Book Plunge: Strange Tales About Jesus

What do I think about Per Beskow’s book published by Fortress Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the benefits of reading books is usually you can get the clue to one of the next ones to read. When I read David Marshall’s Jesus Is No Myth, I saw him talk about Per Beskow’s book about strange ideas about Jesus like Him going to India. That is an area of interest to me so I decided to look it up at the local library.

Beskow’s book is quite short, but it says enough. There are a number of different myths in there. I was quite surprised to see him even being willing to take on the Book of Mormon. Others include the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Peace, leaflets from Heaven, and the idea that Jesus was a magician.

Beskow will go through each of these and give a brief historical account. Then he’ll give the reasons why he thinks that it is a forgery. He will also explain the impact that each of these works has had and who has used it as if it was an authoritative source.

If you have heard a bizarre claim about Jesus that was before the publication date of 1983, it could be in here. Some of them are put together. There is a chapter on whether Jesus went to India or not. At the end of that, Beskow gives a paragraph that along the same lines, there is a claim that Jesus went to Japan and married and had kids and died at the age of 106 and to this day, that is still celebrated annually by some in Japan.

Most of these were done by amateurs, but one possible exception is the Secret Gospel of Mark. The only person who has seen the manuscripts that describe the account is Morton Smith. Today, we have more information that leads some scholars to think not only is it a forgery, but one done by Smith himself.

Chances are, you will also find one that’s new to you. I had not heard of the Leaflets from Heaven for instance. It also shows us that our day and age is not really new. It’s nothing new that people are going around sharing ideas without checking their validity. The danger is that it’s now all the easier to do so.

Which leads us to a need for today. We need some more people like Per Beskow to deal with the even newer strange tales about Jesus. Keep in mind we’re not just talking about false beliefs about Jesus that are well within the field of scholarship. We’re talking about ideas that are sensational and depend on isolated “discoveries” that strangely never seem to get to be seen by anyone else. Many of our new age accounts of Jesus today would be included.

The book is a good short read. Each chapter could be read in a few minutes and if you just want to go to one claim in particular, that can be done. A work like this could help end a lot of the nonsense that one sees regularly shared on the internet.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


The Lost Years of Jesus

Is there something being kept from us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This morning, I heard Allie listening to a video talking about mysteries of the Bible. Fortunately, she knows that the majority of these claims are just dumb. One similar video she stopped watching early because the content was so poorly researched. In this video I speak of, there was talk about the lost years of Jesus as if this was a Bible mystery.

There are a lot of people who think this. After all, this is the Son of God. Should we not have an exhaustive record of every aspect of His life? Why is it that those years aren’t mentioned? As soon as we say that, well here come the conspiracy theories about a cover-up.

We’ve heard them. This is the kind of stuff you see in The Da Vinci Code. These are the ideas that Jesus went to India and studied under the gurus. They’re not too new. Celsus and some Jewish sources both said that Jesus was a sorcerer with Celsus specifically saying that Jesus learned to do magic in Egypt. (Interestingly, they do not deny that He did miracles.)

So what happened? Did Jesus grow up in Egypt and learn how to do sorcery? Did He travel to India and come back after having studied with the religious leaders there?

Or could it be that the answer is a lot simpler?

If we want to speak of Jesus having lost years, we could speak of any other person having lost years that we know of. Most ancient biographers weren’t interested in the childhood of the person. You didn’t see a lot said about what they did when they were growing up.

“Wait a second here! That’s not true! There are many biographies in antiquity where you can see some of what the person was like growing up. The writer will include a scene from their childhood! Luke even does this! Remember Jesus in the temple at the age of twelve?”


Sometimes, the writer shows a brief glimpse of something, but what is he showing? He’s showing someone and saying “Even as a child, he had the character that he had as an adult.” It’s not a way of answering questions about childhood, but an example to exemplify the character of the man, which is what was of great interest.

Of course, if one accepts Luke here, then we have a quote from Luke that really answers the question of Jesus’s lost years. It’s in fact what we would call a throw-away comment. It’s not made to argue a particular point and if it was, it’s not a point that would really want to be argued for. This happens in Luke 4:16.

“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,”

Jesus was brought up in Nazareth and it was His custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. This is not something that would be made up. Nazareth was a tiny little village and not a place of honor the Messiah would come from. It would be quite shameful to say the Messiah was from a place like Nazareth.

The point of Jesus being brought up there is not argued for. The passage indicates Jesus didn’t do independent traveling until His own ministry had begun. The people all knew Him. No one said “Is this not Jesus who traveled to India and studied under the gurus?” or “Is this not Jesus who traveled to Egypt and learned from the sorcerers?”

No. This is Jesus. Jesus was a boy who grew up among them and they thought He was an ordinary boy.

Lost years are just another excuse for people to get caught up in conspiracies thinking they’ve uncovered hidden knowledge that others don’t know about. Historians don’t really take these claims seriously. They are wise to do so. They might be popular on the internet where most readers have done little investigation into these claims, but they don’t tend to attract those who have studied.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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