What's your take on the 2nd commandment?

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Namaste Jesus, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Yes, he does. He changed mine.

    When I read the verse "Love your enemies" for the first time... I was baffled.

    Being raised in a highly secular country where only about 1% of the population is counted as Christians, and as an individual who was totally nonchalant and uninterested in religions (because I equated them with superstitions), I was unfamiliar with this notion... I thought my love should be reserved only for the people who'd love me, or are good to me, not for someone who'd harm me...

    And Jesus went on to say in Luke 6 (NIV);

    27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
    32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
    35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


    "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?"

    I was shocked... I had never thought of it this way...

    My initial honest response was, “what the heck!?” and a few seconds later… “WOW”... I thought the idea was foreign to me at first, but I realized something deep down in me saying, “this is right.” And I was like, OMG, I gotta find out about anyone who is capable of saying something like this... especially 2,000 years ago, when the tribal mentality was so strong in the society...


    "If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them."

    I didn't understand this truly until I saw Les Misérables. In the scene where Jean Valjean was caught by local police and brought back to the priest whom he stole silver from, the priest says to the police that Valjean didn't steal it, but he gave it to him. And the priest offered Valjean even more silver to take... and the priest brought Valjean back to God by doing exactly what Jesus said...


    Before reading the Bible, I was thinking myself as, you know, a pretty good person... but as I read more of the teachings of Jesus, I realized many of my shortcomings that I wasn't able to see before...

    I still fail constantly in meeting God's High Standard -- it is so darn high for someone like me who is not yet pure or strong enough to live a more godly life -- but at least I now know which direction I should be headed. My life had been just fine, but I never really had a sense of direction (and I didn't even know that!). I think I now understand what 'calling' means -- Jane, something you also experienced in the summer of 1987 --.

    Jesus opened my eyes.

    It would not be an overstatement if I said that my decision of becoming a follower of Jesus was made solely by Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36.

    Tad
     
  2. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    I cannot help but wonder if this might be the reason that Luke concocts this story. Concocts . . . or perhaps records what some other storyteller tells him.
    The tale is appealing because, despite Jesus suffering physical and emotional agonies up on his cross, he is nonetheless concerned for those around him.
    "It is the sort of thing Jesus would do," so the story is believed as fact.

    Jane, I think you assumed my beliefs wrong. I'm not a typical Christian (although I don't know who should be called a 'typical' Christian), many conservative Christians would say I'm not even a Christian (since I'm not sure about the Trinity), I don't believe any sayings of Jesus as 'facts'. I believe them as my faith, that it's 'to me' very likely Jesus had said most of them and I draw inspiration for God from them. The only things I believe as facts are that Jesus existed, and was crucified.

    Especially his sayings during his execution, I share the doubt with you that anything Jesus said was audible to spectators. Yes, the author of Luke may have concocted some of them, but you have no proof that he did. Another theory is that his executioners stayed close enough to hear Jesus speak during the event, so maybe they shared what they heard to others later on (some may have converted to Christianity, who knows?), and it has spread through word of mouth, then the early century Christians collected them and wrote them down.


    "Same with the case, Namaste Jesus and Tadashi, of the "two thieves" tale:
    (Sure. Must have been plenty of thieves caught at crowded festival-times like Passover.)"

    I didn't say anything about the thieves. I only referred to the executioners. FWIW, I'm aware of the view the Romans back then didn't crucify common thieves. I used to debate with atheists on other forums, that's one of their precious pieces of data to discredit the Gospel with. Among other things, I don't take the good-thief/bad-thief episode that seriously, but it's a beautiful anecdote to attribute to Jesus (yes, something we can imagine Jesus might've said) where many draw inspiration from. Would it really matter if they were 'technically' bandits or thieves? Isn't the point being one of the convicted criminals recognized Jesus as the son of God and repented? Anyhow, much of what you stated, I already have gotten it from Bart Ehrman's (my favorite skeptic) books and his and other skeptics' debates.

    Even as for Luke 23:34, there's an argument that he didn't say it on the cross, and according to Ehrman and Leon Morris (*see the quote below), whom Jesus prayed for weren't really the Roman executioners (who had practically no choice but to do their job, eh?), but for the Jewish authority who conspired for him to be killed. Also, there's an argument that Jesus asking forgiveness for them didn't sit well with 'some' Christians who held strong grudges against the Jews. Some of them didn't like the saying, so may have dropped it on purpose. (OMG! What a thing to do to a 'holy book'! :eek:)

    Yes, as you pointed out, there are numbers of historical arguments about the events (not just miracles) in the Gospels not possibly being true. If I were to bet, my money is on Jesus not being born in Bethlehem. (oh, please Thomas, don't get mad...) But you know what, none of those (logical problems and factual contradictions) affect my faith in the end. As I've said a few times in this forum, I'm adamantly against biblical inerrancy to begin with.

    What I pay my serious attention to is the fact (yes, it is a 'fact') that people couldn't stop talking about Jesus even after he encountered such a miserable end. In most people's eyes, he fell off of the pedestal of an admired teacher/prophet and became a loser(captured and suffered a death in a most humiliating way, there's nothing divine about that, he showed no divine power to save himself, heck, most of his disciples fled...). He bears nowhere near the image of Messiah (like King David) people envisioned and longed for, so why on earth they still kept talking about him...?

