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Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior 
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Post Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior



Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:06 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
Anywho.... with this chapter Wright wraps up Christianity. He starts with the view that Christians have of Jesus as "a heavenly being who controls access to heaven " (p. 301), and works backward to show how this particular meaning of "savior" came about. The chapter displays what Wright does so well, which true to the book's title is showing that the images and roles of Jesus or God that people have set in mind were not carved in stone at a stroke, but evolved to that "completed" state. He accomplishes this with a close reading of the text backed up by some historical background. To say anything new about the Bible that people can take seriously is a feat in itself.

This matter of the afterlife that Christians would enjoy, and Jesus' role in sending them to it, was obviously a very big deal for both the ability of Christianity to catch on and the effects that were felt down through the ages. Wright calls the Christian/Muslim emphasis on the afterlife as salvation "influential in ways both fortunate and unfortunate. Believing that heaven awaits you shortly after death makes death a less harrowing prospect. And this, in turn, can make dying in a holy war a more attractive prospect, a fact that has shaped history and even today shapes headlines" (p. 304).

It would take up almost as much space as the chapter itself to tell how Wright arrives at his conclusions. I will just try to list the significant findings and points, which will still make for a long post. Sorry about that.

1. An afterlife for all individuals was not a prominent feature of Judaism, but it wasn't an innovation of Christianity, either. The major Egyptian god Osiris was also a god who "inhabited the afterworld, and there he judged the recently deceased, granting eternal life to those who believed in him and lived by his code" (p. 304). Figurines of Osiris have been found as far north as present-day France. And there were many other cults and gods that offered a blissful afterlife. So there was already a cultural desire to have an afterlife, which had before been only available to the rich or powerful. Wright says this was both good and bad news for those carrying the Christian message,--good in that Jesus might be able to fill the niche that Osiris occupied, bad in that the need was already being met to some degree.

2. Another problem that evangelists would have faced is that Jesus himself didn't initially fit the role of granter of afterlife. The Nicene Creed of course says he has this role, but that was written centuries after Jesus' death. "The common picture of Jesus it reflects--Jesus as heavenly arbiter of immortality--would have seemed strange to followers of Jesus during his lifetime. So would its corollary: that the righteous ascend to heaven in the afterlife" (305).

3. Jesus' followers believed that he would get them to "the kingdom of heaven," but this wasn't heaven but an earth made perfect.

4. Jesus didn't say much about what would happen to dead people when the kingdom of heaven arrived. It wasn't going to be a big issue, with the arrival of the kingdom right around the corner. Years after the crucifixion, Paul begins to answer the question of whether and how the dead who should be part of the kingdom will be able to get in. They will be resurrected at the end of history, he says. Wright says there is a good chance that Paul's teachings on this would reflect what Jesus thought as well, since Paul is in line with Jewish apocalyptic thinking.

5. Though Jesus went to heaven after dying, this isn't what happens to anyone else. They have to wait until Jesus returns to receive their bliss, and even then they won't be joining him in heaven.

6. The "rapture" rests on a dubious reading of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. Although Christians and the Lord will meet in the sky as the Lord descends, the evidence points to the earthlings meeting the Lord as the hosts, and then afterwards everything plays out on earth.

7. Paul is probably wrong that Jesus said he would return at all. When he tells his disciples that "the son of man" will be killed and will rise three days later, he is not equating himself with this son of man. ("Those who are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:31). Wright then applies this new slant on who the Son of Man is to clarify the otherwise puzzling scene where Jesus' mother and Mary Magdalene find Jesus' tomb empty and are puzzled. The point Wright makes is that the idea that Jesus was the Son of Man came only after the crucifixion, when his followers then realized that he must have been speaking cryptically of himself. It is a "postmortem identification of Jesus with the Son of Man" (310).

8. It wasn't until about 50 years after the crucifixion that we see writings about Christians having an immediate reward in the afterlife. This is such an important development because until then the reward of the afterlife could only have been accomplished by Jesus returning to "intervene catastrophically in the cosmic process, and gather to their eternal reward His Elect" (311). The promise of an immediate afterlife was needed to compensate for the apparent fact that the kingdom of heaven would not be arriving in the believer's lifetime. It was a matter of the religion saving credibility.

