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Everything posted by thormas

  1. Not vague yet 'open to reading into the gospels what is not there.' As mentioned, certain verses and stories might need scholarly interpretation/assistance. If there is confusion, even questions like, "what the hell are these about?" - we go to the scholars, the professionals: the Temple acting out a parable, a highly symbolic act done in a very small section of a 25 football field sized Temple grounds that didn't even rise to the level of Jesus being arrested; the closet actually being a comment on public praying for show (ala the hypocrites, which still takes place today) vs. private or simply sincere prayer preached and practiced by Jesus himself; and so on. The stories, listed above, go to the essence of Jesus that is consistent throughout the gospels. Many people might also know the other stories, even have question about them, but they don't leap to your conclusion: a Jesus whose words and actions give approval for the harm done throughout Christian history. Most don't conclude, "Hey, Jesus cursed a fig tree and turned tables over in the Temple so I have the green light to attack and bomb a building in which abortions take place and if anybody is hurt - burned, blown up or killed, I'm still right with Jesus." Rather, most Christians, even with much smaller 'sins' would say, "I have failed to act as my Christ in the world." Such is not merely mis-interpretation: this is an inability to read what is 'there' or, if confused, a refusal to seek assistance in understanding passages that might not be readily understandable or, sadly, reading into the gospels for the justification they so need and desire. So, no one is discounting anything; there is no problem with acknowledging confusion over certain passages and all the stories play a part and do get to the essence of Jesus (simply as in all lives, some stories speak more powerfully or are simply more familiar and remembered). What is discounted are 'interpretations' that, in spite of all the gospel stories presented, settle on 1 or 2 for justification for their own bad actions.
  2. Actually, the essence (i.e. gist) of Jesus is not vague at all for most Christians or many other human beings. The paragraphs would capture the essence of Jesus; what they wouldn't contain is the interpretations of a Jesus, that you suggest are valid, whose actions and teachings provide approval for the harms you listed many posts ago. The Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, The Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer, the healings and the Cross - are much more familiar than your fig tree, praying in the closet or even the Temple cleansing and - reveal the gist/essence of Jesus. Of course there are contradictory elements, including what Sanders calls pericopes that are placed in different places by the writers for theological purposes and of course there are writings that need further explanation, including the aid of scholarly research (like the fig tree, the closet, the family and the cleansing) but ...........the essence of Jesus is consistent throughout. Whether he is portrayed as the Beloved Son at his Baptism or this is pushed back to the eternal Word present before creation; whether he is the secretive Messiah of Mark, the new Moses of Matthew or the exalted Lord of John - the essence remains.
  3. Exactly, it is the 'orthodox' version (for example differing from gnosticism or Marcionism versions on issues like secret knowledge or the Jews) but what is consistent in the versions of the 4 gospels is the gist (the essence of who Jesus is and what he does) and actually that same gist is present in some other gospels, for example, the sayings gospel of Thomas. There seem to be differences (again gnosticism) but there is also a consistency on the essence of Jesus. What I argue against is someone who 'sees' or creates a Jesus whose essence is so at odds with the NT gospel, that he supports, approves or justifies the 'sinful' actions of Christians. Merely because someone 'sees' this, it does not follow that ii is accurate. You seem to think it does and it is. and, as you have demonstrated, people have used their 'versions' to justify the harm they have done throughout the history of Christianity.
  4. I know one 'element' of Christianity 'won out' and presented their version. But I also recognize that we are not dealing with 'history' in any traditional sense of the word.
  5. I thought of Wiki andI will check on YouTube. And I appreciate the book recommendation.
  6. History is written by the victors. it is a version of what occurred at a particular time, in a particular place, involving particular people.
  7. I wasn't fully aware of the details, never concentrated on it. Is there a source/book you can recommend?
  8. Paul, Hey, are you tampering with the gospel? Are you saying there is direct evidence of tampering in the Cleansing episode? On a quick read, he didn't whip anyone, he might have had a whip but.............. Most of the scholars suggest 'something happened' and don't go to tampering but theology. Exactly Paul, many Christian accept that every word in the gospel, in the Bible is God's - so we would never get by that to even present and explain the idea of the gist - but we are on a progressive site, so opportunities abound. However, whether one is relaxed or another up tight is opinion and prejudices the situation; the idea of gist comes from a leading biblical scholar. Not necessarily accurate and not necessarily inaccurate but again we are not talking history - then again, not even all the specifics of history are necessarily accurate. I consider a great many issues but I have never gotten to the point that nothing can be trusted. I suspect that most Christians (ranging from Fundamentalist to Progressive), if asked what was Jesus like, that is, what did he say or what does his life suggest, specifically, about how we should live in the world, would agree on the ..........gist.
  9. From Ehrman's website: " It was very small time and at the time insignificant, a barely noticeable event that was full of symbolic importance for Jesus and his followers, but only a minor irritation to anyone who cared about the orderly functioning of the Temple and its cult."
