I read the Gospels to get to know Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. For a long time I would basically gloss over or outright reject the miracles in the story as legendary accounts, particularly the birth narratives. I wanted insight into he who “made our hearts burn” and sparked a faith that has lasted millenia. It seemed to me that miracles and such obscured who Jesus was: more ignorance from my post-Enlightenment indoctrination. I won’t make that mistake again.
I read the Gospels to get to know Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. For a long time I would basically gloss over or outright reject the miracles in the story as legendary accounts, particularly the birth narratives. I was deeply interested in Jesus of Nazareth the man first, because that is how he become known. I wanted insight into he who “made our hearts burn” and sparked a faith that has lasted millenia. It seemed to me that miracles and such obscured who he was: more ignorance from my post-Enlightenment indoctrination. I won’t make that mistake again.
As Bart Ehrman writes:
The Christian Gospels
- The Gospels are best seen as ancient biographies of Jesus
- Ancient biographies had several distinctive characteristics:
- They were usually based on oral and written sources (sometimes biographers showed a preference for the oral).
- They were less concerned with relating historical events than with showing the character of the main figure through his or her words, deeds, and interactions.
- They did not utilize “character development,” since most ancient people believed that a person’s character was relatively constant throughout his or her life.
- They often portrayed the main figure’s character at the very outset of the narrative.
The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings p.65, Box 4.2
Continue reading “What the Gospels Are”
When I originally read Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God I didn’t get it when she described myth as an alternate way of arriving at very human truths. I was still all too indoctrinated. But as I’ve studied the history of my faith, I learned a thing or too from real and actual scholars.
One of the problems I’ve had in the past with my Christian faith was myth. This is because I had always been unconsciously credulous in accepting the common wisdom that myth equals lie. And further that people who believed myths were credulous fools. Modernity is, after all, dominated by scientific (materialist?) rationalism. It made the myths of my faith occasions for scorn and even anger. Who could believe such drivel? The ancients were barbaric, backward fools! Why should we listen to anything they had to say? Even apologetic attempts to justify these myths by fundamentalists betrayed the insecurity these myths produced because of their lack of rationality and adherence to scientific truth. And so the indoctrination went.
Well, no longer.
Continue reading “Truth of Mythic Proportions”
Finished The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Brilliant book. Though the title is an unfortunate victim of marketing-speak. It’s not an apologetic to convince you of anything except that being convinced means your are doing the God thing wrong. As usual the history she breaks down for the reader is immensely illuminating.
At the end of the day to quest for that Reality some of us call God is quintessentially human with all the attendant good and evil. Faith is more like marriage than some intellectual exercise (or surrender). Religion is work. Some are good at it and some aren’t.
Read it if you dare.