. In Jesus we find a God we can relate to because he chose to relate to us.
He was the God who became dirty so that the world’s souls might be made clean.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Johnnie Moore.
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement forf the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."
I'm sorry, "was blind, but now I see", but the Bible is a collection of mythological stories that are unfounded.
Quotes from "Romans" and "Hebrews"
The rants and raves of Paul of Tarsus? Why would you believe that guy?
And God cast out the Morning Star and he took one third of the Angels in Heaven...
Funny how the Free Mason like the Angle 33....the same ratio of Angels that followed the Morning Star out of Heaven...
And why are so many business magazines named the Morning Star anyway...
Can you prove ?
The three posts following your comment are all using the same I.P. and are presumably the same person.
Hal9001: Since you have given no evidence that the Bible is mythological, the assertion that it is is unfounded.
I am not any of those other posters. I must have a popular IP, I guess?
I wonder why something that is "mythological and unfounded" consistantly evokes such ire??? (Rhetorical musings of course.)
Your god doesn't exist until I see extraordinary proof it does. However, you'd have to agree you cannot dispute the existence of Elephus, the purple polka-dotted elephant god who pinched her trunk and farted us into existence. She is the one true god, and the path to her exists only through obeying my word, her right hand man and appointed prophet. We celebrate her appropriately on St. Elephus Day by wearing wrinkly grey boots and an elephant mask while prancing through the streets showering with pink and brown confetti those gathered to bear witness to her godliness.
lol typical new atheist. where the theists already are not on even footing with you guys, where we are the ones who show proof. keep attacking those straw-mans bro
Yeah the early statues of the Elephant God look like a man wearing a fight pilot's breather mask...
You're a fool. The first person to prove any religious faith would have the Nobel Prize and the religion would join the ranks of legitimate academic discipline--like science or math. Keep deluding yourself.
Reblogged this on Daily Enduring Truth and commented:
I saw this blog post and thought it might make for some interesting discussion. What do you think? Does the author make sense?
No, he doesn't.
Deposit this article in the trash. You could have explained your research without being deliberately offensive & disrespectful to the religion. But, I believe the latter was your true intent. I suggest printing this out & wiping your mother's backside with it.
These writers are dirty, dirty, filthy J3ws. Let's see how long that comment stands. Anti-Chr1sts
Which bit is offensive and disrespectful?
King James felt the same about many other old books about Jesus...they never made it into his Bible...
What? The guy who wrote this is a Christian. He's writing it for Christians as a way to describe the extent to which Jesus became human to get his message to the people and save humanity. Sheesh, I'm not even a Christian and I understand that.
"These writers are dirty, dirty, filthy J3ws. Let's see how long that comment stands."
Your comment will stay here for the duration of the blog, kid. Too bad that you didn't use your real name...
To " * " , I'll be happy to provide my real name and address, just post your email. P1issed you off didn't it? That was my point and you made it.
Well I waited and he didn't provide his email for me to give him my real name and address but he proved my point. No one likes to have their religion or beliefs misused in such a way and CNN and liberals are notorious for it. Making a derogatory statement, then trying to cover your tracks with a nice statement in the end in childish and something most people grew out of by fifth grade. "Your mother smells" followed by "smells of roses" ten paragraphs later, doesn't cut it.
What Cedar Rapids asked.
Your point was to p!ss someone off? How noble.
How about commenting on the content of the article and answering some of the questions from other posters?
Such dirty nonsense! There are no apparent bounds to stupidity when it comes to delusional people.
The point of this article is that Jesus is no different then you or me. He was just some guy who walked around and eventually some people thought it would be good to write a story about him. Now all you people call him god and formed a religion around him, even though the bible is basically the only proof he ever existed, which was written at least 40 years after he might have existed by people who didn't even know him. The problem is that you all believe this stuff and killed others who didnt believe in it. The only reason their is Christianity is because of the crusades, where you murdered millions of jews and muslims if they didnt convert to your religion. That is the only truth.
The Talmud calls for the killing of children
lol you believe what you want to believe. all atheists point to the crusades, like it's their signature argument or something. let me tell you something kid, it's people who misuse religion that led to the crusades, not religion itself. you're probably someone who believes that its guns who kill people, not people who kill people. its ok bro
Some of the writers of the New Testament knew Jesus personally. All, or virtually all, knew someone who did. It is a historical fact that the first converts to Christianity, after the disciples, were from those who lived in the time and place that Jesus lived.
