Could Jesus have learned lost skills during his lost years?
'Man shall not live by bread alone. This is part of my series of articles on a rational explanation of existence and Christ, this part shared as background for Jesus' Death, also on ths site. During Jesus undocumented life between early childhood and later adulthood, estimated to be 18 years long, Jesus could have learned from lost Egyptian knowledge how to put himself in a coma, how to stitch the centuriion's back on when Peter cut it off after Gethsemane, as well as: artificial respiration to revive Lazarus; the doctrine of divine redemption in Egyptian mythology; and Buddhist ethics on compassion. This historical imagining considers evidence that Jesus could have been in Alexandria, and how much could actually have been plundered from its Library subsequent to its first fire. It's even possible Jesus started practice as a physician in his early adulthood, but realized he could do much more caring for the spirit than for the body alone, possibly accounted for in the Bible by a strange account of his experneice in the wilderness. I say it's strange, because it's the only account in the gospels of Jesus totally by himself, so he must have described it afterward, in which case it could just have been another parable that was in the course of time misunderstood.
Alexandria: Home of the World's First Internet
|Created: October 2017|
|Modified: October 2017|
While my Father wrote of his experiences meeting the King of Egypt, that’s one place he never took me: Alexandria. I can only try to imagine how it was at Jesus’ time. With the later despite for knowledge not leading to salvation, during the Dark Ages, it’s not so surprising that the library was not rebuilt after the second fire. Some say the destruction of that library was the greatest disaster in history. That library was like the hub of the Internet for the entire Western world. Some said, if a book couldn’t be found in the Library of Alexandria, then it hadn’t been written.
The library was like a University campus, with many buildings. Loosely I call it its contents ‘books’, but much of the writing was on scrolls and other means for collecting important documents, such as boxes containing letters, and so on. There were places for books to be cataloged, and others for them to be read, and many halls for them to be stored.
>More modern libraries contain windows above between shelves, or ‘stacks’ of books. T hen people could read the books right next to the shelves. But the windows are a newer enhancement; in ancient days, there were ‘stacks,’ but they were inside vaults. Library staff collected requested books to deliver to the readers, then returned them to the stacks. The vaults were like modern Internet storage, and the reading rooms would have been like Internet terminals were, in the days when computers and Ethernet access were still very rare.
How precious those terminals were to the people of that time! And on the campus there were other buildings, more like a University, where people studied the Arts a0nd Sciences: politics, ethics, metaphysics, history, mythology, agriculture, botany, biology, mathematics, physics, and so many other specialties already well advanced at the time--Among which, perhaps more important to Jesus than many have ever realized, was medicine.
As an illustration of how advanced Egyptian medicine was by the time of Jesus' life, the mummy of Usermontu, a priest from 2600BC, shows that 2500 years before Jesus' life, the Egyptians already knew how to perform impant surgery. Analysis of the pin used to reattach the lower leg shows that Usermontu lived about 20 years after the surgical operation
The Pillaging of the Library
I’m not the first to suggest Jesus visited Alexandria in his missing years. I’m not aware of any others who’ve thought through it so much. But if Jesus did go to Alexandria, then the story starts between 55 and 60 years earlier, with the fabled first burning of the Library of Alexandria by Julius Caesar in 48BC. Shakespeare portrayed Julius Caesar as a coward, intentionally torching the library to cover his escape. Others say Caesar was only burning ships and the library caught fire by mistake. Yet others say the fire was a totally unrelated event.
Whichever the case, the library was very badly damaged long before Jesus could have visited there.
What remained of the library after the first fire of 48BC? That’s also uncertain, because the emperor Aurelian later torched the whole thing, during repression of terrorist insurgents in 270AD. Yet for this account, a more important question is, not what was destroyed, but rather, what was lost?
Some play it down. Some say, there were copies of things elsewhere, and it was only during the far more massive purge of texts not related to salvation by Jesus, during the Dark Ages, that so much was lost.
Yet somehow ignored through the millennia is the amount that may have been pillaged after the fire. We all know how, during catastrophic events, some people steal and pillage buildings. So, if one casts one’s mind back to 48BC, can one imagine how many there knew of scrolls and other texts from which they could make a profitable living, especially if no one else knew they had such exclusive information.
