And so in greater detail, let us examine these possibilities.
1. Jesus "stayed at home" theory. This is the traditional
"Christian" view. Save for some spurious Biblical verses that
could mean anything depending upon the readers state of mind,
there is no documentary evidence that he lived in Israel for this period
of time. Even in apocryphal writings, that is The Lost Books of the
Bible contemporary with writings that are in the official canon
known collectively as the Bible, no mention is made of this period of
Jesus life. Great detail is given to some events of his early
childhood and later ministry, in some cases retelling events recorded
in the New Testament, but still the 18 or so missing years remain.
Doubt about this belief generally comes from non-dogmatic Christians
and many outside of Christianity who have been exposed to another point
of view and have some interest or opinion on Jesus. The main objection,
according to detractors, this belief lacks evidence and it is totally
out of character with the sort of person Jesus became known as.
The Jesus stayed at home theory is a safe point of view for its adherents,
however. It requires no thought to potentially problematic doctrinal
shifts or theological difficulties on the part of the believer.
2. Jesus "traveled
to India" theory. This is a widely held "alternative"
view to #1. There is much information to this viewpoint that requires
Basically, a Russian traveler visited a Tibetan monastery in the late
1800s and was given access to documents that narrated events about
a "St. Issa" individual who journeyed from Israel, studied
in India, Nepal and Tibet and then returned back to his homeland where,
eventually, he was executed by the Romans. His followers, however, took
up his teachings and began to spread them through all neighboring lands.
The Russian translated the documents and published them as the Unknown
Life of Jesus. (full text
Elements of Christian Orthodoxy rallied against this view and with compelling
arguments and investigations, "proved" the Russian a fraud.
James W. Deardorff of Oregon State University recently wrote an extensive
paper examining this Russian and many of the personalities involved
Yet the story would not die, and later, a book, the Aquarian Gospel
of Christ was published in the early 1900s. It, however, was
a thing of "progressive revelation" meaning it could not be
considered a valid source of reference as scholars measure it. It did
though, contain interesting reading, which further detailed Jesus
visit to India and nearby lands.
An Indian Swami, in the 20s, unconvinced by both the Russians
account and efforts from dogmatic Christians to debunk him, visited
the monastery himself. He too gained access to the documents, translated
and published his own version. The two versions, the Swamis and
the Russians, though similar, do not quite mirror each other.
Yet they essentially tell the same story.
At least two other travelers, an artist and a schoolteacher, both claim
to have seen the documents, though they did not have the ability and/or
the time to translate them. These travelers, along with others, report
the pervasive belief among the locals of areas in India, Persia, Nepal,
Afghanistan and elsewhere that Jesus (known as St. Issa, the spelling
may vary) visited various places in their region.
Edgar Cayce, a famous and well respected psychic, in one of his readings
declared Jesus went to India and went into a little bit of detail.
The greatest boost to the dissemination of this theory has been through
the controversial Elizabeth Claire Prophet and her book, The Lost Years
of Jesus. It is widely available in bookstores and contains both the
Russian travelers and the Swamis translations of the documents.
One of the main objections to this belief it is "unprovable."
The persistent doubters to this view generally are dogmatic Christians.
They may articulate several different arguments against the Jesus in
The Jesus stayed in India theory offers a compelling yet entirely probable
alternative view to the antiseptic godlike Jesus of dogmatic Christianity.
It described an entirely human yet highly advanced being who desired
to devote his life to spirituality. Thus he evaded the Jewish young
man traditional fate of marriage (which he was being considered for)
and left using caravans to go to the east. He also wanted to visit the
Three Kings who left gifts at the time of his birth. And so on it went
with his studies in India and his exceeding the knowledge and abilities
of his teachers. He preached to the masses, irritated the ruling classes
and had to leave India or be assassinated. This pattern repeated itself
in Persia where rulers felt threatened by his preaching to the "masses."
He traveled to Nepal and possibly Tibet where he became known and beloved
by the locals for his teachings and healings. Thus the Jesus in India
story seemed quite in keeping with what happened to him later in Israel.
The study of this old story, adherents believe, yields a wealth of material
about Jesus character.
