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A Letter Written by Jesus

No writings have ever been attributed to Jesus in the Bible.  However, there is an ancient manuscript that claims to be letters written between Abgarus, King of Edessa, and Jesus.  It’s a very short “book”, so I will quote it entirely.  But first, here’s a bit of background.  The official name of the document is The Epistles of Jesus Christ and Abrarus King of Edessa.  Lost Books of the Bible gives some background on this document.

The first writer who makes any mention of the Epistles that passed between Jesus Christ and Abgarus, is Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, in Palestine, who flourished in the early part of the fourth century.  For their genuineness, he appeals to the public registers and records of the City of Edessa in Mesopotamia, where Abgarus reigned, and where he affirms that he found them written, in the Syriac language.  He published a Greek translation of them in his Ecclesiastical History.

The learned world have been much divided on this subject; but notwithstanding  that the erudite Grabe, with Archbishop Cave, Dr. Parker, and other divines has strenuously contended for their admission into the canon of Scripture, they are deemed apocryphal.  The Rev. Jeremiah Jones observes that the common people in England have this Epistle in their houses, in many places, fixed in a frame, with the picture of Christ before it; and that they generally, with much honesty and devotion, regard it as the word of God, and the genuine Epistle of Christ.

Chapter 1

1 – Abgarus, king of Edessa, to Jesus the good Saviour who appears at Jerusalem, greeting.

2 – I have been informed concerning you and your cures, which are performed without the use of medicines and herbs.

3 – For it is reported that you cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, do both cleanse lepers, and cast out unclean spirits and devils, and restore them to health who have been long diseased, and raisest up the dead;

4 – All which when I heard, I was persuaded of one of these two, viz: either that you are God himself descended from heaven, who do these things, or the son of God.

5 – On this account therefore I have wrote to you, earnestly to desire you would take the trouble of a journey hither, and cure a disease which I am under.

6 – For I hear the Jews ridicule you, and intend you mischief.

7 – My city is indeed small, but neat, and large enough for both of us.

Chapter 2

1 – Abgarus, you are happy, forasmuch as you have believed on me, whom ye have no see.

2 – For it is written concerning me, that those who have seen me should not believe on me, that they who have not seen might believe and live.

3 – As to that part of your letter, which relates to my giving you a visit, I must inform you, that I must fulfil all the ends of my mission in this country, and after that be received up again to him who went me.

4 – But after my ascension I will send one of my disciples, who will cure your disease, and give life to you, and all that are with you.

So, do you think this was really written by Jesus?

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8 comments on “A Letter Written by Jesus

  1. Ok, the blog definitely had some technical difficulties last week (while I was on vacation), and my spam filter got turned off and I lost some of my gravatar capability. I hope to fix it soon, but the spam filter is back on. What a mess that was….

  2. Chapter 2 (the epistle of Jesus) seems to be anachronistic. 2:2 mentions scripture that hasn’t been written at the time Jesus was alive. Then verses 3 and 4 are quite prophetic, telling of what is to come regarding his mission and his death. I would think something of this magnitude would be written somewhere else. In other words, something that was shared so casually with Abgarus took the disciples completely by surprise. I would say this was definitely not written by Jesus, but was made up hundreds of years later.

  3. I think Chapter 2 is pretty consistent with some New Testament scriptures. Jesus clearly indicated he was only sent to the house of Israel, and wasn’t supposed to help gentiles, such as the Samaritan woman at the well (even though he helped her begrudgingly.) He also referred to Old Testament scriptures “Before Abraham was, I Am”), so I’m not quite seeing this as anachronistic when he refers to “as it is written”. However, I do think this is of questionable authenticity.

  4. “For it is written concerning me, that those who have seen me should not believe on me, that they who have not seen might believe and live.”

    This is written in John 20. That is what makes this anachronistic, since the gospels were written well after the death of Jesus, and even the quote was made after the resurrection, making it even that much more anachronistic.

  5. Let me just say that I don’t believe this letter is genuine. But for the sake of arguing that it could be legitimate, yes, Jesus said that to Thomas in John 20. If so, it seems quite congruent with the Bible.

    As for verses 3-4, well for a believer, this seems to be part of the Messianic secret–that he would die and live again. However, it does seem to be a bit incongruous that Jesus would be telling a Messianic secret to a gentile, so I can see that as a bit strange too.

    But what’s to say that Jesus didn’t say that to others? I mean if Jesus is telling Thomas that, why not others? And perhaps what is written either refers to an Old Testament prophet (such as Isaiah), or another OT era prophet we don’t have access to. Just sayin.

    So, like you said over at W&T, you can interpret scripture any way you like, and certainly supporters of this letter found enough evidence to support that notion. I think Jesus telling the Messianic secret to a gentile is the stranger part.

  6. Maybe we should become Millennial Mormons. I found an interesting blog post from June: http://millennialmormonism.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-is-church-so-boring.html

  7. I guess I should have said that my interpretation of the letter along with John 20 being written after the letter was written, and the fact that I could not find the reference anywhere in the OT – together make this seem anachronistic to me.

    Sure its possible that Jesus could have quoted a lost scripture from an OT prophet, but I think that unlikely.

    I’ll check out the Millennial Mormon post. It does look interesting.

  8. Just read the Millennial Mormon post. It was awesome.

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