  10. So, I will have to check Sanders to see what parable he believes Jesus acts out. But it sure seems he didn't whip anyone as the Bible doesn't seem to shy away from the grotesque and gory. A scare tactic - I mean if you saw a guy with a whip coming at you - you'd run too. Hey, it worked :+}
  11. I was just referring to the North Carolina statement - mine. Who, on behalf of the Bible, does not claim inerrancy? And some Christians believe it, correct?
  12. I disagree as Paul is not a hyper-fundamentalist - actually isn't it the Fundamentalist who would not be concerned and just accept the gospels 'as is' and accept the authors are as indicated or, regardless of who it is, inspired and inerrant? I would think the progressives who see the gospels, NT and OT as human products, would wonder about authors, right? Just out of curiosity, if divinely inspired, does that also mean inerrant? Don't those who accept inspiration also believe that revelation has ended? And, of course I guess this all turns on how one understands 'revelation.'
  13. Agree, it is a bit long winded. 1. There are no originals, that milk has been spilled and it is time to move on. The gospels may or may not be accurate (you don't know definitively, one way or the other) but it is what we have. Some scribes could be wrong but whether they were or not, on the most important stuff, is unknown. So, again, the gospels either have value and are reliable (even with the acknowledgement that the genres might be foreign to some and their worldview is no longer accepted) or they are not. 2. Even with scholarly investigation and interpretation on whether there was a Temple Cleaning, of a fig tree incident or what Jesus meant with the comments on family or prayer, there is no interpretation that ends up with a (radically different) Jesus whose life, teachings or actions support the harm Christians do in the world. There is no MUST about interpretation, the only MUST is reading what is actually written. I have asked you to show me this different Jesus; to show me, not just a line or an episode but stories, teachings, sermons, baditutes that results in a Jesus who condones or provides justification for the harm Christians do. You haven't; you can't. 3. Conflating what is in the gospels with other NT or OT writings can be dangerous. As an example, if a minister says Jesus was against homosexuals, he/she is wrong. They are taking Paul or the OT (or their own prejudices) and reading them into Jesus. The minister is not reading what is actually there - in the NT gospels. So, we all can say of such ministers, "you are wrong." Jesus did not say this; Jesus (also) did not silence women; Jesus did not say women couldn't be priests (that is specific to Catholics); Jesus did not hate or encourage discrimination against Jews and on and on. Actually, this position would have helped many millions of people who have suffered throughout history. To be able to say, "No, you are wrong, Jesus never said that" is powerful. Think: the harm caused by this minister can (begin to) be alleviated simply by reading what is there; no Gospel author ever wrote, based on the remembrance of Jesus, what the minister supposes is there! The minister has not misinterpreted, he simply can't read! 4. Concerning attacking abortion clinics and employees: I don't need legal cases, I simply requested the justification based on the Jesus of the gospels. Like the minister (above), the response would be the same, "You (meaning these particular Christians) are wrong, Jesus never said or condoned or supported or justified such actions." If Jesus speaks to them in this way (bombing, hurting, killing) in the gospels, fine: where, in detail? I know such attacks and justifications happen (I actually have a TV, a computer and I read the news), I am simply saying they can't read. Same goes for the Pope, if he bases it on Jesus himself: where? It was not a misinterpretation, it is reading what does not exist, thus this Pope misunderstood Jesus! Where is the confusion that leads to the Crusades in the gospels? Even at face value, turning tables over in the Temple or getting pissed at a fig tree when you're hungry leads Christians to kill, rape, pillage and destroy not only Muslins but Jews and Greek Christians along the way and it's on Jesus? Come on Paul, that doesn't even make sense. Again, not a misinterpretation, not even a misunderstanding - because there is nothing there, in the words or actions of Jesus, that justifies or encourages or blesses these actions. The Crusades are an area of interest to me (actually just finished a history of the fall of Jerusalem,then I move to Acre and Richard) and it is obvious that more, much more was going on than religion. I have no problem acknowledging that many of the people across the various crusades truly believed that they were doing this for Jesus, that God willed it and they would remit their sins. However, this simply was wrong. This is more basic than different interpretations; it is a simple acknowledgement of what is or is not actually written in the gospels. I am not staggered by human fraility or by differing interpretations but I am constantly surprised by the inability of people, past and present, to read and comprehend. The meek seems to be an easy one but perhaps for another time. Not sure who is harmonizing but as long as no one says that Jesus means the meek are justified if they kill everybody in their way so they get their inheritance, we should be okay. 5. I don't philosophize about death at a wake and I don't do biblical scholarship over Christmas celebrations during the season of Joy. We can discuss, to our hearts contend the problems with the 5th gospels, at a later date. 6. My concern (I have no issues :+} is that people interpret the gospels and do harm because they put in what is not there. No one was talking percentages but the gospels are indeed about Jesus as remembered and presented by communities of faith. We probably understand gist differently so I will let you take that up with Allison for a fuller understanding. However, I have never considered Allison or the gospels dangerous. Thanks for the last word - but if you must go on, I'm still available once aI finish the yard :+}