Discovery timeline of Jesus "travel to India theory"
950(approx) --Shaikh Al-Said, Muslim historian
wrote down some of the Hindu/Buddhist legends of Isa's travels in India.
1894--Nicolas Notovitch, Russian journalist, publishes the Unknown
Years of Jesus. He also reports a Catholic Church official told
him the Vatican also has documents acquired over the centuries from
various missionaries and others relating to Jesus' eastern sojourn.
1907--Levi H. Dowling publishes the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus
the Christ. He alleges it was the result of "transcribing"
(he wrote with no control over its contents). The book contains many
anecdotes about Jesus' visit to India, Persia and Tibet.
1922-- Swami Abhedananda visits Tibet, rediscovers the documents,
reconfirms and retranslates them. The English version is released in
1924-1925---Nicholas Roerich, artist, in unsupportable claim
is said to have reacquired the Isa verses during his travels through
Asia and published them in his book, Himalaya.
1932--Indian Nationalist and future 1st Prime Minister of India,
Jawahar Nehru, writes to his daughter Indira (later Indira Ghandi):
"All over Central Asia, in Kashmir and Ladakh and Tibet and even
farther north, there is still a strong belief that Jesus or Isa traveled
1933(approx)--Well respected psychic Edgar Cayce indicated Jesus
spent 3 years in India and one year in Persia.
1939--Elizabeth Caspari (as in Montessori School) and Mrs. Clarence
Gasque (Officer in the International Vegetarian Union) were told by
a monk in charge of the Himis library "These books say your Jesus
1951-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas traveled
to Hemis. He became aware of one legend in the area concerning Jesus
traveling under the name of Issa and his stay in Tibet. The account
is releated in his book Beyond the High Himalayas.
1959-- Sri Daya Mata of the Self-Realization Fellowship
interviews Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha in India who alleges to have studied
ancient records in Puri Jagannath Temple archives which convey "Christ
spent some of his life in India, in association with her illumined sages."
1970(approx)--Visitor Edward F. Noack and his wife were told
by a monk in the Himis monastery "There are manuscripts in our
library that describe the journey of Jesus to the East."
1975--Anthropology professor Robert Ravicz , while at Himis in
1975 was told about "Jesus Indian Lost Years" from an eminent
3. Jesus "studied in England with the
Druids" theory. This bears some serious attention as well.
Druidism does reflect Christianity somewhat in selected teachings and
beliefs. For example Druids are said to have a belief in a "Triune
Godhead" roughly equivalent to the Father, Holy Spirit and the
Son. At any rate, this in itself does not qualify for a possible accounting
of Jesus whereabouts. What should be looked at, however, is the local
tradition that Jesus visited various areas around Glastonbury as a boy
with his Uncle Joseph of Armethia. The theory has merit on several accounts:
Adherents believe that the visit occurred most likely in Jesus' preteen
youth. He may have studied with the Druids. More radical theorists contend
he studied extensively with the Druids either in his youth or at least
during part of the time in his "missing years." It is difficult
to find even rumored lore evidence of this view however.
Orthodox Christianity may object to some elements of this story, especially
Jesus studying with the druids, but little resistance is encountered
when broached about the possibility of a brief visit to Britain.
4. Jesus "studied in Greece, Egypt and elsewhere" .
Some legend lore may exist and references to it The Aquarian Gospel
of Jesus but little else. The possibility exists he might have done
these things, as distance and motivation is not unreasonable.
5. Jesus "traveled to Japan" theory. According to this,
Jesus, in his early 20s journeyed to Japan, studied, and returned
to Judea when he was 29 or so. He was not crucified, for he switched
places with a younger brother and fled back to Japan. He married, had
three daughters and died at 106. An ancient burial mound in the town
of Shingo, is the remaining physical evidence. This theory apparently
gained some momentum in the 30s when a so-called "Will of
Christ" was discovered. This "Will " was lost in the
2nd World War, but fascination with the theory has over 10,000 tourists
visiting the site every year.
This theory has a low probability of likelihood. Skeptics point out
given what is already known about the historical Jesus, his life and
mission and also what is known of the ancient world, it would be highly
unlikely (more like "impossible") this story could be true.
Proponents of this belief point out the thousands of visitors that come
every year to view the Mound. Additionally they point out it was NOT
impossible for such a thing to have happened since much of what Christians
already believe is shrouded in dogma and non-historical beliefs.