9. Wright speculates on a source for the immediate afterlife that Luke, the earliest known writer to feature this element, might have used. He says that in the competitive religious marketplace, afterlife would have been essential for any religion expecting to last. His candidate is Egyptian religion.

10. The '"born-again" experience, or experience of transformative release, was another spiritual need that Wright implies became more prominent in a world in which many of the old securities of village life were being displaced by modernizing influences. It is a variety of salvation available to us while we are on earth.

11. Wright puts a finger on Paul's motivation to become such a zealous promoter of the Christian church. It was his solution to the problem of sin. Jesus, by dying, redeemed us from the sin committed by Adam, a sinfulness that was passed down to all of us. This is yet another dimension of the salvation the religion offered. In Paul's hands, sin also became a powerful tool for strengthening the church. It wasn't that we didn't have to worry that our sins would prevent us from achieving the kingdom of God--we did. We could still screw up the reprieve from death and damnation that Jesus offered us by obstinately continuing to sin. Paul listed all the sins that would be unacceptable to Christ and admonished his followers: "I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." So Paul creates a "morally contingent afterlife" (317), which, however, was still not an innovation. The Egyptian code of Osiris spelled out the same thing more than 1,000 years before.

12. Wright wonders about all the interest in moral purity, observing that this didn't seem to be bugging the hunter-gatherers. Wright believes that one reason could be that religion itself, essentially by prohibiting many common antisocial and other acts, raised the consciousness of people about their own real and potential improprieties. The laws of the religion thus become a burden for the believers to bear. The sins are in two categories, those harmful to the social structure and those harmful to the sinner himself. With civilization, says Wright, came the increased potential for us to overindulge our appetites, and religion helped us keep the lid on them. "Religion has long been about self-help" (320).

13. "By some accounts, the thirst for salvation in the ancient world was grounded partly in a sense that earthly existence itself was impure" (321). Wright points to the irony that civilization, while removing some physical threats to security, apparently created some new psychological ones, causing us to see dangers in this more anonymous and socially complicated world.

14. The intense desire for psychic security may account for the desire for gods with parental qualities as civilization progressed. Christianity of course has a strong father figure as its god, but it was far from the first to have this. Here is a good summation from Wright on the way that Christianity put together several elements from existing religions--including of course Judaism: "It shouldn't surprise us that early Christianity was a mildly novel recombination of spiritual elements already in the zeitgeist. Any religion that grew as fast as Christianity did must have been meeting common human needs, and it's unlikely that common human needs would have gone unmet by all earlier religions" (323).

My question: Having your god die for you, though, might that be a novel feature of Christianity? Are there examples elsewhere, besides hints from Hebrew scriptures?


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Last edited by DWill on Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
DWill wrote:
My question: Having your god die for you, though, might that be a novel feature of Christianity? Are there examples elsewhere, besides hints from Hebrew scriptures?


Nice wrap up, DWill.

Wright has helped me imagine how small changes over a person's lifetime can really add up to some major theological shifts through the generations. It's very interesting to see that the original concept of heaven was a heaven on earth scenario, a sort of reopening of the Garden of Eden. But at some point in time, with science shedding light on the workings of the natural world, it was probably more believable to put this magical place somewhere else.

Jesus' crucifixion strikes me as an inverted scapegoat. Now we have gods dying for us. I can't think of any other examples of this.

It seems that religion was going through some major upheavals at this time. This is also the time that the mystery religions/cults were taking off. In fact, wasn't Christianity a mystery cult? I wonder what was going on historically during this time period when the idea that the world was on the verge of entering an apocalyptic phase was getting such traction. Were there famines? Blights?

Stephen Jay Gould came up with the theory of punctuated equilibrium, the idea that life undergoes relatively little change over long geological periods, but when evolution occurs, it does so in rare, rapid bursts. It seems that culturally, this is what was happening during this period of Late Antiquity.


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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
I am now reading The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels, a leading scholar from Princeton University. It is interesting to contrast her reading of Paul with Wright's.