  14. Sorry Paul, the version is not mine (I did not create the gospels), it is the one presented by the NT gospels. However the determination as to whether or not it 'speaks' or is meaningful to me, for my life, is indeed mine. There is one version (or 4 if we're being precise); it is there for the reading and it presents a picture of Jesus, with theological insights based on the belief that he is the Risen Messiah of God and they are intended to be Good News. We don't create our own versions of the gospels; we read what is before us. As free beings, anybody can give their spin or version on both easy and more difficult passages but it doesn't mean that their spin matches the reality that is given. Simply, we can be wrong. Scholars recognize this in the popular ideas surrounding Christmas. We have combined the 4 gospels into a 5th gospel, our own creation - however our singular Christmas version of the birth of Jesus does not exist and is not found in the 4 separate gospels of the NT. Is this okay? Seems so: no one gets hurt but they can't reconcile what they read in the actual NT gospels because our 'version' does not exist in any of the gospels as written (at different times). But you do get people swearing that ‘their version’ is “in the Bible.” Is this version or interpretation valid? Well, no it’s a mash up and our own creation. But it is easy to see the (vast) difference between the actual text and our 'interpretation' of that text. Care should be given to see and read what is actually in the gospels and extra care should be given to understand (correct interpretation) what is actually there (especially as it is rich with symbols, metaphors, parables, written from different theological points of view and expressing a world view that is no longer accepted). So, we read what is there, attempt to understand it, seek help for greater insight and ultimately we have to decide if it is important enough to have an impact on how we live our lives. There are no originals! Scholars believe that we have copies (even copies of copies), which assumes that there was something considered valuable enough to replicate. Furthermore, given the criteria used by scholars, the gospels writers use of Q, L and M and/or Mark reveal something of the historical Jesus. I love Ehrman, have read his books, have gone to numerous lectures by him, like the fact that he is an agnostic but I always like to spread the wealth and get the opinions of others like Allison (a Christian), Levine (a Jew), Verma (the expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls), Luke Timothy Johnson (a Christians, perhaps even a Catholic), Fredrekison (not sure how of her faith, or lack thereof, which makes it fun) and others. Again, I suspect they would love to stumble upon the originals but none seem to share your position or concern to the degree you do. Many debate stuff that is of particular interest to scholars (I can give examples) but the lesson to be learned for the best scholars is that do not impose their ‘version’on the gospels; they are diligent is being objective. So again, what are the other stories that confound the Jesus of the parables and the beatitudes? And what Christians are you talking about that would then say, "hey, given this 'version' of Jesus, the crusades, the inquisitions, our treatment of gays and women and minorities are a go." What are their versions, not simply confusion or questions about this or that verse or episode, what are there different versions of Jesus that would justify the great harm that you have listed? Sounds more like Thanos than Jesus! Who believes that the Temple cleansing episode gives Christians a green light for aggression, bombing and murder at abortion clinics? How do they justify and balance this ‘interpretation’ against the bulk of the Gospel(s) witness of Jesus? Are there books on this position? If the Temple incident did take place, were there reported deaths, broken bones, any swords or spears used at the temple cleaning or were some tables overturned? And really, someone sees this as a rationale for bombing an abortion clinic and actually breaking bones, burning, blowing up and killing people? And this rationale holds up when these solid Christians consider the entirety of the Gospel(s) witness of Jesus? And you remain comfortable saying, “hey, who know what the real Jesus taught, what he approved, this interpretation (and resulting action) is as valid as any other?” Really? This all sounds like the Pope and many of those who took up the crusades: "find what they need so they can do what they want." This is not competing versions of Jesus; this is careless, selective reading and not even a proper use of How to Read the Bible for Dummies. Let's add, "I hate my family because Jesus told me it was okay and I just killed them because I got pissed like he did in the Temple." You're reaching or these ‘Christians’ are. But did the Temple incident happen? Indeed, scholars agree that something happened and Ehrman points to Sanders at Duke for the best explanation: Jesus was 'acting out a parable' and, by the fact he was not arrested in the temple (the size of 25 football fields) it was a very small and symbolic incident. So the most that one could take for this would not be bombing an abortion clinic but, like many do, perhaps protesting outside of a clinic, stopping passing traffic or perhaps even painting something (not a Nazi symbol) on their door -but no harm! How many serious Christians, not those looking for 'justification' for abhorrent actions, would simply take this one incident and not consider the whole Jesus who they (supposedly) have come to know? This is not one version vs. another; it is a simple matter of reading, reflection and consideration, placing this in the context of the man