Bible Archaeology

John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' Portrait of Jesus

John Dominic Crossan really isn’t a favourite scholar of mine, at all, especially with that ridiculous and deleterious Jesus Seminar thing. But as anyone who has studied the Historical Jesus knows, you will at some point cross his path:

… Crossan believes the public should be exposed to even the most divisive debates that scholars have had about Jesus and the Bible. He co-founded the Jesus Seminar, a controversial group of scholars who hold public forums that cast doubt on the authenticity of many sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus.

The 77-year-old Crossan has built on the seminar’s mission by writing a series of best-selling books on Jesus and the Apostle Paul…

Crossan’s overarching message is that you don’t have to accept the Jesus of dogma. There’s another Jesus hidden in Scripture and history who has been ignored…

Crossan is also reviled in a way that few scholars are.

Some critics say he’s trying to debunk Christianity. Some question his personal faith. At a college lecture, Crossan says an audience member stood up and asked him if he had “received the Lord Jesus” as his savior.

Crossan said he had, but refused to repeat his questioner’s evangelical language to describe his conversion.

“I wasn’t going to give him the language; it’s not my language,” Crossan says. “I wasn’t trying to denigrate him, but don’t think you have the monopoly on the language of Christianity.”

When asked if he is a Christian, Crossan doesn’t hesitate.

Absolutely.”…

… Crossan says, however, that he’s “trying to understand the stories of Jesus, not refute them.”

Still, his findings often end up challenging some of Christianity’s most cherished beliefs.

Consider his understanding of the resurrection. Jesus didn’t bodily rise from the dead, he says. The first Christians told Jesus’ resurrection story as a parable, not as a fact.

“Crucifixion meant that imperial power had won,” Crossan says. “Resurrection meant that divine justice had won. God is on the side of the crucified one. Rome’s’ values are a dead issue to me.”…

To him yes. But not to many others:

… Yet some also wonder if he unwittingly gives people an excuse to diminish Jesus’ importance.

Ben Witherington, a New Testament scholar who has written several books about the early Christian community, says Crossan’s work allows people to sidestep questions like: Did he come to save the world? Is he the son of God?

It’s a user-friendly Jesus that doesn’t make demands on someone,” he says.

Witherington says Crossan is trying to find a nonsupernatural way to explain Jesus and Scripture, and “the shoe doesn’t fit.”

“The stories are inherently theological,” he says. “They all suggest that God intervenes in history. If you have a problem with the supernatural, you have a problem with the Bible. It’s on every page.”…

There is much more on Crossan at CNN here.

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