Where is the Secret Diary of Jesus?
As far back as 750BC philosophers have been debating the merits of communication mediums. Plato and Socrates went back and forth about whether an oral and aural message were superior to a written word. Socrates lived most of his life in a culture where the important messages of life were transmitted from mouth to ear.
Plato had latched onto the brilliance of the written and recorded word and since Plato wrote everything down he seemingly won the war of words. Though the victory would not be officially declared until we saw the results Gutenberg’s printing press and oil based ink.
By the time Jesus’ incarnational revolution was set in motion, cultural record keeping had evolved from crude cuneiform on crackly tablets to phonetic letters etched on wax pages. But that doesn’t mean that the written word had snuffed out oral tradition as the main means of informative transmission.
Even as late as the 4 century AD, Augustine recalls being shocked upon walking into a room and finding the Bishop of Milan reading silently to himself. Even books were meant to be read out loud. So Jesus’ chosen ministry style should not totally surprise us. He talked to people. Since the oral/aural tradition ruled the day, he told stories and taught through the use of sermons.
It seems that Jesus’ only interaction with written word, at least interactions important enough to document, were his reading from scrolls in the Temple and writing some temporary words in the dirt before telling a guilty woman to cease and desist on that sinning stuff. The written word mattered during Jesus’ lifetime and especially to the Roman Empire. Even the Jewish history was preserved on the scrolls. Why doesn’t Jesus himself use all the media available to him to spread the gospel?
Jesus never wrote a Best Seller
Shouldn’t we find it odd that all the records of Jesus never came from Jesus himself? In the beginning was the Word but he wrote no words his own. Certainly, he would have been aware of the technology.
I am assuming also that if he could read the scrolls from the temple he was literate and able to record his personal thoughts and life-changing messages for himself. Where is Jesus’ personal diary, his autobiography? (Yes, we can quibble about the Bible being inspired by the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of the trinity technically making the Bible an autobiography, but let’s no get stuck here.) I have read many books about Bruce Springsteen, but I am more eagerly awaiting Bruce Springsteen’s words about Bruce Springsteen. A personal account of a life and a message contains something more, doesn’t it?
These questions, which I admittedly have no answer, brings me to another question about the church that is nestled in today’s culture. It is preached, professed, and proclaimed that we should use any and all means of communication methodology to spread the gospel. That apparently includes smoke machines, rock concerts, and providing copious amounts of coffee and third space comfort.
But if there is no secret diary of Jesus, no written history, that should give us pause to consider our current communication efforts. If Jesus didn’t find the written word to be personally necessary, then perhaps we don’t need to feel the pressure to utilize every new and shiny methodology that comes rolling down the street. On the other hand, it also means that we probably shouldn’t hold so tightly to archaic modes of communication either. The Bible was, after all, recorded on every available form of paper - from clay tablets to electronic ones.
Exploring the implications of technology in the lives of God’s people. It is more Black Mirror and Twilight Zone than light shows, powerpoints, and webcasts.