    I wholeheartedly agree with you when you said:

    When he dies, the changes he wrought in people's lives and within their character . . . does not die with him.
    Whether or not Jesus physically rose from the dead, the impact he has on the life of each person he has encountered . . . lives on, virtually undiminished.

    Aside from the resurrection possibly being true or not, Jesus shook people's hearts in the way no one else ever did... He causes people's conscience to spark... still today. In this sense, he is the Savior to many, and yes, to me too.

    I don't fixate that much on which ones of the sayings are truly his. We have no way of knowing that for certain. But if someone had said them, it is most likely Jesus, if not then someone who succeeded his spirit (Jesus lives in him), so it really doesn't matter to me which. This is where my faith comes in.

    I don't analyze the Gospels narratives to solidify my faith. I read them more to visualize myself being in the presence of Jesus, to feel Jesus and his faithful followers closer, to bond with their spirituality. It is more to me an emotional practice than intellectual one. And I don't think there's anything wrong about being emotional. Though we often use the term 'being emotional' as equivalent to 'being irrational', it's not always the case. If we completely lose our emotions, I think we're 'done' as a human being. In the end, I don't need the Gospels to be all factual to believe in Jesus. It's not one's head (intellectuality) that can draw one closer to God, but one's heart.


    Tad
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Well I beg to differ. If you're being technical, then according to mindset of the day, the offence is against the Father, not the Son, as the Son is in service of the Father, and going about the Father's business.

    I think the technical discussion locates the exchange in a sociological context, but can't really shed any light on its spiritual or eschatalogical implication.

    Read against the backdrop of Scripture, I would suggest that if He asked His Dad to forgive them, He had already done so Himself.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    The scholarly opinion is that it was left out because the fall of Jerusalem seemed to indicate that God had not forgiven the Jews but rather chose to punish them instead ...

    Well, possibly ... or possibly not.

    The thing I question here is the approach to the text. We're making large assumptions here, dismissing elements of the text for the flimsiest of reasons.

    Actually, I would say it accords with Luke's overall theology. And there is no reason to suppose Jesus never said it.

    Luke gospel is 'the gospel of social justice' — in it, Christ (displaying a trait common to all the gospels) does the right thing. Not by man, but by God.

    Although the Passion is widely regarded in some scholarly circles as a martyrdom, Luke's theology of the Passion emphasises the salvific power of Jesus, identifying Him as the 'suffering servant' of Isaiah 53. At the commencement Luke contrasts between Jesus' fidelity to His mission and the disciples' lethargy and misunderstanding.

    Above all, Luke places the Passion as Jesus, innocent among sinners, praying for their forgiveness, famously at v34: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Manuscripts omit this prayer, which is unique to Luke. But the internal evidence weighs heavily for its authenticity. The language, and the theology behind it, is typically Lucan. His crucifixion narrative is arranged around Jesus' sayings. The opinion is that Luke had Mark and his own source materials, and construed his narrative around the sayings to drive home the point. That Christ died for the salvation of all.

    Luke's narrative takes Jesus down a desolate road. First he is confronted by the bitter irony and rejection of the Elders of Israel, and the pragmatism of the Roman authorities (Pilate's 'what is truth?' John 18:38). He is mocked by the priesthood, the Romans, the mob, the executioners, and lastly by a common criminal set to hang alongside Him.

    Then everything turns! The other robber rebukes those who mock, repents of his sin and in the next moment is promised a place this day in Paradise (v43). In terms of the narrative, we move from this exchange, in the sixth hour, to the ninth, and Jesus' surrender of his soul (pneuma) to God (v46).

    At that moment, the veil of the temple is rent asunder ... Jesus dies ... and now we have a succession of repentance: the centurion (v47), the multitude (v48), His own disciples (v49) and even — by proxy — the Sanhedrin, in the person of Joseph of Arimathea (v50).

    If that's how you see it, then I can only assume you've missed the point of the Gospel altogther.

    And the idea of 'concoction', I'm afraid, to my mind just echoes the way in which people glibly dismiss that which doesn't fit their assumptions. No scholar, I think, would back you on that line of thought. Luke is an intellectual heavyweight, a rarified soul, and an artist ... that's like asking why Shakespeare or Dostoevsky 'concocted' their characters.
     
  5. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    That is a tremendously shallow interpretation, if I may say so.

    The internal evidence of the Gospel would suggest otherwise. I don't know where you got this impression. I'm afraid I find their rest of your description of Mark bears little resemblance to the scholarship on the matter.

     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Not really. For what God does is impossible to man. Jesus would not set His followers an impossible task.

    What He does do is continually refer the seeker to two things:
    1: God alone is Real.
    2: You are helpless and can do nothing without God.

    Does He? Or does the scribe?

    You're mythologising now ...

    Hmmm ... that timeframe tells me a lot.

    Is this based on anything other than your image of Jesus?

    Where do we meet this amazing person? In Scripture.

