In the biography of Jesus as mentioned in the Gospels there is a strange gap of 18 years. No one exactly knows what happened in the life of Jesus Christ in these 18 years. There are many interesting theories and stories that have been mentioned by experts from all parts of the world. We will try to discuss some of these theories today.
The Gap of 18 Years
As per the Gospel Jesus visits the Temple in Jerusalem when he was 12 years old and after this he again appears only at the age of thirty. This is a huge gap of 18 years and it would be definitely interesting to know what happened in the life of Jesus Christ in these 18 years. Where did he go and what did he learn in these years that made him such a popular religious philosopher later.
18 years between the teenage of Jesus and his young adulthood is a missing string that many people have tried to connect. We will discuss most of these theories that were proposed at different times but frankly speaking there is very little evidence that we have in hand to support any one of these theories that have been proposed by many.
It can be considered as a huge mystery that remains hidden in the pages of history and just refuses to expose itself to the world. We have tried to explain some of the most popular theories in this article because it is simply not possible to write about all the theories that were proposed about these lost years.
Many books have been written as an attempt to explain this gap and what exactly happened in the life of Jesus in these crucial 18 years. Some say that Jesus actually disappeared to join a secret monastic sect in the Judean desert and some say that Jesus was simply travelling in these 18 years to the different parts of the world and it includes countries like India, Britain, China and Tibet. Theories are many and they are nothing but an attempt to explain this mysterious gap in the life of Jesus. There are no concrete examples that support these theories. It is up to you to analyse and decide which theory you actually think is the most appropriate one in these.
Theory 1: Stay at Nazareth
The first theory says that Jesus Christ was staying in Nazareth during these 18 years. You can consider this as the simplest explanation for the years that are missing from the life of Jesus Christ. It is said that Jesus was in him hometown itself in these 18 years. He was mostly working with his father Joseph as a carpenter. He was also studying the Jewish scriptures and he later became the head of the family after his father Joseph died.
This theory is not accepted by many and some challenge it. The list of people who have challenged it includes Bruce Chilton. They say Jesus was thirty when he appeared again and by this time he should have been married and settled if he was actually living in his hometown because that is what the youth of his age were expected to do at that time. If he was actually living in his hometown then why would those 18 years go missing?
People would definitely know what he was doing in these years. Some evidence of some form must have been available instead of a huge 18 years gap. People also claim that as he was living an ordinary life no one wrote anything about him. Only when he started to talk like an extraordinary scholar people took interest in him and writing about him and his philosophy again.
This is definitely the simplest explanation for the lost years but it is not an explanation that is accepted by many. We will now move on to discuss about some more theories about the life of Jesus that are not definitely as simple as this one.
Theory 2: Crabtree Theory
The second theory about these missing years was proposed by Addison Dare Crabtree in his book that was published in 1884. The book was titled “The Journeys of Jesus”. He says that Jesus had a lot of wisdom. It was strange how he could acquire so much wisdom as he was the son of a simple carpenter.
He started to teach in a local synagogue and everyone was shocked to see the knowledge he had about Christianity. According to Crabtree the only way Jesus could gain this knowledge was by travelling and as he was learning things with his own hands he could get a deeper knowledge about the world. A life as a simple carpenter could not have given him an exposure that could give him so much knowledge.
This theory is accepted by some but others feel the theory is vague. It has chances for a lot of possibilities. Crabtree should have been more specific in this theory that he had proposed in order to exactly explain what he feels must have happened to Jesus in these 18 years that are mysteriously missing from his life.
Theory 3: Bruce Chilton Theory
Let’s move to the third theory. In the first theory we have mentioned that Bruce Chilton was not for the idea that Jesus spent 18 years in his hometown. In this third theory about the missing 18 years of Jesus Christ’s life we will discuss what Bruce Chilton feels happened in these 18 years. According to him Jesus Christ did not return home after he visited the temple at the age of 12. Bruce Chilton feels that Christ became a follower of John who trained him in his philosophy.
Bruce Chilton says that Jesus was not like the other kids and he had a rebellious spirit. He was not accepted by the people of his own village too well. Jesus could not have become a passionate religious philosopher by staying in a small village and learning the conventional theories about religion. Might be true but again no evidence to support this theory.
Theory 4: Notovitch Theory
Now let’s quickly move on to the fourth theory that was proposed about the missing years from the life of Jesus Christ. It is indeed critical that we try to understand what happened in the life of Jesus in these years that made him change so much and become a completely different person all together.
Some theories point out that Jesus actually came to Himalayas and he was staying with the mystics. In the year 1894 a Russian named Nicholas Notovitch published an article in which he spoke about his trip to Himalayas. He wrote in this article that he spent a few days in a Himis monastery located in Tibet. Here he found a very old manuscript that explained those years of Jesus Christ’s life that no one knows of.
The monks addressed him a Issa. The manuscript said that Jesus spent a good number of years in India, Nepal and Tibet where he spent a lot of time with the monks and trained in Yoga. As per the explanation of Nicholas Notovitch some sceptics did visit this monastery and they spoke to the monks there who denied that no such manuscripts actually exist and whatever Nicholas Notovitch was talking was nothing but lies. Later Nicholas Notovitch also admitted to the fact that all this was not true.
