Jesus Played Cricket!?

 It is possible that cricket, a game venerated all over the Commonwealth, is older than currently thought. In fact, Jesus may very well have played the game (or a similar bat and ball contraption) as a child himself, according to an ancient Armenian manuscript.

Long before the English launched cricket some 300 years ago, similar games were being played as early as the 8th century in the Punjab region, Derek Birley writes in his Social History of English Cricket.

But an Armenian scholar says there is good reason to believe that similar games were played in the Middle East long before that time.

Dr Abraham Terian, recently a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities, points to a rare manuscript as his source.

He notes that in the Armenian Gospel of the Infancy, translated into Armenian in the 6th century from a much older lost Syriac original, a passage tells of Jesus playing what may well be the precursor of cricket, with a club and ball.

Terian discovered the manuscript more than a decade ago at the Saint James Armenian Monastery in the Old City of Jerusalem.

His English translation of the book has been published by Oxford University Press.

He says he has now identified the same passage in a couple of other manuscripts of the same gospel of which some 40 copies exist in various archival collections in Europe and the Middle East, including the oldest copy now in Yerevan, the capital of the Armenian Republic.

The latter manuscript is dated 1239, whereas the undated Jerusalem manuscript is considerably later.

Quoting from his Armenian source, Terian says the gospel relates how Jesus, at the age of nine, had been apprenticed to a master dyer named Israel in Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

‘Jesus is instructed to watch Israel’s house and not leave the place while the master goes away on a tour to collect clothes to be dyed. But no sooner has Israel left the house, than Jesus runs out with the boys,” Terian says.

‘The most amazing part of the story of the nine-year-old Jesus playing a form of cricket with the boys at the sea shore, is that he would go on playing the game on water, over the sea waves.”.

He gives the following translation: ‘He (Jesus) would take the boys to the seashore and, carrying the playing ball and the club, he would go over the waves of the sea as though he was playing on a frozen surface, hitting the playing ball. And watching him, the boys would scream and say: ‘Watch the child Jesus, what he does over the waves of the sea!’ Many would gather there and, watching him, would be amazed.”

Terian says the story echoes allusions to Jesus’ walking on the Sea of Galilee, as told in the gospels.

‘But the apocryphal story shows that for a ball game even Jesus would forget work and would go to have fun with the boys!” he says.

– AAP, August 8th, 2008….

Melbourne Laneway Cricket Carnival ’08 Week 3

March 26, 2008

Greetings Cricket Lovers, we hope you have had a happy and blessed Easter. Footy season is upon us and unfortunately the Victorian Bushrangers may need most of it to chase down the total NSW set for them in the PURA CUP Final!

The weather remains ‘cricket like’ however and Round 3 of Melbourne’s inaugural Laneway Cricket Carnival saw teams brave the autumn hot spell in Latrobe Lane.

Kaz, Sharls and Sonja shone for the Middletons/Living Room Dumpsters in their resplendent red outfits and laughed their way to a record high score of 78 runs. The Goldman Sachs JBWere / Salvos Alleycats built slowly toward the total but at the height of the late charge were stopped in their tracks by Pommy, filling in for the Dumpsters, who obtained the first Laneway HAT-TRICK with 3 consecutive clean bowleds, including that of the amazing Mevan, in full flight, twice! Alleycats 39.

The second game was once again a thriller. For the third time in as many weeks a team well behind in the chase pulled off an unlikely and miraculous victory. Nathan, Tom, Stu, Matt, Scott and Chris for the PricewaterhousCoopers/Urban Seed Binjuice set the pace by pushing the record laneway team score out to a new frontier of 95. They then bowled well at the Mallesons Milkcraters who struggled to 32 off 8 overs. Enter Woodsy from Urban Seed’s Credo Cricket and Michael from Malleys needing an unlikely 64 off their 16 balls. The short boundary to the Chinatown end of Latrobe Lane had meant that the reverse sweep had been tried a few times throughout the evening night but with little success. Throwing caution to the wind Woodsy and Mike adopted a risky last over strategy of reverse sweeping everything which confused the fielding side and the runs piled up. Michael from Malley’s scooped the final delivery high into Chinatown and the game stopped. The umpire checked with the blokes on the BBQ as to whether or not it was a four or six. Delay, confusion, controversy, tension…’oh the drama of laneway’….. finally the ball was called six and the Milkcraters had got home by the barest of margins in a fairy tale.

Once again the pedestrian traffic is a unique part of the Laneway Cricket experience and our “game off” moments this round included someone working at Parliament House who left a card, keen to promote the concept; a businessman who said “this is the most innovative thing I’ve seen in a long time”; and a drunk Irishman who held a game up for five minutes because he just wanted to bowl one delivery!

This Friday we invite you to say farewell to Cricket Season at the home of Urban Seed’s Credo Cafe in Baptist Place off Little Collins Street between Swanston and Russell. Baptist Place is like the Lords of Laneway, the place where Credo Cricket began as a response to the heroin crisis back in 2000. It is still the location of Urban Seed’s residential community and our regular open lunch program. Feel free to invite friends and others who have shown some interest, it will be a great celebration!

“It’s Just Not Cricket: Spirituality of Sport and Mission”

“It’s Just Not Cricket: Spirituality of Sport and Mission”

Marcus Curnow’s Forge Festival Workshop Blurb:  March 2008

In the midst of the ‘monkey business’ of a Kentucky Fried Cricket world, Urban Seed has committed itself to ‘Credo Cricket’; public expressions of sport you can believe in. ( Sport plays a huge role in shaping community, cultural and even religious expression in the Australian psyche. This seminar will explore the contemporary theology of sport, with Christianity and practical expressions of grassroots approaches and strategies for ‘grassroots’ engagement.

Workshop: Credo Cricket- Melbourne Laneway Cricket: Forge Festival explores Melbourne’s laneways for a different kind of ‘hit.’ Join with the ‘Bin Juice Bradman’s’ and the ‘Milk Crate Merv’s’ for a game of Laneway Cricket. Hear about Urban Seed’s recent laneway cricket carnival held in conjunction with Cricket Australia as a means of bringing church, business and welfare services together.

Marcus has been involved with Urban Seed, a Christian community based ministry of hospitality and advocacy in the heart of Melbourne since 1996. Marcus has worked as a youth worker in a variety of cultural contexts and now convenes a regional expression of Urban Seed (Seeds Footscray), where he resides with Rachael and their three kids. He has degrees in Nursing and Theology. He believes that Jesus chose twelve in order to play cricket; that Bible study shouldn’t suck; that good liturgy requires risk; that Cornwall (the home of his forebears) is not England and that when in doubt, “Its the Economy of God stupid”! It has oft been said that he could use a bit more sleep.