Pagels, starting with her 1979 book The Gnostic Gospels, presents early Christianity as a conflict between the pneumatics (spiritual gnostics) and the psychics (ignorant Christians). In The Gnostic Paul she analyses the epistles closely to show that Paul presents a pneumatic reading as knowledge of Christ, artfully interwoven with a psychic reading about belief in Christ as saviour, apparently mixing an enlightened vision of Christ as spirit with a popular story of Christ as man. This is a reading with high explanatory power, opening a theological dimension of cultural evolution that Wright somewhat neglects in favor of economic and political explanations.

Essentially, the argument is that the story of Christ was associated with deep wisdom about human evolution, including a temporal story about fall and redemption. I have argued this temporal story matches directly to knowledge of the stars. However, this story was too complicated for popular consumption, so was mixed together with a populist fable. The populist tale of the incarnation of Christ proved so wildly popular as a carrier for the real message that it spread far and wide. However, in this process of rapid diffusion the real story got lost, and those who held to it, the gnostics, came to be persecuted by the church as heretics.

Wright gives a very helpful explanation of how the real niche for religion, how it matches to mass psychology, is determinant for its spread. Against Pagels' contrast between knowledge and belief as motives for faith, we see that belief had much greater memetic potential, that the belief meme of Jesus as worldly saviour was far more comprehensible than the knowledge meme of Christ as cosmic saviour.

Looking back on this history today, it is possible to extract the knowledge meme from the belief meme, and this is what Pagels starts to do in her study of gnosis.

Dogmatic Christians say that gnostics are arrogant for claiming special knowledge. This is rather like claiming that any scientist is arrogant for holding that their knowledge is more accurate than popular superstition. The early church used the need to build a mass base as a way to dumb down the message of the gospels. When gnostics protested, they were condemned for heresy. This clash has been so mythologised that even today Christians cannot imagine that the church dogma is based on a corrupt political agenda of building a mass movement using available slogans and spin.

I think Wright downplays the intelligence of the authors of the Bible, simply because he cannot imagine that they had access to a lost esoteric cosmic wisdom that provides a compelling natural explanation of the story of Jesus as primarily a cosmic myth. Today we only have fragments of this ancient vision, largely thanks to the efforts of the church to suppress it. Starting with Wright's evolutionary picture of how religion emerged to adapt to social niches, we can look at theological debate against this material base of the coherence of the images of faith with a real natural cosmology.

There is a Marxist method of social analysis that uses material base and ideal superstructure to explain class struggle as the framework for the evolution of politics. Wright uses this method, while seeing the superstructure as more of an autonomous source of change than is credited by Marx, who regarded all religion as false consciousness. The gnostics take this autonomy of the idea even further, to reconcile base and superstructure through Christ, with the argument that the presence of the infinite and eternal God of the universe incarnate in the cosmic Christ opens a path to understand how spiritual wisdom and knowledge is a source of salvation.

It appears the world was not ready for the spiritual wisdom of the gnostics in the early days of Christianity, so they lost out to the ignorant believers. This picture matches to numerous texts in the Bible, with Jesus suggesting his message would need to be spread to the entire planet before it would be understood at the mass level, and complaining about how his disciples do not understand him.

The vessel of belief has carried the ark of knowledge through the millennia, presenting an opportunity now to re-interpret the texts to find their real meaning and see how they may help us prepare for impending global changes.



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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
I'm sure you're correct, Robert, that Wright emphasizes what was red meat to the populations of the time in describing how religion shaped itself to the zeitgeist. The zeitgeist is always going to demand what is easily understood and assimilated. This is why I don't think that any conspiracy is needed to explain the acceptance of the Pauline variety of Christianity. While it is true that the church, once established, branded gnostics as heretics, all of that seems rather like Nixon's men directing the plumbers to break onto the Watergate so as to get information to help defeat George McGovern--totally unnecessary. Esoteric teachings are so labeled for a reason. They will always represent a minority report. There needs to be a simplicity to religious teachings in order for them to lodge in the minds and hearts of people. This is true even of non-god based religion such as Zen Buddhism.

Wright's central point about the way things fell out for Christianity is that it all entered the existing religion stream, so it largely went with the flow of the times. It again doesn't appear that it would have been necessary to steer the stream away from the gnostic alternatives.

When I looked at gnostic writings some years ago, my impression was that, overall, they were no improvement over the standard scriptures. There was much that I saw that appeared outlandish, although the tone of some of the writings was much more to my liking than that of the Bible. There was, for lack of a better word, more of an Eastern quality to them; they were more expansive and less dogmatic.


