The unaccounted years, better known as the ‘Lost Years’ of Jesus between 12 and 30 years old, is a biblical puzzle that has baffled Christians and scholars for years. There aren’t any written records of where Jesus might have been or traveled to during that period, leaving a religious vacuum that has been filled with theories mainly inspired by hearsay, folklore, and religious belief, depending on the sources. Whether you’re a believer or not, this article details the colorful range of stories that have surfaced since the 1900s.

Many attempts have been made to fill in the missing 18 years when Jesus disappeared from the scriptures, leading to stories of Him having traveled to far places like India to study Eastern mystics, Persia, and also stories of Him having visited North America. Other stories, like ones revolving around theories that Jesus made His way to Britain and even visited Cornwall, have generated narratives linked to King Arthur and the legend of the search for the Holy Grail.

Early theories.

So, what evidence supports the idea that Jesus journeyed thousands of miles from Judea to other countries? The earliest sources come from the Gospel texts of Mark, Matthew, John, and Luke. Bethlehem is where Jesus is believed to have been born, but the Gospels say his family soon left afterward and settled in Nazareth, fulfilling what the prophets in the Bible predicted that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. Nazareth was a relaxed fishing and farming area where the community lived thrifty lives, suggesting that Jesus’ status was ‘blue collar’ as He and His carpenter father, Joseph, earned their meager living as craftsmen.

With a little outlook for work, one theory is that Jesus may have sought some kind of work miles away in the town of Sepphoris in the central Galilee region of today’s Israel, a town known for its elaborate Roman mosaic artwork. With several opportunities to build walls and houses, this town might have been the first stepping stone to what’s later believed to be the starting point for Jesus’ journey for spiritual enlightenment. If some Christian scholars think that Jesus spent the majority of these intervening years working as a carpenter in Galilee, there are some references to this in the Bible. The 18-year gap in the Bible has generated numerous surprising theories, but so far, none have been corroborated by reliable evidence.

A walkabout.

Another theory about Jesus’ missing years is that He went on an epic walkabout from His Nazareth home. If this event had occurred, Jesus would’ve been a little more than a boy at 12 years old, so how knowledgeable and emotionally equipped would such a child have to be to take on a significant and possibly dangerous journey? Most likely, while living in Sepphoris, a young Jesus might’ve gained His early knowledge of the world through both speaking the Aramaic language and learning to read. The one piece of written scripture suggesting this is found in Luke, which says that Jesus went into the synagogue and read from the scroll of the prophets.

During this time, Jesus would’ve experienced first-hand the economic and social oppression of the Palestinian-Jewish poverty of His time, which He was part of. This knowledge might’ve been the stimulating factor that encouraged Jesus to look for answers in the outside world and might’ve influenced what would have been a controversial decision to leave His family. Some scholars think that Jesus’ father, Joseph, died when He was 12 years old, which was a traumatic event that could’ve been the catalyst for Him to start a personal quest for spiritual enlightenment, even as a young boy. This walkabout, lasting nearly 20 years, might have started after He was 13 years old. It’s at a vulnerable age that the alleged ‘lost years’ started, and the multiple theories of where Jesus spent His formative years growing into adulthood are open to several interpretations.

Whatever responsibilities a young Jesus might’ve had towards His mother and extended family in Nazareth must have been a controversial decision to leave those close to Him at a young age as He set out on a dangerous and epic tour by foot. However, some Christians think that the ‘lost years’ are somewhat of a consequence, and any revelations about them are unlikely to make a difference in understanding the Christian faith. In other words, if it were necessary, it would’ve been included in the Bible. Other scholars have taken the perspective that knowing where Jesus was and what He experienced during the ‘lost years’ could help understand many of the mysteries surrounding Christianity.

The Vatican secrets.

For many years, there have been rumors that the Vatican holds mysterious truths about Jesus’ life and His lost years. This information could drastically change traditional beliefs. To date, nothing has been shared about the existence of these documents, what Jesus was doing and where He was from the ages of 13 to 30 years old. Still, some researchers think that He spent these years visiting Britain with Joseph of Arimathea, while others think he traveled to Persia and India. In the late 19th century, a Russian traveler claimed to have found genuine texts in a monastery in India that proved that Jesus traveled and taught there and elsewhere in the East.

Jesus in Britain.

The story of Jesus in Britain is based on the idea that Jesus traveled there with Joseph of Arimathea, a tin trader who some think was his uncle, although other gospel texts describe him as a rich man and disciple of Jesus. A significant degree of literature had been written about this specific tale, taking it into the realms of tradition so that by the 15th century, Glastonbury in Somerset was peddled as the birthplace of British Christianity. Joseph was thought to have started the first church there to house the Holy Grail. There was also a story that Joseph of Arimathea had earlier visited Glastonbury with Jesus as a child, which inspired poet and artist William Blake to compose a poem that became the words of the English hymn, Jerusalem.

There are several theories about where Jesus went during His ‘lost years,’ although no one can prove exactly where He was. However, we know that if His whereabouts were essential to the Christian faith, they would’ve been included in the Bible.

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