Where was Jesus from 12 to 30 years old? The gospel is silent about this, and many are trying to fill in the gap - in particular, the so-called "Tibetan Gospel." But what was it really?
We can feel the righteousness of our faith, but we can not always explain or prove it to a person who is not a believer, especially to someone whose worldview is somehow irritating. Reasonable questions of an atheist can confound even the most sincerely believing Christian. About how and what to answer the common arguments of atheists tells our permanent author Sergei Khudiev in the project "Dialogue with Atheists: Orthodox arguments."
The Gospel of Luke contains an episode about 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple:
"And when He was twelve years old, they also came to Jerusalem according to custom to the feast. When, at the end of the days [of the festival], they returned, the Jesus Christ remained in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother did not notice it, but they thought that He was walking with others. After walking the day, they began to seek Him among relatives and acquaintances, and, not finding Him, returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Three days later they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them; all who heard him were amazed at his reason and his answers. And when they saw him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him: Son! What have you done with us? Behold, your Father and I have searched for You with great sorrow. He said to them, "Why did you seek me?" or did you not know that I must be in that which belongs to my Father? But they did not understand His words. And he went with them, and came to Nazareth; and was in obedience to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. Jesus also prospered in wisdom and age, and in love with God and men "(Luk.2: 42-52)
The next episode concerns the Lord's departure for public service when he is "thirty years old".
Vasily Polenov. Performed wisdom, 1890-1900-e
In the Gospel there is no information about the eighteen years that have passed between these events, and many have tried - and are still trying - to fill the gap.
There is a medieval English legend that the young man Jesus visited England and lived in the village of Priddy, in Somerset. Although this is obviously just a touching manifestation of medieval piety, there are people who are seriously upholding this theory, but in Russia it is little known.
The more well-known theories that Jesus at this time traveled to the East - to Tibet or India, they are still quite popular, and we should pay attention to them.
The first idea of the fact that Hinduism influenced the Lord Jesus and Christianity was expressed by the French writer Louis Jacolliot, who is more known for us as the author of adventure novels. In his work "The Indian Bible, or the Life of Ezekne Krystna," Jacolio wrote that between Indian legends about the deity of Krishna and the Gospel there is a profound similarity, and believed that the Gospel itself is a myth that is the processing of Indian material. Jacollio believed that the word "Christ" comes from the word "Krishna", an idea that was then joyfully picked up by the "Society for Krishna Consciousness", and saw in the name "Jesus" the Sanskrit word "Ezeous", which means "pure essence." However, at about the same time the outstanding German orientalist and linguist Max Muller noticed that such a Sanskrit word does not exist, and the term was simply invented by Jacolio. Jacolio did not claim that Jesus was in India - but he should be noted as the founder of the myth of Indian influence.
The idea was developed in the book "Tibetan Gospel" of the Russian officer Nikolai Notovich, which was published in French in 1894 year. In this book, he claimed that in 1887 he visited the Buddhist monastery Himis, located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, where, he said, he heard of a document called "the life of Saint Isa, the best of the sons of men."
According to the Tibetan Gospel, at the age of 15, Jesus went east to, as stated in the text, "perfect in the divine word and study the laws of the great Buddha", arriving at the place and "Having studied Pali's language perfectly, the righteous Issa gave himself up to studying sacred scrolls of the Sutras. After six years of Issa, whom the Buddha chose to spread his holy word, he was able to explain the sacred scrolls in perfection. Then, leaving Nepal and the Himalayan mountains, he descended into the valley of Rajputana and headed west, preaching to the various peoples about the highest perfection of man. "
Almost immediately after the publication of this text, he was sharply criticized by experts - the same Max Muller said that either the monks joked on Notovich, or he just fabricated the text. Müller wrote to the abbot of the monastery, and he replied that for the past fifteen years no European in the monastery was and that he has no idea about the documents to which Notovitch refers. James Archibald Douglas, professor of English at the state college of the Indian city of Agra, visited 1895 that monastery about which Notovitch spoke and found out that the abbot had never seen anyone like Notovitch and described all his statements as "Lies, and nothing except lies! ".
All these exposures, however, did not prevent the popularity of the Tibetan Gospel. Against the backdrop of a general interest in "Eastern spirituality" and various projects of the unification of religions, voices appeared in defense of its authenticity. The follower of Ramakrishna Swami Abhedananda decided in 1922 to independently find the sources of Notovic in Himis and stated that he succeeded, as he described in his book Journey to Kashmir and Tibet. The well-known Russian artist and mystic Nicholas Roerich declared, in 1925, that "in Chemi is really an old Tibetan translation from a manuscript written in Pali and located in a well-known monastery near Lhasa. Finally, they learned the continuity of eyewitnesses. Tales of forgery are destroyed. "
It should be noted that both Blavatsky and Roerichs enjoyed immense popularity among our spiritually searching intelligentsia of the last Soviet - and the first post-Soviet years, and, mainly thanks to them, the version of "Jesus who was in India" went to the masses.
The reason for the sustainability of this view is clear - this is the hobby of "eastern spirituality," which gives a vaguely pleasant feeling of belonging to some mystery, to a high spiritual experience, without requiring any spiritual discipline and repentance, and the desire to somehow fit into this "spirituality" is all the significant religious figures of humanity - and first of all, of course, Jesus.
However, the very theory that Jesus was in India does not appear until the last quarter of the 19th century, finds no confirmation, and, in fact, contradicts the content of the New Testament - in which it is very difficult to find any parallels with Indian spirituality.
What can we say about the hidden years of Jesus? The Gospel does not speak about them in detail, but contains indirect indications that He was simply spending the life of a humble artisan.
For example, in the Gospel of Mark, we read: "From there He went out and came to His homeland; His disciples followed him. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard were astonished to say: Where did He get this from? what wisdom is given to him, and how such miracles are performed by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of Jacob, Josiah, Judah, and Simon? Are not his sisters here, between us? And they were offended about Him. Jesus said to them, "There is no prophet without honor, except in his own country and among his relatives and in his own house." (Mar. xNUMX: 6-1) This sounds as if people knew Jesus perfectly well in his former life - He grew up next door to them, and it seemed to him incredible that someone so great was revealed in Him.
For the Church, this period of silence is also important - because it shows the humility of God, who became a man who spent a simple life in obscurity, performing hard and unrewarding work. In this He raised the dignity of ordinary people, and showed the height of simple daily work.