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Clifford Geertz


Last edited by DWill on Mon Oct 11, 2010 7:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
DWill wrote:
Anywho.... with this chapter Wright wraps up Christianity. He starts with the view that Christians have of Jesus as "a heavenly being who controls access to heaven " (p. 301), and works backward to show how this particular meaning of "savior" came about. The chapter displays what Wright does so well, which true to the book's title is showing that the images and roles of Jesus or God that people have set in mind were not carved in stone at a stroke, but evolved to that "completed" state. He accomplishes this with a close reading of the text backed up by some historical background. To say anything new about the Bible that people can take seriously is a feat in itself.

This matter of the afterlife that Christians would enjoy, and Jesus' role in sending them to it, was obviously a very big deal for both the ability of Christianity to catch on and the effects that were felt down through the ages. Wright calls the Christian/Muslim emphasis on the afterlife as salvation "influential in ways both fortunate and unfortunate. Believing that heaven awaits you shortly after death makes death a less harrowing prospect. And this, in turn, can make dying in a holy war a more attractive prospect, a fact that has shaped history and even today shapes headlines" (p. 304).

It would take up almost as much space as the chapter itself to tell how Wright arrives at his conclusions. I will just try to list the significant findings and points, which will still make for a long post. Sorry about that.

1. An afterlife for all individuals was not a prominent feature of Judaism, but it wasn't an innovation of Christianity, either. The major Egyptian god Osiris was also a god who "inhabited the afterworld, and there he judged the recently deceased, granting eternal life to those who believed in him and lived by his code" (p. 304). Figurines of Osiris have been found as far north as present-day France. And there were many other cults and gods that offered a blissful afterlife. So there was already a cultural desire to have an afterlife, which had before been only available to the rich or powerful. Wright says this was both good and bad news for those carrying the Christian message,--good in that Jesus might be able to fill the niche that Osiris occupied, bad in that the need was already being met to some degree.

2. Another problem that evangelists would have faced is that Jesus himself didn't initially fit the role of granter of afterlife. The Nicene Creed of course says he has this role, but that was written centuries after Jesus' death. "The common picture of Jesus it reflects--Jesus as heavenly arbiter of immortality--would have seemed strange to followers of Jesus during his lifetime. So would its corollary: that the righteous ascend to heaven in the afterlife" (305).

3. Jesus' followers believed that he would get them to "the kingdom of heaven," but this wasn't heaven but an earth made perfect.

4. Jesus didn't say much about what would happen to dead people when the kingdom of heaven arrived. It wasn't going to be a big issue, with the arrival of the kingdom right around the corner. Years after the crucifixion, Paul begins to answer the question of whether and how the dead who should be part of the kingdom will be able to get in. They will be resurrected at the end of history, he says. Wright says there is a good chance that Paul's teachings on this would reflect what Jesus thought as well, since Paul is in line with Jewish apocalyptic thinking.

5. Though Jesus went to heaven after dying, this isn't what happens to anyone else. They have to wait until Jesus returns to receive their bliss, and even then they won't be joining him in heaven.

6. The "rapture" rests on a dubious reading of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. Although Christians and the Lord will meet in the sky as the Lord descends, the evidence points to the earthlings meeting the Lord as the hosts, and then afterwards everything plays out on earth.

7. Paul is probably wrong that Jesus said he would return at all. When he tells his disciples that "the son of man" will be killed and will rise three days later, he is not equating himself with this son of man. ("Those who are ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:31). Wright then applies this new slant on who the Son of Man is to clarify the otherwise puzzling scene where Jesus' mother and Mary Magdalene find Jesus' tomb empty and are puzzled. The point Wright makes is that the idea that Jesus was the Son of Man came only after the crucifixion, when his followers then realized that he must have been speaking cryptically of himself. It is a "postmortem identification of Jesus with the Son of Man" (310).

8. It wasn't until about 50 years after the crucifixion that we see writings about Christians having an immediate reward in the afterlife. This is such an important development because until then the reward of the afterlife could only have been accomplished by Jesus returning to "intervene catastrophically in the cosmic process, and gather to their eternal reward His Elect" (311). The promise of an immediate afterlife was needed to compensate for the apparent fact that the kingdom of heaven would not be arriving in the believer's lifetime. It was a matter of the religion saving credibility.

