1. A woman I have been talking with mentioned, in reference to the claim
that Jesus never traveled more than 200miles from where he was born, that
there are texts that dispute this claim. She seemed to imply that these
texts contained some scandalous reports but I didn’t press the subject
since I knew I was totally unprepared for it. I was wondering if you are
aware of any evidence that Jesus traveled extensively. Also (part of the
conversation with the same woman), do we have ANY idea of what Jesus did
during his teen years and early twenties. It seems this part of his life
is completely missing and I find that odd.

2. It seams to me that it is pretty clear that Biblical writers referred
to the heavens (the literal sky that is above as you read this) as
HEAVEN. However, we’ve been up there and there ain’t much. I was
wondering how its justifiable for us to make the shift to a transcendental
view of Heaven. I understand that as new evidences appears we need to
refine our interpretation but this seems too convenient.

3. Did the Canaanites and Israelites really come from Canaan and Israel
(the people not the lands)?

Let me deal with the question about the life of Jesus first. It is
true that there are “sources” which claim that Jesus traveled outside the
area of Israel. By far the most common claim is that he traveled to the
Indian subcontinent and that he was influenced by Hinduism or Buddhism. It
is easy to make such a claim, but what is required is evidence. I have
seen not a shred of credible evidence that Jesus ever visited such places.
That does not prove he never traveled there, but the lack of evidence is
significant. The fact is that for whatever reason, the gospels tell us
nothing about the life of Jesus from the time he was twelve until he was
somewhere around thirty years old. One can speculate why God chose not to
reveal anything about this time, but in the end this will only be
speculation. Did Jesus travel to India? I suppose it is impossible to
disprove this claim, but again, I have never seen a single piece of
credible evidence that this is true. You should attempt to track down such
claims and see what the primary source for the “information” is and I
believe you will find that this is just a local fable which only goes back
a few generations, with no foundation in fact.

The fact is that common sense says that Jesus, a poor person,
whose father probably died while he was a teen or perhaps in his twenties,
did not have the opportunity or inclination to travel to India. Despite
claims to the contrary, travel from the Western Mediteranian to the
subcontinent of India was rare or non-existent at the time, although there
is some evidence of indirect exposure of these cultures to one another.
The very small number who might have traveled to distant lands surely were
merchants and there is no evidence that Jesus was a merchant. The bottom
line is that Jesus is the greatest religious figure of all times and other
religions want to borrow from Jesus to incorporate him into their
religions. This is the source of these stories of Jesus going elsewhere.

Next, about heaven vs “the heavens.” First, it may be surprising,
but you will not find the word “heaven” used in the Old Testament to refer
to the after life. When Old Testament writers referred to the heavens,
they were referring to the sky or to the objects which appear above the
earth in the sky. They are never referring to the place one might go to be
with God after this life. Nevertheless, in the Old Testament, the word
“heaven” is used to refer to the place where God resides (“hear from
heaven, your dwelling place”, 2 Chron 6:21 for example). It is not
surprising that the Jewish word for the sky was also used to refer to the
place where God lived. The Jews were using the vocabulary they had
available to them. In fact, in the English language we do the same thing,
yet no one is confused about whether we mean “the heavens” (ie the sky or
the universe out there) or whether we mean the place where God resides. It
is possible that some of the Jews were confused about this. In fact, some
believers, even today, are confused and think that “heaven” is a physical
place, but it is not. I believe the Bible does not get these two confused,
even if some uninformed humans do. The dichotomy you detect is not real.
All along, the Bible writers were aware of the physical reality of “the
heavens” and the spiritual reality of heaven, the “place” where God

About Canaan and Israel…. I would say that it is not possible to
prove from any outside source that the tribe of the Canaanites are
directly descended from the individual named Canaan in Genesis. We simply
do not have archaeological evidence to support this particular claim, and
most likely never will. I accept this claim based on the authority of the
Bible, which is clearly an inspired book to me. The same could be said
about the person Israel and the nation Israel. Jewish historians do have
record of a genealogy which supports this claim, but this genealogy is in
the Bible, so a critic could validly claim that this is circular
reasoning. It is a good idea to separate in your mind that which you
believe because of the evidence (the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus
fulfilled messianic claims etc.) from what you believe simply because it
is in the Bible and the Bible has already proven itself reliable (the
existence of Ruth, the fact that Joseph had a robe of many colors etc…)

John Oakes

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