A recent MSNBC story about the travels of a multi-million dollar painting by Degas brought to mind the meaning of the word ‘provenance.’ Everyone would love to find such a painting hidden away in an attic, but would they pay ten million dollars for it without checking the origin, the full history, of the painting?
Checking the origin should be a part of accepting or rejecting Christianity. The methodology used by Thomas Jefferson, removing everything that might indicate a miracle, has always struck me as odd. An example from his “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted From The Four Gospels” Chapter 1:
And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:Compared with Matthew’s King James Version of the same story:
55 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
56 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
57 How much then is a man of more value than a sheep! Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath days.
58 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.
Matthew 12:10-13 KJV
(10) And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
(11) And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?
(12) How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
(13) Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
Jefferson didn’t include verse 13, though it is included in Mark and in Luke. If he trusted Matthew’s witness to what Jesus said, why would he not trust the witness to what was done?
Jesus is either what was written by those who knew Him, or He is not. Looked upon as a philosopher, His thoughts were not new. They came from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Proverbs – what was then considered scripture, God’s holy word. His parables brought nothing new from the law given to Moses, except that the law was made for man, not man made for the law. That’s a concept, a doctrine, not quoted but inferred.
None of the other messiah claimants’ followers were successful after their leader died. We read of them in history, some even in the New Testament, but all of them offered earthly kingdoms. Jesus did not. He offered eternity. The value of that offer deserves verification, His provenance.