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Ch. 28: What About Jesus?
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Ch. 28: What About Jesus?

Please use this thread to discuss Ch. 28: What About Jesus?

Author:  LanDroid [ Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 28: What About Jesus?

Quote:
Christians believe God should not be judged by the Old Testament alone. The New Testament changed everything, they say. Perhaps the Lord Jealous of the Israelites was fierce and angry, but gentle Jesus, the humble and loving son of God, fulfilled the old law and made everything new.

Why do they think that? According to the New Testament, Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. He was not just a chip off the old block: he was the block itself.
p. 289

Sorry Mr. Tulip, but you are going to hate this final chapter even more than the previous ones! :hmm:

Author:  Harry Marks [ Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 28: What About Jesus?

Just spent a few days reading N. T. Wright's "How God Became King." Wright is too much of an apologist for my taste, but he makes a cogent case that Jesus and the early church saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT trajectory of views about God. As with the OT views, this was explicitly by contrast with the imperial powers of the time (which Mr. Dawkins has no consciousness of, whatsoever). If the OT God was one of law and mutual obligation, and yes, was jealous and nasty about enforcing that, Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy that in the time to come, God would "write my will on their hearts."

This change of methods entailed a change of strategy, and if you insist on underlining the continuity between the two, you have to also see the change. I agree with Wright that you cannot step outside that framework - same goals, different methods - without doing violence to the plain meaning and intent of the Gospels.

Of course, Dawkins is a literalist about God, and thinks that fundamentalist reading of the scripture is the legitimate one. So he emphasizes hellfire and threats (not mentioned by Paul at all, mentioned in the Gospels only as overturning of the Pharisaical interpretation of what God intended to use as a basis of judgement,) along with Jesus' death as a substitutiary sacrifice of atonement, an interpretation which is probably not correct for any of the NT except Hebrews.

Hermeneutical attempts to turn the Bible into a single monolithic message, an imperial priority imposed by Constantine and the imperial church afterward, have left us almost unable to read the scriptures without these doctrines, Hell and substitutiary atonement, as filters. But modern scholarship has peeled them away fairly effectively, so that those who are aware of it can read the messages of Kingdom (in hearts and lives here on earth) and transformation (the life of the Spirit rather than the life of the flesh, best read as the love of money) which actually dominate the NT.

But never expect Dawkins to leave an ax unground - it would be beneath his dignity.

Author:  Robert Tulip [ Mon Nov 14, 2016 7:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 28: What About Jesus?

Ch28 What About Jesus?
I have read this chapter and will comment on it in response to Harry’s comments. There is an amazing level of bitterness and distortion in Dan Barker’s reading of the Bible, emerging very clearly in this chapter.
Harry Marks wrote:
Just spent a few days reading N. T. Wright's "How God Became King." Wright is too much of an apologist for my taste, but he makes a cogent case that Jesus and the early church saw Jesus as the fulfillment of the OT trajectory of views about God.
Yes, but this ‘fulfillment of the OT trajectory’ involved an evolving concept of God, which Barker fails to recognise. Most vividly, in this chapter [p292] he states, quite astoundingly, “his eye for an eye comment is from Exodus.” This citation from the Sermon on the Mount http://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/5.htm is “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” The plain meaning, which Barker ignores, is that the covenant with God has to evolve from the old Jewish law of revenge to a new ethic of forgiveness. It is about restorative justice. The text completely explodes and refutes his assertion citing Dawkins that Jesus endorses all the morality of the Old Testament. And Barker precedes this error about eye for eye with an equally astounding claim that Jesus endorses divorce, when the text is opposite what Barker says: “31“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’f32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” That is no endorsement.
The morality of Jesus picks up from the morality of the prophets, such as the comment from Amos http://biblehub.com/niv/amos/5.htm “I hate and despise your festivals and sacrifices, let justice roll.” Amos flatly contradicts the view of God that Barker pretends is the only one in the OT. Also there is John 3:14 http://biblehub.com/niv/john/3.htm , Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,f 15that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” This cryptic Gnostic mystic spirituality fulfils the hidden wisdom tradition, not the crass security politics which Barker claims is the only morality in the Bible.
Harry Marks wrote:
As with the OT views, this was explicitly by contrast with the imperial powers of the time (which Mr. Dawkins has no consciousness of, whatsoever). If the OT God was one of law and mutual obligation, and yes, was jealous and nasty about enforcing that, Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecy that in the time to come, God would "write my will on their hearts."
Picking up here on how atheists such as Dawkins tend to be not well read in theology or history, the point about fulfilment is transformative, that Jesus incarnates a deep wisdom which was only dimly seen in much of the Jewish tradition. While Jesus is depicted as arguing for respect for all scripture, it is wrong to read this as promoting inerrancy. Instead, as with the Moses snake line from Numbers, the fulfilment is of what they really meant, and discernment, as between wheat and tares, involves the ability to see the allegory and hidden meaning.
Harry Marks wrote:
This change of methods entailed a change of strategy, and if you insist on underlining the continuity between the two, you have to also see the change. I agree with Wright that you cannot step outside that framework - same goals, different methods - without doing violence to the plain meaning and intent of the Gospels.
”Change of methods” is another way of saying “new covenant”, as per the idea of law written on hearts. But Barker does violence to this plain meaning.
Harry Marks wrote:
Of course, Dawkins is a literalist about God, and thinks that fundamentalist reading of the scripture is the legitimate one. So he emphasizes hellfire and threats (not mentioned by Paul at all, mentioned in the Gospels only as overturning of the Pharisaical interpretation of what God intended to use as a basis of judgement,) along with Jesus' death as a substitutiary sacrifice of atonement, an interpretation which is probably not correct for any of the NT except Hebrews.
Dawkins’ legitimate point is that the fundamentalist reading is socially dominant, so refutation of it is a good and valuable thing. But neither he nor Barker see that the truth lies between the extremes, and that literally false statements in the Bible can conceal a valid symbolic meaning.
Harry Marks wrote:
Hermeneutical attempts to turn the Bible into a single monolithic message, an imperial priority imposed by Constantine and the imperial church afterward, have left us almost unable to read the scriptures without these doctrines, Hell and substitutiary atonement, as filters. But modern scholarship has peeled them away fairly effectively, so that those who are aware of it can read the messages of Kingdom (in hearts and lives here on earth) and transformation (the life of the Spirit rather than the life of the flesh, best read as the love of money) which actually dominate the NT.
Yes, the end of Christendom is producing a new reformation, an ability to read the Bible without the harsh metaphysical dogmatism of the imperial church. But this new paradigm remains unclear, since there is so very much cultural and political and psychological rubble concealing any possible authentic integrated message concealed beneath.
Harry Marks wrote:
But never expect Dawkins to leave an ax unground - it would be beneath his dignity.

