25 Events in the Mysterious Life of Jesus of Nazareth
25 Events in the Mysterious Life of Jesus of Nazareth

25 Events in the Mysterious Life of Jesus of Nazareth

Larry Holzwarth - September 2, 2019

25 Events in the Mysterious Life of Jesus of Nazareth
The Catholic Church has long denied the truth of ancient texts describing the “lost years” of Jesus, rejecting them as heretical. Wikimedia

23. The denial of the lost years of the life of Jesus

Attempts to discover and describe the life of Jesus outside of the events in the four gospels are blasphemous to most Christians, and the apocryphal books which do so were labeled as false by the Catholic Church centuries before the Reformation and the birth of Protestantism. Yet the banned books remain, many of them written contemporaneously with the earliest texts of the authorized gospels. The Gospel of Luke (2: 40) sums up the childhood of Jesus in a single verse, which reads, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2: 40 KJV). The subsequent verses in Luke describe his awe-inspiring visit to the temple.

Despite numerous texts contained in the Apocrypha, life in the home of Jesus, and Mary and Joseph and their children is reduced to the short description in Luke. The adolescent years of Jesus are not addressed at all, unless one considers the age of twelve to be part of adolescence. Interestingly the Infant Gospel of Thomas, Chapter 19, verse 5, contains a passage which is reflective of Luke 2:40. The passage in Thomas, which describes events following the appearance of the twelve year old Jesus before the temple scholars, reads: “…And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and grace.”

25 Events in the Mysterious Life of Jesus of Nazareth
The martyrdom of James, described by many ancient texts as the brother of Jesus, and as his true successor as head of the church. Wikimedia

24. Jesus is described in the apocrypha as being with his siblings

According to the Catholic faith and many Protestant religions, the persons described in the gospels as Jesus’ “brothers” were sons of Joseph by an earlier marriage, or perhaps cousins or other close relatives. The Apocrypha describes their relationships as children in more detail, perhaps the reason the books are not accepted as canonical. In the Infant Gospel of Thomas, for instance, an event which occurred during the lost years of Jesus is described in which he provides miraculous intervention for the benefit of James. Thomas 16: 1 contains the story of James and Jesus gathering wood at the request of Joseph, and also describes Jesus as the younger of the two children.

“And Joseph sent his son James to bind fuel and carry it into his house. And the young child Jesus also followed him”, reads the passage, which goes on to describe James being bit on the hand by a presumably venomous snake. “Jesus came near and breathed upon the bite, and straightway the pain ceased, and the serpent burst, and forthwith James continued whole”. James later became one of the leaders of the early church following the events described in the gospels, with most of what is known of his life derived from passages in the epistles of Paul. The Gospel of John does not mention him at all.

25 Events in the Mysterious Life of Jesus of Nazareth
Jesus with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, by Rembrandt. Wikimedia

25. The mystery of the lost years of Jesus of Nazareth

Possibly no other person in the collective history of humanity across the globe has been more closely studied by historians, archaeologists, theologians, and philosophers, than the itinerant Jewish teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth. Yet more than half of his generally accepted lifespan remains a mystery. Eighteen of his 33 years of life on earth are undocumented, or are documented in books labeled as heresies and falsehoods by Christian authorities. Despite the rejection of the books of the apocrypha, many of the stories which they contain are included in the Koran, and many continue to be referenced as legends and folklore.

The decade between the ages of two and twelve, and the eighteen subsequent years leading up to Jesus being baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, are blank. Outside of the books of the Bible and the Apocrypha, other records, including those of Josephus, record Jesus as having siblings, including James “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ”. For the Christian church it seems that the mystery of faith is enough, but for historians the details of the life of Jesus – his biography – remains a mystery both elusive and intriguing.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“The Apocryphal Gospels: Text and Translation”. Bart D. Ehrman, Zlatko Plese. 2011

“The Gospel According to Matthew”. King James Version. Online

“The Infancy Gospel of Thomas”. M. R. James, trans. Gnostic Society Library. Online

“The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew”. Ante-Nicene Fathers Trans. (1886). Gnostic Society Library. Online

“The Gospel According to Luke”. King James Version. Online

“The Arabic Infancy Gospel of the Savior”. Ante-Nicene Fathers trans. (1886). Gnostic Society Library. Online

“The Gospel According to John”. King James Version. Online

“The History of the Holy Disciple Joseph of Arimathea”. Unk. The University of Rochester Camelot Project. Online

“Travel in the Roman World”. Robert L. Cioffi, Oxford Handbooks Online. 2016

“Green and pleasant land?” Jeremy Paxman, The Guardian. March 6, 2007

“Did Jesus REALLY stay in England? Peter Stanford, The Daily Mail. November 27, 2009

“Jesus in Tibet: A Modern Myth”. Robert M. Price. Westar Institute, Religion is the Fourth R. May-June, 2001. Online

“The Post Truth Gospel: Why a Russian may have forged a tale about Jesus in India”. Marcel Theroux, The Times Literary Supplement. January 9, 2018

“What do Muslims believe about Jesus?” A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam. Online

“The Tomb of Christ”. Rennes-le-Chateau Research and Resource. Online

“Third Nephi” The Book of Nephi. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Online

“Antiquities of the Jews”. Flavius Josephus. Circa 93-94 CE. Online at Project Gutenberg