9. Wright speculates on a source for the immediate afterlife that Luke, the earliest known writer to feature this element, might have used. He says that in the competitive religious marketplace, afterlife would have been essential for any religion expecting to last. His candidate is Egyptian religion.

10. The '"born-again" experience, or experience of transformative release, was another spiritual need that Wright implies became more prominent in a world in which many of the old securities of village life were being displaced by modernizing influences. It is a variety of salvation available to us while we are on earth.

11. Wright puts a finger on Paul's motivation to become such a zealous promoter of the Christian church. It was his solution to the problem of sin. Jesus, by dying, redeemed us from the sin committed by Adam, a sinfulness that was passed down to all of us. This is yet another dimension of the salvation the religion offered. In Paul's hands, sin also became a powerful tool for strengthening the church. It wasn't that we didn't have to worry that our sins would prevent us from achieving the kingdom of God--we did. We could still screw up the reprieve from death and damnation that Jesus offered us by obstinately continuing to sin. Paul listed all the sins that would be unacceptable to Christ and admonished his followers: "I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." So Paul creates a "morally contingent afterlife" (317), which, however, was still not an innovation. The Egyptian code of Osiris spelled out the same thing more than 1,000 years before.

12. Wright wonders about all the interest in moral purity, observing that this didn't seem to be bugging the hunter-gatherers. Wright believes that one reason could be that religion itself, essentially by prohibiting many common antisocial and other acts, raised the consciousness of people about their own real and potential improprieties. The laws of the religion thus become a burden for the believers to bear. The sins are in two categories, those harmful to the social structure and those harmful to the sinner himself. With civilization, says Wright, came the increased potential for us to overindulge our appetites, and religion helped us keep the lid on them. "Religion has long been about self-help" (320).

13. "By some accounts, the thirst for salvation in the ancient world was grounded partly in a sense that earthly existence itself was impure" (321). Wright points to the irony that civilization, while removing some physical threats to security, apparently created some new psychological ones, causing us to see dangers in this more anonymous and socially complicated world.

14. The intense desire for psychic security may account for the desire for gods with parental qualities as civilization progressed. Christianity of course has a strong father figure as its god, but it was far from the first to have this. Here is a good summation from Wright on the way that Christianity put together several elements from existing religions--including of course Judaism: "It shouldn't surprise us that early Christianity was a mildly novel recombination of spiritual elements already in the zeitgeist. Any religion that grew as fast as Christianity did must have been meeting common human needs, and it's unlikely that common human needs would have gone unmet by all earlier religions" (323).

My question: Having your god die for you, though, might that be a novel feature of Christianity? Are there examples elsewhere, besides hints from Hebrew scriptures?


On page 308, Wright states, "Yet Jesus never explicitly equates himself with the Son of Man."

Yet Wright's favorite Gospel, the one he cites as being the most correct states:

Quote:
Mark 2
Jesus Heals a Paralytic

1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home.
2 So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.
3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.
4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he [b]said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."
6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,
7 "Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, "Why are you thinking these things?
9 Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, take your mat and walk'?
10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ." He said to the paralytic,
11 "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."
12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"[/b]


This account is at odds with Wright's statement on page 308, and also contradicts his earlier claim that Jesus performed the miracles in Mark in less public venues.


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- G.K. Chesterton


Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:39 am
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
"Yet Jesus never explicitly equates himself with the Son of Man."

http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/explicitgloss.htm



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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
Interbane wrote:
"Yet Jesus never explicitly equates himself with the Son of Man."

http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/explicitgloss.htm


This is about as laughable as the, "depends on the definition of what is - is."

I considered that but decided that Wright would not resort to such nuanced shenanigans to justify his theories. I used to have a friend who use the phrase, 'as any idiot can plainly see...'

The question on the table is, When Jesus referred to 'The Son of Man' in Mark chapter 2. Was He referring to Himself or someone else?

From Matthew 26, it appears that the Pharisees thought Jesus was referring to Himself:

Quote:
57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.
62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.
67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.


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- G.K. Chesterton


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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
stahrwe wrote:

The question on the table is, When Jesus referred to 'The Son of Man' in Mark chapter 2. Was He referring to Himself or someone else?