Probably the library had private vaults, and one of the first things to go would have been letters, and other documents, with which the thieves could blackmail the rich. The Romans were already well known for their whiles in intrigue. So any such material found in any private vaults would have disappeared in vengeful glee.
Next to go would be any books with any exclusive information from which people could make a living. And chief among those would be medicine.
One only needs to visit the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose (CA) to gain an overwhelming appreciation of their knowledge. I think the mummy there of a noble man whose knee was broken, and repaired with a metal rod, after which he lived another 20 years, is ~3,300 years old. If the Egyptians could perform prosthetic surgery in 1,300BC, what else could the Egyptians have known, which was lost during the fire of Alexandria?
With respect to the inevitable pillaging, for some reason not even thought about after 2000 years, one can surmise a significantly large number of medical documents disappeared after the fire into private hands, and since were lost entirely. If the Egyptians knew how to perform spinal surgery successfully, some say they knew of blood types and transfusions. If they knew of that, what else? Artificial respiration? Stitching on ears, after they were cut off by accident or intent? How some people, labeled as lepers, may actually be curable, because they in fact had other diseases? Or even, how to induce coma states, and how to revive people from them?
These are all things Jesus could have learned, and no one later would know about it. The people who looted the books would never have told anyone. And with all the other things that happened since then, it’s not surprising such information Has totally disappeared. So perhaps you question the level of this postulation, but I would point out again, the ancient Egyptians knew how to perform surgery long before Jesus' life, and the only reason we know about it is because we found a Mummy of someone who lived another 20 years because of it. Somewhere, that knowledge too had been written down, and sometime, that knowledge was lost.
Jesus Lost Years' in Alexandria
During Jesus' life, Joseph probably returned to Egypt and stayed there for work, separating from his wife and son at some time between when Jesus was 4 and 10. So I conjecture Jesus probably visited his father, sometime after puberty and his departure from the Synagogue teachers in Nazareth, and stayed there for the missing years.
- It would be understandable, considering the relationship between Israel and Egypt, that the gospel writers would omit this fact.
- Mark did first visit Alexandria ~43AD, according to the historian Eusebius, but his account of Jesus’ early life is intentionally scant, and moreover, he did return to Alexandria, to start the church there, ~63AD.
- Both the tax collector Matthew, and the physician Luke, provide more details of his early life, but neither of them had cause to mention Mary and Joseph splitting up.
If Jesus did live Lost Years' in Egypt with his father for a while during the hidden years, then the most likely location would be Alexandria, due to the depth and extent of knowledge which Jesus exhibited in later life. So I like to think of Jesus arriving Lost Years' in a boat there, with his father Joseph eagerly awaiting him on the docks.
“Jesus! It’s so good to see you!”
I like to think of them embracing, amidst the bustling boats. There were the Egyptian ships, with hulls of bound reeds, bringing bread up from the Nile; and the Roman merchant ships loading the bread for Rome; and the smaller Greek trade ships, packed to the brim with amphorae of wine, and olive oil for cooking, and crates hanging over the side of chickens and other livestock to eat on their voyages. Honestly the way Greek merchant boats load themselves up even to this day, I don’t know how they stay afloat, however calm the Mediterranean sea may be. I like to think of the two of them walking to the streets, where entertainers performed magic tricks and songs for the passers by; and the incredible markets there, with goods from all over the world: fine silks from Asia, painted pottery from Athens, statues, glass bottles of perfume, exotic oils--and the foods! Figs, oranges, jam preserves, pastries, richly flavored dry meats… More that we could think of…and Joseph telling Jesus all he could do. But we know he was a studious child, knowing of Hebrew, Latin, and Greek already; and he would have asked his father if he could study the library's surviving texts, which were still being reassembled during his life.
Relevance of Egyptian Afterlife
if it is true that Jesus visited Alexandria in the lost years, one of the first things he would have learned is of Egyptian mythology. The story was, after you died, that the Gods put you in a kind of tribunal, to judge what would happen to you. They put your soul on a giant set of scales, with your good deeds on one side, and your bad deeds on the other, to determine if you deserved eternal life. And the scholars say that the dead always failed the test, but some who were found favorable in the eyes of the Gods were forgiven, and gained eternal life anyway.