    Where else?

    Nowhere.

    (Proviso: I would of course also say the Sacraments, but I think that's all a bit too esoteric for this discussion.)

    But lots of people do that. I've known a few who's said something that's altered my perceptions. Gabriel Garcia Marquez died quite recently, and I can't begin to tell you what effect "Love in the Time of Cholera" had on me.

    Is in the Living Word, if you were only open to them, if you could only for a moment realise that sacra doctrina will not reveal itself by informed critique, all you'll see is ink on a page and all you wonder about is who wrote what and when and where and why ... and then on to who else might have written and what else they may have written and ... and in the end you've lost sight of the central figure of the story altogether.

    It's the problem every critic is aware of: that if one forensically examines every minute detail of a human body, in the end you lose sight of the body as such, the person ... and even if every forensic question was answered, you'd never be able to reanimate the body ... that's the tragic folly and the danger of such a pursuit.

    And you do realise the Jesus you speak of is, I would say, an idol? It's not Him as such, how can it be, you've discounted His words and deeds as fictions ... the person you present seems more like some charismatic super-psychoanalyst.

    In terms of the origin of this thread, I'd say the Jesus you present is typically an idol of post-modern projection.
     
  7. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Hello Tad and Thomas,

    I was really only trying to stress two things; that Jesus worked through his father and that one must ask for forgiveness in order to receive it. You both make very good points however. Definitely something worth considering.
     
  8. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Gospel of Luke:
    literary-critical analysis versus forensic analysis.


    Hi Thomas.

    It doesn't take much to get you all in a tizzy, does it?

    You know how, when you are sitting around with friends, you say something just a little off-the-wall in order to wake up a dying conversation?
    That was pretty much the intention of my last two posts on this thread, #37 and #38.
    Just some off-the-cuff observations (which I then elaborated upon - perhaps over-elaborated).
    I also wanted to get to know Tadashi and Namaste Jesus a bit better. (Their unconventional path to Christianity interests me.) Wanted to see how they would respond, my intention being to further the discussion - perhaps deepen it. Which I think I accomplished.

    I have virtually no personal stake in whether my remarks are historically right or wrong in posts #37 (two thieves) and #38 ("Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do"). Show me good evidence supporting a contrary view, and next time I bring up these subjects I will instead be arguing from this contrary position. Not chained to my position, there.
    (Post #36 - Jesus person-to-person - though, I do have a personal stake in. Big time! I will discuss your negative response to that in a future post.)

    But you have said some very appealing things about Luke's gospel in response to my "throwaway" remarks:

    He is mocked by the priesthood, the Romans, the mob, the executioners, and lastly by a common criminal set to hang alongside Him.

    Then everything turns! The other robber rebukes those who mock, repents of his sin and in the next moment is promised a place this day in Paradise (v43). In terms of the narrative, we move from this exchange, in the sixth hour, to the ninth, and Jesus' surrender of his soul (pneuma) to God (v46).

    At that moment, the veil of the temple is rent asunder ... Jesus dies ... and now we have a succession of repentance: the centurion (v47), the multitude (v48), His own disciples (v49) and even — by proxy — the Sanhedrin, in the person of Joseph of Arimathea (v50).

    Luke was likely a Gentile, not a Jewish-Christian, Greek his first language. And yes, he uses his language with considerable skill. Some scholars liken the combined "Gospel of Luke / Acts of the Apostles" to the artistic prose "romance" which was a popular form of entertainment in Roman times, though few examples survive - Luke's masterful opus being one of the few. Thematically, Luke's work runs along similar (plot and theme) lines with other "romances" of the era. For instance:

    Apuleius's Golden Ass is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly readable Latin novel--the only work of fiction in Latin to have survived from antiquity. It tells the story of the hero Lucius, whose curiosity and fascination for sex and magic results in his transformation into an ass. After suffering a series of trials and humiliations, he is ultimately returned to human shape by the kindness of the goddess Isis. Simultaneously a blend of romantic adventure, fable, and religious testament, The Golden Ass is one of the truly seminal works of European literature . . .
    --back cover description from The Golden Ass, Oxford World Classics edition, 2008.​

    Regarding the Gospel of Luke, I think you and I are actually saying the same thing.
    But, like certain otherwise-identical subatomic particles, we are each putting entirely the opposite spin upon the subject:
    --What is so esthetically moving about Luke, to you, is that . . .
    Luke has written one masterfully good story.
    --What is so forensically problematical about Luke, to me, is that . . .
    Luke has written one masterfully good story.

    I think of your approach to Luke as something akin to a "literary-critical" approach (though you may prefer to tag this approach with some other label), the type of analysis literary critics might bring to a written text.
    My approach to Luke is a "forensic" approach, akin to the kind of analysis police detectives will utilize in investigating crimes.

    "Eye-witness reports are notoriously unreliable,"
    is something most of the police detectives and prosecutors whom I know, will tell you.
    "Give me one solid piece of forensic info, instead"
    (a fiber, a fingerprint, a chip of paint, a drop of blood).

