Saturday, 16 May 2015

And did those feet? Jesus in England

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I will not try to persuade anyone, and it is not a matter of Christian importance - but I personally believe the legends that Jesus came to England in his youth, with Joseph of Arimathea: I just cannot help it, and it gives me great satisfaction!

Not because the evidence is in any way overwhelming - although there is some; but (presumably) partly because I spent my school-days just a few miles from perhaps the main place He is supposed to have visited (Priddy, in the Mendip Hills); and partly because it fits with my general understanding of what seems like the special role of England throughout the history of Christianity (including the role of that Englishman abroad - Joseph Smith).

Anyway - if you are likewise inclined, I have found a very enjoyable and engaging book on this subject for you; a book which collects pretty much all of the legends and stories of Jesus in England: The missing years of Jesus: The extraordinary evidence that Jesus visited the British Isles by Dennis Price.

The idea is that this visit was between the ages of 12 and 30, and was prolonged; but it was not part of Christ's ministry and He did not perform any miracles; but rather He was engaged in some kind of 'work' relating to the metal and stone (tin, perhaps silver, mining and smelting) trade and business interests of Joseph of Arimathea (who is here presumed to be Jesus's uncle).

I need to point-out that this book is not really Christian. I mean it is compatible with Christianity, but does not seem to assume that Jesus was the Son of God. It is written from a New Agey perspective - for instance, the lurid cover has a picture of Stonehenge, which Jesus is presumed to have visited.

Indeed, one thing I liked about this book's speculations was its linkage of Jesus's visit and residence, with the Neolithic monuments, about which I also have off-beat beliefs (i.e. I suspect some of them are relics of a proto-Christian, literate, monotheistic civilization).

Incidentally, Stonehenge (unlike some of the earlier monuments such as Silbury and Avebury) is here interpreted as essentially a demon-and-ghost-haunted place of death: animal sacrifice, and probably human sacrifice. So Jesus's visit is argued to have had the nature of an exorcism and new sanctification.

Aside, there are some good bits of scriptural close reading; for instance, I was convinced by the collection of passages which seem to indicate that Jesus (age thirty-ish, at the time of his ministry) was treated as unfamiliar by many people in the gospels, and was not immediately recognizable even by those neighbours and family who would have been expected to know him (not even to his cousin John the Baptist).

This seems to be there in the text; and is interpreted as evidence that Jesus was absent from Nazareth for many years during which his appearance changed.

Of course it doesn't mean He must have been in England; but He might have been...

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