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JosephM

True Gospel message? (enlightenment from one progressive Christian perspective)

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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.' 

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Thormas,

Really short, cos this is starting to get a little boring.  Sorry, I don't mean to sound rude - more an observation that it looks like we're repeating stuff and not adding much new to the conversation.

By 'your version' I simply meant the view of Jesus form the Gospels that you find compelling.  This is different in a myriad of ways to other people's versions and interpretations.  History shows us that people have viewed Jesus in all sorts of different lenses as a result of the Gospels (and often the remainder of the NT) among other things like societal and cultural influences of their day.

Yes, we can be wrong.  The authors that wrote long after Jesus was gone could also have things wrong.  The scribes and copyists after them could also have things wrong.  You don't seem to agree that different people do indeed interpret Jesus differently with any justification for themselves  You say they are getting it wrong - I say they have a different interpretation that can be justified via scripture and I think Christians have done throughout history.

No harm in harmonizing the birth narrative of Jesus?  Maybe in your view but there is a significant change to the nature of Jesus (and what one might preach or pursue) if one believes Jesus was born of a virgin from the seed of God (as an external heavenly being) to if one who sees Jesus as completely human born from a mother who had sex with a man.

My only concern about there being no originals is that we are talking about something that is not original, not necessarily accurate in everything it says, that has had a huge influence over human behavior throughout history (often negative) and that people will argue till the cows come home, must be interpreted a certain way (whilst often these arguments differ).  You yourself are arguing the Gospels MUST be interpreted a certain way.  Whilst your view may be harmless enough, others who insist things should be viewed differently in many circumstances can be dangerous.  You simply say "they are wrong".  Well, that didn't help the many millions of people who have suffered throughout history.  And to think this harm can occur simply because a verse or verses that one Gospel author writes, or a scribes later included or amended, is mistakenly interpreted.

I really don't have the time to document the multitude of legal cases where Christians have harmed abortion clinics in the name of Jesus or committed other acts of harm because the Gospels and Jesus 'speak to them' a certain way..  If you think that hasn't happened, so be it.  Similarly, if you think Popes blessing Christian knights in the name of Jesus to carry out the Crusades was simply based on their misunderstanding of Jesus, so be it.  But to acknowledge that stories in the Gospels are confusing and we're unsure what they mean (the temple, the fig tree, etc) but to then go on and say that Jesus can only be interpreted one way, seems staggering to me.  I'd even go further and questions elements of say the Beatitudes (what does the meek will inherit the earth mean? - I'm raising that rhetorically) have been interpreted differently buy different Christians who all feel they are right in their views.  But somehow it seems you can harmonise it all together to present this 'one, true' understanding of Jesus and those who have seen it another way are simply wrong.

In any event, we are just going around in circles.  My 'issues' with the Gospels are that whilst people interpret them for themselves and do no harm, for anybody to say that they are 100% about the person of Jesus and his 'gist' is dangerous, as we have seen throughout time.  Have the last word on this if you would like, but I think I'm finished on this topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 :+}

 

Edited by thormas

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I dislike these long, multi-part posts.  Better to discuss a single point at a time.

The non-existence of autographs of the Gospels are only important to hyper-fundamentalists, of which we have exactly zero.  We have found many newer and better copies of the Gospels  We have a tremendously greater knowledge of Koine Greek, and the translations continue to improve.  

History and archaeology have supplied much more context, and those of us who who believe in divine inspiration also tend to believe in progressive revelation.  Interpretations grow and change along with society, general knowledge and in line with tradition.

And please read the text before commenting.  Jesus did NOT whip any moneychangers.  Look in the book and read closely.

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45 minutes ago, Burl said:

The non-existence of autographs of the Gospels are only important to hyper-fundamentalists, of which we have exactly zero.  We have found many newer and better copies of the Gospels  We have a tremendously greater knowledge of Koine Greek, and the translations continue to improve.  

History and archaeology have supplied much more context, and those of us who who believe in divine inspiration also tend to believe in progressive revelation.  Interpretations grow and change along with society, general knowledge and in line with tradition.

