A Possible Gospel And New Testament

More Fun Than Fundamentalism.

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gospel Preface 3: Inspiration and Scripture

Blog-Back to Benjamin, 5/1/06 addendum below

Consider the following New Testament quotations:

Jesus speaking: “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

Jesus speaking: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.” Luke 21:25-27

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.” Eph 6:5-8

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. (Italics mine.)” Luke 16: 28-33

The first pair of quotations is contradictory. The second indicates an aspect of culture in Jesus’ time and place that almost anyone living today would emphatically reject. The term, “non-sequitur” (or, “Huh – How’s that again??”) applies to the third.

Are all writings which the church has declared to be scripture equally inspired? In what sense are they inspired? Do any verses lack inspiration?

Blog-Back: God-Nominees

Benjamin comments: “Its funny - to believe in God in terms of the way the writers of the Gospel believed in God would be regarded as mad nowadays; as schizophrenia.”

But Benjamin’s comment isn’t mad. Consider:

Even at a time and place where supernatural phenomena were given broader and readier credence than they are today, someone claiming identity with God in a special and unique way – “I am literally God, in person, in my own flesh and blood”– would have gone well beyond the supernatural norms of the day.

Jesus was obviously an impressive person. Whatever we may or may not believe about him, we know that after he died a bunch of people decided he was God, and set this belief down in writing several decades later. This doesn’t happen to many of us.

But it did happen to the Buddha. Or almost. (I always forget his real name. Buddha, like Christ is a title, but it means “the awakened one.”) Unlike Jesus, the Buddha lived into old age, and he expressly rejected a movement among some of his followers to divinize him.

During the Middle Ages, we have the phenomenon of Christian mystics who were burned alive and/or under threat of this for speaking in terms that suggested they’d experienced unity with God. In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious that they were speaking from out of their experiences of contemplative prayer (the same process, leading to the same sort of wordless experience, as in Buddhist meditation and the contemplative traditions of other world religions - except Buddhists don’t use the words God or Christ to talk about it afterward).

Assuming Jesus was a deeply sane person, I think this is a fair question: Did Jesus himself believe that he was one with God not in the sense that other deeply sane persons have experienced a profound state of unity with the more-than-self-alone, but in a some special way in which God was totally involved in his body, blood, and personality?

Or is it more likely that followers with no first-hand spiritual experiences themselves of the kind that the great Christian mystics and that the Buddha described, and which he encouraged others to seek, didn’t have ears to hear what Jesus was really saying in terms of becoming one with the Father and losing our lives to find them?

Entirely speculative to think so; but so is practically anything regarding the historical Jesus as distinct from how he was interpreted by the only people who wrote about him.


At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Marissa said...

Since I don't believe in a god per se, it's hard for me to comment on this--I see all of those quotes as the different views of the people who wrote them (and thus not divinely inspired at all). Obviously the ones I agree with have more value to ME. :) I'm probably not contributing to a conversation here, just wanted to comment so you'd know I'm reading! :)

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous SH said...

I am obviously :-) with Marissa on this one. And I am also questioning the value of my point of view for this forum.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger crystal said...

I guess I don't think of the writings of the Bible as inspired in the sense of automatic writing, but I do think of them as being about stuff that really happened, was remembered by others, later written down. So, it's not surprising, I guess, that it isn't all consistant, but still I believe most of it to be trustworthy info.

But I see your point, I think, that if some of the information is contradictory, how can you know which is accurate and which is wrong as a result of ax grinding, transcription errors, translation errors, etc.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger grumblefish said...

Fascinating! again, i can't compare the scriptures or traditions of other religions, but
I don't think that the Bible is meant to be dissected and read ala
carte (though it's equally unlikely that many see connections
as glimpses of a continuum. Nobody
reads it cover-to-cover, in one
sitting). Mankind, agnostic or led
by spirit, is truly outside the
garden, in synthesizing our own
proxies- in effect, by erecting
our own visions of God, Mammon, or
Technology, we inevitably find out that our more perfect vision of the
order of things misses details, or
else, ignores the warts in the model. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the passages
seem to describe events which have
happened since, and are happening even now, given our predilection
to learn slowly, if at all.
I just saw an interesting show
about Archimede's device to measuring time and the precession
of constellations and bodies in the sky. Evidentally, it was the precursor to Babbage's numerical
engine, only around 2,000 years
older, using precise gear ratios
to accurately track time and stars'
apparent motion over periods of 4
years. Ol' Archie got uppity with a
Roman soldier, and most of his writings burned at one or another
fire at the Great Library of Alexandria, so there's no way of
determining how much of modern
technology actually represents a
retracement of ancient discoveries.
The point is, civilization marched
forward without these intellectual
possessions, and was forced to
rediscover what was already known,
as though they had never been previously considered. Even now, we
discover that our current problems
had both precedents and solutions,
had we set aside our intellectual
hubris and looked. Archimedes was
a bit before the time of Christ,
but the Bible itself has had a bumpy enough journey from then to now. When the scriptures express
such quaint homilies about man not
beginning towers that he lacks the
wherewithal to finish, we don't
have to look too hard, to see many
examples of ideas which seemed like
the thing to do, only to find that
other side effects eclipse any
benefits which might accrue. The
difference is, no special schooling
or degrees superceded biblical
cause-and-effect descriptions, and
they were written to be understood
by commoners and people of means
alike - messages which were meant
to inform, rather than divide us.
Ironically, are we not actually
slaves to our own wordly desires,
living at the convenience and in
servitude of our own technology?

