Christian Midrash

I continue to read Lost Books of the Bible. I looked over my old blogs to find out if I explained Midrash and could not find it. Midrash is a literary form engaged by Hebrew scholars over the years. What they did was look at a passage in the scriptures and write a story to expand the story, to give it personality or setting, if you will. These were not intended to be true. They were made-up. I have written my own Midrash stories. They are the scene-behind-the-scene as I imagine it. They grew out of my own curiosity and my desire to make extraordinary stories ordinary so they feel more human to me. For example, reading the little story, only a few verses, of Jesus calling the disciples forth away from their work and all, I thought, “This is ridiculous. Drop everything to follow some stranger?” So I created this story in my head and later on paper of an encounter the fishermen had with Jesus, a conversation over a fire on the beach after their boat was moored, where Jesus told them of his dream. Then, when he issued the invitation, it made sense that they might follow him. So, I guess you might say, I have the same nutty curiosity that the early Hebrew writers of Midrash had.

This morning I read an interesting piece about Mary and Joseph with little Jesus wandering around Egypt, where they had many interesting adventures. There was a group of robbers who saw them coming along and one, Titus, says to another, Dumachus, “I beseech thee let those persons go along quietly, that our company may not perceive anything of them.” Dumachus didn’t like that idea, but finally agreed. Well, Mary knew of the kindness of Titus, though how isn’t quite explained (that if for another Midrash master to imagine) and she said to Titus, “The Lord God will receive thee to his right hand, and grant thee pardon of thy sins.” Now things are starting to sound familiar and I write in the margin: “Like the robbers on the cross.”

Well, smart is me! Jesus, the little boy, says, “When thirty years are expired, O mother, the Jews will crucify me at Jerusalem; and these two thieves shall be with me at the same time upon the cross, Titus on my right hand, and Dumachus on my left, and from that time Titus shall go before me into paradise.”

Really! This is what I read this morning. I’ve got to give it to the Church for not accepting this,“The first Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ” into the canon. I would have done the same thing. That would have put an end to the spread of Christianity. But really, wouldn’t it have been alright to have another book, like the Jews had, of Christian Midrash writings?

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