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.'

 

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57 minutes ago, Burl said:

And please read the text before commenting.  Jesus did NOT whip any money changers.  Look in the book and read closely.

Are you saying Jesus didn't use a whip, or are you possible reading my comment with a different lense than I wrote it with?  It's okay if the latter is the case, I know interpretation is often a very personal thing and not necessarily accurate of what the writer is saying.

I said Jesus 'took to' the money changers with a whip.  The bible says Jesus made a whip of cords and drove all of them out of the temple.  In my culture 'taking to' something means doing something (e.g. "gee, he 'took to' that task" - that is to say he embraced that task with vigor).  In my case, I believe Jesus, using a whip, took to the task of driving the moneychangers from the temple with vigor.  Am I wrong to think this or are you saying Jesus didn't use a whip?

Did Jesus actually hit a money changer?  Maybe he did, maybe he didn't.  But because of the vagaries of interpreting Jesus in the NT and the minutiae that some focus on when discussing large issues such as the 'gist' of Jesus, I do try to pick my words carefully concerning what Jesus is attributed to have said or done.  Hence why I did not explicitly say that Jesus hit anyone with the whip he was using to drive the money changers from the temple.

I hope this clarifies your apparent misunderstanding (unless you're saying Jesus didn't use a whip - I'm not aware of any controversy between scholars around such).

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

The non-existence of autographs of the Gospels are only important to hyper-fundamentalists, of which we have exactly zero.  We have found many newer and better copies of the Gospels  We have a tremendously greater knowledge of Koine Greek, and the translations continue to improve.  

Only important to hyper-fundamentalists?  Not actually correct (but I suspect you're just trying to be insulting?).  I'm an not a hyper-fundamentalist but someone who likes to consider the accuracy of the copies of the NT that we have today, viewing them against what we know of history and culture.  Particularly against the backdrop of so many quoting from these copies as the indisputable truth of what Jesus said or did.  

Which 'newer' copies of the Gospels are you referring to Burl?  Actually, to save time maybe you could just cite what you think the dating of each of the copies of the Gospel books is estimated to be?  Not what period in time they are referring to, but what the actual age you understand the oldest, whole, existing copy of each Gospel book to be please.

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

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.'

 

 

2 hours ago, thormas said:

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.'

 

K

 

1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Are you saying Jesus didn't use a whip, or are you possible reading my comment with a different lense than I wrote it with?  It's okay if the latter is the case, I know interpretation is often a very personal thing and not necessarily accurate of what the writer is saying.

I said Jesus 'took to' the money changers with a whip.  The bible says Jesus made a whip of cords and drove all of them out of the temple.  In my culture 'taking to' something means doing something (e.g. "gee, he 'took to' that task" - that is to say he embraced that task with vigor).  In my case, I believe Jesus, using a whip, took to the task of driving the moneychangers from the temple with vigor.  Am I wrong to think this or are you saying Jesus didn't use a whip?

Did Jesus actually hit a money changer?  Maybe he did, maybe he didn't.  But because of the vagaries of interpreting Jesus in the NT and the minutiae that some focus on when discussing large issues such as the 'gist' of Jesus, I do try to pick my words carefully concerning what Jesus is attributed to have said or done.  Hence why I did not explicitly say that Jesus hit anyone with the whip he was using to drive the money changers from the temple.

I hope this clarifies your apparent misunderstanding (unless you're saying Jesus didn't use a whip - I'm not aware of any controversy between scholars around such).

Jesus took a bundle of cords and whipped the animals, not the moneychangers.

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

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.'

 

By inerrant I assume you are referring to the Chicago Statement?   The Bible never claims inerrancy, so I don't pay much attention to that type of Darbyist dogma. 

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6 hours ago, Burl said:

Jesus took a bundle of cords and whipped the animals, not the moneychangers.

Please read the text - it never says Jesus whipped the animals.

John 2 (NRSV version):

14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

Where does the text say Jesus hit the animals with the whip?

