Saturday, April 09, 2005

The recent death of the Pope has me thinking about some things. As some of you may know, my father was an Episcopal priest, a very thoughtful and spiritual man. As a result, I was raised with a large amount of religious material in the house, (Including the Book of Mormon, much to the surprise of two LDS lads who came calling a few weeks ago. I think they were surprised that a godless heathen like myself was familiar with it) which has led to a lifelong fascination with religions and religious movements. I no longer am a practicing Christian (For the sake of convenience, and because it's the closest fit with my personal beliefs and attitudes, I identify myself as a Buddhist. But I'm not a very good Buddhist, I'm afraid.), but I'm still fascinated by the history of both the Church and early Christianity.

I found this fascinating site that basically proposes that the trigger that led to Jesus being crucified was the incident in the Temple complex. It's not too long. Maybe about 4 or 5 pages worth of material. It's worth the read.

On a related note, when I was around 17 I read this book, The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity, by Thomas Sheehan. It had a profound and deep influence upon my religious and spiritual development. As it seems to be out of print, I was ecstatic when I finally found an online version here. Also well worth the read. Of particular note is this passage, from the beginning of chapter II:

"Soon after Jesus died, something dramatic happened to his reputation: His followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead and was alive with his heavenly Father. This enhancement of Jesus' reputation is a historical fact, observable by anyone who studies the relevant documents.

But according to Christians, something dramatic happened not just to Jesus' reputation but above all to Jesus himself. They believe he actually was raised from the dead, was taken into heaven, and is now reigning there as the equal of God the Father. These, however, are not observable historical facts but claims of faith.

The purpose of this central part of our study is to distinguish between the facts of history and the claims of faith, between what certainly happened to Jesus' reputation after he died and what allegedly happened to Jesus himself. There is no doubt that Christianity formally began with the disciples' claim that Jesus had been rescued from death. Our question, however, is what that claim meant in the early church and what historical experiences lay behind it. (When speaking of resurrection, the New Testament writers generally use the passive construction "Jesus was raised [by God]"--in Greek êgerthê or egêgertai--rather than the active-voice "Jesus rose" [anestê]. In what follows I use the word "resurrection" in the New Testament's passive sense: Jesus' "being-raised" by God.[1])"

In addition, if I were going to make an online syllabus of Books on Christianity that Peter Thinks You Should Read, it would have to include Who Wrote The Gospels, by Randall Helms, From Jesus to Christ, the Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus, by Paula Fredriksen, and finally Liberating the Gospels, Reading the Bible With Jewish Eyes, by John Shelby Spong. Obviously, most of these books are of a rather skeptical perspective. They're definitely not apologetics, so if that would disturb your worldview, I'd definitely not look them up.

That concludes the bulk of our symposium for today. Tomorrow, perhaps some words about Nagarjuna and Padmasambhava, and some related topics.

Oh yeah, and it's a miracle. My delay pedal seems to have come back to life, all on its own.


Blogger Ken said...

You're obviously meant to do wonderous things with your petal. God be praised!!!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

I meant to say pedal...crappy broken finger...

8:53 AM  
Blogger Michael "VendorX" Heaney said...

Jesus did it...

5:49 PM  
Blogger munkee girl said...

Hey Ken, laugh-a while you can, monkey boy...cause sooner or later, you'll have a chance to try out that sarcasm on God face to face. Booyah.

11:14 AM  
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