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Jesus in Tibet?|
Q. I heard an author state that Jesus traveled to Tibet between the ages of around 12 through 29. Is this possible? Is there evidence of this?
Hey…Why not? Everyone loves these wild theories…
Seriously, just like clockwork those who oppose Christianity come out around sacred holidays with weird theories and terrible history. They want to sell poorly written books and discredit anything that could suggest they may be accountable for their behavior and lives to God. Skeptics start with the premise that there is no God, miracles can't happen, and you are an idiot if you believe the "fairy tales" of the Bible.
Evidence of a Real Jesus
Yet, the evidence for the existence of a real Jesus is incontrovertible. Even the enemies of Jesus agree on that point. Jesus is mentioned in the Talmud wherein a Jewish writer says he practiced "sorcery" (verifying miracles). Suetonius, a Roman historian, says Christians are given to a "mischievous superstition." Thallus, a Samaritan historian, mentions the "darkness as an eclipse of the sun" (verifying darkness at the time of Jesus' crucifixion). The early first century historian, Josephus, wrote that "He was a doer of wonderful works." Mohammed mentioned Jesus in the Koran, and so on (McDowell 1993, 198-202).
In fact, there are at least thirty-nine extra biblical sources that refer to Jesus' life and death. Furthermore, there are more than 5000 Greek manuscripts which attest to the accuracy of the New Testament Gospel accounts. This is "hard evidence."
In contrast, there are only 10 copies of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, 8 copies of Herodotus's Historical Works, and 643 copies of Homer's Illiad (the most abundant outside the New Testament).
Furthermore, the oldest copies of the Illiad are from 500 years after it was written. The Gallic Wars copies are 1,000 years after the original. Yet, some of our New Testament fragments are from eye witnesses made within 25 years of the events they wrote about! (Muncaster 1993, 27).
The origin of a tale that Jesus spent his youth in Tibet comes from a Russian journalist in 1894 - Nicholas Notovitch's The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. He claimed that he had found scrolls in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery that described Jesus' early life. These scrolls referred to Jesus as "St. Issa." Supposedly, Jesus learned everything there was to know about Buddhism while he lived in Tibet. Of course, no one has produced real evidence of these supposed "scrolls." Nor would such scrolls hold much value due to their late dating.
Indeed, the problem with this theory is that Buddhism didn't even reach Tibet until the 7th. Century A.D. Obviously, Jesus could not have been a student of Buddhism in the first century A.D. (Oops)!
Another thing that skeptics ignore is the extreme Jewishness of Jesus. This was a man born in an area that taught children to memorize the holy scriptures - a lengthy training period. (Have you tried it)? They didn't want their kids associating with gentiles. Rabbinic training was vigorous and demanding. Jewish scholars and ordinary Jewish citizens remained theologically separate from the "world."
In fact, when Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water she already understood that Jews always remain separate from non Jews. She stated, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans)" (John 4:9, NASB).
In other words, to understand Jesus we must become familiar with Rabbinic Judaism. It is highly doubtful Jesus traveled to India to study other religions! To be sure, He was accepting of others within His Jewish heritage and cultural context, but He didn't violate the Law of Moses.
He told his own disciples to …"not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans - but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:5-6).
Clearly, our Messiah was Jewish! It wasn't until late in His ministry that He told His disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…" (Matthew 28:19).
Ancient does not mean "good"
If readers want to read so-called "biblical" things outside of the Bible we suggest they stick to documents revered by early well-schooled Jews and Christians.
That does not mean the Gnostic literature, however. The popular Gnostic texts were generally written after 200 A.D. and were thoroughly discredited by early Christian historicists and intellectuals. They offer very little historical value and are akin to modern psychedelic New Age cults.
Remember, just because something is of ancient origin does not mean it is authentic or historically valid. There were numerous superstitions and folklore in ancient times. So use discernment.
Christians and Jews can enjoy many extra biblical writings if they wish. They can read the Apocrypha (included in Catholic Bibles) which came from Jewish authors approximately 200 B.C. and earlier. They give some valuable historical content and wisdom.
The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha is also an interesting collection and is dated prior to the New Testament. These were written by those who used pen names. Hence, the title, "Pseudepigrapha."
The Book of Enoch is fascinating and mentions the "angel watchers" mentioned in the book of Daniel. However, the book of Enoch was not written by the Enoch of the Old Testament who "walked with God - and he was not, for God took him" (Gen. 5:24).
Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are another collection worth reading if you have the time. These were writings produced by a Jewish community called the "Essenes." Some feel that John the Baptist may have spent time in the wilderness with the Essenes.
Both John the Baptist and the Qumran community appealed to Isaiah 40:3…"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord." Luke 1:80 says that "the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel."
John the Baptist and the Essenes called for repentance and baptism. Both looked forward to the kingdom of God. Both used the words "water, spirit, and fire." John's strange diet of locusts and honey may have reflected the strict diet of the Essenes.
Now, that is fascinating!
Reading Material for a Lifetime
The fact is there are hundreds of extra biblical writings produced in ancient times worth reading. Just be sure to stick with those revered by early Christians and Jews dating from about 200 B.C. to 100 A.D. The most intellectual writings with a good historical basis after 200 A.D. come from the writings of the early Church Fathers. Finally, don't forget to include a regular, daily reading plan of the Bible.
Eisenman,Robert&Wise, Michael. 2004. The Dead Sea Scrolls uncovered. New York: Barnes&Noble Publishing.
Evans, Craig. 1992. Noncanonical writings and New Testament interpretation. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Johnson, Philip. 'Did Jesus go to India?' Web.
Kaiser Jr., Walter. 2001. The Old Testament documents. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.
McDowell, Josh. 1993. The best of Josh McDowell: A ready defense. Comp. by Bill Wilson. Nashville, TN: Nelson.
Muncaster, Ralph. 2000. Can you trust the Bible? Eugene, OR: Harvest House.
Witherington, Ben. 2004. What have they done with Jesus? Beyond strange theories and bad history - Why we can trust the Bible. San Francisco: HarperCollins.
Authors Valorie Mays Emilio holds an M.A. in History from UCLA and specialized in early church history. Ken Emilio received his B.S. from CSULB and his M.A. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University.
Students: Note that we are using the Harvard Citation Sytle (similar to Turabian author-date) which is computer-friendly and allows for some variations in format - not in content. Always check with your professors for required format.
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