The Intellect of JesusTherefore our knowledge of Jesus consists in a small collection of short sayings which may or may not be authentic; the longer "sermons" being artificial creations of the evangelists. This collection of sayings is simply too small for us to come up with a definite assessment of the intellect of the man behind them. One of the most irritating feature of conservative Christian literature is the often cocksure conclusion their authors have about Jesus' intellectual capability. This conclusion come, not from a thorough study and understanding of the material, but from dogmatic preconceptions. Take, for example, the pronouncement of the Christian theologian and historian, Philip Schaff (1819-1893) on the intellect of Jesus:
Another theologian, Charles Dodd (1884-1973) has this to say:
Needless to say, these starry eyed view had been challenged by skeptics. One of them is Charles Guignebert (1867-1939) who was Professor of History of Christianity in the Sorborne. His observations on Jesus' intellect are as follows:
Jesus' intellect, according to Guignebert is not that of a keen and lively type but that of a dogmatist:
A good example of what Guignebert is saying can be found in the incident where Jesus was preaching in a synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 3:1-6). The crowd was not responsive to Jesus and this was his reaction:
Jesus intellect,as we would expect, is very much a product of his environment:
In short, Jesus' mind was simple and rural, a lot like many fundamentalist Christians today. His knowledge of his contemporary world was dismal, as Ernest Renan (1823-1892), the French historian pointed out:
That Jesus was incapable of deep and abstract thought can be seen in the episode below:
The scripture cited by Jesus in defence of his disciples' action has very little to do with the present situation. For David and his band of soldiers were hungry and were invited by the High Priest himself. The disciples, on the other hand, were simply strolling along and frivolously picking ears of corn. The fact that Jesus was satisfied with such a defence show the unsophisticated state of his intellect. 
Another point to note in that passage above is that Jesus' memory is not all that great. For he mentioned that Abiathar was high priest during that time. Actually this was a mistake. The incident happened when Ahimelech, Abiathar's father, was the head priest! (Samuel 21:1-6) Abiathar was Ahimelech's son (I Samuel 22:20) and was only appointed high priest when David became King (I Chronicles 15:11).
Note also that the authors of Luke and Matthew both discreetly omitted the name of Abiathar in their versions of the same story (Matthew 12:1-8 and Luke 6:1-5).
The balance of evidence, far from proving the remarkable intellect of the Jesus of the fundamentalists, show him to be an unsophisticated and ignorant Galilean peasant; very much the product of his environment.
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