The Evolution of Jesus I: from Itinerant Preacher to Death-Defying Vision

Image by Doppler, from YouTube video The Evolution of Jesus Christ.

Everything evolves. Not just Life, but the Mind, Personality, Morality and Culture. This is the thesis of Matt Ridley’s book, The Evolution of Everything: How Small Changes Transform Our World, in which he demonstrates that everything, from the Economy and Technology to Government and Education, were originally, and to some extent remain, bottom up phenomenon. Each emerged because of the developments that had preceded them; for this reason, they couldn’t arrive before they did, but their arrival, when it came, was inevitable. The time was right. Once each did arrive, it embarked on an inexorable process of change. It evolved.

‘Everything’, of course, includes Religion. As Ridley says (p259):

Further evidence for the man-made nature of gods comes from their evolutionary history. It is a little-known fact, but gods evolve. There is a steady and gradual transformation through human history not only from polytheism to monotheism, but from gods who are touchy, foolish, randy and greedy people, who just happen to be immortal, to disembodied and virtuous spirits living in an entirely different realm and concerned mainly with virtue. Contrast the vengeful and irritable Jehovah of the Old Testament with the loving Christian God of today.’

This is undoubtedly the case (Ridley presents his evidence); religion is an entirely human enterprise that developed from the bottom up. It too evolved. As Ridley shows, there is no other way.

While Ridley doesn’t discuss it, this evolutionary process applies to Jesus too. This seems to me apparent, rather than a little-known fact. He didn’t spring from nowhere; the time was right for him. By the start of what is now the first century, an apocalyptic brand of Judaism had emerged, inspired in part by the book of Daniel and other late Old Testament prophecy. It was whipped to fever pitch during the Roman occupation. People were anticipating that the Messiah would soon rescue them by force; the time was right for him to appear. And appear he did, in multiple forms, all of them eliminated by the Romans. Jesus was one of these.

He began either as an itinerant preacher with delusions of grandeur or he was an imaginary being whom a few people thought miraculously appeared to them. It doesn’t matter which; even if he existed, he very quickly evolved into a supernatural being. As an itinerant preacher he would have wandered around a small part of Palestine with a handful of followers, mouthing platitudes and predicting that God’s Kingdom would soon be arriving, and that he would be its king. Instead, he was executed for insurgency. Shortly afterwards, a couple of his followers swore they’d seen him alive again. With this claim Jesus made an evolutionary leap, from troublesome Jewish preacher to death-defying vision.

His evolution was underway.

To be continued…


7 thoughts on “The Evolution of Jesus I: from Itinerant Preacher to Death-Defying Vision

  1. It’s all so clear and understandable … yet True Believers™ (need I mention names?) come up with 1001 reasons why this factual information is wrong-wrong-wrong. To them, such individuals have (obviously) been blinded to the truth by that horned guy in the red suit.

    IMO, the unemotional and “non-spiritual” facts are so obvious, yet so many simply refuse to even consider their validity simply because this is not what has been/is preached from the pulpit.

    Of course there’s a word for this, but I’ll let readers fill in the blanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right, and as if to prove your point, that certain True Believer claimed, in a comment I declined to post, that the fact there are 45,000 Christian denominations is a myth. I’m dishonest in mentioning it, apparently.

      Liked by 2 people

    • It was a perfect spring day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and a light breeze limited the sun to a comfortable warm. Don stepped out of his pickup truck sporting his best Levi’s, a western shirt, cowboy boots and hat.

      Half the parking lot had been roped off for the church’s annual rummage sale, making finding a parking spot difficult if not impossible. But Don had said a short prayer as he pulled in and a spot had immediately opened up just in front of him.

      The rummage sale provided a way for members of the church to declutter their homes by gathering up unwanted items and selling them to other members of the church. The Rummage Sale Effect ensured that everyone would return home with more random stuff than they had brought to sell. Physicists had no explanation of the Effect. But Don knew it was God working his God magic to bless his people.

      Don wandered from card table to card table, searching the treasures on offer – porcelain figurines, pillows embroidered with scripture or inspirational sayings, end tables, lamps, book cases, books and more. A few items sparked his interest and he made mental notes to come back to them on his second pass. He didn’t like to make impulsive purchases. Besides, the pie auction was later and he wanted to save his money to bid on Mrs. Murphy’s key lime pie.

      He’d come to a table covered in boxes of books. Don couldn’t resist going through the boxes, reading and considering each and every title in turn. About halfway through the boxes, he pushed the box he’d just finished perusing aside and pulled the next toward him. At the front of the box was a massive tome with a bright and colorful cover. With some effort he freed it from the box, lifted it out, and turned it for examination. Friendly cartoon illustrations of Bible stories as well as the solar system, dinosaurs, space ships, beakers and vials and scientific equipment enlivened the front and back cover.

      Colorful letters in a friendly and inviting font declared the volume’s title: The Junior CHRISTIAN’S Big Book of Apologetics, Illustrated Edition, 1001 Reasons Reality is Wrong and You Are RIGHT.

      Slowly, lovingly, Don thumbed through the pages. Outdated science described with Christian™ misrepresentation met his gaze. Ancient Greek philosophy, once used to prove the Greek gods, had been Christianized™ to prove the Christian God. And scriptures. Lots and lots of quoted scriptures.

      Don had recently ventured onto this new internet thingy. He’d found it to be a vile den of secular science and free thought debauchery. It was godless to its core and Don felt called, even compelled, to preach Christ Jesus and Him Crucified® to that electronic wasteland.

      And this book! This book would be his guide as he preached and sermonized and proved the godless wrong!

      He turned the book over, found the sticker with the price. 25¢. It would cut into his pie money, but he had to have it. He dug into his pocket change and fished out a dime, a nickel, and ten pennies.

      He wouldn’t win any pies at the auction that day. But he walked away new man. A new man with a new calling. A new man with a book that would answer every question, every objection. With it he was transformed. With it he was Don Camp, Apostle to the Internet®.

      – – – – – – –

      Well. That’s the way I imagine the story.

      Liked by 1 person

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