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.
I found the article interesting and appears to draw an accurate picture of his physical appearance during this time period. I also understand that their were many men who were named Jesus during this time period.
This Jesus had his "story" written by 4 highly prejudicial disciples, 30 to 40 years after he died. I'm sorry, but I don't buy any of the magic they use to try and ensure to us, his divinity. it's weak, pathetic actually. Why are all these acts of magic – walking on water, raising Lazarus from the dead, feeding the masses from a few fish on the sermon on the Mount, rising from the dead – all limited to the imagination of their time and experience?
Why is it, the son of God, had so limited an imagination? Could he not have arranged the stars to spell out his divinity for all to see from now and for evermore? Now that would have been impressive.
And what about today in Mexico...Try getting a phone number for Jesus in Mexico...You get a million hits....
who ate so much bad food that he went completely mad and hallucinated the rest of his life.
(But someone thought they've had some fun, so they put a writing utensil in his hands and said 'write down what you see'.)
Hmm maybe Joesph P Smith ate a mushroom before he talked to God...
Some Indian tribes used mushrooms in their religion..
and the Beatles wrote songs about LSD trips....Like Yellow Submarine....
If Jesus lived then he ate and drank. If he ate and drank then he defecated and urinated. Anyone debating this is delusional.
Jesus had his "story" written by 4 highly prejudicial disciples, 30 to 40 years after he died. I'm sorry, but I don't buy any of the magic they use to try and ensure to us, his divinity. it's weak, pathetic actually. Why are all these acts of magic – walking on water, raising Lazarus from the dead, feeding the masses from a few fish on the sermon on the Mount, rising from the dead – all limited to the imagination of their time and experience?
Actually, that video is based on no evidence. In fact, it's pseudo-histiry:
The story of Jesus being filthy is very sickening. For one thing, many of the people in that era did't have moderrn bath
facilities. The smile of the author is sickening. It shows of a person with enought money, and things going just fine.
I'm sorry to see you print such a discusting story of our Lord. But you,ll see, after you age, and life becomes full of misury,
that perhaps the filthy Jesus was the son of God. I've made many mistakes in my life, but I am happy I didn't mock God.
How is this mockery? He's describing how Jesus was human and that's how humans lived back then. He was a carpenter's son...they get dirty.
Dude, that is a hilarious response. Seriously, what the fvck are you trippin on?
He's not mocking god. If you're not joking, I think you misunderstood the article.
@Hank – you clearly didnt read the whole article or just missed the whole point of it entirely. The author wasn't mocking Jesus at all. Try reading it again.
Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! You all are running out of time mocking the one and true living God Jesus Christ.
Hank's tripping on christian fundamentalism. Makes you a little goofy, but MOST of them quit doing real harm about a hundred years ago.
According to many historians – particularly those without a vested interest in it IE not working at seminary or religious colleges and universities – Jesus may have been less..."exist-y" than previously thought as well.
I had to laugh at "exist-y" – I'll add that to my vocab. I suspect he was at least a little exist-y, though I am aware of the research. It was, however, done by folks who are as entrenched in their beliefs as the pastors and ministers.
I don't see how you have the gall to make that call, Saraswati. You have no idea how "entrenched" they were in their notions. Do you know each of the researchers personally--enough to make calls about which of their beliefs they were most "entrenched" in?
@Moby, there are only a few researchers involved in this area. Let's start with Richard Carrier: he's an active proponent of atheism, not just an historian. I'm not saying one shouldn't publish just because one is an advocate, but when you throw your reputation in with a certain position, your writing does come under more suspi’cion, just as the OP mentioned regarding Christian writers - they are (rightly) also somewhat suspect. Those writers who restrain from public pronouncements in these areas, do not belong to organizations of this sort, and do not have ident’ities tied up with their religious positions are much freer to change their minds and much more credible as scientists.
The author of the article is so right, I even want to say, so what? All of it is common knowledge. The author is also clearly a believer.
What James said is true, and there is scripture to confirm it...
Matthew 12:26 – But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Newt Gingrich is in big trouble...
Of course no one knows who copied Matthew from something someone else wrote.
I love the fact that Jesus condemned self-righteous, judgmental religious hypocrites who looked down on everyone else.
This is true in the Quran also – Judgement Day.
Amen & AMEN! Jesus Christ came down from his throne from above to take out curse so we could be so blessed. Jesus Christ is Lord & Savior <3
Echoing the comments of another poster, finally an article on CNN that I enjoyed reading. Your final sentence sums it up nicely: "He was the God who became dirty so that the world’s souls might be made clean."
totally disgusting article
I am blown away by the comments left on this article. The author is simply pointing out that Jesus lived as a man and to live as a man that involves toilet behavior. People during his day did not have modern amenities. Like it or not he most likely did have dysentery and he absolutely WAS dirty.......just like everyone else during the times. To deny that he had to have lived like any other man is delusion. The author is simply pointing out that he was most likely down to earth and not flashy which is why people were drawn to him. I am disturbed at people's lack of reality.
