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Childhood of Jesus

indexWhat would Jesus have been like as a child? What would it be like to raise him?  To be his parent?  To have a child simultaneously so completely childish, and yet full of Truth most of us could never imagine.  I know my own children have an incredible ability to help me see and think in ways I never would, save for their insistent and sporadic imagination.

Take all of that, and you get some of the tastes of J.M. Coetzee’s recent book, “The Childhood of Jesus“.  I picked it up, thinking it was actually about the childhood of Jesus.  As I began reading, I realized it was about a boy named David.  As I continued reading, I was surprised by all of the allegory and symbolism that pointed to the uniqueness and mystery wrapped up in the childish Jesus.  His origins, his run-ins with authority, and his (and any childs’) ability to make the grown-ups in his life think about the “big picture”.  I won’t give away much here….but it’s definitely worth a read.  Here’s just a short excerpt of his parental figure trying to understand why David is having a hard time in school…

“Put an apple before him and what does he see?  An apple: not one apple, just an apple.  Put two apples before him.  What does he see? An apple and an apple: not two apples, not the same apple twice, just an apple and an apple.  Now along comes (someone else) and demands: How many apples, child?  What is the answer?  What are apples?  What is the singular of which apples is the plural?  Three men in a car heading for the East Blocks: who is the singular of which men is the plural – Eugenio or Simon or our friend the driver whose name I don’t know?  Are we three, or are we one and one and one?  ‘You throw up your hands in exasperation, and I can see why.  One and one and one make three, you say, and I am bound to agree.  Three men in a car: simple.  But David won’t follow us.  He won’t take the steps we take when we count: one step two step three.  It is as if the numbers were islands floating in a great black sea of nothingness, and he were each time being asked to close his eyes and launch himself across the void.  What if I fall? – that is what he asks himself.  What if I fall and then keep falling for ever?  Lying in bed in the middle of the night, I could sometimes swear that I too was falling – falling under the same spell that grips the boy.  If getting from one to two is so hard, I asked myself, how shall I ever get from zero to one?  From nowhere to somewhere: it seemed to demand a miracle each time.” – The Childhood of Jesus, J.M.Coetzee (page 248)

There are a few scenes you may want to censor or pre-read for younger audiences….definitely read it first before offering it to your child/young adult.  But I think it’s a great book for capturing some of the wonder a boy like Jesus may have spread throughout the lives His intersected…



Husband, Father, Pastor, Missionary, Writer, Poet, Friend, reader, coffee enthusiast, hockey Wing-Nut, musical participator, etc...

2 thoughts on “Childhood of Jesus

  1. I just started “Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus” by John Ortberg (another kindle special I could not pass up) It has an interesting slant on how Jesus had infiltrated almost every part of our culture whether people want to recognize it or not.

    1. Sounds like a good book too! I love Ortberg. “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” launched me in a great direction back in 1999. 🙂

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