Jesus and, perhaps, asking for help to better understand it. Like the X-Files, the truth (or assistance) is ‘out there’all one had to do is look or ask or Google. The fig tree - how significant is this in the first place for most people? But it is a bit weird and fun........... so, a parable acted out? Did the tree literally die? So, again context: ask or ......google. It's really not that difficult. But are you suggesting someone reading this would see a justification (based on their version), in spite of all else the gospels present about Jesus, for torching trees in say California and starting horrific forest fires? Perhaps a nut would but that's a different kind of tree (or plant or shrub). The Miracles: as a Catholic, I totally accepted them, but I don't now take them literally - however Jesus remained and, I suspect, grew even more important. But again as you know, the gospels are theology, they are Good News for salvation; they are not Omarosa recordings or NFL game day videos. Were the gospel writer wrong about miracles or were they telling good news in mythological stories? Scholars acknowledge that Jesus, in his time, was known as a wonder worker (of course we have very different ideas of what is a wonder or a miracle today). You must realize that the 'originals' that were copied, would have contained miracles stories, as did the oral tradition that led to them. You seem to be looking for black and white, left or right, this or that, truth or fiction: that is not what we have, not what the oral tradition presented, not what the original 'originals' presented. Yet, there is truth! However, that is enough exegesis - although I am here all week. Actually, my questions (In my Note from the previous post) were a polite way of explaining and answering your questions; it is a time honored way to invite thought, consideration and collaboration. The answer is in my questions to you. One can read the gospels for him/herself and get a very clear understanding of Jesus. Some help might be necessary to translate from the 1st to the 21st century and, perhaps, additional help for the more vexing passages. All that is required is time and effort (which are not always easy in a busy world). This is why churches and Christian communities need to emphasize not just liturgy but education (there is a hunger for it as evidenced by the sell out crowds that Ehrman, Spong and others get. There is no Jesus without Christianity, there is no Jesus outside the scriptures (canon or extracanonical) so we do know what we have. Then there are two issue: understanding the particular (including the more perplexing verses) in light of the whole and then being Christ in the world. Do you really think the harm Christians have done and continue to do in the world is a matter of interpretation or would be solved with the originals? Do you really think people pour over the NT say "AHA" and then do horrible things? People do, have done and will continue to do horrible things in spite of what is written. Where is the justification for the pastors who have continually committed adultery, the church officials who fleece their TV audience of their small incomes, for Catholic priests who abuse and rape kids and blackmail seminarians into having gay sex with them, for Christians killing or even risking killing anyone when they bomb abortion clinics, for Evangelicals supporting Trump who admits he abuses women, who lies daily (but his favorite verse is two Corinthians ........walk into a bar). The gospel of Jesus Christ, written by his own hand in the original Aramaic, wouldn't make a difference. What is the interpretation of Jesus in the gospels that justifies parents who turf their children out because they're gay or commit acts of harm because that's what they believe Jesus wants. Where, specifically does Jesus say to do this to your gay kids or seriously harm (or kill) others? Where does Jesus say he wants or approves this? And, why do these Christians ignore the command to love, forgive; love, forgive; and, love, forgive? Why do they not see the sacrifice for others that is part and parcel of (true) Christian life? This is not about Jesus or what we know of Jesus - this is about men and women at their worst! Justifications or not, originals or copies, they would do this anyway perhaps for the simple reason that it was never actually seen as Good New or seen, never really taken up. After all, the Christian must take up the cross and selfishness must die so Love thrives. If not, it is for naught. Jesus played for Jerusalem? See, that is a misreading, he starred at Galilee High and even if you're talking the pros, the daily commute for practice would have killed him. Also, there were no Christians until after Jesus was crucified. If one sees in Jesus (himself) a reason for the harms you have listed in an earlier post or the additional harms I listed above, they are simply wrong. It is not a matter of interpretation - what Christian can look upon the cross and say "yes" to any of the harms we have listed? What Christian lifts a verse from the gospels (without every attempting to understand it if there are questions), ignores the rest of the radically different verses in those same gospels and then goes with an action that is at odds with the Christ of faith? Someone who wants to do what they want to do, who doesn't want to feel bad about it or themself, and needs a reason and what better one if Jesus did it or even better if God wills it? I see what you call 'interpretations' of Jesus. I have simply said that some of what you have presented as sample teachings are not in the gospels (i.e. not Jesus) and others are and there is a correct interpretation - sometimes a closet is not a closet, sometimes an action is a parable, sometimes the man spoke in parables and we don't - so we need to understand to get to the truth or the point of a verse or passage. However, someone who says, "hey I can now bomb an abortion clinic" has mis- in-ter-pret-ed; totally missed what is 'there.'