Various stories have circulated about the whereabouts
of Jesus during his missing years and others may be added. The situation
remainsexactly where WAS Jesus during this time? A plausible explanation
must make the most sense based on what is already commonly and acceptably
known about Jesus and the events surrounding him.
Point by point answers to common objections Jesus could
not have traveled to India:
The information is old and continues to linger on some
websites. Their authors may be unaware of the developments since. Though
Notovitch (the Russian) eventually stopped battling his critics, (he
apparently had other things to do at the time), others have confirmed
the existence of the Tibetan documents and Notivitch's story. For example,
An Indian Swami Abhedananda, in the 1920s, unconvinced by both
the Russians account and efforts from dogmatic Christians to debunk
him, visited the monastery himself. He too gained access to the documents,
translated and published his own version. The two versions, the Swamis
and the Russians, though similar, do not quite mirror each other.
Yet they essentially tell the same story.
This is somewhat theological and dogmatic. One might say
God became man just so He could see and learn from a human perspective
how these things might have worked.
It is possible Jesus went to points east for academic
After Jesus was found in the temple at Jerusalem LUKE
2: 51-52 states: Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient
to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
In the Forgotten Books of the Bible, The first Gospel of the INFANCY
of JESUS CHRIST 22:1-2. NOW from this time Jesus began to conceal his
miracles and secret works,
2 And he gave himself to the study of the law, till he arrived to the
end of his thirtieth year;
Even apocryphal western sources about Jesus are extremely
vague about his life after the age of 13. At this point one can simply
accept the verses as meaning he spent some 16 - 17 years in Nazareth
with no records or stories supporting it. Or that he underwent an Eastern
Sojourn, grew in favor of God and men in those regions and left behind
all sorts of adventures and stories in local, literary, documented and
This ends up being theological / dogmatic as well, and
the previous two answers on the subject apply. If one studies the Notivitch
translation, the character of Jesus appears to be totally in line with
the one of the New Testament, to include Jesus would "disappear"
and question his parents, who looked three days for him, "Why were
you searching for me?" then to state. "Didn't you know I had
to be in my Father's house?" (or otherwise about my Fathers business).
The article in Wikipedia gives comprehensive information
of how this is entirely possible:
"Soon after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BCE,
regular communications and trade between India, Southeast Asia, Sri
Lanka, China, the Middle East, Africa and Europe blossomed on an unprecedented
The Silk Road extends from Guangzhou, located in southern
China, to present day Brunei, Myanmar (Burma) Thailand, Malacca, Ceylon,
India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Iran and Iraq. In Europe it extends
from Israel, Lebanon (Collectively, the Levant), Egypt, and Italy (historically,
Venice) in the Mediterranean Sea to other European ports or caravan
routes such as the great Hanseatic League fairs via the Spanish road
and other Alpine routes. This water route in some sources is called
the Indian Ocean Maritime System.
After losing at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, 10,000
Roman prisoners were sent by the Parthians to Margiana to help guard
the eastern frontier of the Parthian Empire. It is possible that contingents
of these men found their way into China.
The Hou Hanshu records that the first Roman envoy arrived
in China by this maritime route in 166 CE, initiating a series of Roman
contacts with China."
From the Manual for Noncommissioned Officers and Privates
of Infantry in the Army of the United States, Washington, Government
Printing Office, 1918:
"The rate of march depends greatly upon the condition
of the roads and weather, but the average rate for infantry is 2 1/2
miles per hour. This allows for a rest of 10 minutes each hour. The
total distance marched in a day depends not only on the rate of march,
but upon the size of the command, large commands covering about 10 miles
per day, while small commands easily cover double that distance."
Using that estimate it is about 10 to 20 miles per day
in a 10 hour travel day. So if we select 15 miles per day in 10 days
that is 150 miles , thirty days that is 450 miles, in 5 months 2250
Caravans rarely if ever traveled the entire trade distance.
They traveled part of the distance then dropped goods and another caravan
took that good and hauled it another leg of the journey. In this manner,
an enterprising young lad could travel with the caravans, "feeding
the camels" to finally arrive at a very distant location.
The Lost years of Jesus around
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