What kind of car would Jesus drive?
This week, an organization called the "National Religious Partnership for the Environment" has started a national campaign to make people feel guilty for driving SUVs. The centerpiece of this campaign is the slogan, "What would Jesus drive?". This, of course, has driven people into paroxysms of laughter, with jokes like "A Christ-ler" and comments that, being a carpenter, He would have needed a van with a ladder rack on top. White, of course. With a statue of his mother on the dashboard.
One person suggested that Jesus, the ultimate eternal surfer, would most likely drive "a cherry 1940s flathead V-8 Ford woody sw with surfboards on the roof". Others suggested that, verily, He may already be among us, driving a 18-speed Mack CX603 roll-off with V-MAC III electronics, an E7-460 460 h.p. Econodyne direct injection diesel engine, an Eaton-Fuller RTLO-16918B transmission, and an 18,000 lb. front axle and 46,000 lb. rear axles with camelback suspension. He would most likely drive for a company called "Guaranteed Overnight Delivery" or GOD. Of course, He would also have the optional dual turbo halos.
On the other hand, with His long experience driving people here and there, the Lord might well be attracted to the public transportation sector, in which case He might prefer to drive a 45-foot Van Hool S2145 equipped with a 500 BHP Detroit Diesel engine, ATC, carrier-integrated underfloor HVAC system, stainless steel chassis, and the optional GPS and motion satellite TV systems.
However, in all seriousness, this question can be answered authoritatively. One need only turn to the Bible to find what cars were driven in those days.
In the beginning, God himself made mention of His favorite car, when He described to Jeremiah His plans for the Israelites.
Jer 32:37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in my Anger, and in my Fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.Clearly, God was driving, not a bus, but a Plymouth Fury and a car called an "Anger", which is no longer being produced. Later, however, the Lord was seen driving people around in a Valiant:
Jer 46:15 Why are thy Valiant men swept away? they stood not, because the LORD did drive them.The Lord frequently drove people out to important occasions, if they didn't have their own car:
Judg 1:19 And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
Station wagons were also popular in early times. God saw that they were good, as they could not only carry an assembly of people, but would shield them in a crash.
Ezek 23:24 And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments.Unfortunately, his followers, being generous in the ways of the Lord, tended to give them away:
Num 7:6 And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites.
Fords, then as now, were popular, but not universally so, often being left behind in emergencies.
Gen 32:22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the Ford Jabbok.Ford dealerships were commonly used as gathering points for women.
Isa 16:2 For it shall be, that, as a wandering bird cast out of the nest, so the daughters of Moab shall be at the Fords of Arnon.The Israelites also drove customized automobiles. There was a distinct preference for brass and molten parts, which are rarely used today because of the difficulty in handling them.
1Kgs 7:30 And every base had four brazen wheels, and plates of brass: and the four corners thereof had undersetters: under the laver were undersetters molten, at the side of every addition. 1Kgs 7:33 And the work of the wheels was like the work of a chariot wheel: their axletrees, and their naves, and their felloes, and their spokes, were all molten.The ancient Israelites took great pride in their wheels. Often they were of unusual design, with wheels inside other wheels instead of at the four corners like today's cars. This may have been done to facilitate performing stunts such as "wheelies".
Ezek 1:16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. Ezek 1:20 Whithersoever the Spirit was to go, they went, thither was their Spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.Clearly, the Israelites considered the wheel to be the most important part of the car. But they were also fond of powerful engines:
Ezek 26:10 By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach.
Of course, God, with an infinite expense account, could afford to occasionally drive a Rolls Royce.
Ezra 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the Rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.
Dodge is one of the oldest car companies, selling the Triumph, Avenger, Colt, and Charger in Biblical times.
2Sam 1:20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised Triumph.Of course, in modern times, circumcision is no longer performed on automobiles.
They were popular gifts.