Jesus died for truth. Hard to realize after 2000 years people don't understand that simple thing and try to digging up into "dirty underwear" on it.
Hmm Alex dead people soil their clothes ..as all the human muscles relax....Does that news bother you..it is common knowledge to those that work around the dead..
Hard to believe 2 millenia later people still believe in the bible cr@ps.
MP... The world hasn't even existed for two million years. So where did you get that crap? Your parents should have taught you better...
LOL!!! That pretty much settles it. Nice poe! Zing!
Wow, "OpposingView", is either a poe, or one dumbphuck.
First of all two millennia = 2000 years, not two million. Second, the Earth has existed for about 4.5 million years.
Uh...Benny, make that billion, with a b doncha know.
Nothing is so dangerous to the progress of the human mind than to assume that our views of science are ultimate, that there are no mysteries in nature, that our triumphs are complete and that there are no new worlds to conquer.
Agreed, although I'm not sure how it's relevant. Nice quotation, though.
Scientists, more than anyone else, realize the mysteries of the universe, what is known and what is not.
Phil... Scientists are the most deceived and most delusional people in the universe. And Lucifer is laughing at them all the way to hell...
To think that science's views are ultimate would be ultimate scientific stupidity. Science is BUILT UPON the ant.ithesis of such a viewpoint.
"Scientists are the most deceived and most delusional people in the universe. And Lucifer is laughing at them all the way to hell."
What a ridiculous and unfounded thing to say...
The 'mysteries of nature' within the biological realms of all cellular cosmologies cannot be conquered by science. Only thru the observations of the cellular chasms of atomized cosmologies can science reap of God's kingdom domains which are of the body within any and all cellular life forms and formations.
Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"
1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"
lionly, do you have a random word generator on your computer?
Atheists are a group that rejects anything they cannot accept. Not because it isn't true, but because they can't accept the truth…
So their rejection of Jesus Christ and God is not surprising. Like little children playing silly games, they'd much rather pretend that God doesn't exist…
Trolls are people who troll because they like to troll to be trolls when they can be trolls.
I'm sorry, "OpposingView", but your post is riddled with unfounded assertions. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "A BOX OF ROCKS WOULD SOUND MORE CONVINCING".
If one is intellectually honest, he must arrive at agnosticism not atheism. One can, however, say that by sheer probability that "your" specific god does not exist, whichever god that may be.
Hal 9001... You are a perfect example of what I said. You reject the truth because you cannot accept the truth... Nuf said...
how would a box of rocks know what truth is?
To "Will"... Jesus Christ was not a probability. He really existed. And if you're too dumb to know that then you're too dumb for me to waste my time trying to explain it to you...
I'm sorry, "OpposingView", but although Jesus may have existed, there is no evidence of his being divine, therefore any assertion that he was divine is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".
You should fix all those mean atheists, and post some evidence that this god of yours is real, and not just another myth!! Of course you can't, but don't let the facts get in your way!! LOL!!
More likely they are a highly intelligent bunch that took the time to research the history. Ever sit back and wonder why we celebrate his birth on December 25th when most Christians know Jesus wasn't born on that date? Christians accept it, Atheists research it, for the truth. Having faith inst about believing blindly in what you are told be other people.
Jesus was a man. Some people think he was God. That is all.
Jesus Christ was more than a man. He was the manifestation of the eternal God in the flesh...
I'm sorry, "OpposingView", but "Christ" and "God" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertion is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL".
Amen! JESUS CHRIST IS GOD! <3
Is the writer of this article "bored". Do you have nothing better to do than to try and dig up dirt on the one and only living presence of God? Perhaps if you, yourself, possessed a personal relationship with Christ, you'd realize how trivial and nonsensical your article truly is. Albeit Christ was a human being, but make no mistake about it. He wasn't just "any" human being, he was and "is" the Son of God, so to place "His Majesty" on "any level" less than "Holy" would be blasphemy. Shame on you. Next time you get bored, why not watch a movie or go do something to help someone else.
We don't seem to have read the same article, m'llady
I know a lot of Christians, have lived in the US South, and don't believe I've ever met anyone who would be upset by this article. This is from a guy at Liberty, no less. I can understand the Muslims objecting, because we've already seen this over Mohammad, but if you folks objecting are real can you tell me what sect you belong to, because I'm just not meshing this with the beliefs of any of the Christians I know, all of whom would accept that the historic Jesus was dirty by today's standards.
Scripture says Jesus descended below ALL things. The writer is simply portraying Jesus in terms that are closer to reality during his life, not after his death, in order to help others come to a better understanding of who he is. Can you truly love someone you do not know?
Genesis-Revelation. God wins and Satan is soon defeated. Which side will you be on? Christ said if you are not for Him, you are against Him. Which side will your free will choose?
