Was Jesus Christ neurodiverse?

Was Jesus Christ autistic? This question may sound like a bad joke or blasphemy, but there are really several posts on the web that investigate this question. In the style of popular blog posts, here are my favourite 10 indications that Jesus was on the spectrum:

  1. He went missing as a child and was found debating with wise men
  2. He had a temper tantrum/meltdown in the temple
  3. To her face, he called his mum “Woman” (lack of social etiquette and empathy)
  4. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of scripture (special interest)
  5. Had no respect for authority. In fact, he changed the authoritarian God of the Old Testament into a loving and forgiving God
  6. “I am not of this world (John 8:23) — wrong planet syndrome
  7. Frequent fasting: might have been a sign of gastrointestinal problems
  8. total isolation from society (“into the desert”)
  9. He slept less: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
  10. His father (Joseph) was originally believed to be elderly when he married Mary and wasn’t alive by the time Jesus was a young adult (only accompanied by his mother).

There are also speculations that he might have been a preemie . There are many indications that Jesus Christ wasn’t autistic though: he was highly verbal and loved metaphors (not uncommon in adult Asperger’s, though). He was very much a “people person” and extremely empathetic (not uncommon in the hyper-social more female variety of Aspberger’s, though).

Do I believe that Jesus was autistic? No, I don’t. However, I do believe that he was neurodiverse in the widest sense. So, here are 10 more signs he was not a neurotypical:

  1. Non-conformist
  2. Dislike of authority and hierarchy
  3. Low regard of tradition
  4. Disregard of social rules
  5. High in honesty and humility
  6. Highly egalitarian
  7. Highly out-group social
  8. Stands up for the bullied and underdogs
  9. Very accepting of diversity in general (liberal)
  10. Non-materialistic and idealistic

These are traits non uncommonly found in neurodiverse people. I have argued that these traits stem from ancient hunter-gatherer (vs. farmer) genes. So, in my hypothesis, Jesus had a hunter-gatherer type personality. This shows up again and again, e.g. when he shows the disciples that he is not above them by washing their feet. The image of God changes from a god who punishes all who transgress the rules to a loving and forgiving one and he does away with most rules replacing it with a single and very simple rule: be kind to your fellow humans. Neurodiverse people, in particular, those with ADHD are known for having difficulties with many social rules, but this is certainly one most would adhere to.

Jesus Christ was definitely not a “farmer type”, who value tradition, close kin and productivity most of all:

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

Early Christianity spread like wildfire among poor people in the Roman empire most of all, because it was an egalitarian religion and didn’t consider poverty as something like “lower class”; on the contrary, it de-emphasized material success and possession and emphasized social relationships. Christianity didn’t make poor people materially richer or elevated their status, but that message was that neither is really essential for having a good life.

Originally published at http://the-big-ger-picture.blogspot.com on February 9, 2021.

teacher