Jesus who?!?

"For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out in the open." Mark 4:22

Monday, April 24, 2006

The politics Jesus wouldn't do...

"There is no such thing as a "Christian politics." If it is politics, it cannot be Christian. Jesus told Pilate: "My reign is not of this present order. If my reign were of this present order, my supporters would have fought against my being turned over to the Jews. But my reign is not here" (John 18:36). Jesus brought no political message or program.

This is a truth that needs emphasis at a time when some Democrats, fearing that the Republicans have advanced over them by the use of religion, want to respond with a claim that Jesus is really on their side. He is not. He avoided those who would trap him into taking sides for or against the Roman occupation of Judea. He paid his taxes to the occupying power but said only, "Let Caesar have what belongs to him, and God have what belongs to him" (Matthew 22:21). He was the original proponent of a separation of church and state.

Those who want the state to engage in public worship, or even to have prayer in schools, are defying his injunction: "When you pray, be not like the pretenders, who prefer to pray in the synagogues and in the public square, in the sight of others. In truth I tell you, that is all the profit they will have. But you, when you pray, go into your inner chamber and, locking the door, pray there in hiding to your Father, and your Father who sees you in hiding will reward you" (Matthew 6:5-6). He shocked people by his repeated violation of the external holiness code of his time, emphasizing that his religion was an internal matter of the heart....."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Then there is the Gospel of Barnabas...

Unfortunately, any debate over this text is wrapped up in Muslim-Christian rivalry. But, perhaps out of all the extra-biblical sources in the hunt for the historical Jesus, this is the most controversial? After all, it is the primary source Muslims use to provide a critique of the traditional Christian view of Jesus.

"The Gospel of Barnabas is a work purporting to be a depiction of the life of Jesus by his disciple Barnabas. The two earliest known manuscripts have been dated to the late sixteenth century, and are written in Italian and in Spanish; although the Spanish version survives now only in an eighteenth century copy. It is about the same length as the four canonical gospels put together (the Italian manuscript has 222 chapters); with the bulk being devoted to an account of Jesus' ministry, much of it harmonised from accounts also found in the canonical gospels. In some, but not all, respects it conforms to the Islamic interpretation of Christian Origins; and consequently its authorship and textual history remain the subject of continued controversy.

The Gospel is considered by the majority of academics (including Christians and some Muslims) to be late, pseudepigraphical and a pious fraud; however, some academics suggest that it may contain some remnants of an earlier apocryphal work edited to conform to Islam, perhaps Gnostic (Cirillo, Ragg) or Ebionite (Pines) or Diatessaronic (Joosten), and some Muslim scholars consider it genuineā€¦."

Read more here:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Judas Iscariot: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?

Easter seems to bring about more debate over the historical Jesus... constructive or not... it is that time of year again...
Here is a selection of the debate from Beliefnet:
"The document is clearly a gnostic forgery. Key concepts and words from gnostic philosophy are prevalent from even the first few pages. There is a reason that the attempted 'hijacking' of Christianity by gnosticism failed-it was clearly demonstrated to be false and historically invalid during the second/third century. Visit: http:/// for more info. The truth prevailed, gnosticism and its historical revisionism faded away." (rmcwilson)
"One of my favourite versions of the Christ story is the much-maligned Last Temptation of Christ. In it, Judas is portrayed as not exactly sympathetic but understandable.What is often lost in discussions is that there was a militant strain of Judaism that advocated armed revolt against the Roman oppressors. Kazantzakis' Judas is a former zealot who sees Jesus as a potential messiah but is disillusioned when Jesus advocates a passive campaign against the Romans. It's truly fascinating stuff." (dplatt)
"It has been said that a wise person can learn something from any book - even a lousy book, as an example of what is lousy - whereas a fool cannot learn from even the greatest book. My attitude toward the Bible is not reverent, but respectful. I have tried to learn from it without blindly and dogmatically accepting everything as literal truth. But then, that is how I approach most serious books. God-breathed? Perhaps - but who is to say that God didn't breathe through other books as well?" (Heretic for Christ)