    A crime has been committed. Uniformed cops go door to door, taking down what witnesses heard or saw. Those with pertinent information are asked to come to police headquarters the following day to make a formal statement.
    --Witness-A repeats what he or she told the uniformed cop the night before.
    --Witness-B, after thinking about it, overnight, has added a few details and "corrected" a few others. This is not uncommon.

    Once hearing about the crime, and finding themselves to be one of the "actors on the stage," this Witness-B type person will get to thinking about what they heard and saw: filling in gaps, adjusting "what couldn't be right." They think too much. Feel the need to report more than just (say) 5 isolated facts. Need to give a "whole story" which pieces those 5 facts together.

    Think of this criminal investigation as like a jigsaw-puzzle with 100 pieces. You don't need all the puzzle-pieces in order to find and successfully prosecute the offender. But enough of the pieces to give detectives and prosecutor a pretty clear picture of how the crime went down.
    Witness-B has 5 pieces of that puzzle. To make them all fit together in his or her mind, Witness-B mentally carves-off bits of the knob (as it were) on the puzzle-piece, or widens the hole.
    Whether they do this consciously or unconsciously, their original observation the night of the crime, is lost. It has been twisted to fit into a story which makes sense to them. A theory of the crime. Something logically coherent or esthetically consistent, aligning with their particular way of seeing things.
    Detectives often have to go back to the uniformed officer who first interviewed Witness-B, praying that this officer kept good notes. Immediate observations tend to be more forensically reliable.

    Plain fact is, Thomas, most detectives whom I know . . . actually do not mind inconsistencies and contradictions in witness-statements (as counterintuitive as that sounds). It lends these statements a real-world credibility.
    If a story a witness tells them is 100% consistent and noncontradictory, then it is too pat. It is too good to be true. There is not only "something wrong with it," there is probably quite a lot that is wrong with it.

    "Could never have happened,"
    a detective might blurt out (after Witness-B has left), brusquely dismissing his or her statement.
    (It's a curt habit of speech I have obviously picked up from hanging around police detectives.)

    A witness going over and over in his or her mind what they have witnessed is like the bar-room anecdote which inflates into a full-blown fish-story with each retelling.
    (Is it more accurate, Thomas, to talk about this story - this theory of the crime - as being "created" . . . or as being "concocted"?)
    If this is all the data a detective has, it is almost worse than having nothing.
    (This is how I read the Gospel of Luke. And of Matthew and of John, too - though this latter pair utilizes Jewish conventions of storytelling, not Greco-Roman ones. Each of the three are telling a great story, but blurring all the evidence.)

    A good detective needs to have reliable puzzle-pieces in order to reconstruct a viable theory of the crime. You do not "edit-out" contradictions like Witness-B does. Instead you "edit-in" credible pieces of evidence.
    This (in contrast to Luke) is how I read the Gospel of Mark. No Gnostic nonsense, no Greek mythologizing. Just a collection of evidence - of puzzle-pieces - some of which (contradictions and all) may prove credible. To my ear, Mark is attempting to seriously reconstruct a viable theory of what actually happened in 30 CE.
    Mark's analysis - his recipe (or "concoction") of events - is more a forensic analysis than a literary-critical one. (His gospel is concocting a viable reconstruction, not creating a lively story.)
    Mark gives "redaction" a good name. Thomas, you are wrong about Mark . . . he is a good editor - just not so in a literary way.
    (By contrast, Luke was a good editor in the literary-critical sense, bad editor in the forensic sense. "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" . . . but, yes, also the virtue of great artists.)

    Two thieves . . .
    Luke is an intellectual heavyweight, a rarified soul, and an artist ... that's like asking why Shakespeare or Dostoevsky "concocted" their characters.

    As regards "great art":

    It is unrealistic to expect Shakespeare's Hamlet to be an accurate depiction of the customs and politics of the Danish royal court during the late Middle Ages.
    Right?

    It is unrealistic to expect Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment to be an accurate sociological depiction of typical criminal activity and police procedure in 19th century Europe.
    Right?

    What I am saying, Thomas, is . . .
    It is equally unrealistic to expect the Gospel of Luke - as you describe it above - to be an accurate depiction of Jesus' life and world and interpersonal associations - set within a credible 30 CE Roman Palestine.
    Am I right?

    You basically have two choices:
    --tell a good (i.e. thematically and logically consistent) story, or
    --forensically reconstruct (piece-by-piece a fair chunk of) what factually/historically went down.

    Do you get what I'm saying, Thomas? . . .
    It is almost impossible to do both.

    Jane.

     
  9. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Thomas,
    A couple questions/observations about "Golgotha" and "Roman crucifixion":

    I think you've confused Golgotha with Gehenna.