The overall problem with Barker and Dawkins here is that they have a moral agenda to abolish religion, seeing faith as backward and obsolete and needing to be replaced by reason. Unfortunately that agenda is grossly simplistic. What is needed instead is a reformation of faith to make it compatible with reason.

Author:  Harry Marks [ Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Ch. 28: What About Jesus?

Robert Tulip wrote:
Ch28 What About Jesus?
I have read this chapter and will comment on it in response to Harry’s comments. There is an amazing level of bitterness and distortion in Dan Barker’s reading of the Bible, emerging very clearly in this chapter.

Apologies for jumping in without having read the book or chapter. This may be most obvious because I read Dawkins' name at the end of the title and somehow jumped to the conclusion he was the actual author. Kind of in the same category with what you are complaining about in Barker's behavior.

Mea culpa.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Yes, but this ‘fulfillment of the OT trajectory’ involved an evolving concept of God, which Barker fails to recognise. Most vividly, in this chapter [p292] he states, quite astoundingly, “his eye for an eye comment is from Exodus.” This citation from the Sermon on the Mount http://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/5.htm is “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” The plain meaning, which Barker ignores, is that the covenant with God has to evolve from the old Jewish law of revenge to a new ethic of forgiveness.

Not that Dawkins seems to me to be any more aware of this evolution than Barker does, but that is pretty astounding misreading.
Robert Tulip wrote:
The morality of Jesus picks up from the morality of the prophets, such as the comment from Amos http://biblehub.com/niv/amos/5.htm “I hate and despise your festivals and sacrifices, let justice roll.” Amos flatly contradicts the view of God that Barker pretends is the only one in the OT.

There are many passages in the prophets in which the old ferocity mode is replaced by a relationship mode. Amos, with his emphasis on justice, gets a lot of attention from us moderns, but Hosea, Isaiah, Noah, Micah, and even the rather ferocious Ezekiel and Jeremiah work at times out of a similarly evolved conceptual structure.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Picking up here on how atheists such as Dawkins tend to be not well read in theology or history, the point about fulfilment is transformative, that Jesus incarnates a deep wisdom which was only dimly seen in much of the Jewish tradition.
I would argue that wisdom in the universalist mode is several orders of magnitude clearer in the NT, but still mixed liberally with various categories of foolishness.
Robert Tulip wrote:
”Change of methods” is another way of saying “new covenant”, as per the idea of law written on hearts.
Well said.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Dawkins’ legitimate point is that the fundamentalist reading is socially dominant, so refutation of it is a good and valuable thing.

I am not sure I agree that it is socially dominant. It has been a long time since any issue of consequence has been decided in the U.S. by reference to the Bible as authority. More Americans believe that seven-day Creation did not happen like that than that it did. Of course that is a very low bar, and one may use a term like "socially pervasive" to make the same point. Still, in my view critics have an obligation to at least acknowledge alternate understandings if those understandings are not limited to a few speculative scholars.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Yes, the end of Christendom is producing a new reformation, an ability to read the Bible without the harsh metaphysical dogmatism of the imperial church. But this new paradigm remains unclear, since there is so very much cultural and political and psychological rubble concealing any possible authentic integrated message concealed beneath.

It is somewhat paradoxical that the intentional opposition to an imperial church, i.e. the Protestant Reformation, was the source of the literalist imperative of "inerrancy" that underpins fundamentalist hermeneutical imperialism.

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