My son turns ten today. Many years! 🙂 The day’s celebrations turned my mind to the humanity of Christ. We have the narrative of the wedding at Cana, and there are narratives of Jesus being present at meals. He comes upon people getting ready to bury someone, and brings Lazarus back to life from his tomb. But no birthdays. If birthdays were celebrated by Jews in the Second Temple period, it’s not unreasonable to think that Jesus celebrated the birthdays of family and friends. The only birthday we have in the gospels is Jesus’ own. Second-century texts such as the Protevangelium of James sought to fill in the gaps in the gospels’ narratives of Jesus’ life. The stories in such works have often been dismissed as fanciful storytelling, and it’s not hard to understand the critique. At the same time, behind them is, I think, a desire to preserve the humanity of Christ. As Christology developed, sometimes the church lost sight of Christ’s humanity. Perhaps the relative silence of the gospels about Christ’s early life also partly explains the doctrine of recapitulation set forth by Irenaeus. Thus every human being, as she or he grows and matures, supplies the missing pieces in the narrative of Christ’s life, since his own life sanctified every age of human life.

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