    Golgatha:
    A hill, or mound. I know there is scholarly debate as to its location. Though most assume it was just outside the city walls, near a city gate with some main thoroughfare entering the city via this gate.
    Roman officials (throughout the Empire) sometimes left crucified bodies hanging in public view for days - as a warning. So how do you keep the scavenger birds away? You probably don't. Permission was needed to remove a body. Where do the unclaimed bodies get buried? Probably nearby, probably a pit. Who takes them there? Slaves or servants. In Judea, pious Jews don't like to be near, nonetheless touch, dead bodies. (Dead bodies or any form of corruption - the "unclean.")
    (Not my speculation about Golgotha. No, Thomas, I read it somewhere. That somewhere being not on the Internet, which I generally don't trust as a source of credible information. But that "somewhere" being from books by credentialed scholars. If you've read a contrary view, Thomas, let me know where - if you remember.)
    So, no. I am not confusing Golgotha with Gehenna.
    Gehenna, if I recall, refers to a scorching desert plain - like California's Death Valley - a few hours walk from Jerusalem where Canaanite child-sacrifices were supposedly once conducted (the kids were "burned alive"), happening several hundred years earlier than Jesus. But by Roman times, "Gehenna" had become a Jewish metaphor for "hell." Or hell-on-earth (irredeemable sin). Not a real place but a place in the imagination. (The only dead bodies and scavenger birds found there are metaphorical ones.)

    The Romans did not crucify common criminals.
    --Jane-Q.

    Rubbish. Crucifixion was the Roman way.
    --Thomas.​

    Crucifixion:
    Everything I've read suggests that Rome reserved crucifixion for:
    1. rebellious slaves.
    2. pirates and bandits.
    3. enemies of the State.
    That's it. As far as I know. No common criminals.
    (If you know of examples in ancient Roman records of other categories of crimes - or of other individual offenders or groups - who had warranted crucifixion in Roman law, Thomas, let me know.)

    Crucifixion is about making a particularly strong "example" out of the criminal offender.
    Rome, at home, used other execution methods for citizens who commit (say) a "crime of passion." (Though actual Roman citizens were frequently just fined for heinous acts, acts which are capital crimes for non-citizens. Perks of citizenship.) Similarly, other execution methods are employed for non-citizens in the provinces who had been publically respected individuals and property-owners. Most, but not all, provinces were de-facto governed by local authorities, and local means of execution were employed. Roman officials rarely interfered in local jurisprudence, best I can tell.
    In Judea, Samaria, and Galilee there were four accepted forms of execution:
    1. stoning.
    2. burning.
    3. strangulation.
    4. decapitation.

    "Hanging from a tree" was an ancient form of execution, no longer employed by Jews during Roman times. Its intention (like with cattlemen in the American Old West) had been as a form of deterrence (perhaps also against rustlers). To be hanged was like a curse. (The reference is somewhere in Deuteronomy.)
    But this ancient "hanging from a tree" punishment became associated in Jewish minds with Roman "crucifixion." An accursed way to die.
    One of the Gospel writers (I forget which) felt it necessary to explain away this "curse," a curse which appeared to surround Jesus' form of death in the minds of many Jews.

    Jesus - and whoever else might have been executed alongside him - were all executed for "State crimes" against Roman authority, not local provincial or municipal crimes. As far as I can tell.
    (No thieves among them.)

    Jane.

     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    No. I don't think you are. But then perhaps I credit Luke with more intelligence and insight than you do.

    But Scripture is neither Romance nor History, nor is it trying to do either.

    This seems to follow the Bultmann Hypothesis:
    A is a myth;
    B reads like A,
    therefore B is a myth.

    His logic was flawed, on this occasion.

    That's my point.
     
  11. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Bultmann's kerygma.

    Hi Thomas.

    Seems you are placing me in Bultmann's camp.
    I can live with that.

    As I'm sure you are aware, you have oversimplified Bultmann's methodology. (Perhaps downright slandered it.) But, yes, Bultmann does seriously overreach in his historicizing (demythologizing) of the gospels.
    He reads the gospels largely as a Gentile (Greek) creation. Hellenistic in character. Not as we do today, as primarily Jewish-Christian in character (excepting Luke, by some degree). And this root-knowledge of the Jewishness of the gospels makes a lot of statements (particularly in Mark) come off as either credible in the context of Jewish Galilee and Jerusalem. Or as, at least, part of the Jewish thought-environment in Roman Palestine. How Jews thought about God and history, whether today we view such thinking as superstitious or not.

    How a Jew like Jesus might credibly have behaved, but also what a Jew like Jesus would have been credibly talking about with other Jews - been arguing for or against.

    So, Thomas, I distrust the "historical critical" approach to the gospels almost as much as you do. It is a culturally-biased form of analysis. A flawed methodology.
    The "forensic" approach avoids most of these flaws, because it looks for "real data" set within "its real-world context." That's why I prefer the forensic approach to both the historical-critical and literary-critical approaches, both of which put too much emphasis upon the narrator and narration (storytelling) instead of on actual revealing data.
    (i.e. A forensic analysis is not about Luke or his thesis but about, say, how Jesus' sayings target Jewish conventions of thinking and expectations about life. Thus, analytically, making it credible that these are things a Galilean Jew might actually have said. As opposed to, say, what a Hellenistic Gentile storyteller might put into his protagonist's mouth to be thematically consistent with his tale.)

