The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Childhood of Jesus

Of all the four gospels only Luke contains an account of Jesus' childhood. It is an isolated incident of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. The story narrated in Luke 2:41-52 tells of how Joseph and Mary took the twelve year old Jesus to Jerusalem for the passover festival and lost him for three days. They finally found him in the Temple where he was discussing religious matters with the teachers of the Law. They were "amazed at his understanding and his answers." (Luke 2:47).

The numbers used in the telling of the story, three (days lost) and twelve (age of Jesus) is enough to make us suspicious of its authenticity. Three is the messianic figure and twelve was the age of Solomon when he became King. Daniel too came into prominence at twelve years of age. And according to Jewish legend, Moses separated himself from his family at that age. [1]

Furthermore we noted earlier that Luke copied and used some material from Josephus. Here, again, we find that Luke had probably used the Jewish historian as his source again. In Josephus' autobiography, The Life of Flavius Josephus he mentioned that he had a precocious childhood and had a wide learning of Jewish religious matters. [2] This is what Josephus himself said of his childhood:

Moreover when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had for learning; on which account the high priest and principle men of the city [i.e. Jerusalem] came then frequently to me together in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of the points of the Law.

Note the point about the high priests and the principle men of Jerusalem consulting him due to his accurate understanding of the Law and the story in Luke about the twelve year old Jesus who amazed the teachers of the Law with his understanding of the Law.

Luke as usual ended the section by copying an Old testament passage:

Luke 2:52
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.

This is clearly taken from

I Samuel 2:26
And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.

Thus the only episode we have concerning Jesus' childhood is very probably fictitious.

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1.Guignebert, Jesus: p143
2.Graham, The Jesus Hoax: p195
Schonfield, The Passover Plot: p245

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