But if we are going to play semantics, what about the grammar of the first two sentences?  Sentence two does not properly follow on from sentence one.  In sentence one it says Jesus found people selling three types of animals but in the second sentence it says he drove them 'both' out (referring to sheep and cattle).  It doesn't cover off the doves or the people.  Most people would say that this doesn't read correctly.  I'm guessing it has been lost in translation or possibly amended since it was originally written.

 

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

By inerrant I assume you are referring to the Chicago Statement?   The Bible never claims inerrancy, so I don't pay much attention to that type of Darbyist dogma. 

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? 

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Please read the text - it never says Jesus whipped the animals.

John 2 (NRSV version):

14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

Where does the text say Jesus hit the animals with the whip?

But if we are going to play semantics, what about the grammar of the first two sentences?  Sentence two does not properly follow on from sentence one.  In sentence one it says Jesus found people selling three types of animals but in the second sentence it says he drove them 'both' out (referring to sheep and cattle).  It doesn't cover off the doves or the people.  Most people would say that this doesn't read write.  I'm guessing it has been lost in translation and since it was originally written.

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 :+}

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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."

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3 hours ago, thormas said:

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."

Oops, sorry, didn't realise Bart was there at the time. :)

But seriously, I think Bart would even say this is his best guess and not something you should take to the bank. 

But irrespective of its actual significance in its day, it was clearly a story that some early Christians considered important enough to repeat (or create).  Why?  Is it accurately copied?  Has anything been removed from this seemingly otherwise insignificant occurrence which otherwise wouldn't seem to warrant the light of day in a book about Jesus' life? 

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4 hours ago, thormas said:

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 :+}

As I mention to Burl, the incident doesn't seem to flow well and possibly a verse or two may have been deleted.  Maybe the original passage read like this:
"In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, firstly the money changers and then both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables"...or something like that.  Later scribes may have redacted the bit about Jesus driving out the money changers with a whip because it didn't suit their version of Jesus of the day (some 150+ years after Jesus) that he was the 'Prince of Peace'.

Now none of this is scholarly work naturally, but just my humble opinion that in the light of direct evidence that some of the Gospels have been tampered with (e.g. the two different endings to Mark) is it totally beyond the realm of all possibilities that original stories such as this one may have in some way been tampered with during the following one hundred+ years between when they were first written (themselves several decades after the event and not by eye witnesses) and the copies we have ended up with today?  Is there any significant difference between a Jesus who strikes the money changers with a whip and the Jesus who doesn't?

So apart from being a hyper-fundamentalist apparently, the main reason I think this sort of stuff is relevant or of interest is because much of Christianity says "You must believe this about Jesus because the bible said it and this is how it shall be interpreted".  Many Christians are not as 'relaxed' about the Gospels capturing the general 'gist' about Jesus but are rather adamant that every verse and story must be interpreted a certain way.  I would suggest that throughout human history we have seen good and bad associated with this.  My hangup is simply that the NT and the Gospels are not necessarily accurate on all things Jesus.  Personal interpretation is fine and natural.  What I don't like is when that personal interpretation becomes the 'only' way people must interpret it and if they don't they are belittled or called names or ostracized (not saying you're doing that, but many have, and do).

I understand you and others may not consider these issues to in anyway affect an accurate reflection of true Christianity, the true 'gist' of Jesus' life and message, as was embraced by the early Christian community in the years following the death of Jesus.  I don't share that confidence but I think we've done that bit to death here.

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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.

9 hours ago, PaulS said:

I understand you and others may not consider these issues to in anyway affect an accurate reflection of true Christianity, the true 'gist' of Jesus' life and message, as was embraced by the early Christian community in the years following the death of Jesus.  I don't share that confidence but I think we've done that bit to death here.

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. 

Edited by thormas

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13 hours ago, PaulS said:

As I mention to Burl, the incident doesn't seem to flow well and possibly a verse or two may have been deleted.  Maybe the original passage read like this:
"In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, firstly the money changers and then both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables"...or something like that.  Later scribes may have redacted the bit about Jesus driving out the money changers with a whip because it didn't suit their version of Jesus of the day (some 150+ years after Jesus) that he was the 'Prince of Peace'.

