The Jesus Controversies: A Well-Traveled Messiah?
Over the years, there have certainly been a number of good conspiracies and other controversies arise pertaining to the identity of the historical Jesus. With special thanks to books like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, questions about the man, as well as the life he may have led, have been placed in an all new light, linking such things as the “secret bloodline of Jesus” to organizations and societies like the Knights Templar and the modern day Masonic orders.
The latest addition to these “Jesus Controversies” involves a document that was allegedly discovered, penned in an Egyptian Coptic script, in which Jesus makes a statement concerning his wife. The Vatican has denounced the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” as a “clumsy fake,” whereas some others have noted that the apparent document may indeed point to aspects of the Christian savior’s life that haven’t been very well publicized over the centuries.
Despite whether or not the document is real, there are far stranger notes and asides that occur in the story of Jesus, emerging in rather outlandish claims from other parts of the world, which suggest that Jesus wasn’t just a married man, but that he had been a world traveler too, among other things.
According to one rather obscure tradition in Japan, a location known as Shingō villageis actually the final resting place of Jesus.
Visitors to the town may discover a site dubbed Kirisuto no haka, which literally means “The Tomb of Jesus”near the family home of a man named Sajiro Sawaguchi. The family has long claimed that Jesus escaped death on the cross by allowing his brother Isukiri (who bore a curiously Asian-sounding name to have been the brother of an ethnic Jew from Nazareth) to take his place on the cross. Jesus then fled, traversing Siberia and eventually entering the Mutsu Province of Northern Japan. There, he settled and became a rice farmer, and much like other controversial scenes in the life of the savior proposed by various documents that have emerged over the years, he married and had a family. The Sawaguchi family legend even claims that Jesus lived to be 106 years old, and upon his death, his body lay exposed on a hilltop for four years before his remains were gathered and buried at the grave site bearing his name today.
This isn’t the only tradition that holds that Jesus escaped death on the cross, or perhaps at least made his rounds in visits to other parts of the world after the resurrection that occurs in Christian belief systems. The Mormon tradition also holds that visits from Jesus occurred in the Americas following the crucifixion, where he invited them to examine evidence of his resurrection in much the same way he had done before his apostles:
“…Feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am…the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. … Ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice…” (3 Nephi 11:14, 15:21).
Mormons ad others have sought to substantiate such claims by wording found in the book of Acts that states how Jesus would carry proof of his resurrection, “unto the uttermost part of the earth,” as well as the wording from John’s gospel that Jesus would visit “other sheep.”
While these references pertain to Jesus’s visits following the crucifixion, there are other traditions maintaining that in his early life, Jesus may have also visited parts of England. Citing such works as The Traditions of Glastonbury by E. Raymond Capt, and Did Our Lord Visit Britain? by C.C. Dobson, the story emerges as follows: Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus’ great uncle, had traveled to Glastonbury, England, with the young messiah in tow. The reason for this, according to this tradition, had been because Joseph the uncle had become the legal guardian, so to speak, of Jesus following his father’s death, and as a wealthy merchant, he brought the boy with him on his various business ventures. It is thus said that at the Church of Priddy near Somerset, UK, an old saying can still be heard that notes, in rather anecdotal fashion, that one can rest assured of a given subject, “just as sure as our Lord was at Priddy.” Much the same, there is a Christmas carol stemming from the region that repeats the following line: “Joseph was a tin merchant, a tin merchant, a tin merchant,” and tells of his arrival from the sea in a boat.
Other traditions similarly tell that Jesus traveled to India, as well as South America. And while it’s unlikely that Jesus ever made it as far south as Antarctica, one might be surprised to find our just how much religious practice goes on there nonetheless. While we can’t be certain if Jesus ever had a wife or not, one thing these various other traditions might make clear, if they can be taken literally, is that the Messiah was at very least well-traveled.