Jesus – The Ultimate Cassandra?
The question of the historicity of Jesus is a long-standing point of contention. What do we really know about him, how reliable are the few accounts that have been preserved, and did he even exist at all? Everyone has a view and it’s a subject that’s been done to death, but ultimately it’s a question we can’t answer. What evidence we have was recorded and preserved by people who followed and believed in him, and falls a long way short of an objective historical record.
The evidence is patchy and unreliable, and people will reach conclusions based on their preconceptions and their inclination to believe that an account’s truthful. So far, so boring and unenlightening. But what if Jesus really was who it’s claimed he was? If he truly was the Son of God?
If Jesus was an incarnate deity, miracle-worker and saviour of the world, his PR seems to have been unaccountably bad. Accounts of his existence and message are not only very late in historic terms, but inconsistent in a number of important respects and dependent on people whose objectivity is very much open to question. If you were trying to build an unconvincing body of evidence, you could hardly do better.
Why would an important and powerful figure with a vital message for humanity allow that message to be lost, distorted, confused or discredited by a reliance on reporting as shoddy and distant as this? If that was the best you could do, it would be one thing, but you’d think an omnipotent deity with a timeless message for anyone who ever lived could have made a bit more of an effort. Even if you accept the idea of proof denying faith, a bit more support and clarity would be helpful. It’s almost as if it were deliberately unconvincing.
Maybe it is. Based on the available evidence, why not? According to ancient myth, Cassandra was granted the gift of prophecy, but was also cursed so that no one would believe her predictions. To be the Son of God born to bring a message to save mankind, and to have that event recorded in a haphazard, inconsistent way that doesn’t stand up to robust investigation isn’t exactly the same thing, but it’s certainly in the ballpark.
A single scribe who was either hired or sufficiently self-motivated to record Jesus’ words in full as he said them would have been invaluable. Reliable accounts that were recorded around the time Jesus was alive and actually agreed on the details would have been nice. Some plausible evidence for the bare fact of his existence from outside the religion founded around him would seem to be essential. But they’re all lacking.
So a god who can become a man, live, die and rise again somehow ended up with a biographical record that’s ludicrously sparse, and expected that to convince endless generations of the validity of his claims and message. Or maybe he didn’t, as he may have been under the impression that there weren’t multiple generations to come.
It’s possible that the claims about Jesus are true, but if they are then frankly, I’d say God the Father seems to have made things unnecessarily difficult for poor old Junior.