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.
'Jesus Wife' fragment gets more testing, delays article
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.
Simply amazing that people get paid for this. Must be a sign of the times, a narcissistic "professor" of religion, writing nonsense and tripe for this liberal tail of the Obama dog.
I guess there's hope for the rest of us when fluff like this can be published.
And how do you feel about Pat Robertson....Pat has made many statements that are very un-Christian and is still on the air...and Pat did not like the Teletubbies...
SCREAMER: It was Falwell who verbalized his distaste for all things telletubby
Are the gaseous emanations we all have to varying degrees vestigial of original sin or are they the work of Satan himself? It has to be more than coincidence that the so-called eggy odor gets its signature scent from sulfur which has been described in the accounts of all those who have returned from Hell, Hades, or the Inferno – or whatever you call it around your dinner table.
I believe its much more simple than that. Let's not get existensial about farts. It's clearly due to the #4 Senior Slam on the Denny's menu.
Atheists cIaim religion is the source of the world's major problems, while in the same breathe they purposely try to offend anyone who doesn't believe as they do. They sit here spouting hatred while Christians are out volunteering to help the needy in the world.
Ironic isn't it?
I completely agree. Get ready for all the atheist trolls to start defending themselves using circular logic.
Don't you just hate it that you were dragged and force into this blog -away- from your heavy volunteering?
Oh that irony thingy...
You need to seperate the belief from the people. It is the belief that athiests reject. If you are offended it is possibly because you identify yourself by this belief. So threatening the belief threatens you personally.
My dad can beat up your dad.
Your point is worth being retold. Hitchens, at least on TV, looked had the saddest/meanest looking visage all of the time. Smiling seemed to give him a cramp. The other clown, Richard Dawkins, has ever expressed a scintilla of humility. Arrogance 24/7. When Athiests International (if there is one) ever shows up at a disaster scene, or organizes and funds a hospital system, well, that would be noteworthy. Until then, they always seem to be angry about something.
we feed the poor too.
Its just that we don't advertise it.
ALIEN: Right, just like political liberals are all so compassionate and giving (with other people's money); then their tax returns are made public and we find Bill Clinton gave his boxer shorts to Goodwill and Joe Biden donates about .0000000000000440004 of his salary.
And many Christians don't advertise it. Nice try though.
It's quite an endearing note that your kind always love to make about others who disagree with your kind as "angry".
I love how that is always the forethought in your kind. You want that picture so badly you need to re-enforce it to yourself and along your own brethens.
Is it succeeding?
Hmmm...not a Christian and I volunteer at a nursing home, donate money to charity and happily pay higher than average taxes.
ANSWER: So your saying Hitchens was a sweet person? The only time he smiled was when a woman in the crowd made a penis joke at his expense. Even then, it was a half-smile. That you don't want to admit it doesn't prove any point you are trying to make. Carry on.
Saraswati: Thanks for not wearing it on your sleeve. LOL
Yeah, and when are those non-stamp collectors going to get off their azz and do something?!?
You're bothered obviously by Hitchens.. poor you. XD
The author is correct, Jesus was fully man, only a man could pay the price for man's sins, only God could be a perfect sacrifice to pay the price justice demanded for our sins. God became man, with all of the dirty, humiliating, and cursed existence that goes with it, except there is one huge (and important) difference. He is the "new adam". regardless of your opinion on creation, evolution, or theistic evolution (I subscribe to a combination of creation and theistic evolution) because he was a new man he was not falen in nature, though he was subject to as much or more temptation as the rest of us. He spent his time with the lowest in society, and welcomed "sinners" (a deceptive term, a "sinner" was a derogatory and discriminatory term for people of certain classes or professions. All people are sinners.) Jesus told the religious leaders who refused to acknowledge their sin that the physician (the great physician is one of his names) comes to the sick and not the healthy. Jesus, the only one who had no reason to be humble, humbled himself in order to save the weakest and most desperately pathetic sinners. He even forgave the people who were in the act of executing him. At any time he had every right to change his mind, call down the entire host of heaven and pass judgment, or simply will the world to stop existing. But he allowed himself to die for sinners, for me. This sacrifice allows the restoration of our broken relationship to God. He did this because he loves us.