    But what makes Bultmann's theology interesting (and perhaps profound) is how he compensates for all the "ahistorical details" he would edit out of the gospels.
    And this . . . is Bultmann's focus upon the gospels' function as kerygma.
    i.e. How the gospels serve the early Christian communities (and Christian communities right up to 2014) as a proclamation of a brave new world.
    "GN" - Good News (or God Now). That a new world is arriving, a new ruling principle of life.
    God is close. (The intimacy of a person's relation with the divine, versus the remoteness of the old pagan temple deities.)
    Very personal, to each individual believer. (Sometimes very painful - e.g. Paul's focus upon the crucifixion.)

    To the earliest Christian communities, the kerygma is found in the community's simple "liturgy."
    When the gospels first appear, the kerygma is raised to a new level.
    To Bultmann it is not the supposed historicity of the gospels which is important. It is the kerygma of this or that gospel (and of the New Testament letters) which are key. Each as a document which announces - in no uncertain terms - the arriving new reality, the Good News. The kerygma is the manifest form of the social glue for the Christian communities. "Who we are. What we believe. Here, read for yourself. It is addressed specifically to you."

    (The later rise of "theology" does two things:
    1. Takes kerygma to a new and even higher (philosophically subjective) level.
    2. Begins the shift away from the preeminence of kerygma toward that of didache - i.e. teaching the faithful, focusing on doctrine. Particularly after Constantine.)

    Bultmann desperately misses this clarion voice of faith now, here in the modern world. Misses this early Christian kerygma.
    The freshness of faith. Its new promise.
    The sense of intimacy kerygma gives. Each person with each other within the community of faith. Via a shared liturgy, later via shared testaments. But also and particularly . . . an intimacy with God.

    But Scripture is neither Romance nor History, nor is it trying to do either.
    --Thomas.​

    Thomas, here is where I think you (to some degree, anyway) agree :eek: with Bultmann.
    Scripture as kerygma - the proclamation, to each and every one, of good tidings on the horizon.

    Jane.

     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    OK. But the point remains that Bultmann's methodology has been shown to be deeply flawed.

    Nope. I just simplified it.

    That's my point, His methodology lacks credibility.

    Any method is flawed when it over-reaches itself.

    Well it reads to me like Bultmann's method under different terms.

    Good news about what, when you've dismissed the idea of the supernatural?

    As St Paul said: "Now if Christ be preached, that he arose again from the dead, how do some among you say, that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have given testimony against God, that he hath raised up Christ; whom he hath not raised up, if the dead rise not again."

    That's it. Everything turns on the Resurrection. Demythologise that, and there's not reason to have faith in Christ. He's dead.

    The Christian 'brave new world' is the world of the Resurrected Christ, was it not? The gospels gave the 'back story' to help explain the Liturgy, and the Liturgy is the Eucharist.

    Quite. The Resurrection. The Mystical Body. But Bultmann would dismiss both. And so will your 'forensic' method.

    How can you possibly say that, other than assuming the gospels are mythologising Christ, and that the early community did not believe in the Resurrection, or the Last Supper?

    But the kerygma is founded in the history. Without history, what reason is there to assert the kerygma?

    Not really. It explores the kerygma revealed in Scripture, but it doesn't take it any 'higher', or rather, it assumes there's more to Scripture than just ink on paper.

    St Maximus the Confessor's Mystagogy explains the Liturgy as a recapitulation of creation and salvation history, but it doesn't take the Liturgy onto a 'higher, philosophically subjective level'. The Liturgy was always there, before theology.

    What? :eek: I'm sorry, but I've got a stack of books on my shelf that evidence the opposite.

    Well that's bound to happen when you rationalise God out of the picture. God is not in 'the forensic detail'.

    Nope.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    And I don't disagree with anything you said here. But before you seemed to imply it was unlikely Christ was crucified?

    Well Our Lord qualifies under item 3, and the 'two robbers' under items 1 and 2 and 3?
     
  14. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi Tad.

    turn the other cheek
    go the extra mile
    love your enemy

    What I find remarkable about these Q-phrases is that they are counterintuitive.
    Anti-commandments. Not "eternal" - not created at the "beginning of time" - but fabricated at a specific moment in history as a counter-discourse to the common assumptions of Jesus' era.

    These sayings seem to go against nature itself.

    The Greek side of Christianity would call this the difference between "intellect" and "faith," the knowable versus the great mystery.
    But I think this strong Hellenic tradition within Christianity misses the point:

    I don't analyze the Gospels narratives to solidify my faith. I read them more to visualize myself being in the presence of Jesus . . . It is more to me an emotional practice than an intellectual one. And I don't think there's anything wrong about being emotional.
    --Tadashi (post #42).​

    Neither do I.
    In fact, I think what you call "emotional practice" is crucial.

    It is a process.
    (Not a set of static rules discoverable by intellect or commanded by faith.
    Not a magic formula.)
    It is (instead) a dynamic process which puts a person in the presence of God.

    Being within a process, you begin in an open and fluid place.
    And from there you move toward something specifically doable (and concretely meaningful) within your life, regarding yourself and others. Some real-world (achievable) end-result.

    You do not begin with a "principle cause" - a genetic given, an instinctual "prime mover." You instead begin in the middle of an existential lake, and you paddle around until you spot your true shore, then you make for it. The fixed point is at the end, not at the beginning.
    This seems to me to be the thrust underlying Jewish Monotheism, uncorrupted by Greek thought.

