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Pope's book on Jesus smacked down by Vermes

Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by State, May 24, 2009.

  1. State

    State In the Starting Line-Up

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    #70 Jersey

    They'll be talking about this book review for a long time, methinks.

    Jesus of Nazareth review

    It turns out many of the central tenets of Christian belief have no scriptural validity.
     
  2. PatsFanInVa

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    State, I don't get your last line here? Clearly you mean to be sarcastic but I don't know if you mean the book review of the "Ratzinger" book makes such a claim.... or whether you mean that "Ratzinger's" authoring of this book with the explicit proviso that it is not an infallible papal document equates to such an outcome.

    By the way, as the reviewer points out, there is well over a century of scholarship on the question of the historical Jesus. Within that scholarship many "central tenets of Christian belief" come under fire on the basis of what we can understand both within and outside of scripture. This is not new. It is also the fate of the scriptures of other faiths. Those who are not biblical "literalists" have little trouble with this unavoidable outcome.

    PFnV
     
  3. State

    State In the Starting Line-Up

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    No sarcasm. Just a declarative sentence. No on the resurrection, no on the nativity.

    Check out the Wikipedia on the great Geza Vermes.

    The religion was moulded more by St. Paul than by Jesus, a Jewish Pharisee.
     
  4. PatsFanInVa

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    Just checking whether you were making a straightforward point or an ironic one. I think I read Vermes via Schweitzer (as I recall he was one of the dozens of authors of the "Life of Jesus.") May be wrong. But by and large, scholarship on the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith are, of course, two different branches... many studying the topic from a historical viewpoint would be a little out of place in any organized theology. So point taken and now I gotta got to work.

    (edit, quick P.S. I took a seminar in college called "Jesus and Judaism" with one Paul Sanders. I stipulate I was far from a star pupil. Must have been something of a warm up for the book of the same name by E.P. Sanders quoted here... not new to the field, but never had the burning desire to dig up pottery and/or learn about a half-dozen languages. This guy did. Well dunno about the archaeology but I bet he got his hands dirty too.)
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2009
  5. State

    State In the Starting Line-Up

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    Wow, I was I could have been there. I do believe Sanders taught at UVA. Was that where you were, brainiac?

    I do a somewhat decent job reading the Koine Greek; I've been teaching Attic Greek (the classical stuff) for a number of years to high school-aged boys at an elite boarding school in central NH. And I'm a Jew-by-choice. This stuff fascinates me.

    The figure of Jesus--who he was, what we can know about him, the possibility that editors of the gospels garbled or even actively wrested the meaning of Jesus' words--is one of the preeminent intellectual questions today.

    Christians often want to resist any scholarly research that doesn't first begin with their assumptions in place.

    This is the best single volume book on Jesus in English that I've found, by Prof. Sanders: Amazon.com: The Historical Figure of Jesus: E. P. Sanders: Books
     
  6. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

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    well there you have it!!! Close down all the churches!!!! :rolleyes:
     
  7. PatsFanInVa

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    Nope. He did time at William and Mary as well, early 80s... it was just me, Paul (not yet E.P.) Sanders, and about a dozen other students in a seminar level class. I regularly and dutifully attended when I was of a mind to attend classes... etc. You get the idea. I didn't excel (got a B) in his class.

    Good on you, welcome. You can have my pew by the way. I'm a Jew-by-parental-fortune, and by belief. I've come to the conclusion that the name we learn is never the name, if you get my meaning, and given you've linked to a kabbalist source, I suppose you do. Long conversation, we can discuss later. Suffice it to say that the trappings are always at war from religion to religion, and mysticisms converge. I take some comfort from that.

    I'm fascinated too, probably based on having to answer not always polite and friendly questions from peers, growing up here in VA.

    But I quickly became amazed at the notion of "pretending I didn't believe." In other words, turning a skeptical eye on all scripture, Tanakh and Greek bible alike, and getting an idea of what we do and don't know about said records as part of knowing my own faith and others' faith as well.

    What I found was that it makes a tremendous amount of sense to proclaim the shema, and somewhat less sense to concern myself with the letter of the law, or passage and verse on one or another point. ("Now, go and study...")

    Learning as much as possible about the source docs isn't just fascinating to me, it seems like we can use the method to get the idea of what truly is special about any tradition, once we recognize the various "interests" that go into writing any passage. To cut off such knowledge as "too speculative" to apply to our most cherished documents, tells me we didn't learn a damn thing from said documents.

    As God made clear to Job's friends, he doesn't need our feeble defenses. As opposed to those here who simply want all religious traditions to shut up already, I'd just sort of like us all to grow up. This kind of scholarship is the first step to doing that.

    PFnV
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2009
  8. PatsFanInVa

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    The walk down memory lane sent me looking for prof. Sanders... and I find he's Ed, not Paul. Forgive me for conflating a bit of the kerygma and angelos; after all, there was no Apostle Ed. And forgive me from using 2 of my 10 words of who knows which kinds of Greek and probably in such a way as to make the juxtaposition laughable. What I mean is I think over the years I conflated subject matter and messenger and rechristened him "Paul."

    But this brought me back...
    Duke University Religion Department: E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism

    That's pretty much the way he was. He'd talk about this stuff like you were just passing the time on the porch... then you realized to have his end of the conversation you needed to read and have an idea of how to speak six or seven languages, half of which aren't even spoken anymore.... among other talents. It's even more impressive that he came from a small Texas town, and not a lot of money. Incredibly humble guy, so much so that a young idiot like myself didn't recognize the caliber of scholar he was. This autobiography speech touches on his beginnings, which makes him that much more impressive, to me...

    http://web.duke.edu/religion/home/goodacre/Intel autobiog rev.pdf

    Wisdom gets missed so often because it's so likely to be packaged with humility... I think this guy has both, though he'd never say so.

    PFnV
     
  9. State

    State In the Starting Line-Up

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    Great point at the end. People who are insecure use the big words or thump their chest.

    Ed Sanders and Geza Vermes are two scholars whom I adore though no one, except a small cadre, has ever heard of them.

    The anti-semitism in the Christian testaments are legion. And to witness the back flipping apologists make is humorous: InsideCatholic.com - Is the Gospel of John Anti-Semitic?
     
  10. PatsFanInVa

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    ;) I'll take chest-thumping to be a sign of insecurity but not big-word-using. Heh.

    I try not to emphasize the antisemitism inherent in Christianity. It is there to the same extent that it is there in Islam, really. It's natural to the historical relationship between religions; a would-be "successor" religion needs to specify what was wrong with the faith it "replaces."
     
  11. State

    State In the Starting Line-Up

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    Yeah, you're right. But Islam hasn't had its reformation nor do I think can it (its view of the Koran being what it is), so in application the present-day anti-semitism is much, much worse in the Islamic world.

    The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for example, is a best seller in places like Egypt.
     

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