Why didn't Jesus write anything down?

I’m not trying to be cute and this isn’t a gotcha. I’ve poked around the internet a little looking for an answer and the three most popular options seem to be:[ol][li]He didn’t need to because herds of scribes followed him around all the time[]In spite of being a good public speaker he was illiterate which was not unusual in that time period[]He didn’t exist[/li][/ol]
Right off I don’t care about #3 and don’t want to discuss it. I’m here to solicit opinions from board members of a theological bent regarding my question. Feel free to elaborate on points #1 or #2 or offer some altogether different explanation if you are so inclined.

Full disclosure: I’m an atheist who is willing to believe there was a popular philosopher named Jesus walking around at the time who said a lot of things that people wrote down.

Most likely #2, if those are the only choices. If he had herds of scribes following him around all the time, it seems odd that not one word of what they wrote down has been found. Everything written that we have now is from decades after he would have died.

FYI, there was a recent GQ thread on this subject. Just search a little and you’ll find it.

The answer is highly likely to be #2.

Those aren’t the only choices. By all means, “offer some altogether different explanation if you are so inclined.”

And I did search but I suppose I used the wrong terms because I didn’t find much. I’ll try again.

Well, maybe he wrote a few things down, and they were lost. It’s really not something we can answer definitively, as there just isn’t enough evidence.

Try “Jesus”. It was just couple months ago at most.

Oh, sure enough. A thread about my question in GQ. Sigh. Nevermind.

Don’t give up so easily. Although that thread (IMO) strayed beyond the bounds of GQ (where we’re supposed to stick to factual statements only), you might get some other discussion going in this forum, where the rules are more fluid.

But that’s a good starting place.

He did write, so was not illiterate (John 8:6)

from scriptures is appears it was not for Him, as the man, to do. Jesus as the man, is the head of a larger body (that larger body is also Jesus). He is a part of the whole, and He as the man was not the hand. (In scriptures He is the head)

Jesus works and lives and writes though His people, who are part of Him. He is one with them as your hand is one with your body.

Wouldn’t one of the consequences of omniscience be that he could precisely tailor his words and inflection such that his meaning would be accurately transcribed whenever?

Now that I’ve read all three pages and gotten somewhat bogged down in a battle between DrDeth and Diogenes the Cynic (that went a bit over my head!) I feel like #2 is probably as “right” an answer as I’m going to get.

The person that wrote that passage never saw Jesus do anything, and if someone did witness Jesus scribble something in the dirt than erase it, we have no idea whether it was anything literate or not-he could have been drawing a picture of a house in the sand.

kanicbird, the thread I linked makes a compelling argument against your point so I’ll not rehash it here.

Heyoka13, we’re not talking about that here. Per the OP, Jesus was simply a really popular man and was not omniscient.

The gospels frequently describe Jesus debating the meaning of the Torah with scribes and Pharisees. That certainly indicates that he was well read in the Holy Scriptures.

Although I am a Christian I will assume for the sake of this discussion that Jesus was a mortal. He may have written works that no longer survive. From 66 to 73 AD there was a Jewish uprising that devastated Judea and Galilee. That killed and dispersed eye witnesses to the ministry of Jesus, and destroyed written records.

I’m led to believe that due to a popular oral tradition at the time, it was not at all uncommon for people who couldn’t read to be knowledgeable of scripture or conversant in discussions related to it.

I appreciate that. While you are welcome to your faith, it seemed to me that the divinity debate would distract from my question. Hence the caveat.

Whether it makes sense to use the word “philosopher” to describe Jesus is, in itself, an interesting question, but I think it’s safe to say that there was more to his mission than just philosophizing. It’s significant that the records we currently have of what Jesus said (i.e. the Gospels—however accurate you believe those records to be) don’t just give us his teachings; they place those teachings in the context of what Jesus did and who Jesus was.

Jesus’s method of spreading his message seems to have been, not writing things down (which wouldn’t have reached all that many of the common people in that largely illiterate culture), but teaching and interacting with people directly, and then sending those people out to interact with others. (I’m thinking of things like the sending out of the Twelve, the sending out of the Seventy-two, and the “Great Commission.”)

You don’t have to be able to read to have a strong knowledge of a religion.

If he had written works, presumably his early followers would have accorded those works a lot of reverence. Even if for some reason the physical documents were destroyed his followers would likely have retained the information.

No doubt that wandering around hosting theological salons is a great way to spread a message in an illiterate culture, but it seems like you’d still want to put it on the page just for the sake of maintaining the consistency of your ideas. Anyone who has played “telephone” knows that a message can become something else entirely a few hops down the line.

Perhaps Jesus was more concerned with disseminating the themes of his teachings rather than he was with the specific ideas? Or maybe he just didn’t really imagine a world where texts would supplant the oral traditions of his day and didn’t assign the importance to writing that we would today?

Jesus as a man was not omniscient:
He did not know everything on earth (Luke 8:45) nor future earth (Luke 18:8), nor in heaven (Matt 24:36).

The way Jesus had to work was on faith (some here would like to call it blind faith, but not really accurate, there are signs given, so partial vision is a better way to put it) and that included that the Father would do everything to make any ‘mistake’ work out for the good ultimately, therefor sinless.

This is the path Jesus asks us to walk - on faith, so He had to, or else He is asking us to do something He Himself did not go through.

The Gospels are not journalistic records, and the ability to debate with Pharisees was no indication of literacy in any case. Oral facility with scripture is fairy common in cultures with high illiteracy rates.

We went into this in the other thread, but the vast majority of the Palestinian populace was illiterate at the time, and Jesus’ social class, in particular, had little or no access to education. If he was indeed the son of a tekton, then he was from a sub-peasant class (basically day laborors), living a hand to mouth existence without the time, money or materials to educate their children.

I have read that five to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire was literate, and that this was higher among the Jews. The oral tradition is good for accounts of events, but not for laws and theology.