Jesus’ autograph: Why there isn’t one

Jesus of Nazareth’s autograph would undoubtedly be the most valuable in the world, were one ever to be discovered.

However, in over 2,000 years we’ve seen no example of any of his writings.

I’m not stating this to be in any way controversial. Historians are largely in agreement that there was an important Jewish prophet named Jesus who lived in Nazareth. As to whether he was the son of God - I can direct you to centuries of writings on the subject.

The question we’re asking is why has Jesus’ autograph not turned up at some point over the millennia?

Well, there’s a few reasons.

There may not have been much written at the time

The earliest known Christian doctrines are the epistles of St Paul.

These were probably written around 25 years after Jesus’ crucifixion.

Jesus Autograph

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

If there were texts authored by Jesus, they simply weren’t valued to the extent that they would be in the years after he died.

Christianity, especially in its earlier years, was spread through word rather than through text.

And, of course, there’s the enormous span of time.


To date, the oldest autograph to have turned up is a stone tablet signed by a Sumerian scribe named Gar Ama in 3100 BC.

But stone is a resilient material.

In Jesus’ time, papyrus was the most common material used for writing.

Jesus Autograph

(Image: Pixabay)

It's relatively fragile, and few intact documents have survived from this era.

In fact, we don’t have any autographs from well known people from the ancient period.

Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Mohammed.

Not one autograph has ever turned up, even though we know many did produce original writings.

The reason seems to be the sheer weight of time involved. 2,000 years is plenty of time for papers to be lost.

However, there is one letter that Jesus supposedly authored.

It has been dismissed as a fraud.

But it’s still an interesting curiosity. 

The letter to Abgar  

Jesus was not the author of this letter to Syrian king Abgar V.

However, that hasn’t stopped centuries of believers poring over the words contained in the missive.

It’s certainly very old. The first mention is from the 4th century AD.

Jesus Autograph

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Abgar is said to be one of the first rulers to convert to Christianity.

He supposedly wrote to Jesus asking that he be healed.

Jesus’ supposed reply reads, in part: “Blessed are you who hast believed in me without having seen me...after I have been taken up I will send to you one of my disciples, that he may heal your disease and give life to you and yours.”

The original no longer exists, but there are copies dating back centuries.

Paul Fraser.

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