So... okay, Jesus may not literally have been a gay black hippie Jew - but then again, maybe he was. He was certainly a Jew, although there are sections of the Old Testament he doesn't seem to have taken very seriously, which is why modern Christians have abandoned so many of the old laws, notably those in Leviticus. Based on archaeological and historical records, Jesus was probably black, or at least a good deal darker-skinned than the Christ we are familiar with from Christian iconography.
Whether he was a hippie obviously depends on how you define your terms; but he was certainly a pretty laid-back peace-lover with a dress sense which would have fitted in better in 1960s Haight-Ashbury or Carnaby Street than the Bible belt America of today, and there are several reasons (none of them entirely compelling) to suspect that he may have used ganja. There is also circumstantial evidence - some would say downright implausible evidence - that he spent some time travelling in India, where he flirted with Hinduism and later Buddhism - tales are told there of a Saint Issa closely matching his description, who is said to have left Israel in a merchant's cart in order to escape an arranged marriage...
Which brings us on to the question of Christ's sexuality, about which opinion is very much divided. One widely-held traditional view is that he was celibate. Certainly the Bible never makes any explicit reference to him having sexual relations with women, although there are hints that he was intimate with Mary Magdalene - indeed, many believe that she married Jesus and bore his children, and that the wedding feast at Cana may even have been theirs. The fact that this is not made clear in the canonical books of the New Testament may say more about misogyny in the early Church than it says about Christ's relationships with women; it is hard to be sure. The fact that she is almost universally believed to have been a prostitute almost certainly has more to do with misogyny than scripture.
On the other side of the coin, there are several references in the Gospel of John to Jesus's 'beloved disciple', and a disputed fragment supposedly coming from a fuller version of the Gospel of Mark than the canonical one describes an incident in which a youth came to Jesus 'wearing a linen cloth over his naked body' and 'remained with him that night'. Even leaving aside dubious extra-canonical fragments and ambiguous references from John, many have felt they detect homoerotic undertones in the relationships of Jesus and the Apostles; I leave it to the reader to judge the accuracy of this perception.
Whatever the truth in all of this, Jesus was undoubtedly one of the all-time great teachers of tolerance - which for me, at least, makes it hard to imagine him approving of the oppression of Jews, homosexuals, blacks and assorted hippie types which has been perpetrated in his name over the years.
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released March 18, 2011