I don't believe that Jesus was God. That was done after he died by Paul in order to make him more palatable to Romans. He was born human and died human. Period. His teachings are what is most important, not that he became an object of worship. One should follow his teachings is one believes they are true.
hmm like Mahatma Gandhi???
Anyone who made the claims Jesus did could nit be considered only a normal person with wise thoughts. He was either who he claimed to be, or a lunatic. I believe he was who he claimed to be. Jesus is king!
"He was either who he claimed to be, or a lunatic."
Assuming the biblical quotes are roughly accurate, he could also have been a con artist or just mildly decieved. Or he could be correctly quoted in some places, and the words manipulated in others. I think there are quite a few possibilities.
C.S. Lewis's "Liar, Lunatic or Lord" left out another "L" possibility – Legend
(perhaps exaggerated and perpetuated by needy and gullible followers)
Lets compromise and worship a different god every day. I say tomorrow we start with:
XIPE TOTEC was the Aztec god of spring (the beginning of the rainy season) and of new vegetation.
He was also the patron god of goldsmiths.
As a symbol of the new vegetation, Xipe Totec wore the skin of a human victim – the "new skin" that covered the earth in the spring.
His statues and stone masks always showed him wearing a freshly flayed skin (his name means Our Lord the Flayed One).
Aztecs adopted Xipe as a god during the reign of Emperor Axayacatl (1469-81).
During the second ritual month of the Aztec year, Tlacaxipehualiztli (Flaying of Men), the priests killed human victims by removing their hearts. They flayed the bodies and put on the skins, which were dyed yellow and called teocuitlaquemitl ("golden clothes"). Other victims were fastened to a frame and put to death by arrows; their blood dripping down was believed to symbolize the fertile spring rains.
Sounds a bit impractical these days. Can we use scarecrows and ketchup instead?
Obviously the man hasn't heard – Obama is the second coming of Jesus and he's going to set us free from all material wealth once and for all!!!
Just how far can you picture (or slander the black man) for it?
Will Obama leave you all naked? Will he take away that carrot that you're holding too? I like to see it.
How many hours have you been on here commenting? Do you not have anything better to do with your time?
I got time today... apparently. XD
I see you drink at the fountain of Limbaugh.
What do you do for a living? How old are you? The reason I ask is because you seem to be on here all the time (way more than someone with a real job would be able to). Just curious.
Well you can be curious.. and still be curious.
That suffices for anyone. And it'll always be that way, but you knew that.
either you a) don't have a job, or b) are a teenager. So cute that someone who contributes so little to humanity can make such grandiose claims about life. I pity your pathetic and sad existence.
It's so sweet that you that to be true. You can continue to think it. Thanks.
END IDIOCY: you must really chafe every time you see "In God We Trust" on legal tender. Do they have that on your welfare check?
See this route in the argument of blogs is always of an interest. The poor religious t-w-a-t-s love to use visual pictures to represent their opponents who show them the most opposition. Mainly those who really speak out and confront them.
Usage of hate ("you reject my god") .. money ("you're so poor") ..pity ("I bet your life stinks")... fear ("you'll burn in hell") and that last one = love ("for god so loves you")
The richness of the condescending remarks to being confronted. XD
You said–> "The gospel is no myth. Your fate depends on your response to it. As did John Lennon's."
This a a DIRECT quote from you.
Why am I reading this person's opinion of his own religion? Would CNN allow a Muslim or Buddhist to write such an "opinion" piece and would this writer, from Liberty University, bother to read their opinion? I doubt it.
This was posted yesterday:
Very likely, Jesus smoked a pipe and used it as a spiritual tool in his ministry. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my pipe upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my pipe is smooth and its smoke is light.” – Matthew 11:28-29
he hung out with 12 dudes all day, of course he smoked pole.
Depending on what was in the pipe, I may have followed him around too.
