Saturday, December 1, 2012

Giveaway Winner (and some Trivia)

According to an online random number generator, the two copies of The Five Books of Jesus from last week's contest should go to Scholarstastic. I must say the random number generator chose well--two copies of this book is a fun wedding present! 

Congratulation, Scholarstastic. Please email me your address so I can send them to you.

I said I would also provide some additional information about the people entrants seemed most interested in. In total, entrants chose nineteen individuals.

Thirteen appear in The Five Books of Jesus:
The Leper of Matt. 8:1-4, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Martha, John, the Centurion in Capernaum, the Woman from the Tyre/Sidon region, Joanna, Chuza, Nathanael, Thomas, Mary and Joseph.
Six don't show up in the book (all but one of whom are unique to the gospel of John):
Nicodemus, the Woman Taken in Adultery, the Woman at the Well (in Samaria), the woman who washes Jesus' feet with her hair, Lazarus, the boy with the loaves and fishes. 
 A few interesting facts related to three of these people: 

Lepers. In my research, I learned that 95% of people are naturally immune to leprosy. Which may explain why it carried such a strong stigma in the ancient world--because most people didn't get sick when leprosy spread in an area, it may have seemed even more than other diseases like a condemnation from God. The lepers Jesus heals likely thought of their own condition as both physical and spiritual. They must have felt a sense of pardon as well as of strength. 

The Woman from "the coasts of Tyre and Sidon." One story that's troubling to many modern Christians is the account in Mark 7:24-30 where Jesus calls a foreign woman a dog. Is he racist? Is he sexist? Is he just plain rude? What's going on? 
As I researched for the book, I realized that the strangest thing about this story is that it's physically quite distant from all the stories around it. Why would Jesus walk for days just to turn someone away? 
I wonder whether Jesus went specifically for this encounter. And whether the location of this encounter near the OT village of Zarephath was significant and would have meant a great deal to the apostles who accompanied him. 
Joanna. The gospels briefly mention a follower of Jesus named Joanna, who was the wife of Herod's steward Chuza. It's pretty interesting that the gospels don't mention any of the bigger, Hellenized cities in Galilee (like the capital, Tiberias) where Herod himself would have spent most of his local time. And yet someone from his "household" sought out Jesus. The hint that someone like Joanna existed is fascinating.   

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