    The meaning underlying monotheism.
    The reason God's kingdom is near.

    Emotion first, then you begin to channel it - to point it toward God.

    (It's not about "intellect."
    It is not even really about "faith," a Greek invention.
    It is instead about what you call "emotional practice," a higher/de-ritualized form of practice - over and above the narrowly-focused temple songs-of-praise and animal sacrifices which were the pious emotional conventions of Jesus' day. Instead a multi-vectored emotional focus, a multidirectional piety.
    And further, it is about the "end results" of this practice - changed lives, a new reality for yourself and others.)

    Tad . . .
    This, I believe, is where Jesus is actually coming from . . .
    And is what Jesus is specifically communicating to you and me with his sayings and parables.

    Jane.

     
  15. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Thomas,

    Do I believe in the fact of Jesus' crucifixion?
    Yes, I do.
    (The earliest Christian writings - Paul's letters - make this pretty plain.)
    What I question is the reported conversations upon Calvary (in Luke and John). Under scrutiny, they seem invented for dramatic purposes.

    I do not believe in Jesus' literal resurrection.
    (Some strains of Syriac and Germanic Christianity manage just fine, thank you, without this belief.)
    I do, however, believe in . . . not a "figurative," but (more powerfully) a psychological resurrection within the psyches of the dozens (if not hundreds) of people whose lives Jesus directly touched (and thousands more, at one or two removes). Not the normal familial emotion of loss a person (then or now) feels for deceased friends and loved-ones, but something acutely more prescient.

    Jesus was not prophesying a future "kingdom of God."
    Jesus was, himself personally, ushering that kingdom into existence - due to the startlingly unique and heretofore unheard-of way he interacted with people. It changed people's lives.
    The effect this had upon people could not have been improved one iota . . . had Jesus been literally resurrected.
    (Maybe harmed instead: "He was just a god? Okay, no wonder!")
    So, to me, resurrection is entirely beside the point.

    Not saying, though, that the people around him did not actually . . . believe they "saw Jesus walking around alive" after his crucifixion. I'm sure they did think they had.
    I just don't find it credible. (Except psychologically.)
    Paul's letters report such sightings in such a way as to sound more like "visions." (Similar to Paul's own "meeting" with Jesus on the road to Damascus.)
    Paul makes no mention of the supposed post-resurrection gatherings of disciples with Jesus. Neither does Mark, the earliest of the gospel writers. These "gatherings" sound to me like just more dramatic extensions of Mark's story, literalizing his story's implied (but unwritten) "afterward" or postscript.

    This "defeating death" belief, though, had one big side-benefit. It had a heady effect, propagandistically, toward proselytizing "the Way" amongst Gentiles.
    Pragmatically it gave unsophisticated Greek and Latin speaking persons one more reason to give the Jesus-movement a go.
    All religions do this, to some degree or another . . . and, inevitably, begin to believe their own propaganda . . .

    And sometimes, in the process, they begin to forget their own religion's aboriginal emotional sources.

    Jane.

     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    You see, here’s the thing. Paul’s letters make the resurrection pretty plain too, but you don’t believe in that. So what you choose to believe, or not believe, is purely subjective. Your ‘forensic method’ actually boils down to what you personally find credible, and what you don’t.

    So from where I am coming from, you’re ‘idolising’ Jesus — you’re basically saying ‘this can’t be true, it’s just too incredible’, and then you construct an alternative narrative that ‘makes sense’ to you.

    So what you’re saying is Christ died but His followers fell under a collective psychosis and ‘believe’ they witnessed something that never actually happened.

    So the resurrection is a psychological coping mechanism, but nothing more. It’s a powerful idea, but there’s no substance to it, no reality ... it’s a comforting delusion.

    Well it’s not actually ‘prescient’ is it, because its not real. There’s nothing to it. A figure is prophetic in as much as it prefigures something. But there was no actual resurrection, so the figure itself is a delusion.

    But that ‘kingdom’ isn’t real, is it? It’s all part of the illusion. Jesus might have been a charismatic preacher, or a snake-oil salesman. Who’s to know? And, as C.S. Lewis makes plain, such a Jesus was either ‘mad’ or ‘bad’ (or the Son of God, but I assume you’ve already ruled that out as another figurative expression.)

    Except that if He is literally resurrected, then the people are living their lives according to something real, whereas if not, they’re living a delusion ... if you can’t discern between the real and the illusory, then you’re really not in a good place to discuss anuything ...

    I can understand that. Why let the real stand in the way of a good story?

    I know. The idea that God might know better than me! What a nerve!

    Ah no, now you’re deluding yourself here. Read 1 Corinthians 15. He was in no doubt.

    The Jesus you’re talking about here is not uncommon, it’s ‘the Jesus of my own invention’, which no doubt someone will tell me is ‘more powerful’ than the actual Jesus. Indeed, the narrative goes on, it doesn’t matter if Jesus actually even existed, what matters is how I imagine him to be ... I believed in my own personal variant on this theme, for a long while.