  15. Paul, My focus has been on the gospels of the NT canon. There are no originals, as you have said; the Jesus we have is found in the NT gospels. Even if augmented by gospels outside the canon, that would meet the criteria of scholars – there are no originals; so we are back to Allison’s insight. In these gospel stories, there is no justification for any of the harm inflicted by Christians throughout their history. For anybody to say there is justification is to go beyond interpretation, to what is not there. Whether one accepts the NT accounts as literal or not, there are the stories, the parables, the beatitudes, the sermons of Jesus which go to how to live and treat others; they are ‘right there’and require no great learning to interpret. What you listed were not 'mere samples of the teachings of Jesus." They are, for the most part, the writings of others. If we go back to the gospels (what is remembered in the Oral tradition, in Q, in M, in L) these 'sample teachings' are not Jesus; they are not ‘like’ (Allison) what the gospels tell us Jesus did and said. Jesus never mentioned the silence of women, slaves and masters or abstaining from blood. When we move to the rest of the Bible, we are met by Paul (silent of women, slaves and masters) and the OT and the Acts references to blood. Here, people might need assistance in reading and interpreting these passages. So, do we know “….which of these Jesus really said and in many cases whether or not he would have approved of this message?" We do: we know that Jesus did not say anything in the OT (he wasn’t born yet) and nothing in Paul (he had been crucified, Paul never met him nor does Paul tell us about the man Jesus). As for approval, he was a Jew but freely followed the spirit and not the letter of the law and the silence of women is at odds not only with the stories of Jesus but also with Paul’s other writings. However, Christianity does have a problem: with the Crusades, the inquisitions, hatred of Jews, judgment on homosexuals, etc. - people bring their own fears, prejudices and needs to the Testaments, to Christianity and find what they need so they can do what they want. This is also a very human problem. Furthermore, the problem would not be resolved if we had the 'originals.' Some would doubt they were the originals, some would be driven to compare and contrast with what we already have and others would simply still have different understandings/interpretations on what is actually written in the originals and what it means. Same old, same old. I know of Bernard but this was also a clash of civilizations and people went on crusade for many reasons which also included profit, glory, land, status, greater possibilities for those who were not the first born sons of Europe and, of course the Pope saw it as a way to redirect the various warriors of Europe on a single, blessed by God, quest (“find what they need so they can do what they want”). Of course, many justified it and said, "God wills it" but on what was that based? Plus, wasn't there the idolatry that the places where Christ was born, crucified and was buried were sacred and deserving of worship? Of course Bernard thought he was right (at least I hope he did, otherwise he was a monster) but was he right? Do you know what, in the gospels of Jesus (which he probably took literally) was his justification for the crusades? Was there any justification based on what is written in the NT? Did Jesus really say anything directly or indirectly that would establish his approval of the crusades? Or, is it just the opposite? Jesus, in the gospel, stops Peter when he raises his sword, to defend - not land, not tombs, not hills or churches - but Jesus himself. Again, not for land, churches or sacred places, not even for himself did Jesus say it was okay to take up the sword. Was it simply a different interpretation or was Bernard, were they all wrong (as you seem to believe)? Can you sit back, perhaps over a cold beer and actually say, "yeah, Jesus would have been for the crusades”(or the inquisition, or the repression, discrimination and murder of the Jews (his own people) or, in spite of having them among his most important followers, the silencing of women)? First Note: this passage of the sword is of interest for the passage you cited: the Peter incident refers to a real sword however the Word of God is a two edged sword that 'cuts into humanity' presenting danger if ignored and opportunity (salvation) if accepted: so indeed Jesus brings and is a sword, the Word of God. How difficult is it to say that Bernard was wrong? If killing others, demeaning women, gays, Jews, burning or bullying non-believers 'speaks to someone' - what is speaking is not the Jesus of the gospels and not his God! Isn’t it rather simple to say this without it being written off as just a different interpretation? The voice that counts is that of Jesus: he 'said and did things like' those presented in the NT gospels and they seem (as any originals must have been to be worthy of copying) to be rooted in the remembrance and stories of his earliest followers; this is the only Jesus we have. We do have some of the other gospels and I think Allison comes into play again: if any gospels present words or works and we can say of them that they echo what we ‘know’ of Jesus in the NT Gospels - then we have something of value (like the sayings gospel of Thomas). If you have a community of like-minded people, they are pretty much in agreement about what is written and what it means. And as others join or are born into it, it is utterly human to give those others what the community believes is right and if a 'member' disagree or goes astray, it seems natural to try to assist and bring them back to the community. The trick, in communities and in families (i.e. with kids) is to do this with a light hand: present, explain and let the other decide for herself. Church communities and families fail at this and it takes greater love and strength to present than coerce. A problem with some church communities is they try to govern and regulate all walks of a believer's life; all Jesus wanted, as is written, is for men and women to change and be ready for (be attentive to) God who is already present and a Kingdom”still coming. As with kids that are loved, so with church members: there is no must, only a continued invitation and presentation. Second Note: isn't the emphasis in the prayer verse not on where (public or closet, i.e. private) but how: with sincerity, focused on God as opposed to showing off, for others, how holy you are - just like the hypocrites (think Trump)? Third Note: doesn't the hating the family verse have to do with the cost of discipleship and having to decide to give everything up in order to follow (similar to the startling answer that Jesus gives to the rich man: give up all and follow). It is not easy and Jesus was preparing those who accept to realize what they were getting into. Plus, did he hate his family, even when they misunderstood him, another NT story? Legend has it that Mary was at his side in death and history has it that James continued his work as the leader of the Jerusalem community.
  16. Agreement - now, if only people interpret the message of Jesus properly :+}
  17. Exactly, that is the issue of resonating or 'speaking' to one in his/her life. However, you note kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control, forgiveness - these are the (fruits of the) 'wisdom' found in the writings. So the wisdom is not the opposite of love, forgiveness, peace, friendliness, acceptance, etc.; the wisdom found in the writings is not expressed in crusades, inquisitions, sexism, homophobia, racism, misogyny, etc. One who justifies such action in the (in this case) NT gospels, in the words and actions of Jesus..............has missed or ignored the wisdom that was presented; has mis-understood what was written.
