Here’s a thought. Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t the son of God at all. He was a time traveller. His miraculous abilities were the product of technology and medicine brought back from the future. And his ‘resurrection’ was just him returning to the future. Go on. Prove me wrong.
It’s Easter, the time of year that Christians celebrate Jesus Christ magically rising from the dead (and the rest of us stuff our faces with chocolate eggs). What better time to explore the notion that Jesus duped us all into thinking he had magical powers and zombie tendencies, when in fact all he had was some clever future tech and a time machine? Naughty scamp.
Seriously, though, it’s worth considering. The gospels have Jesus performing a whole bunch of different miracles. Could all those healing miracles be the result of Jesus using medicine that was way ahead of its time? Okay, so a lot of the stories talk of Jesus touching lepers, paralytics and blind people and instantly curing them of their ailments. Even the technology of today wouldn’t be able to do that.
But there are two possible arguments we can make here. The first is that these are stories, not historical accounts. Most modern scholars and historians and some liberal Christians recognise this. None of the gospels are contemporaneous and all are inconsistent with one another. So these healings could easily be distorted accounts of events that, in reality, involved medicine, technology and recuperation time. If Jesus was using today’s medicine, it would still have appeared miraculous to people at the time, and then decades of Chinese whispers would’ve led these stories to become the instant-healing-with-a-magic-touch tales that were recorded in the gospels.
Taking the gospel stories more literally, the other argument is that Jesus’s magic touch was the result of medical technology far beyond anything that we have today. After all, time travel itself hasn’t been invented yet (or has it? There’s debate on this…). It’s quite feasible that if Jesus was a time traveller, he came from our future. Perhaps a hundred years from now. Perhaps two hundred. Perhaps a thousand. Who knows what medical technology we might have in a thousand years? Healing someone with a single touch sounds like science fiction. But two thousand years ago, so would antibiotics.
Take Star Trek’s dermal regenerators. These make flesh wounds vanish in a matter of seconds. Star Trek envisaged us having technology like this by the 23rd century. However, in 2014, it was announced that NASA were working on a device called BioReplicates, capable of regenerating human tissue and healing minor wounds virtually instantly. So perhaps the technology isn’t as far away as we thought.
But what about all those other miracles? Walking on water? Turning water into wine? Feeding the 5,000? How do we explain all those?
Feeding the 5,000 is an easy one. Jesus simply nipped back to the future in his time machine, ran to a Costco, and piled a load more loaves and fish into his time machine, then returned to feed the hungry masses. Same goes for the water-into-wine story. When the wine ran out at the wedding in Cana, Galilee, Jesus just popped back to the future for some more.
And the walking on water? Maybe Jesus had one of these…
Then of course there’s the biggest miracle of all. Jesus’s resurrection. According to the gospels, Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. Three days later, his tomb was discovered empty by several women, including Mary Magdalene, who were told by an angel that he had risen from the dead. One of the gospels says that Jesus reappeared post-death to his disciples.
None of the gospels are consistent on any of this, mind you. They differ on who found the tomb empty and on the appearance of the angel. And Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances only appear in an account written sometime in the 2nd century, over a hundred years after Jesus died, and tacked onto the end of the gospel of Mark.
Having said all that, people believed—for one reason or another—that this man who’d been telling stories and performing miracles had disappeared from the tomb he was buried in. The details differ, but that is the common thread binding the gospels together. And if, like me, you’re unwilling to believe that Jesus was restored to life by divine intervention, what are you left with?
Well, notwithstanding the fact that the gospels are not remotely historically reliable (good enough explanation in itself), there are several theories that purport to explain the resurrection story. The stolen body hypothesis says that the disciples removed Jesus’s body from the tomb and told everyone he had risen to convince the world of his holiness. The swoon hypothesis says that Jesus just passed out while he was on the cross, then woke up later in the tomb and walked out. (Have a read of my previous blog, which takes a closer look at these theories.)
Let’s say, as per the swoon hypothesis, that Jesus wasn’t dead when he was taken down from the cross. But let’s also say that there was no way he would’ve escaped his tomb on his own; he was sealed inside. That brings us to the time travel hypothesis. Jesus, a time traveller from the future, used his time machine/time travel device/Vortex manipulator to return to his own time. That’s how/why he disappeared.
This isn’t a new theory. A number of people have argued that Jesus was a time traveller, sent back in time to ‘create’ religion, or a tourist from the future who created religion inadvertently. Author Michael Moorcock explored the idea in his 1969 novel, Behold the Man. In it, a man called Karl travels in time in search of Jesus. He discovers Joseph to be a bitter old man, Mary a whore, and their child Jesus an intellectually disabled hunchback. So Karl fills the role of Jesus himself, gathering followers, repeating parables that he can recall from the Bible, and using psychological tricks to simulate miracles.
Perhaps you think the idea of a time travelling Jesus is far-fetched. But is it any more far-fetched than the idea that he’s the offspring of an all-powerful, omnipotent, magical being who we cannot see, hear or know even exists?
Actually, time travel sounds a lot more sensible to me.
Happy Easter! 😀
Next week: “Million Eyes” updates and why I hate rules