From Matthew 26, it appears that the Pharisees thought Jesus was referring to Himself:

<<<unnecessary Bible passages deleted>>>


Stahrwe is cherry-picking. In the paragraph in question, Wright himself makes this statement:

"(Jesus) does refer to the future coming of a "Son of Man"—a term already applied, in the Hebrew Bible, to a figure who will descend from the skies at the climax of history; and the authors of the New testament seem to have taken this as a reference to Jesus himself." (308)

So Wright has already acknowledged that the authors of the New Testament take this "Son of Man" reference as Jesus himself. Funny how you didn't see that, Stahrwe, considering it was in the same paragraph.

Further on in the same paragraph, Wright says:

"Yet Jesus never explicitly equates himself with the Son of Man. And in some cases he seems to be referring to someone other than himself."

Let me translate for the hard of hearing here. It's like jesus didn't want to come right out and say I am the son of God. Wow, missed that point, did you?

You're taking words out of context because you have an agenda to prove Wright wrong. You can only nitpick on tiny little details. You resort to cherry-picking and taking things out of context. You, of course, are incapable of making any actual arguments yourself.


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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
geo wrote:
stahrwe wrote:

The question on the table is, When Jesus referred to 'The Son of Man' in Mark chapter 2. Was He referring to Himself or someone else?

From Matthew 26, it appears that the Pharisees thought Jesus was referring to Himself:

<<<unnecessary Bible passages deleted>>>


Stahrwe is cherry-picking. In the paragraph in question, Wright himself makes this statement:

"(Jesus) does refer to the future coming of a "Son of Man"—a term already applied, in the Hebrew Bible, to a figure who will descend from the skies at the climax of history; and the authors of the New testament seem to have taken this as a reference to Jesus himself." (308)

So Wright has already acknowledged that the authors of the New Testament take this "Son of Man" reference as Jesus himself. Funny how you didn't see that, Stahrwe, considering it was in the same paragraph.

Further on in the same paragraph, Wright says:

"Yet Jesus never explicitly equates himself with the Son of Man. And in some cases he seems to be referring to someone other than himself."

Let me translate for the hard of hearing here. It's like jesus didn't want to come right out and say I am the son of God. Wow, missed that point, did you?

You're taking words out of context because you have an agenda to prove Wright wrong. You can only nitpick on tiny little details. You resort to cherry-picking and taking things out of context. You, of course, are incapable of making any actual arguments yourself.


Wright's intent is abundantly clear and it is that Jesus never intended to be associated with the 'Son of Man'. Do you know why Wright makes that assertion? Because the Son of Man was a term which referred to the Messiah and was God. Wright's premise collapses if Jesus existed and made such claims. Why would Jesus not want to come right out and say he was the SOM? The usual suspects claim that He didn't want to claim to be God. Unfortunately that fails the logic test as you see the reaction of the leaders reported in Matthew. In their view, Jesus DID explicitly claim to be the SOM. You can parse it all you want, and try to excuse TEoG, but Wright is wrong on page 308.


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Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:33 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
stahwre,
What you are now pointing out about Wright's understanding or interpretation of the Bible takes me back to when I encouraged you to take part in the discussion. I said that Wright isn't a Bible scholar (and he surely wouldn't say he is), and so having somebody who might be well able to advise whether his judgments about it are sound, could be helpful. That is the function you're now doing, in a sense. But either because our discussion is too polarized, or because you want to torpedo him by citing details, it's not working very well. I suggest that if you were to frame your observations not as "gotchyas!" but as relative to his thesis in the book, we'd be getting somewhere. But of course you'd have to care about his larger aim in the book, which I think is the courtesy we owe any author. Is Wright's contention that the NT clearly shows Jesus evolving from the early to the later Gospels not supported by the text in some instances? That would be a constructive approach. So far, I think you have been trying to impugn Wright's overall credibility as an author by pointing out errors he makes regarding the Bible. This isn't how books are evaluated, though, by critics, who will first address how well the writer gets across his primary themes, and then will cite errors of fact and indicate to what degree these affect the validity of his conclusions. Errors are errors, whether they concern the Bible or anything else, and they need to be put in perspective.