Mark 6:28 And brought his head in a Charger, and gave it to the damsel: and the damsel gave it to her mother.The Dodge Ram was greatly admired, and frequently customized with aftermarket accessories such as custom leather seats and extra horns of different pitch.
Dan 8:3 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there stood before the river a Ram which had two horns: and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.Collisions, however, were frequent.
Dan 8:6 And he came to the Ram that had two horns, which I had there seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the Fury of his power.Here we see one of the earliest documented cases of road rage.
Dan 8:7 And I saw him come close unto the Ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the Ram, and broke his two horns: and there was no power in the Ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him: and there was none that could deliver the Ram out of his hand.There are also very few Japanese cars in the Bible. The Honda Accord is mentioned several times, although one might question the driving skills of the ancient Israelites.
Acts 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one Accord in Solomon's porch. Acts 19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one Accord into the theatre.However, the AMC Spirit was unquestionably the most popular car of Biblical times. They were so highly prized that they were sometimes even described as "holy", and unlike the Spirits of today, had powerful engines, probably V-6 or V-8 turbines with fuel injection and dual overhead cams. Often people were said to be driving around "in an excellent Spirit". The Lord Himself even reputedly owned one, undoubtedly because of their reputation for reliability. They would go wherever you wanted them to.
Ezek 1:20 Whithersoever the Spirit was to go, they went, thither was their Spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the Spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
Our discussion would neither be complete nor multiculturally correct if the above exercise in hermeneutics were confined to Christianity. However, non-Western cultures are less brand-name oriented, which makes finding the answer more difficult. For example, if we ask, "What would Zen master Po drive?" the closest we get to a sensible answer is:
A tree in a golden forest[er].suggesting that, indeed, Master Po may be alluding to his favorite vehicle, a prized yellow Subaru Forester, with its large cargo capacity suitable for carrying trees. But Master Po's mode of expression, accompanied by a sharp strike on the questioner's back with a wooden stick, leaves room for doubt as to whether this is truly an accurate interpretation.
What would Lao-Tsu drive?
Similarly, Lao-Tsu, who wrote the Dao De Jing, which defined the philosophy of Taoism, remained fiercely ambivalent in his feelings toward cars. For Lao-Tsu, the area where the car is 'not' was as important as the car itself.
It is on the space where there's nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.So let's move on.
What would Confucius drive?
The Analects of Confucius are also written in an archaic and obscure style. Moreover, it would be unrealistic to expect Confucius, the master of propriety, to endorse any particular model. Even so, one finds obscure references like the following, extolling the virtues of Subarus:
He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the North Polar Star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.North Star, of course, is in a constellation similar to the Pleiades, which in Japanese is pronounced "Subaru". Indeed, it has been estimated that over 60% of all references to vehicle names in Chinese literature are to Japanese models.
What would Sun-Tsu drive?
Although technically not a religious figure, the military strategist Sun-Tsu was unique among Chinese philosophers in endorsing several different car models, including the AMC Alliance and the Toyota but, as always, was studiously polite and solicitous of the feelings of those around him.
We cannot enter into Alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.Sun-Tsu made several references to his Toyota (which is pronounced "Feng Tian" which means "Fertile Territory" in Chinese). He recommended making frequent trips to the grocery store:
Make forays in Fertile Country in order to supply your army with food.
What would the Hindu gods drive?
Unlike the Buddhists and Confucians, who preferred Japanese cars, the Hindus were fond of big American cars such as Fords, as this line from the Rig Veda in Hymn CXTII to the god Indra shows:
May we by easy paths pass all our troubles: find us this day a Ford wide and extensive.Although there is a long discussion in the Bhagavad Gita of the Infinity (most likely the G35 sport coupe), the Hindus ultimately maintained their preference for American cars like the Chrysler Imperial, because its numerous wide doors provided easy access to its interior.
The sovran all Imperial doors, wide, good, many and manifold.
Created November 23, 2002; last updated December 5, 2002