The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Jesus in Britain?

In the last few years, I’ve become intrigued as a fun side speculation with the legends and theories of the lands Christ may have visited in his younger years, prior to his ministry in Israel/Judea. This time of year, I often think of the particular legends of Joseph of Arimathea having been involved with the tin mining industry in Britain in those days, and as the purported uncle of Jesus, taking him on one or more occasions to visit that area, near Cornwall, Glastonbury, etc. I think it’s the old English carol ‘I Saw Three Ships’ which some say is linked to these legends that especially brings this to mind around Christmas time.

In any event, I was curious to know what others here might think about where Christ may have traveled during the early years. We do at least know he was in Egypt for a time, as a boy, from the New Testament. There are other legends of him traveling to places like India, where he was possibly known as Issa.

Any thoughts on all that? I suppose there are all sorts of possibilities, since the NT is so vague about these years of his life, and there isn’t much explicit information that would contradict these speculations.

I have heard or read about the legends. In those days, traveling was a difficult enterprise. Your choices were probably walking, horse or ship. It’s not like today, with the airplane. But it would ring the question - why? Now it is possible that Christ might have appeared to others in different countries. For what purpose, I’m not sure. I do know that there are accounts of saints and holy people appearing in more than once place at once. There are the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic worlds. There are similar accounts in the Eastern, Muslim (i.e. Sufi) and Native American world, as well as other traditions. The technical term is Bilocation. If Christ did this, then it was probably to small minorities or select individuals. But I don’t know the purpose. But if he appeared by conventional means (i.e. travel by ship, boat, walking, etc.), it would be a difficult and long undertaking.

Yeah, that would be the interesting question – why?

It is quite plausible to me that Joseph of Arimathea was a relative of Jesus, or connected to the family in some way, as that would line up well with Pilate being willing to hand over the body of Christ to him for burial, as kin. It also seems to be plausible that Joseph of Arimathea could have been Jesus’ great uncle, the uncle of Mary, as some legends suggest, who would have become a father-figure/guardian in the absence of his earthly father Joseph. Jesus’ father, Joseph, seems to just drop off the radar in the NT, after the mentioning the time when he and Mary searched for Jesus and found him in the temple.

Here’s an old documentary discussing some of this for anyone unfamiliar:

A book I’ve been reading (while cautiously taking it all in with a grain of salt), Jesus the Master Builder: Druid Mysteries and the Dawn of Christianity, by (the late?) Gordon Strachan posits some interesting theories, discussing them in some detail…

Strachan goes on to examine the validity of various claims some of have made about the Druids in that region:

C.C. Dobson is further quoted:

I’m not sure what to make of all these claims about Druidism and its similarities to Christianity – curious to do more research to see if there is indeed anything to that, and whether that could have been a reason for a visit by Christ. Or is this a wishful-thinking, revisionist history of the Druids? Not sure…

This is good - in terms of what contemporary historians make of the evidence about the Druids (and it looks at the eighteenth century Romantic view in some detail too - for example William Stukeley) :slight_smile:

(I was asked about this in another thread so have been thinking about it from time to time)

P.S. It sounds like C.C. Dobson is saying very definite things about the Druids when we only have rather sketchy evidence about them. He is probably depending on the Romantic antiquarians for a lot of his stuff and viewing this uncritically.

I give one instance that I do know about (and I really don’t know huge amounts about this period)

Book IV Chapter 16 Caesar Gallic wars

‘The whole nation of the Gaul’s is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so, employing the Druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man’s life a man’s life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private, life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind. Others use figures of immense size, whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent’.

This is Julius Caesar’s account of the Druid rituals of ‘Atonement’ – but he of course may be being unfair (and there is no archaeological evidence of industrial levels of human sacrifice in Iron Age Britain and Roman punishment of ‘criminals’ was still tantamount to a sacrificial ritual at this time). But if we quote Caesar in support of a Druidic concept of atonement that prepared the way of Christianity I guess we need to see it in the context of a ritual entailing human sacrifice – because this is what Caesar claims.

Thanks much for the youtube link there, Sobornost – I enjoyed listening to that discussion when I could, in between Christmas shopping/errands. :slight_smile:

The Pythagorean connection to the Druids that was touched on is precisely where Strachan turns in his book, moving beyond those who appear to rely on the Romantic sources to look at more recent scholarship (Alexander Thom, etc.) in that regard. Skimming ahead, it looks like he then proceeds to tie in that Pythagorean element with similar elements in Jesus’ teachings, in Christianity, in other communities and cultures with which he and/or the early Christians may have been associated to some degree, such as the Essenes. Will have to keep reading and see where the ‘rabbit hole’ of this argument winds up. :slight_smile:

I’m also trying to dig up further info on the Druidic concepts of the Trinity and whether they indeed looked to a Savior to come by the name of Yesu, or Hesus – that’s intriguing in itself, if true.

Do let us know Micah - I’m intrigued about the evidence here and I’ve only ever seen this asserted without supporting evidence and some curious story about the Celtic King Cymbeline being named ‘Jesus’ or Hesus (and I have no idea whether this is true). :slight_smile:

As for Jesus coming to Cornwall as a child - I’ve never seen a serious historical case made for this; that is all I can say about it. :slight_smile:

Hi Micah
You’ve probably already watched the following video which has been posted in another thread:
If you like to go ‘out on a limb’, you may also find the following interesting: … eflood.pdf

Thanks, pilgrim! Yeah, I had linked to the same youtube above, but the pdf was new. There is a newer documentary (2009?) co-produced by the late Gordon Strachan, called And Did Those Feet, which I’m hoping to check out sometime.

I’ve also heard rumor of a movie being made about the Glastonbury legends of Joseph of Arimathea, perhaps with Liam Neeson. That might be good! :slight_smile: