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.
You would think with all the ritual baths, he's be fairly clean.
Jesus refused to wash his hands before a meal, greatly upsetting the Pharasees, who took hand cleansing to the point of mental illness.
John, In a period when most food was eaten by hand and others could touch your food before you did (tearing off a piece of bread for example), I'd say the Pharisees had a point.
I'd say that the person who doesn't wash his hands before picking up food and putting it into his mouth is the one with sketchy hygiene, even today.
Yesterday, I was standing in line at the grocery and watched a boy about 6-7 years old behind me pick his nose and wipe it on the handle of the grocery cart. His mom didn't notice, so there remained the booger. A few weeks ago, a mom let her baby suck on the card scanner wand at the grocery. When she was done with her transaction, she took it out of the child's mouth and put it back. My husband had to ask her, nicely, if she would please clean it off so he could use it. I've seen people change their child's diaper in waiting rooms, in shopping carts and on restaurant chairs with no barrier between their kid's butt and the surface underneath. (I do realize that sometimes moms do what they have to do, but they should clean up after their child.) That doesn't even take into consideration all the spitting, public urination, storing of money in bras, shoes and butt scratching/handling produce, etc. that goes on. Don't even get me started on people who don't pick up after their dogs.
I wash my hands a lot, but it's just common sense to do it.
it's too bad those who need to understand Christ's humanity will ignore or criticize this article and opinion. He CHOSE to be ordinary in an era of poverty. He CHOSE to associate with the disenfranchised to bring hope and faith to 'the least of his fathers children'. He wouldn't be able to do that if he wasn't prepared to get "down and dirty" along with the people.
It is the delusions of hope faith and love that have the athiests upset.
Right, because you can't have any hope, faith or love in your life unless you believe in a vengeful god.
Proverbs 1:7 "Fear God, for there is the begining of knowledge ...", or if you perfer "God only reeveals his secrets to those who fear hom" 25th Psalm.
Same way that psychics, mediums, etc. work – it only happens if you believe – so they have a built-in excuse for when it doesn't work out the way they say.
@ John. Actually god says he reveals updates via the stars. Genesis 1.14 Why haven't you gotten the latest info that way?
john, – the secret decoder ring fallacy. always good for a laugh.
God did use the stars to announce the birth of Christ to the Magi, May 14, 6bce Jupiter apearing as a morning star in the house of Israel was eclipsed by the moon; anouncing the Messiah. Less than 45 years later John the Baptist directed a riot that killed 120,000 Magis, so I guess they did not take the sign seriously enough.
Always with the killing in the bible...you don't believe? Off with your head, god said.
What? Where do you get this nonsense? Less than 45 years later? According to most of the Gospel accounts, Jesus was in his early thirties when he died, and John the Baptist predecessor him. That is quite a bit less than 45 years. And what riot?
@ John P. Tarver
Your god thrives on having his creation fear him, and gets off on killing them if they don't. Sounds like an abusive husband –
"Love me or I'll hurt you."
"I didn't want to hurt you, you made me do it."
"Do exactly what I say, or what I don't say, or what I will say in the future, or I'll hurt you."
and on and on.
The NIV and the KJV are divergent from one another and it is a fact that there are many inacurate bibles, as well as lying pastors.
So how come your purportedly omnipotent sky fairy can't do a better job of getting its message out?
All bibles are inaccurate. I'd suggest reading the Dead Sea translations, since it's account of Genesis betrays that the Gods are human and live on earth. It also contains a good bit of racist ideaology and usually refers to Satan as female.
Jesus was born a prince of Israel, with purchased Roman Citizenship and lived a wealthy and comfortable life; until the last 70 weeks. Christ was born in a cave under Joseph's familial home, where there were sometimes animals. Christ was born under Jupiter apearing as a morning star, eclipsed by the moon; May 14, 6 bce. This whole Jesus lived as a comon man is a lie, to make you feel a kinship to him.
Evidence that your Jeebus was divine, please.
You do know that that contradicts the NT, right?
Jebus is the old name of Jerusalem where Abraham bought a cave and burried Sarah. Later Abraham joined Sarah and even later Israel was added to the crypt. Since the 7th century a Mosque has been atop that hill in the threshing field.
What DOESN'T contradict the NT?
Santa- What I wrote comes directly from the Gospels, without a lying pastor trying to make Jesus more like me. The Romans did not Census Jews and could not care less if every Jew died; except those few who had purchased Roman citizenship and paid the poll tax, like that Joseph fellow in Luke.
Where do you get this "purchased Roman citizenship" nonsense?
This whole Jesus lived as a comon man is a lie, to make you feel a kinship to him.
So Jeebus is really Mitt Romney?
Apparently doing pseudo scientific research then making up little obviously OK memorable details aids the impression that the person existed. Ditto for the pope and his latest "scholarly "no animals at the birth".
