TGI Monday: The 'missing years' in the life of Jesus


What about the ‘missing years’ of Jesus’ life which the Bible doesn’t tell us about? Where was he? What was he doing? Did he journey to India and train to be a yogi? When did Joseph die? Did Jesus have brothers and/or sisters? Can brothers mean sisters? What does the Greek say? Does the Greek mean what is says? How do we know what the Greek meant when it was written? What about the Immaculate Conception?

“It’s a really interesting question,” says the Rev’d Dan Stork Banks, “but it’s not an important one.”

“O, I disagree!” interjects the Rev’d Zoe Hemming, as we head off into the realm of theological mysteries, historic gaps and epistemic distances. The Son of God was born a mewling baby, but was he a precocious teenager? If the One who is fully God is also fully man, what manner of man was he? What sort of friend? What kind of carpenter? How did he discover his vocation?

These ‘missing years’ are interesting because the tendency in the (post-)modern era is to use the known unknowns to forge another Jesus more in our own image. But which is the real Jesus? In the plethora of christological debates, how do we discerns a false Jesus from the historical one when about 20 years of his life is missing? The apocryphal gospels of Thomas, Judas and Mary give accounts which are deemed to be flawed, but how do we know?

For future episodes, please feel free to send your questions directly to the TGI Monday team.