    It’s Jesus repackaged for post-modern consumer culture. The Jesus of the critical minimum, or in your case, 'the forensic minimum'.

    (Which is why it is idolatry.)

    There's little point in our to-ing and fro-ing here.

    My advice: Try 'thinking outside the box', as the cultural gurus like to say ... justfor a moment say: 'but what if it is true?'

    Worked for C.S. Lewis. It worked for me.
     
  17. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Hi Jane,

    "turn the other cheek" is so far one of the hardest teachings for me to figure out as to how and when it should be practiced. Because I don't think Jesus meant as "we should tolerate every wrong doer and just let them keep slapping you"...

    You know the incident in the temple courts, Jesus was physically aggressive toward those who were dishonoring God, by knocking tables over, flailing a whip around for heaven's sake! He was angry, and he didn't hide it.

    I think fighting for righteousness is very important. If you see someone kicking around a helpless puppy and didn't get angry, there's something wrong with you. And when you physically try to stop the abuse, and the guy hit you in the face, is this really the time to let him beat you up? or fight back with an equal measure?

    -- All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
    -- Stand by while atrocities are taking place, and you're an accomplice.

    I believe that.


    Jesus gets angry at another scene (Matthew 23) and he does not hold back.

    13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
    16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
    23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
    25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
    27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
    29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
    33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
    37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (emphasis mine)

    But even through his outrage, I can see his love. I can feel that he very much cares about them. Or, he said this to them, because he cared about them, because he truly wished that they'd realize what they're doing is wrong, so that they can avoid going to hell. If he didn't care about them, he would've remained indifferent and silent.

    Tad
     
  18. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    I agree. I think you mean 'counterintuitive' to one's most important biological necessity any creature is driven by, which is one's 'survival', am I right?

    Contemporary scientists in ethology and evolutionary psychology seek to explain conscience as a function of the brain that evolved to facilitate altruism within societies. In his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins states that he agrees with Robert Hinde's Why Good is Good, Michael Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil, Robert Buckman's Can We Be Good Without God? and Marc Hauser's Moral Minds, that our sense of right and wrong can be derived from our Darwinian past.

    I used to believe that. However, when I realized the root of our moral codes also stems from something other than our biological needs for one's survival, or that of the tribe one belongs to, I started to doubt this scientists' argument that our moral codes were solely a product of a natural biological process, namely evolution. Our conscience seems to go 'beyond' survival-related dispositions, and attempts to search for truths.

    "Every human life is sacred" is a concept that all decent human beings would understand and embrace, regardless of one's belief or disbelief in God. This is the absolute moral compass our conscience is supposed to operate on.

    A question arises... Could the notion "every human life is sacred" be created through the evolution process where the seemingly diametrical code "the law of natural selection" rules? These two codes seem almost antithetical, very much at odds to each other. My understanding of the law of natural selection is, 'more efficient life form' should survive and 'less efficient life form' should perish. If a creature programs themselves to act in a way "all life forms (efficient or not) are valuable", how is the law of natural selection supposed to work?

    Therefore I have to conclude that the notion of "every human life is sacred" did not come from a naturalistic process, it came from somewhere else. And the Declaration of Independence comes to my mind... "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creatorwith certain unalienable rights..." This is how I was led to my belief in God, and that our conscience is God-given.

    And when I say "God", I mean the mysterious force of goodness that governs the universe and conveys its 'will' to us, and plants the 'idea' in us, such as "every human life is sacred." Therefore, I will not let any religious dogmas (that I feel are man-made) override my conscience which is the vessel that receives 'the sense of truth' directly from the Devine.

    To me, this was what Jesus was doing against the Pharisees.


    +++++

    I'm pressed for time now, I'll address the rest later. Jane, you indeed have an interesting mind, in which I find kindred spirit.

    I'm actually thinking of taking a break from this forum and stroll around in other places, so I may PM you for the rest, if that's okay. You can publish or PM me if you wish to reply to my above posts, either way is fine with me.

    But can I ask you a favor? Please don't play a game with me again as you admit in your post #48. I know there're some who'd enjoy that, and there're some who'd find your little attempt charming. But I'm not one of those people. My honest thought when I read the post was "What possessed her to put a condescending post like this as if she knows what I believe? Did I initially misunderstand who she was?"... Thus the first draft of my reply to the post of yours was rather fiery. It took me three tries to tone it down.

    I always only want 'straight-from-the-heart' conversations. If that's what you really value too, then I think we may become good friends.

    Tad
     
  19. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    I agree with you on that Tad, I sometimes have trouble with the 'Turn the Other Cheek' idea myself. I mean where do you draw the line?

    I've always found this Biblical passage helpful though in making the distinction:

    Romans 12:19 KJV "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord."

    I've always taken that to mean, take no action yourself, let Jesus take care of it. That's really hard sometimes though.
     
  20. Tadashi

    Tadashi New Member

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    Sorry, I made a stupid typo at the end, so let me correct it...

    Therefore, I will not let any religious dogmas (that I feel are man-made) override my conscience which is the vessel that receives 'the sense of truth' directly from the Divine.

    Tad :eek:
     

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