Gosh , Jesus had dirty toenails, then he must have had toenails, then he must have been a real guy if he had toenails. . . . .
I'm waiting for Johnnie Moore's well-researched article on Jeebus' wet dreams.
Of course it is widely known that, in Jesus's time, there was no toilet paper so his hands definitely got dirty.
This begs the question, which hand did he wipe with and which hand did he heal the sick with?
God in Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)
“They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]
“The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]
‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]
“Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]
The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]
It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]
“No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]
O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued. [22:73]
They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.[22:74]
If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess. [Quran 6:116]
“There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]
“God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great.” [2:255]
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.
Regardless of whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, you cannot take away from the fact that your religion started as a pantheon of many gods, not a singlular god.
@ Universe: you're appealing to texts from 600 years after Jesus as opposed to eyewitness accounts (all within a generation of Jesus' death).
Suggest you read Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses."
@ seyed: you presuppose God cannot and/or does not speak for himself. that in itself is a 'faith' – not based on any evidence. thus, of course your conclusion is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You'll have to be more specific in which biblical god you are referring to. El? Baal? Jehovah? Nisrach? Dagon? Moloch? Bel? Chimosh?Jupiter? Tammuz? Nibhaz? Tartak? Mercury? Diana? Ashima? Nergal? Rimmon? Ishtar?
Truth and nothing but the Truth.
1) the point was philosophical. you're asking a question your presupposition has already answered. the problem is that you preclude other options... and that is a leap of faith... the very thing you are mocking.
2) per the biblical God: though other gods are listed, the Bible is abundantly clear that there is only one "living" God. the rest are fabrications (Isa.44:6-20, for example) that cannot speak because they are (as so many object here) merely human self-projections.
The bible never works hard to hide the fact that the Canaanites believe in multiple gods. From the starting sentence of Genesis it is made clear: "When on high, the Elohim created the Heavens and the Earth..." The Elohim are El and all his children, of which he has many. Modern archaeologists have excavated temple ruins from this time and found complete legends of their gods. The main players of Canaanite mythology for most of its existence was the two rival sons: Baal and Yahweh. The Canaanites saw Yahweh as the wicked one and he and his people were cast out. Their clans battle for nearly a milennia before being united under Egyptian rule and religion.
@RUSS "you're appealing to texts from 600 years after Jesus as opposed to eyewitness accounts"
you think 600 year old eyewitness are more reliable then the word of Allah. Quran is not written by prophet Mohammad which is the case with the existing bible. Quran is word of God (Allah) which was handed down and written right away to be preserved. Only a True God knows about the historic events that took place. you really have to study Islam, Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad to understand what i am saying.
It is also quite possible that Jesus was ugly, or at least unattractive (Isaiah chapter 53). I find this quite comforting...
Oh, you dirty, dirty boy.
My invisible pink unicorn also poops.
Let's not be disrespectful of the IPU!
Without her magical fertilizer my whole lawn would die-
He would have fit right in south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Atheists are people who don't have a life, nor do they want anyone else to have a life either. That's why they spend so much time on religious forums spewing their nonsense and rubbish...
So you equate "having a life" with belief in imaginary beings.
I'm sorry, "OpposingView", but your assertions regarding atheists 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".
The religious are people who don't want a death, and therefore want others to believe there is no death, so that their wishful thinking becomes a self-comforting prophecy.
Your comment OpposingView only serves to illustrate the same disdain and marginalization of non-believers that your religion has practiced for 2000 years. Do you have anything useful to say?
The Apostles'/Agnostics' Creed 2012 (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, dirty, sometimes sick, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a dirty, sometimes sick, Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young, dirty, sometimes sick, Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a dirty, sometimes sick, mamzer.)
The dirty Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the dirty Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under dirty Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the dirt 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.)
I can't believe CNN pays this guy. This is by far one of the stupidest articles yet!
Just make sure that you click on the ads.
This was a good time to send this article. Much of what happened during that time is currenlty happening right now. We are seeing a huge gap between the rich and the poor. We're seeing corporates enslave the population.While entrepreneurs are dramatically diminishing. At this time we need a revolutionist like Jesus
If you are referring to the fable of Jesus cleansing the temple of money-changers, that story was stolen from Nehemiah. Most of the events in the New Testament are borrowed from elsewhere: the virgin birth, the resurrection after 3 days, the 12 disciples, reanimation of the dead, water to wine,walking on water, and all the phrases you know him by such as King of Kings or lamb of God.... Doesn't exactly leave anything tangible to believe in.
While I agree he got dirty, I disagree that he is God. He even said on a number of occasions that the 'Father'(God) was greater than he was. And that worship should be directed to God rather than him.
assuming you care about the biblical accounts...