Now none of this is scholarly work naturally, but just my humble opinion that in the light of direct evidence that some of the Gospels have been tampered with (e.g. the two different endings to Mark) is it totally beyond the realm of all possibilities that original stories such as this one may have in some way been tampered with during the following one hundred+ years between when they were first written (themselves several decades after the event and not by eye witnesses) and the copies we have ended up with today?  Is there any significant difference between a Jesus who strikes the money changers with a whip and the Jesus who doesn't?

So apart from being a hyper-fundamentalist apparently, the main reason I think this sort of stuff is relevant or of interest is because much of Christianity says "You must believe this about Jesus because the bible said it and this is how it shall be interpreted".  Many Christians are not as 'relaxed' about the Gospels capturing the general 'gist' about Jesus but are rather adamant that every verse and story must be interpreted a certain way.  I would suggest that throughout human history we have seen good and bad associated with this.  My hangup is simply that the NT and the Gospels are not necessarily accurate on all things Jesus.  Personal interpretation is fine and natural.  What I don't like is when that personal interpretation becomes the 'only' way people must interpret it and if they don't they are belittled or called names or ostracized (not saying you're doing that, but many have, and do).

I understand you and others may not consider these issues to in anyway affect an accurate reflection of true Christianity, the true 'gist' of Jesus' life and message, as was embraced by the early Christian community in the years following the death of Jesus.  I don't share that confidence but I think we've done that bit to death here.

The Christian opinion until the 1800's has always been that the Bible must be read as a Divine symbolic and poetic narrative.  Reading the Bible 'literally' meant reading it as literature, and taken along with with the oral history, tradition, reason and experience.  

A 19c lay preacher named Darby was the guy who taught the Bible must be interpreted strictly as inerrant fact.  He was rejected by Christian Europe and finally found succor on the American frontier.  Mix a wannabe preacher with no training and a bunch of hardscrabble pioneers in a dangerous and unforgiving land and you get inerrancy.  This inerrancy concept simply did not exist earlier.

 

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

The Christian opinion until the 1800's has always been that the Bible must be read as a Divine symbolic and poetic narrative.  Reading the Bible 'literally' meant reading it as literature, and taken along with with the oral history, tradition, reason and experience.  

A 19c lay preacher named Darby was the guy who taught the Bible must be interpreted strictly as inerrant fact.  He was rejected by Christian Europe and finally found succor on the American frontier.  Mix a wannabe preacher with no training and a bunch of hardscrabble pioneers in a dangerous and unforgiving land and you get inerrancy.  This inerrancy concept simply did not exist earlier.

 

I wasn't fully aware of the details, never concentrated on it. Is there a source/book you can recommend?

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

I wasn't fully aware of the details, never concentrated on it. Is there a source/book you can recommend?

Start with Wikipedia on Darby.  Lots of YouTube stuff on him too.  Darby, Scofield, Miller and that thread is where inerrancy, dispensationism, rapture theology and the other wierd ideas started.  Like all cults they centered around a single person, usually one with a self-translated Bible to support their eccentric ideas.

 As for the literary interpretations of the Bible in Christianity absolutely everything written before the Protestant Reformation will serve.

A really great, short book on the pioneer American circuit rider is The Autobiography of Peter Cartwright.  I used to work it into my classes on Methodism whenever possible.

 

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8 hours ago, thormas said:

.... then again, not even all the specifics of history are necessarily accurate.

I would suggest the specifics of history indeed do need to be necessarily accurate, otherwise they are not history but interpretation, story telling, opinion, etc.

The 'specifics' that are recounted after an event and then regarded by some or all as history is where the breakdown between actual history (fact) and the presented version of history occur.  In fact, if history is being incorrectly reported then I doubt you could call that information even 'specifics'.

There can be only one version of history, otherwise its simply not history.