The Crusades took place after Christianity had existed for a thousand years. Therefore, they cannot be the reason for Christianity.
No. Look it up. Do you seriously not understand how a timeline works? The crusades happened long before now, so yes, they can have an effect on how christianity exists after the crusades. And most biblical scholars do not believe that the gospels were written by the disciples or people who actually knew jesus.
Since the Crusades were a thousand years after the time of Christ, Christianity existed for a thousand years for reasons that had nothing to do with the Crusades. And today, Christianity exists not because of the Crusades, but for the same reasons it existed before the crusades.
Matthew, James, John, and Peter all knew Jesus.
Jesus was sent by God as his only Son, to be the Light of the World and the Prince of Peace. His meek background was a test to all souls, a test to listen and believe in His teachings. If he was as this dirty little article describes, it was because he chose it to be that way for the same reasons. God is all powerful.
And after 2,000 years
Jesus is still sitting in Heaven, his head lowered, and shaking he head slowly...
Saying Father why are my followers so dumb?...
And his father replies...
I told them not to eat from the tree of knowledge..but did they listen to me...No No No...
They are your problem now Son...Good Luck...
I'm sorry, "Brian B.", but "God", "Light of the World" and "the Prince of Peace" are all elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
your god is all powerful yet it had to use another mans wife/fiance' (adultery) to reproduce itself to sacrifice it's human shell self to itself to create a loophole for the descendents of its alleged flawed creation.
Not a very smart god or very omniscient
It's interesting that nowhere in the Gospels is there a single word describing the physical appearance of Jesus. Was he tall or short, fat or thin, dark or light? We don't know, because it just didn't matter. The Gospels were never meant to be biographical.
yeah, funny isn't it, especially when people claim to have a personal relationship with someone (jesus) they couldn't even pick out of a crowd.
Johnny, you were there? Are you really qualified to make any statements? I don't choose to go there. I just simply accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I don't need to know all the small stuff.
Just because he was not there does not disqualify him from having and opinion...all those that preach from the Pulpit have an opinion and were not there either...
This is good research in your field, but what is your proposal in making Christianity better? Can you dare write something like that about Mohamed of muslims? Can Christians wake up and ask for your head? and burn the embassies of your country? This is another topic for you to consider.
God's word is truth. Man's opinions however, sway like the changing direction of the wind. Thank God my bible was not edited by Johnnie Moore...
Your bible was edited by guys just like him - and they were even more superst-itious and ignorant about reality.
Your bible was made-up, edited and translated numerous times. It's no more the word of a man in the sky than a dog's bark
Where then do you say the kingdom of God is?
I'm sorry, "Correctlycenter", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore there can be no "truth" to "it"'s "word". Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".
Christ was PERFECT morally. He told us how to reach that perfection: He took the golden rule "do unto others" from the cerebral to the spiritual when he proclaimed "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is the greatest commandment, and is the same as loving the All Mighty with all of your heart. Christ then walked the walk. As CS Lewis pointed out -If you are trying to get out of a hole are you going to listen to someone in the hole with you, or someone that got out of the hole and is now reaching back for you?
We atheists who used to be religious are "out of the hole," and we keep telling you religious nut jobs to "stop digging" and start climbing to where we are by the powers of reason and sense, but you just keep digging. What should be our next step?
Are you a professor of religious? The writer on this article is, so take his word.
Why do aethiests keep killing themselves if they are out of the hole?
Marcus, Atheist are not dying. Religious have long sad history of death, look at holocaust, jew slavers in egypt, holy war, as going on.
Bizarre question Marcus, what has that got to do with anything? Are you suggesting Christians don't kill themselves?
Jim, to put all of religion in the same bucket is logical fallacy. It is used by "logical" aitheists all of the time. Aitheists could never abollish slavery worldwide. The spirit of Christianity did.
Are you a professor of religious?
The writer on this article is, so take his word.
Nope. Critical thinking matters. Blind following is for the delusional and/or uneducated.
Christians used the bible to justify slavery for a long time.
Cedar, I'm suggesting that statistcally Aehteists have much higher suicide rate than people who believe in a salvation.
Marcus, most christians in the South used the bible to support their stance on slavery, and it was very effective because the bible ONLY talks about slavery in a positive light and NEVER talks about slavery in a negative light. And "the spirit of christianity" must be fvcking ineffective since there are more slaves on the earth today than at any other time in our history. Research and reasoning will keep you from looking so foolish.
