"It is absurd to talk about a Judeo-Christian tradition". I had been born in the United States but didn't know any English because none was spoken at home or in the streets. We were a solid enclave of some 600,000 Eastern European, Yiddish-speaking Jews. But I still remember one day that a missionary came to the door with what I still have my copy of: a Yiddish translation of the New Testament. There's a kind of grim joke in that, isn't there? In the mere existence of it. Harold Bloom on religion in America, God smoking a cigar, and who really is the King of the Jews.
We are going to inquire simply, rigorously after the voice of Jesus, after what he really said. Robert Walter Funk, who died September 3, was the founder of the Jesus Seminar and one of the most influential New Testament scholars of his generation. The Jesus of Nazareth discovered by the Jesus Seminar was a wisdom teacher whose parables proclaimed the arrival of God's kingdom. He was not, in the judgment of the Seminar, the messiah of the end-times (.pdf file, go to page 5 and 6). Also: Funk's 21 theses.
What About Judas? Dante condems Judas to eternal damnation in the darkest, deepest circle of hell. But what if someone came to the great traitor's defense in a trial to win his entrance into heaven? The playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis imagines just such a scenario in "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot," directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and running at the Public Theater in New York City. More inside.
"I felt like hurting someone before, now I feel like hugging people". Only weeks after professing his belief in Jesus Christ, former Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch was baptized in the Jordan River last Saturday. With “Jesus” tattooed across his knuckles and “Matthew 11:28” along his neck, Welch received full immersion in the historic river, along with 20 other white-robed Christians from a Bakersfield, CA church. Welch said the ritual baptism, “washed away his anger.” "My songs are God saying things to me, him talking to people. He's going to use me to heal people and people are going to be drawn to it, just watch, they will be.” For the latest information (and a free mp3) go to Welch's personal website, http://www.headtochrist.com/
Born-again liberal Christians. Do you think that mainline denominations are hemorraging members? Wrong. Fundamentalist Christianity is the way of the future and all US Evangelicals worship the same political party? Not so fast, buddy. Many scholars and theologians think that it's time for liberals to take Christianity back. Oregon State's Marcus J Borg, for example, argues that Christianity "still makes sense and is the most viable religious option for millions". He contends the earlier paradigm, based upon a punitive God, simply doesn't work anymore for too many people. It is an argument for an alternative to the literalist and exclusivist tradition that has dominated Western Christianity in the modern era. According to Borg, "So different are these two views of Christianity that they almost produce two different religions, both using the same Bible and language. A time of two paradigms is virtually a tale of two Christianities." There is, for example, an alternative view to the Resurrection Narrative not as report of an actual, physical event but as means for Jesus' early followers to express the miracle of his continuing spiritual presence among them, after his execution. It is in short an 'emerging paradigm which has been developing for over a hundred years and has recently become a major grass-roots movement within mainline denominations'. Just don't be afraid to ask questions. Not even about the dogs beneath the Cross. More inside.
"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea, is the only historical figure named in the Nicene Creed -- Coptic saint or eternally damned, his role in the greatest story ever told has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine, Dante Alighieri, Tintoretto, John Ruskin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Monty Python. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence about him. His role in the death of a certain charismatic Galilean healer and apocalyptic preacher is still being debated today by theologians and historians alike. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator of Judea, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)