Don't forget the women...Their were women there too with the 12 men...Who was always rubbing oil on Jesus's poor tired feet?...Who saw Jesus first after he rose from the grave...Who was the most loyal to Jesus?
Atheists claim religion is the source of the world's major problems, while in the same breathe they purposely try to offend anyone who doesn't believe as they do. They sit here spouting hatred while Christians are out volunteering to help the needy in the world.
FAIL! Here it is in King James and Latin...
Mt 11 28 Come to me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you. venite ad me omnes qui laboratis et onerati estis et ego reficiam vos
Mt 11 29 Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. tollite iugum meum super vos et discite a me quia mitis sum et humilis corde et invenietis requiem animabus vestris
Mt 11 30 For my yoke is sweet and my burden light. iugum enim meum suave est et onus meum leve est
End religion – Military, police and fire are surrounded by dudes all day. They smoke pole too? Women are becoming more prominent in those sectors, but still majority are males.
Jesus smoking a pipe actually makes a lot of sense. Native Americans were praising God with their pipes a thousand years before Jesus was born, and would be right in line with the types of people he surrounded himself with.
"It is not what enters into the body that defiles a man, but what comes out of it. Everything that enters the mouth passes through the intestines and leaves the body. However, the things coming out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those things are what can defile a man." – Matthew 15
The disciples said to him, “Do you realize you
offend the Pharisees by what you say?”
In reply he said, “Let them be. They are blind
leading the blind. It is not what enters into the
mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of
it. Everything that enters the mouth passes through
the intestines and leaves the body. However, the
things coming out of the mouth come out of the
heart, and those things are what can defile a man.
Because out of the heart come murders, adulteries,
thieveries, lies, blasphemies. Those are the things
that are wrong. To puff the pipe of the kingdom of
heaven is not wrong.”
@vanessa: if i had to bet I would assume that, yes, there are plenty of gay military, police and firemen. Is it your assumption there are none?
Christ Jesus knew this world was not His kingdom domains and yet Christ did come here as an Ambassador for the world's people to be given hope in there being an afterlife upon one's death. John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"
Although Christ did tell many about the 'true/ whereabouts of the kingdom of God's domains many even of today's time fall short in understanding of Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!" and also, 1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"
Who therefore among you can honestly believe the truth of God's kingdom domains whereabouts when it is posted here for all to see?
It's all word salad, lionylamb
Actually sciguy, I have read the bible cover to cover in my bible as literature class. Amusing stories, but no basis in reality. I actually prefer old testamnet god, he was really smiteful, wrathful and vengeful. But then he went to anger management classes and had a kid and then that made him calm down and be all loving.
Jesus definitely had dirty hands because there was no toilet paper back then.
Jesus used the three sea shell method...
He used the middle finger.
YOUR Wrong as while your 'imagining' these things maybe a little research would help you to learn that 'saints' and people who are very close to God (not to mention Jesus the most HOLY) anyway many saints and holy individuals not only
do NOT have odors like regular humans – they have a SWEET scent to them – NOT only that They have better
health so Jesus may have been here in a human body but don't forget His Body was a HOLY human Body and
He probably did not have dysentery or what ever your trying to equate HIM with - He was HUMAN and worked hard
but be careful not to assume His level of anatomy was like yours or mine -IT WASN'T – afterall HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD – CAN YOU DO THAT? IF HE 'SMELLED OF ANYTHING' IT WAS PROBABLY OF ROSE SCENT – GET WHAT I MEAN HERE.
It's so nice that you can paint the things that YOU want out of your saints and icons. Congrats.
The most intelligent atheist I know has my respect. He said that he knows of no God or god affecting or influencing his life but that he can only answer for himself. Another person here JWT said something very similar.
Only jerks (not atheists or religious) will bother making negative comments on here because their motivation is nothing more than inciting negative emotional responses. You're just making trouble where there isn't any. Cavemen and third world extremists do this kind of thing.
If having your beliefs questioned causes you distress, you've got bigger problems than a few rude posters.
Rub a dub dub.