Real Christians used the words of Christ to abolish slavery worldwide. Some aetheists may have helped, but we know who led the charge.
Real Christians used the words of Christ to abolish slavery world-wide. Some aetheists may have helped, but we know who led the charge.
Christians get divorced much more often than atheists; atheists commit suicide more often than christians. Are you suggesting that we sit around and blame ideas or that we look into the problems and how to fix them?
Please stop with the deific morality thing. It's quite ludicrous.
Don't kill, but I can kill the world.
Don't covet the neighbors wife, but I can impregnate a woman in some weird deific ra-pe thing.
I know, I know.... it's all taken out of context or you have to know what he was really talking about because if you do, ra-pe magically becomes not ra-pe and murder is justified.
Marcus, I'll listen to your stupidity about who is and who isn't a "real christian" when you can prove who is and who isn't a "real christian" with some sort of measurable methodology. But since you have no method by which to tell who is a "real christian" and who isn't, then you just look ridiculous. And besides, that group of christians obviously failed at 'abolishing' slavery since there's so much more of it going on today.
Moby, slavery is illegal in every country on earth. The old testament may support it, but the words of Christ definently do not. Union soldiers were typically not aetheists.
Yeah, the whole "love your enemies" thing sort of loses its emphasis when the author is going to torture his forever and ever in his own torture pit.
And drugs are illegal, too. What's your point? Slavery is all over the place, today.
Moby, I'm just going to try to keep that greatest commandment and I'm confident that I will be fine. I'll try to get as many others to follow it as I can.
You're obviously not fine, Marcus, when you can't even make correct statements or show meaningful reasoning.
Aitheists could never abollish slavery worldwide. The spirit of Christianity did.
You are lying. Even a cursory look at the history of slavery in the United States shows that christians in the south used the bible to justify keeping slaves. After the Civil War, protestant christians founded the KKK to intimidate and murder former slaves, Catholics, and Jews. It died out in the late 1800s, but was reestablished in 1915. It's recruiting model is targeted exclusively to white, protestant christians.
It's so much easier to believe the lies you hear from the pulpit dismissing your religion's support of slavery then and continued discrimination against minorities and non-protestant christian religious groups than it is to actually check out if what you are being force fed is the truth.
Physical torture has it's limits. The damnation that Christs eludes to is that of an exposed selfish soul.
Bet, are suggesting that the KKK and southern slave owners were following the words of Christs?
Don't forget that slavery existed world wide anywhere that the ratio of resources to population allowed when Christ was born.
Cedar, your present day definition of slavery is very different from slavery.
Moby Schtick: Why would you assume that reason and sense would lead us to where you are?
How about an article on Muhammed? what was he?
Are you insinuating something? Out with it.
I'm atheist and I love this article because its made much more sense than what most people claimed.
It's interesting to see another opinion on Jesus's life although not accurate if you study the bible. We all know the Middle East taught the Europeans about showering daily and daily hygiene. Jesus was the perfect example of physical and spiritual cleanliness since he was born to Jewish parents. The Middle Eastern people are not dirty people like most like think. Take Jesus and his disciples, they would wash they're feet with fragrant oils and some of the finest, they didn't spend the only money they had on cars.... I mean horses or owning property. They spent it on Gods work which was traveling and teaching the truth of the bible, if you notice in the bible, it clearly says there were Christian brothers and gongregations on most provinces and cities ready to be hospitable to any traveling Christian brother. For example, Galatia, Pergamo, Laodicaea, Smirna, these were places when Christians gathered and taught and Jesus and his apostles could stay even though they had no permanent place or roof to rest their head. Like I said, it's all in the scriptures.
jesus could have had any thing he wanted. its his world.. we just live in it he is king
Sorry Donny, but in John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"
if he could have had anything he wanted then he could have poofed himself a megaphone and been more efficient in communicating. oh wait, he was just a mortal man and not omniscient. He wouldn't have known about megaphones.
actually he said this world is ruled by someone else, see Rev.12:9, John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11; 1 John 5:19; Matt.4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; 2 Cor.4:4 and most important Rev.12:12 which shows it will just be just a little while longer.
I like it.. I wish moslims start writing articles about their filthy mohammad also .. we need real people to awaken the stupid religios masses.. Religion kills ... cheers
yet another uneducated, unsubstantiated, knee-jerk statement on religion.
A professor in Pakistan a few years ago mentioned in class that Mohammed likely had lice. He was hauled off to jail.
