Posted: Feb 27, 2010 9:35 am
by TimONeill
Onyx8 wrote:Indeed, and thank you both for the differentiation. So when did the stories of the miracles begin to be attached to the stories of the man who had physically existed?

Pretty early, if similar modern examples are anything to go by. If you look at the "miracles" of Jesus, most of them are well known to anyone who has been to a modern "faith healing" service. You have people who are "lame" who can suddenly walk, those who are "possessed" who are free, epileptics who are "cured" etc. Except when he goes to his home town of Nazareth, where they all think his claim of Messianic status is bullshit, he is unable to perform in the same way. Even some of the more "amazing" cures, like healing blind people, look less remarkable on closer inspection. In Mark 18:22-25 Jesus is depicted as "healing" a blind man. Except the so-called "Son of God" doesn't manage to get it right first time and has to try again. The interesting thing is that he "heals" this man (eventually) by spiting in the dust and wiping the paste of dust and spittle against the man's eyes. Interestingly, we have an almost identical story about the Emperor Vespasian doing exactly the same thing for a blind man in Suetonius' biography. Vespasian campaigned in Palestine and performed this so-called "miracle" in Egypt. Interestingly, the use of an abrasive paste of fine dust and spittle was used to remove cataracts into the present day.

So the idea that Jesus was a "faith healer" could actually be historical. Most of the other miracles have a symbolic basis. The Messiah was supposed to do certain things to symbolise the coming kingship of Yahweh (the gospels' "kingdom of God"), so Jesus is depicted as doing (most of) these things. He is also depicted as doing miracles in the vein of great holy men like Elijah and Elisha - like feeding people with a small amount of food or raising people from the dead.

So some of the "miracles" probably attached themselves to him in his lifetime. Others were probably attached later as a result of these. We can see examples of both of these processes today. See Sai Baba for example.