This till date remains to be the most controversial explanation for the lost years of Jesus Christ’s life why we say so is that just few years back again some visitors to Tibet have claimed that they too were shown such a manuscript that explained the 18 lost years of Jesus Christ’s life.
Theory 5: Qumran
It is time now to discuss the fifth theory that tries to explain what exactly happened to Jesus Christ during these 18 years. This theory says that Jesus Christ actually went to Qumran. Here he studied with the Essene sect. Jesus Christ left home for Qumran at the edge of the Dead Sea. Here he became a member of the monastic community. These theories started to appear after 1947. In 1947 many scrolls of ancient texts were found near the Dead Sea.
In the year 1950 a popular book named “lost years of Jesus” was written by Charles Potter. In this book he said that Jesus and John were Essenes and they embraced the philosophy of oneness that connects everything that we see in the universe with God the supreme power. This book made this theory about the lost years of Jesus Christ very popular. Nevertheless, we must say that there are no proofs to support this theory. Potter further claimed that Jesus was either inspired by the book named “the secret of Enoch” he also said that there was a strong possibility that Jesus actually wrote this book.
Theory 6: Denis Price
The next theory about the 18 years that were lost from the life of Jesus Christ claims that he had gone to Britain and he spent these years there. This theory was proposed by Denis Price in the book that was aptly titled “missing years of Jesus”. The books talks about many evidences that can support the fact that Jesus actually visited Britain as a young lad.
In many ancient texts of British Isles there is a mention of the fact that Jesus did spend a few years there. William Blake mentioned in his verses “And did those feet in ancient time/ walk upon England’s mountains green? And was the Holy Lamb of God/on England’s pleasant pastures seen”. This is strong evidence that maybe Jesus actually spent some of his years in Britain.
If you look at history which can be trusted more than versus written by people. The history of Britain does mention that even before Rome invaded Britain there was a tribe that existed in Britain and they were called “Dubunni”. This tribe was quite advanced and even made coins. In some of these coins there is a mention of a person named “Elsu” who as very popular in the region around 30 AD. That was the same time when Jesus Christ was actually crucified.
This theory is again challenged by many people from across the world. Even some people in Britain do not have much faith in these theories. A British author named Collin Wilson who was also a noted philosopher and critic does claim that these theories cannot be trusted completely. He said that there is no proof that can support these claims and thus the theory must be a flawed one.
No matter what the debate is these theories still hold a strong place in the hearts of the people in Britain. As Christianity is a prominent religion in Britain people do want to believe that Christ did spend some of his lost years in the British Isles. In 2008 itself there was a movie made titled “And did those feet” again the same theory was supported.
Theory 7: Franz Lidz
The next theory about the lost years of Jesus Christ’s life is even more interesting that what we have been discussing so far. According to this Jesus actually travelled to Japan. This theory was proposed not too long back. In the year 2013 a person named Franz Lidz mentioned about his trip to a small village in the North of Japan. This village is immensely popular it is called “Kirisuto na Sato” this basically means the Hometown of Christ in Japanese.
There is a story that people have been talking about in this village for years. According to them Jesus Christ came to the village when he was 21 years old. He had landed in the port of Amanohashidate and he became the disciple of a Buddhist monk whose name is not known. Jesus lived in the foothills of Mount Fuji for many years and learnt Buddhism from his master. He also learnt Japanese language and at the age of 33 he decided to go back to Judea en route Morocco.
Sounds interesting but it sounds more like a story from the imagination of human mind than a reality. The story however does not end here the villagers further add that. Jesus Christ somehow escaped from Jerusalem after he was captured and was about to be executed. He returned back to Japan after reaching Japan Jesus spent the rest of his life there till he reached the age of 106. He had three kids and after his death he was buried in the hillside graveyard that is now a huge tourist destination.
Sounds very interesting and the story is actually very old. As usual there are no evidence that can support these claims they are more of folklore that have been passed from one generation to the other. Some believe in the theory and they visit Kirisuto na Sato to see the hometown of Jesus. The sceptics feel that this theory has more than one loophole in it.
Some try to combine the folklore with what could have actually happened and this leads to another theory. This theory came into limelight only in 1930. Some mysterious documents were found that did support this theory but after the World war even these documents went missing that again shifted this theory to the status of a mere folklore.
The historians say that this could easily be considered as a myth. However, there is a possibility that Christianity did come to Japan long back. Possibility is there that some Christian missionaries did come to Japan and they settled in Shingo where they started to spread Christianity. In 1614 Christianity was actually banned and these missionaries were mostly buried in the hillside graveyard. This theory actually seems more believable.
All these theories just add on to the debate about what exactly happened in the life of Jesus Christ in these 18 years. We have tried to discuss all the philosophies and the theories that were proposed by various scholars who have studied the life of Jesus in details. We are not giving any opinion here we are just discussing the various theories that were proposed. We hope you will find this article interesting and informative. Jesus Christ did spend the 18 years of his life somewhere that no one knows of yet. All these theories are interesting and could be possible but until there is a solid evidence we cannot trust any one of these theories. We can only hope that with time we will be actually able to find out what actually happened in these 18 years and where did Jesus spend these years.