  18. Of course it has not always been the case that the misinterpretation of the NT gospels by some Christians was seen, by them, as wrong (if it had been, they would have had a different interpretation) but it doesn't follow that their rationale for things like the crusades, the inquisition, the role of women or the treatment of homosexuals is found and justified by the words and actions of Jesus as presented in the gospels of the canon. Where is the exact justification? The same could be asked of Constantine with his Cross in the sky and the words, "In this sign you shall conquer" - where is the basis for that in Jesus? NADA. However, it was a clever and convenient political move for Constantine to unite the empire under one religion - thus one united people. The reason also for him riding roughshod over the Council: unity for his empire rather than the problems and division cause by 'theological disputes.' Do you really think we would have one interpretation if we had the original document? The US have its original documents and we NEVER have competing interpretations! Did you ever get in a car with your wife and even with a map or iPhone, accurate in all details, disagree on how best to get 'there?" It is not about possessing the originals! The problem with organized religion is not that they believe that some things are important, even essential, to participation in their community - it is that for too long, they demanded blind, rote learning and acceptance without understanding (theirs or the adherents born to their particular religions confession). The Catholic Church and any Church that does what you have listed above, in the name of Jesus, is simply wrong - and the best of them recognize this. Those actions are more about Constantine than Christ. I don't belong to any organized Church so I am not involved with nor do I 'gain confidence' from others who agree. However, I am glad for them, for Christianity and the world when they do :+} It is not merely interpretation, some times it is simply asking, "what the hell do you base they on?" and "when you ask WWJD do you really believe and where is it found that Jesus would do that?" It is not mere interpretation - sometimes, reality (in the form of the actual gospels under discussion) just smack you upside the head. Look at the things you are listing. We recognize that some Christians believe they were and are right and justified (be it slavery, homosexuality, the role of women, crusades, Constantine, inquisitions, etc.) - but even you are not buying that. So, my friend, is it merely competing interpretations of a gospel, or a holy man, of life ...........or, on these major issues, are you right and they are simply wrong? Indeed the reality is there are a variety of interpretations about the Bible, but there is a difference between was Mary a virgin or a 'young woman' or the sermon on the mount vs. the sermon on the plain, or was there a Nicodemus, and so on - and whether particular actions (discriminatory, inhuman actions directed at particular people or individuals) can be based on or blamed on Jesus. The former 'interpretations' are fun (for some), intriguing and might have some significance while the latter 'interpretations are deadly and destructive (sometimes literally) and are more than different interpretations or understandings. Again, we can ask: where, specifically, does one find justification and support for such 'interpretations' in the NT gospels - which are really the only works touching on the words and works of Jesus. Original or not, that is what we have and that is what is being 'interpreted.' So, if we place the death of Jesus at 30 CE (give or take a few years given the error in the calendar), the NT gospels are actually 40-65 years after his death. And of course we should allow, as scholars do, for the oral traditions told and practiced in liturgy, the possible existence of Q and the probable existence of the M and L sources - some of which probably trace back to the first generation and were then included in the ongoing understanding and writings of later generations. And, of course there was a human hand (unless you accept traditional notions of revelation/inspiration) and there were other writings, other gospels - some were the gospels of specific communities (Marcion communities for instance). But, as stated previously, some felt that certain of these gospels were not sufficiently apostolic or universal (among the very human criteria for decision) and possibly dangerous. But, again, look at some of those other gosepls. Some were definitely off and 'imaginative' and would not pass the Allison test (above) or Ehrmans's history as probability. So, it was a driver and it is the canon that still exists and remains common in Catholicism and Protestantism. I, for one, love that we have other 'disputed and dismissed' gospels: I am curious and like to see some of what was also in play and see if I agree or disagree with the orthodox 'deciders. Scholars look for multiple attestation of words and actions attributed to Jesus, but I don't remember any great announcement that a number (i.e. multiple) of the 'discarded' gospels independently attested to actions and words of Jesus that would suggest he was not as he is portrayed in the NT canon to the degree that murder, inquisitions, racism and sexism could be based and justified by Jesus himself.
  19. So you might have made $5 in your lifetime - enough for a large coffee :+} However, not really an argument to support a position - like collecting a dollar every time someone says the understandings and action of the racist or sexist- based on their interpretation and understanding of the world or the sexes or the superiority of the white race - is wrong!. That understanding and those actions are, in fact and in truth, simply wrong. So the ones who told you they were wrong are.............right. We have been talking actions that people supposedly track back to the NT canon - on what words or actions of Jesus, presented by the canon, do they base the atrocities that you cited earlier and find, correctly, so offensive and........wrong? Is it really that difficult to make an assessment of whether or not they are wrong in their 'interpretation and understanding' of Jesus? The interpretations and understandings of some people, some of the time or, sadly, all of the time are simply wrong. It If I had a dollar for every mis-interpretation and the laying of evil human actions at the foot of Jesus or God - I would actually own multiple coffee franchises around the world.
  20. They have misinterpreted the gist - which is obvious to those of other faiths, no faith and the Chtistian faith. You have listed the harm done by the interpretations of some - but where is their evidence that their interpretation was correct, on what (the subject is the NT canon ) specific words and actions of the Christ do they base their interpretation?