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33 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I would suggest the specifics of history indeed do need to be necessarily accurate, otherwise they are not history but interpretation, story telling, opinion, etc.

The 'specifics' that are recounted after an event and then regarded by some or all as history is where the breakdown between actual history (fact) and the presented version of history occur.  In fact, if history is being incorrectly reported then I doubt you could call that information even 'specifics'.

There can be only one version of history, otherwise its simply not history.

History is written by the victors. it is a version of what occurred at a particular time, in a particular place, involving particular people. 

 

Edited by thormas

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4 hours ago, Burl said:

 

4 hours ago, Burl said:

The Christian opinion until the 1800's has always been that the Bible must be read as a Divine symbolic and poetic narrative.  Reading the Bible 'literally' meant reading it as literature, and taken along with with the oral history, tradition, reason and experience.  

A 19c lay preacher named Darby was the guy who taught the Bible must be interpreted strictly as inerrant fact.  He was rejected by Christian Europe and finally found succor on the American frontier.  Mix a wannabe preacher with no training and a bunch of hardscrabble pioneers in a dangerous and unforgiving land and you get inerrancy.  This inerrancy concept simply did not exist earlier.

 

I think it is fair to say that many Christians throughout history, well before Darby, took the words of the bible to be historical proof on many things which today we can categorically determine did not occur or did not exist.  It would seem the Jews and Christians of Jesus' day believed the OT accounts of Moses, King David, Solomon etc - characters all who mainstream biblical scholarship and historians today discount as myth and storytelling.  Perhaps Darby introduced a more savage form of inerrancy and reading of the bible literally, but I think history demonstrates many shades of this before Darby.

And many Christians well before Darby have told others through oral history, tradition, reason and experience, what Jesus is, what he means, what he did etc, all based on writings that did make it to the cannon as being the ONLY documents worth including.  

But also, reading the bible meant nothing to Christians for the first 300 or so years of their existence, simply because there wasn't one!  So who knows what developed through oral tradition and eventually into somebody's writings representing Jesus - ever hear of the game Telephone?

The oldest fragment we have of ANYTHING written about Jesus is a cigarette pack size fragment of John.  Scholars date that fragment to about 125-175CE.  So the earliest known written account of anything to do with Jesus (in this case a fragment that has parts of verses 31–33 and parts from verses 37–38, all chapter 18) is dated some 100-150 years after Jesus even existed.

Subsequently, we simply cannot say how accurate the text is to events and actions of Jesus it portrays.  Maybe it's biased, maybe it misses other relevant information that could affect how Christians understand Jesus.  We simply don't know.  The best we can say is that we have to trust the generations of Christians before this was written to have accurately portrayed information about Jesus.  I think most people would see the huge room for errors here (and that's before we even start to consider the reality where this fragment came from and what the final product was when we see the first complete manuscript of John).  Interpret Jesus how you want - all I am saying is that for anybody to say that the Gospels are an accurate rendering of the important bits about Jesus, is to deny the sensible likelihood that what has been presented has a bias which could be errant.

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7 minutes ago, thormas said:

As with the the Christian Testament, history is written by the victors. 

I bring you back to the history of the Crusades and the versions of the Christians, the Muslims, the Jews and the Greek Christians - it is history, written from different perspectives. There are different versions of the past.

Which is exactly what I am trying to say about the authors of the Gospels! 

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

Start with Wikipedia on Darby.  Lots of YouTube stuff on him too.  Darby, Scofield, Miller and that thread is where inerrancy, dispensationism, rapture theology and the other wierd ideas started.  Like all cults they centered around a single person, usually one with a self-translated Bible to support their eccentric ideas.

 As for the literary interpretations of the Bible in Christianity absolutely everything written before the Protestant Reformation will serve.

A really great, short book on the pioneer American circuit rider is The Autobiography of Peter Cartwright.  I used to work it into my classes on Methodism whenever possible.

 

I thought of Wiki andI will check on YouTube. And I appreciate the book recommendation.

 

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3 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Which is exactly what I am trying to say about the authors of the Gospels! 

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. 

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