"15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known. The author was not Paul so there is no divine guidance and therefore it should never have been included in the NT.
See Father Raymond Brown's review in his book, An Introduction to the New Testament. p. 683.
Apparently, too many are blinded by the mundane aspects of temporal living.
Must it be tossed in our faces to detract from those aspects of living and hope for better that makes life worth living?
What is the objective of this article, other than highlight the superficial?
Nice thought-provoking article. It's always healthy to THINK about God-Jesus-Humans.
As always, I am stunned at so may of the inane comments. Even so, thanks for getting people to think.
I've posted this before, but since so much of the comments here are redundent I’ll go ahead. At least until i get an intelligent discussion refuting it.
You do not choose what to believe. If it makes no sense to you, you will not believe it.
I don’t believe that something the Christians think of as god would set Adam up to fail in the garden of Eden, and then hold that original sin against every human being ever born. It makes no sense.
I don’t believe something the Christians think of as god would talk only to Moses, and condemn everyone who either didn’t believe him or never heard of him.
There are contradictions in the bible. I can’t believe an all powerful god couldn’t give us a book that was clear/accurate.
The old school RCC made major revisions to the bible. Was everyone worshiping wrong before that? Why did god suddenly change the rules? It makes no sense to me.
The Pope excommunicated all of England when their King translated a bible so the masses could read it. Why would god want his word to be kept secret? Why punish everyone under King James for 'converting'? Unless there is no god and the church thought it could control the masses better if they didn’t know how flawed the bible is.
Reading you post brings to mind what the Mormons have.
Mormons have a list called the "Articles of Faith".
I guess believing in aliens is more palatable to you then?
The RCC does not represent true Christianty. Nor does Joel Olsteen, or Rick Warren for that matter. There are zero contradictions in the Bible, and is 100% accurate when compared to history. I'm yet to see or hear of anyone to prove my statement wrong. People that think the same way as you will usually state that they "read" the Bible. Those that "study" the Bible will come up with the same conclusion I have. As for the column, the only real issue I have is stating that Jesus was more human than we think. The correct statement should rear that Jesus WAS human, and God in the form of a single being. This is how He fullfilled the Law of Moses perfectly.
check the time line of the resurection in all 4 gospels. They won't match. I call that a contradiction.
the RCC WAS the catholic church, so in historical context I was correct.
G – the Bible is LOADED with contradictions, starting In the Beginning, so to speak. Genesis 1 & 2, totally different order of creation (animals or humans first?). Story of Noah – how many of each kind(two different accounts)? Genealogies of Jesus in Matthew & Luke. It's a long list.
I can see you've read the Bible. Now study it!
I have studied it, apparently more carefully than you.
And then we have this: (only for the new members of this blog):
By MICHAEL MASSING (NYT) 1775 words
origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.
New Torah For Modern Minds
“Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).
The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.
The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."
The "12 tribes of Israel" won't be found in history either. This is because they are a literary personification of the 12 nation states set up by pharoah Thutmose II (Moses) in the Mediterranean. There was no one racial aspect to the early israelites, and if you're sticking to the Exodus, the only racial group banned from in the 15th century BCE was the Asiatics, who are connected to the bloodline of Jacob (the original Jacob was Asian according to Egyptian myth). Geologoy itself says it's just likely the mediterranean served as gathering place for any and every minority group bounced out of Northern Africa.
Uncle Benny, you should study and prove the Bible wrong. I'm going to help you out a bit because I care about you, even though you probably dispise me! The geneologies listed are different by intention. One bloodline is Mary's in Matthew, the other Joseph's in Luke. Why are both listed? The answer lies in the blood curse God pronounces on the Davidic bloodline. How can Jesus come from a bloodline that is cursed? The answer is in the geneologies. Study why this is!
People, why do you present information that other people have compiled? Do you own research. Who knows what inspires people to write these things.
G – I certainly don't despise you, but I think you're the one who seriously needs help. First of all, there's absolutely no justification in Scripture for the supposition that these two lineages trace Jesus' ancestry separately through Joseph and Mary. I challenge you to find anything in Scripture that makes that assertion.
Second, why would Joseph's ancestry be relevant at all? After all, Jesus was supposedly born of a virgin, right? So Joseph's bloodline is not represented in Jesus.
A number of "explanations" for this have been offered, besides the Joseph/Mary angle. Perhaps Joseph adopted Jesus (nowhere mentioned in the Bible, and this still does not make Joseph's bloodline relevant). Perhaps Joseph had two fathers as a result of Levirite marriage, and Matthew and Luke trace both sides (again not found in the Bible).
Or perhaps both were invented. I lean towards the last option. Believe what you choose, but so far your explanations don't hold up to any enlightened scrutiny.
Well written! Could not agree more!
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