  21. So it is written, so it is. I accept your stance.
  22. Paul, Apologies for some of the sloppiness of my response. With a hurricane in the air, I neglected to re-read it. Following is a clean version:
  23. Skye, I simply don't see anything as God-steered. There are such problems around the idea that the crucifixion, the planning of the torture and horrible death of one's son, one's child, that it casts God in a light that many, reflecting upon their own parents or being parents, find so despicable that they would never accept this as correct or the God behind it. So too Paul: where is the freedom of man, given by God, if that God usurps that freedom by purposely blinding Paul and forcing his hand? Now, if for Paul, the persecutor of the Christians, something finally dawned on him and he changed - then we have something magnificent: man freely - without prior arrangement - choosing God, even, as Paul did, unto death. And it is not happenstance: God is immanent - present and active in the everyday, ordinary events of human life - in and through creation, especially the human. You read a book, speak to a friend, watch a move, listen to a song and sometimes you realize something, see something for the first time or through the words of another you are caused to look at yourself, see and admit where you were wrong and heeding the words, you change, you become more, you become better. And your friend or others are there, loving you, giving you the encouragement to change (even if neither of you ever puts these words to it). Yet your friend (and the actor, the author, the musician), who 'spoke' to you also needs you, also needs to hear, see and be encouraged, be empowered to change and to live fully. Who owns this word that calls to man, who owns the love that gives man the courage to be, to live? Not us, we all stand in need. One simple reflection: words and love are both gratuitous (gifts given by others) and transcendent (more than: no one owns what they give because they too need to receive it from others). We 'give more' than we have; we 'give more' than we are - we give God. God is the Word that calls man through others; God is the Love given in and by others, giving humanity the courage to Be. God called Paul - but in a way so subtle and in the ordinary events of his life and it might have taken some time but then Paul describes it, perhaps in the only way he can: he is blinded by the light of the Christ; he gets it - finally. This is faith: God's give of self in the ordinary life of man is met by one who, in turns, gives self to God, to Life and becomes the likeness of Life; he becomes Love (and this is incarnation: divinity lives in humanity). Jesus was Fully Human because Divinity lived in him. He did what God was: Love. He was obedient to God- obedience simply means 'what is important to the other, is important to you.' What was important to God was that humanity understand (hear the Word) and have the courage to Be. So too for Jesus: the Word echoed in Jesus and Love lived in him and poured out freely on others; he loved -even unto death. For some, the cross raised high on the hill, becomes the symbol of the Word that calls, the love that empowers until God is All in all.
  24. Paul, I have learned over the years from authors like Ehrman and Dale Allison that the 'gist' is what is most important. Allison writes: "In order for us to find Jesus, our sources must often remember at least the sorts of things he did and the sort of things that he said, including what he said about himself. If the repeating patterns do not catch Jesus, then how can he not forever escape us?" When we read them (gospels), we should think not that Jesus said this or did that but rather: Jesus did things like this, and he said things like that." So in addition to learning not to read the OT literally, I have learned we should not read the NT as if Omarosa were recording Trump :+} So, regardless of the presence or absence of the extra Markan verses, we know, from the sources, somethings about Jesus, and that he died and that his followers believed he had risen to new life in God. All else in literally commentary. The 'validation' is the gist of what we have been given: as Allison said, Jesus did and said things like those presented and remembered in the gospel pictures of him. If I remember correctly, whereas the Sermon on the Mount might have been staged (giving the new law from the mountain unlike Moses who received the law on the mountain) by Matthew, Jesus did say things like the "Blessed are......" statements (and perhaps, again if I remember correctly, some of the actual 'beatitudes' simply not in such an organized setting. This is the 'record' - it is simply not like most modern records. As for alternative voices, we do have some of those but, it remains interesting that if they are at 'extreme odds' with the canon, they would remain suspect (ala Allison, Jesus probably didn't say things like this or do things like that). I know human beings also and it is not just good intentions, we have the gospels, the letters of Paul and other NY writings and we have the work of the best critical biblical scholars and I don't see them relying only on 'best intentions I simply don't have the same concern about 'originals.' Scholars note this, scholars wish we had more and live for a discovery of the original Mark, for example - but their work on what we do have leads them back to the disciples of Jesus. And decades after Jesus' death is amazing - not sure what you mean by "verifying the 'theological' side of these writings with anything that could be original" as the very telling of the stories from the apostles is theological?? It is all theological from the 'get go.' I know and have read numerous critical biblical scholars and I am just not seeing that they share your concern: you seem to be saying it could all be a hoax or a giant misunderstanding, I don't even see Ehrman, the atheist, saying that. There is discussion about this, that to something else and I know Erhman does't buy what is written but he still studies and relies on what is 'there.' When I say it resonates with me, I mean it has meaning for me in my present; but this indicates there is something 'there' that is reliable (ala Allison) that I can examine and decide whether or not it resonates. So, no, I don't buy that there is as misunderstanding to the extent you seem to suggest - nor do the scholars. That should have been past revelation, not part. However, I simply disagree: they were human, they had concerns and intentions but you use words like spin (pejorative) while the writings already existed and had for centuries (and were used in community) and they, ultimately, decided which best