An Interesting Person: Candida Moss
Have you ever wondered if Jesus pooped? Moss has the answer.
Back in the summer of 2019, I noticed a number of interesting articles at The Daily Beast shared the same byline: Candida Moss. She seemed to have a fantastic beat: research an unusual question about the ancient world or track down detailed information about some cool tidbit you read elsewhere and then publish an entertaining and informative article. And many of her articles appeared to debunk or challenge conventional wisdom — something I always love reading about.
Here are three articles that caught my eye:
Ancient Dick Pics Adorn One of Britain’s Most Famed Sights
Some things about the human condition—war, love, and a desire to immortalize one’s penis using the art of the ‘dick pic’—are universal. (March 16, 2019)
The Greatest Party Palace in History Is Under the Colosseum
Emperor Nero’s pleasure palace lay hidden for centuries before its rediscovery in the 15th century. Now, archaeologists announced that they have discovered another hidden chamber. (May 25, 2019)
Did Jesus Poop?
It’s actually a serious theological debate, involving would-be popes, saints, and historians since the dawn of Christianity. (June 1, 2019)
Having been to the Colosseum (and being intrigued by it as a young person, though not as obsessed as I was about the pyramids at Giza (which I saw in person in early 2017)) and having spied penises carved above doorways in the ruins of Pompeii, as well as large collections of severed hands and penises etched on a wall at Medinet Habu in Egypt (the post-battle actions of a conquering army), I was interested. Plus, who doesn’t want to read about famous people pooping?
Today, while writing this post, I looked at the website’s “Best Of The Beast” section and what happens to be front and center roughly 3½ years after its first posting? . . . ‘Tis the season, I suppose. Still . . . serendipity!
I have since learned that Candida Moss is a professor of theology at the University of Birmingham (UK), a New Testament scholar and historian of Christianity, and the author of five books, including “Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby” and “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom”. She is also the second entry in my “An Interesting Person” series. (Cody Johnston was the first.)
Here are a few more of Moss’s many articles at TDB:
The Problem with Sexy Jesus
Hollywood gives the son of god chiseled cheekbones and buns of steel. But what if—based on anthropological study of first-century Galilean males—Jesus had the build of a teenage girl? (March 4, 2014)
The Never-Ending Obsession With Banning Sodomy & Oral Sex
Liberals were recently outraged over an animal cruelty law in Michigan that kept a sodomy ban in place. However, attempts to regulate sodomy and oral sex go way, way, way back. (February 14, 2016)
How One Small Religion Changed Prince
His music still dripped with lust, but in his personal life Prince’s conversion to a Jehovah’s Witness was a dramatic one. (April 23, 2016)
Christianity Owes Very Little to “White” People
Despite what one prominent Donald Trump supporter claims, the success of Christianity had very little to do with what many Trump supporters would see as white people. (July 24, 2016)
How a Fart Killed 10,000 People
Farting has caused wars, been obsessed over by theologians, entertained kings, inspired Freud, and drove Hitler mad. (December 6, 2016)
4,000 Crazy Nights: A History of New Year Debauchery
For the past 4,000 years the New Year, though celebrated at different points in the calendar, has been a constant cause of soul-searching, raucous behavior, and superstition. (December 30, 2017)
Rare Coin Sheds Light on Doomed Jewish Rebels
A rare bronze coin, minted in 69-70 CE during the Jewish Revolt, was unearthed in a drainage ditch that runs underneath Rehov Haggai. (July 7, 2018)
Was Jesus Ugly?
We don't know how tall he was, if his nose was crooked, what his hair was like, or if he had smooth skin. (November 15, 2020)
Was Eve Made From Adam’s Missing Penis Bone?
According to the Bible, God fashioned Adam out of dirt while Eve, who was created as a companion for Adam, was made out of one of Adam’s ribs. Or was she? (November 22, 2020)
How a New Religion Could Rise From the Ashes of QAnon
If the past has taught us anything it is that failed prophecies and frustrated predictions don't always mark the beginning of the end for radical social movements. (January 21, 2021)
Dante’s Life Was Weird and His Death Weirder
The poet of the ‘Inferno’ suffered through papal intrigue and exile—and people have been fighting over his bones for 700 years. (September 19, 2021)
Does God Take Naps?
A revolutionary new book argues that we need to take God’s body, and the Bible’s description of it, more seriously. (December 12, 2021)
The Way We Think About the Messiah Is Very Problematic
The celebration of the birth of the Messiah does not need to invoke inaccurate or antisemitic ideas about Christianity's superiority to and difference from Judaism. (December 26, 2021)
Megachurch Grifters Were Also a Problem for Jesus’ Disciples
Believers in ancient times struggled with how to protect themselves from preachers who just wanted to take their coins. (October 8, 2022)
Moss also co-wrote “The Curious Case of Jesus’s Wife” for The Atlantic.