I'm sorry, "Correctlycenter", but "God", "Satan", "Christ" and "Him" 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: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL".
You mean Jesus wasn't Bono in a bathrobe?
Finally, an article on CNN I enjoyed.
I felt it was interesting, and provided a new perspective. My props to the author, and, on behalf of the readers, apologize that no body else seems to see the value here, or, even understand what you mean.
Jesus suffered to spread his stories and beliefs.
It is too bad the comments here are polluted by atheists, who feel the need to constantly talk about being atheists and used these comments to do so, and by Christians, who, for some reason, took offense for you agreeing with their religion, and showing Jesus did suffer.
All this coming from a Jew.
Again, props to the author. It would be very interesting to hear one of your lectures.
Jesus is a beloved Prophet of Islam and these comments are insensitive and disrespectful and hateful. This is not acceptable !
Have you lost your mind, they are not talking about Syadana Easa pbh, but hinduism fabrication called Jesus, a platform they use to spew their hinduism, absurdities of hindu Mithra ism, savior ism.
Dirty and filthy was also the prophet M. who was also a pedophile, but CNN enjoys write about dirty J.
Can't get any more liberal than this is, LOL !
Only by hinduism absurdity of a hindu, ignorant, having nothing to do with truth , but sure, no one was more hindu, filthy than hindu criminal RAM, hindu's ignorant s pray to as their god, married to his sister to exemplify hinduism, racism.
Very intelligent of you to attack Muhammad when this article was written by a practising Christian. You are pathetic and a loser.
wow this guy has some nerve i would hate to be him on judgement day when he has to answer to god ... i think only someone who does not believe in god makes a comment like this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So you actually think god keeps some sort of score on all of us and we don't learn what it is until we die? Do you honestly believe this, james?
"Jesus was sarcastic, too."
It could be. I'm not sure the example used is the best. I think Jesus used the full range of literary devices, sarcasm included.
Athy… Didn't you know? Everything you say, do and think is being recorded by the angels every moment of your life. Every sin you've ever committed is on record in heaven. And on Judgment Day those records are going to be played back before the universe and you'll be judged by those records….
I believe in Judgement Day, how can you not? what is our purpose in life – the deep spiritual purpose? There is a heaven and hell. just like we have to work hard in this life to get something good, we have to work hard to get to heaven. Judgement Day is logical sense, you have to be judged on your good and bad deeds.
Why is it so hard to believe this article considering it is Christian belief that Jesus is "full man and full God". So if he's full man didn't he cater to his human needs?
Good Lord will forgive him his sins
What, you think it's somehow "offensive" that Jesus might have eaten and drank then pooped or peed? What kind of a fairy tale fantasy world do you live in?
You might want to choose another screen name:
- You say things that are not reality.
- There is already a frequent poster by that name here, who is much closer to it than you are.
Reality – I have found it to be very liberating to know and understand that we do not have to earn our way to heaven. As the Scriptures say, we have all come short of the glory of God. We can only be saved from the hell we all deserve by personally accepting the fact that Christ washed us clean of ALL of our sins, past present and future, when he died on the cross. The purpose of the law in the Old Testament was to show us how wretched we truly are, and how removed we are from a totally pure and sinless God. By accepting the gift of salvation through accepting Christ paid for your sins and mine already we are washed pure in the eyes of God. And if your salvation experience was authentic you will want to "do" things or to work hard to please God. Those things can earn us rewards in heaven but our salvation can only come from accepting what Christ did. And once you are saved and a child of God nothing can remove you from his hands.
Robrob… Evidently you live in one where there is no "respect." Your parents should have taught you better. Disrespectful comments like that may be okay in your book, but it's not okay with God…
@* the problem is not being brave enough to face the reality of life and death. one thing ALL humans have in common and can't runaway from is DEATH. each individual will be judged on Judgement day on the good and bad they have done in life – lets hope the good outweighs the bad. Find the truth and purpose in life and you will see I am right – read about all religions and you will find it I am sure!
I really respect your views and your belief in religion. But I have to disagree with you as it is not logical. Yes, it is liberating to free yourself from all responsibility and you go to heaven regardless of what you do if you believe Jesus washed us clean from ALL sins in the past, present...and future? It can not be, it just simply is not fair. So a murderer would go to heaven with the victim if the murderer simply believes in the salvation of Christ? no way! We need to understand through common sense that we are put on this earth with a purpose – its a HUGE test and the winners are those who look beyond what is fed to them and go in search of the truth. that is why God gave us brains. To think and ask questions and challenge things that are not logical.
christian fundies are the most blasphemous beings of creation, claiming to worship an unimaginably vast deity and placing words in his mouth and dragging him down to their filthy little level of vindictiveness.
From the orignal Reality: (only for the new members of this blog)
The Apostles'/Agnostics' Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(References used are available upon request.)
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