Jesus lived by the Mosaic Law and therefore was as clean (inside and out) as a man could be. also unlike the pictures we see Jesus would not have had long hair since he was not a Nazirite and would have had a neatly trimmed beard and being far from feeble he was quite impressive. A few verses to support these statements, Num. 6:2-7; Heb.1:3, 7:26; Luke 2:52, 7:34, 10:21; and also John 1:29 and 2:1-11 give an indication of the kind of man he was. So he was not like the writer of this article indicates but was recognized as "the lamb of God" that takes away the sin of the world.
So that meant he didn't get Ill or dirty?
He probably would have been fairly clean, at least while he had ready access to water, but it would have been much more difficult while traveling. Few at that time could have maintained anything like the levels of cleanliness we see as normal today. Until just a couple of hundred years ago our primary leisure activity was the same as most primates...picking lice out of one another's hair. I once lived in a place where hot water was available only twice a week...cleanliness standards even then were notably poorer than we see in the developed world today.
They talk as if the word means nothing. Didn't Jesus talk and walk the scriptures? He mentioned in the scriptures how to cleanse ones self and how to live a clean life based on Hebrew and Greek scriptures? Well then the scriptures means nothing and they think he was a dirty man. Maybe since he was so talented all that oil he was being washed with was used oil some one threw out? Next they will be saying is that Ganhi was a filthy man. I don't think Jesus was spotless physically but I do think he kept himself clean and to serve diarrhea (conceptually) is a good way to make enemies.
I was raised to beleive in God but more recently I've become suspcious of all beliefs that claim to have a monopoly on truth including Christianity. Today I no longer go to church. I have no regrets other than I wish I could get back all the time and money I gave to church over the years.
The entire discussion is ridiculous. First, there was no real Jesus. It was made up by people 100 years after the alleged facts that took place. Secondly, calling somebody fully man and fully God is absurd. It's an oxymoron. It's like saying someone was the shortest person and the tallest person at the same time. A man would be a tiny little subset of a God so the "fully God" would fully consume the puny little man part.
Congratulations on becoming a healthy skeptic. At least you are no longer tossing money and resources down that scam.
Joe, are you willing to Bet your soul on that?
lol Joe, jesus was a real man. all historians know this. wow our education system has failed you, and i apologize for that
@Chuck and Joe
I don't know about Joe, but my background is complete religious indoctrination. I have read the bible about 8 times and studied it for most of my life. For many studied ex-christians like myself, we literally did "bet our soul" that the christian belief is so much nonsense. Yep, I bet my soul on it. And if there is a god, and he is good, then I have nothing to fear by following the evidence according to the sense of reasoning he provided my brain. And if there is a god, and he is evil, then you have ZERO guarantees, regardless of your religious hope and reasoning.
chuck, your pascal's wager is ineffective, uncreative and immoral. Congrats, you scored the trinity in poor taste!
Come to find out the argument continues over Pascal’s wager. Several philosophers have weighed in over the years and the validity of the argument is still disputed. The wager is criticized for several reasons and they all have their points to which there are counterpoints and so on.
I think it is fair to say that the only ones who admit the argument is valid are the ones who believe that God is at the very least a theoretical possibility. That being said, I think the only ones who have a leg to stand on in complaining against the wager are those who are convinced that God is not a possibility.
no jeebus, no god, film at 11.
@BobbyB: There's no debate. Chuck suggests turning a belief in god into a gambling wager. I say factually it is ineffective (it doesn't work to sway me) and uncreative (it is a boring, common argument). I say immoral because christians tell us gambling is immoral and I make the assumption chuck is a christian. It may not be immoral for you if you're comfortable wagering your soul. Are you? If so, we should get together for a card game... I could always use an extra soul.
Moby Schtick: "And if there is a god, and he is good, then I have nothing to fear. . . ." Since not every jury reaches a unanimous verdict, I assume you agree that people can see the same evidence and reason differently. You are basically saying that, if there is a God and you have reasoned wrong, that He will treat you the same as if you reasoned correctly. But you have neither the responsibility nor the capability of deciding what God will do. You are indeed betting your soul that your reasoning is correct.
Joe: The gospel was first preached less that two months after Jesus's death. And the first Christian converts were among those who lived at the time and place Jesus lived. They would have known if He had not existed. And they certainly would not have risked their lives to follow the non-existent teaching of a man whom they knew to be a figment of someone's imagination.
As for it being impossible for Jesus to be both God and man: What is impossible for an omnipotent God? (God and man are not opposites in the sense that tall and short are.)
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.