"If you NO like.... no one cares." Say it – just like that.
@Imminent: sounds like that atheist was just answering your question as tactfully as possible so you didn't mire him in questions about the myriad machinations you've manufactured to make such a religion seem true to you. The entire time you were talking he was thinking, "I can't wait until this fucking lunatic stops talking. I hope that my response was balanced enough to let him know I don't believe in fairies but he's free to wallow in his own ignorance for all I care. I just want him to go away before he starts speaking in tongues or asks me to join him in snake worship."
"I just want him to go away before he starts speaking in tongues or asks me to join him in snake worship."
Dude .. .best ever picture painted of that point.
They don't talk about this much in history books but the conditions were undoubtedly filthy. It doesn't really bother me if Jesus may have had worms or head lice, I'm guessing almost everybody did.
It is likely you are correct about the people who existed at the time. Of course this leaves out jesus, who is a complete fabrication.
This is the second time today I have been asked about my welfare check. LOL... I must be striking at the very heart of the religious/financial nerve center of ... whatever. I can't attest as to what is written on a welfare check.
Although I find "in god we trust" an incredibly poor choice of words for our national currency, for Establishment Clause reasons and also because it means we put our faith in non-existent fairy tales, it really isn't something I dwell on, on a day to day basis. I would have to assume like any other organization, like Congress, once we have solved the big issues we will have nothing left but the ridiculous and small issues such as what words should be on our currency. Give us some time and we'll right that ship.
Que mente pequeña que tienen algunos comentaristas, que importancia tiene si Jesús era sucio si se bañaba o no, si hay niños que mueren de hambre o hay inundaciones, el les dio toda la libertad al hombre y los culpables somos nosotros de los que nos pase.
Never heard of Johnnie Moore, but his article makes sense. We all know that the pictures of Christ are stylized, since He was of middle eastern descent. However, He has also been depicted as black, eastern, anglo, etc, to enable people to mentally and spiritually relate to Him. I see no problem with that. We also know that towns had wells and sometimes springs where people could wash and refresh themselves even in some of the arid and semi-arid regions. So I'm sure there were times when Jesus' hands were dirty and His feet as well from walking the dusty roads and pathways, but I feel sure He was able to access water for cleanliness. And remember Mary Magdalene washed His feet when He went to their home. Read about it in the following link. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_Mary_washed_Jesus%27_feet
Give it what ever color or shape, hindu fabrication called Jesus, who never existed, but in minds of Magi's, crooks to hind fool humanity.
I find it rather poetic, that the one true God chose to embody himself as his own son, to be born into the sinful, dirty world over which he ruled, to save the very creatures that he created in his own image. You couldn't come up with a more poetic story if you tried. And undoubtedly, they did try.
Expect nothing better from follower's of hindu Mithra ism, savior ism, labeled as Christianity, borne out of hind filth of hinduism, racism,
I do not find the story very poetic at all. What sort of god makes a creation that is so easily corruptible and then decided to sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself by exploiting a loophole in a plan he made himself whereby he doesn't have to send quite everyone he made and loves to an eternal torture pit he made himself?
It just sounds incredibly stupid to me.
You're ruining any positive or learning progress this article describes with your fanaticism. Extreme atheists and religious fanatics (or any kind) like you are cancer on the world.
My post was towards @no other truth
"you are cancer on the world."
You forget to say the following.. "because you obviously hate my god."
Christ went to the cross for challenging the Jewish theocracy, not the Roman empire. Jesus was a prince of Israel, with purchased Roman citizenship from birth, who walked away from all he had to engage others to spread the religion of our Creator across the globe; just as the religion at Tyre had done.
Where do you get the "purchased Roman citizenship from birth" bit? Jesus was a Jew from Judea and not a Roman citizen at all. The Romans only rarely crucified Roman citizens, and then only for high crimes against the state, such as treason or desertion.
What exactly is the point of this article?
Make money, aka root of all evil.
Mr. Tarver has it right, this article is a solicitation for "donations."
Just what you are doing right now....
I dont get it eather if you find out let us all know
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