The extent of your afterlife depended on the preservation of the three parts of your soul: the Ka, the Ba, and the Pha. I remember this by thinking the Ka, like kaka poop, is your lowest self, the physical body. The Ba is your memory and reason, just like scholars like to say, ‘”Bah! That’s not true!” And the Pha is the most ephemeral part of your soul, like a spirit.
So for royalty and important people, the Egyptians tried to preserve the Ba too, with all the things they could want in the afterlife; after which, there were additional layers of protection to enhance the survival of the Ba and the Pha. In the side of the tomb, often hidden, they would carve a small wooden door, for the Pha to come and go as it wished. So overall, the Egyptian idea of the afterlife was positive. Even the lowest people could still be forgiven of their wrongs and enter the afterlife, even if only their Pha survived. Thus, this would have seemed quite miraculous to Jesus, who had been taught that we can only enter heaven through divine justice, according to Jewish faith; and it was very different from the chaotic and unruly life of the Roman and Egyptian Gods.
Relevance of Eastern Ethics
It seems likely that Jesus also learned something of Hindu Buddhist ethics and there would have been texts from India there' in the library of Alexandria too. The reason we can postulate this with some certainty is that many of Jesus’ teachings closely resembled that of the ‘noble eightfold path.’ This defines the right perspective, purpose, speech, action, jobs, effort, attitude, and focus for a person who seeks enlightenment. According to Eastern thought, these things do not bring about enlightenment in themselves, though; they are the endeavors of any person seeking a higher spiritual nature.
Relevance of Greek Philosophers
It seems to me, having studied them somewhat, that Jesus probably found some inspiration in them; but even more likely, Jesus also studied some Greek philosophers. For example, Epicurus taught there should be no fear of death, and that overindulgence leads to less pleasure, whereas abstinence makes occasional festivities even greater in enjoyment. And even more obvious is Plato account of Socrates’ trial and death, in Crito and Phaedo. If he did not read of it in Plato, he could have read Xenophon's account, which is in far simpler English.
These are all correlations and similitudes that any person who loves Jesus can enjoy far more exploration.
Work as a Physician
Because Jesus was very self confident in his later life, it also seems reasonable to think that Jesus started some physician's work during his lost years. Commonly its held that Jesus did not start his own teachings in Israel until he was about 22, but again there is a gap in the gospel accounts, this time not even disguised by his birth earlier than first thought. So it would have been before this time, or during it, that one or more of those who had plundered the library approached him stealthily, whispering, “Hey, Mistah! You like to learn about medicine?” Before letting him see the tip of some tantalizing scroll from under their robes.
And it’s reasonable to think Jesus was extremely successful, because he would have had to save up enough money that he could return to Israel (where the cost of living was much cheaper) and live for about eight years without having to work. It would have been after this that he decided to return to Israel and see his mother again.
I like to think he had a tearful, yet happy departure from his father before embarking on the journey home, where my ruminations on his likely earlier life end, and the biblical narrative again, with events that changed history forever-- in ways not even Jesus could have anticipated when he first walked into a synagogue and asked to read the bible.
The Days in the Wilderness
When the New Testament again picks up on his life, Jesus could have been returning to his birthplace. It seems strange to me that the bible accounts his expoerience in the wilderness in the third person, while no one else was there. So the account must have been from Jesus himself.
During the journewy, he would have had time to contemplate whether he really wanted to be a physician. With the experience of his childhood, it is understandable that he would rather tend to spirit than the body. In fact, he could use his knowledge, completely unknown in Judaea, to persuade people to behave better, and not make a woman in labor give birth in a disgusting stable.
His heritage gave him reason to want to affect change; but on the way, he reaized he knew enough to make himself a hermitage in the desert and live there. He would have been king of his own domain, with no one to tell him otherwise.
But he realized his life, with his education, could do far more for the world than just support himself. What amazes me is how much he affected history, with all the savagery of his time, and yet so many people who are otherwise perfectly normal can do nothing but express hatred and denial for what he achieved.