presented Jesus. Where is the spin, they weren't doing theology. The councils that spoke of Trinity and the nature of Christ were, but where is the theology, the spin in the agreement of a canon? Was it simply that they said these and not those? Again, I go to Allison: they believed sincerely that these particular writings best presented what Jesus said, did and meant. Just out of curiosity, what are you saying they should have chosen or what the 'true' message of Jesus was? Again, it was not merely a matter of it resonating with them, this was a decision that X, Y & Z were better, more accurate, depictions of Jesus than A, B & C. We have two different issues here and you seem to have locked onto one: resonating in one's present time and greatest accuracy to the past. Ehrman said that 'history is all a matter of greater and lesser probabilities." Plus, have you read any of the non-canonical writings? Therefore, I and I suspect most agree with Allison that the greater probability is that Jesus did and said what is presented in the canon as opposed to what was presented in the other works. In other words, the Synoptics and John, have a greater probability of being historical, i.e. rooted in the actual experience and memory (even with Ehrman's and others work on memories) of his disciples and first followers than other writings. Then, the decision is do these 'speak' to me and have meaning for me in my life. So, bottom line, is that the decision (of the canon) is not merely personal but communal (and the probability of history is with that decision) and thereafter, the decision of its meaningfulness is also communal but ultimately personal. If it is meaningful, then it can be said to be 'good news' to me and a 'revelation' of or an insight into what Life means. It is not mere 'personal feeling'. Not sure about fact being part of revelation but I use the word as interchangeable with insight: as in the meaning of life is revealed, a light switches on, an Aha moment. And, as should be evident, I do not believe in revelation from on high or that the biblical writings were inspired (as traditionally, theistically believed). "So, a determination is made that it is 'right for me' and most serious people would think it is also, 'right' for all: it gets at Truth." Another disconnect, you are talking supposed (and ultimately observable) facts, like the earth being flat, I am talking meaning of life. If one believes, for example with Spong, that in life we should 'love wastefully and be" he believes this is the meaning of existence and how ALL ought to live; he believes it is Truth for ALL. No discovery of a change in factual information will change this. We are talking about very different realities. I meant, as should have been obvious, " I never felt harmed (by Christianity)." I never said Christianity did not do wrong, did not sin either on a macro or a micro level. If I remember you have spoken of what it did 'to you' - it was your story not a recounting of the history of Christianity, only part of the history of Paul. So too, mine was part of the history of me. As to your question: if Christianity is truly understood and lived, there is no possibility of further harm in the world (caused by it). As has been said: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, Christianity has been found difficult and never tried." And then there is Ghandi: " I like your Christ, I don't like Christians - they are so unlike their Christ." (quotes are accurate but not exact). So, the Crusades, the Inquisition, hatred of Jews, hatred of homosexuals, the lesser role of women, and on and on - are not Christian, are not like Christ, are not the image of the Father! You make my point, Christian teaching are not as you say used, they are misused - never understood, never lived in the circumstances under discussion. Again, there is no revelation from on high and they do misunderstand or lack the courage to be. Where does Jesus okay Crusades, Inquisitions, hatred of his own people he came for, hatred for homosexuals, and on and on. Nowhere! Simply nowhere. I have never really liked the OT, especially since Christians believe in a new covenant - but that's me. Too many Christians rely on the OT over their Jesus. There is the truth of Jesus, the truth of most of the great religious figures of history and then there is the little, scared truths of people that are to support nee encourage all the atrocities that you mentioned. Do yu really question which is truth: their way of the way of God/Love? I side with the latter. Your ultimate conclusion seems to be that there is no Truth or we can't know it and live it. Again, I simply disagree and I refer you back to Wonder Bread.
  25. I get that Joseph and, while a Christian, I am not a practicing Catholic (liturgy, sacraments, authorities, etc.). I taught in Catholic schools for 12 years and met great and not so great people; I went to Catholic schools from kindergarten through grad school and met the best they had to offer and some that needed work - thankfully I met very few jackasses. The authorities get in their own way and many are too concerned with protecting the faith - rather than presenting and explaining. I am not crazy about organizations either but, as I have met good men and women in the Church in my life, I have also read of others (including some of their works) in earlier ages and, my experience is that many, many people, even in organizations, try to do what is best - even at the cost of 'normal' lives, injury and death. Therefore, I allow that many have done that in the past and in the Church. I agree that some leaders do have their own agenda - but, in my experience, not all, not even many. Did some of the Church Fathers have an agenda (did Constantine)? I'm sure they did but did all, did most, did many? We don't know but, as in all walks of life, it was probably a mixed bag. But I allow that, as mentioned before, for some (many?), this was of utmost importance to them because they took seriously their responsibilities - for the community of Christ to survive and thrive in regard to Judaism and other (what they believed to be) harmful versions of Christ. What is important to me is if what is in the canon, what comes from the councils - perhaps after a re-telling or interpretation in light of a 21st C world view and in a language that meets people in their everyday lives - 'reveals' (presents) the meaning of life and how we ought to live. If that happens, then, it is Good News and my religious ancestors, some in spite of themselves, has done their job. In addition, we now have the means to discover some of the 'other' Christianities that might give us further insight and appreciation into God, Life, man.