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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
DWill wrote:
stahwre,
What you are now pointing out about Wright's understanding or interpretation of the Bible takes me back to when I encouraged you to take part in the discussion. I said that Wright isn't a Bible scholar (and he surely wouldn't say he is), and so having somebody who might be well able to advise whether his judgments about it are sound, could be helpful. That is the function you're now doing, in a sense. But either because our discussion is too polarized, or because you want to torpedo him by citing details, it's not working very well. I suggest that if you were to frame your observations not as "gotchyas!" but as relative to his thesis in the book, we'd be getting somewhere. But of course you'd have to care about his larger aim in the book, which I think is the courtesy we owe any author. Is Wright's contention that the NT clearly shows Jesus evolving from the early to the later Gospels not supported by the text in some instances? That would be a constructive approach. So far, I think you have been trying to impugn Wright's overall credibility as an author by pointing out errors he makes regarding the Bible. This isn't how books are evaluated, though, by critics, who will first address how well the writer gets across his primary themes, and then will cite errors of fact and indicate to what degree these affect the validity of his conclusions. Errors are errors, whether they concern the Bible or anything else, and they need to be put in perspective.


I am no more of a Bible scholar than Wright. I have had only 1 formal class on the Bible. It was, An Introduction to the New Testament. But I have read the Bible. I have emphasized that it is ill advised to criticize the Bible unless you have read it and I believe that Wright falls victim to that very issue. I don't think he has read even the parts pertinent to his book. However, even your caveat that Wright is not a Bible scholar is not an excuse to be so far off as the smart thing to do with a book like TEoG is to let some people who are Bible scholars review the manuscript prior to publication in order to avoid gaffs. It seems that Wright bypassed that step.

As for gotchas or torpedoing the book, I should not be able to do that. A well constructed book would anticipate areas of disagreement and address them. These are not trivial issues, like the population of the ancient middle-east, Wright is attacking the very heart of Christianity and who Jeus claimed to be. But he doesn't have his facts right in major areas. Areas which are easily checked. If he is wrong about those, why does he deserve the benefit of the doubt about others and his theory in general.

The Abrahamic monotheistic religions did indeed emerged from polytheism but it was a separation not an evolution and the story is recounted in Genesis. Of course that doesn't fill or sell a book.

BTW, I have been accused of 'cherry picking' and I admit to it. I have picked a few of the errors to cite (the really big ones) and left the others in the orchard of the errors in TEoG.

If you would like to discuss the 'apparent' evolution of Jesus from the 'early' gospel to the later, why not read and discuss the Gospels? I believe you will find that Wright is wrong.


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Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:57 am
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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
stahrwe wrote:
. . . .
BTW, I have been accused of 'cherry picking' and I admit to it. I have picked a few of the errors to cite (the really big ones) and left the others in the orchard of the errors in TEoG.

If you would like to discuss the 'apparent' evolution of Jesus from the 'early' gospel to the later, why not read and discuss the Gospels? I believe you will find that Wright is wrong.


Wrong about what? Make an argument.

Wright argues that we tend to find a scriptural basis for intolerance or belligerence when we are in zero-sum relationships with other people, but when they see the relationship as non-zero-sum we are more likely to find the tolerant and understanding side of their scriptures. Is that where Wright is wrong? Or do you disagree with Wright's argument that our concept of God has changed over time? That religion has evolved from polytheism to monotheism?


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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
stahrwe wrote:

The Abrahamic monotheistic religions did indeed emerged from polytheism but it was a separation not an evolution and the story is recounted in Genesis. Of course that doesn't fill or sell a book.


If it was a separation, where did polytheism go? And aren't there vestiges of polytheism in Christianity? Angels, Satan, Jesus, etc.


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Post Re: Ch. 13 - How Jesus Became Savior
geo wrote:
stahrwe wrote:

The Abrahamic monotheistic religions did indeed emerged from polytheism but it was a separation not an evolution and the story is recounted in Genesis. Of course that doesn't fill or sell a book.


If it was a separation, where did polytheism go? And aren't there vestiges of polytheism in Christianity? Angels, Satan, Jesus, etc.


No.
Jesus is part of the Trinity
Satan was an arch angel. He and the other angels were created by God. They are not gods, and are NOT to be worshipped in any way shape or form.


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Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:31 am
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