At 8:55 PM, Blogger kathy said...

like Marrissa, i too enjoyed reading your post today, but i don't have a comment or anything to add. just wanted you to know i read your post.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

I havent even read the bible so I have no clue :) I can only contribute generally on Religion/Faith...


At 6:15 AM, Blogger Darius said...

SH, MARISSA, KATHY, and KESHI: Thanks for your comments, which, given your similar outlooks, as a couple of you mention, make your responses to this particular post pretty much a no-brainer.

Three or four more posts that are introductory; then on to "A Possible Gospel" itself.

CRYSTAL: "Automatic writing" sounds a lot like "divine dictation," where God is supposed to have literally chosen and spoken the words of scripture. I'm with you there - just don't see how you make a compelling case for such a thing, although it may be that automatic writing as some kind of psychological phenomenon has been demonstrated.

As to the rest, I'm also with you - I find it partly trustworthy and partly not, and for much the same reasons. Don't know yet how much overlap there is between the apects of the text that we find trustworthy or the senses in which we find it trustworthy, but that should be an interesting discussion.

GRUMBLEFISH: I agree completely that to pull out passages in isolation isn't the way to read the Bible, especially when it's done to buttress one's own opinions. Someone else can always pull out other passages.

Here I mainly wanted to make the point that the text to me appears uneven in terms of inspiration; and contains some material that most of us would no longer agree with because our view of the world has changed in many ways.

Yes - I think anyone who reads the Bible comes away with an interpretation of it; and that these interpretations, historically and even for the individual, tend to change somewhat over time. It is, after all, a huge, multiauthored anthology. It can't possibly be expected to display the kind of internal consistency that a single-authored book does.

Which has a lot to do, I think, with your observation that the Bible divides as well as unites Christians.

I think to some extent we may be slaves of technology, living at it's convenience. But I see us mostly as lovers of convenience, leading us to the most expedient technologies without much regard for how we've ruined the habitat for many species and have made a good start toward ruining our own...

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

Hm. Well, I can't really give any educated guesses about the paths that the Biblical messages might have taken from the mind of God to the chunk of writings collected in the Christian bible.

It seems to me that for scripture (Christian and otherwise), the proof of the pudding is in the eating. By this I mean partly that the writings that speak to us on some deep level tip us in to their origins in the divine nature. But I also mean that writings that have been tagged as scripture are generally writings that have survived - and been affirmed as scripture - for millenia. The old testament and new testament writings are some examples, but also the Vedas, Upanishads, Koran and other writings.

Even if we aren't willing to stamp all these scriptures as "inspired", their longevity suggests that we should give them respect that we might not give to ... say ... the Book of Mormon or my latest letter to Grandad.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Preachrboy said...


The fist two passages are not contradictory because they are speaking of different events - the first, the kingdom that Jesus ushers in - the second speaks of the eschaton. You are a little too quick here to judge the text.

Secondly, what you accuse of being a non-sequitor is really just Jesus speaking in hyperbole. Like when he said whoever would be his disciple must "hate his father and mother".

I also suggest you look into the differences between slavery as an institution in the Bible and slavery as expressed in our American history. Very different things.
What the Bible calls slavery, we would more likely think of as servanthood, even if our cultural inclination is not comfortable with that.

A quote from one article:

"...the odious American interpretation of slavery, that denied the justice and rights the Bible teaches should be practiced in the institution of slavery. American slaves were not captured in battle or enslaved to pay off debts. Rather, they were kidnapped, brutalized, and treated like cattle solely because of their race. Walther shows that the American slave masters could hardly claim they were following the Bible. The Bible never teaches the superiority of one person over another by divine right. Rather, the Bible teaches we should "Love our neighbor as ourselves."

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

The only Towers being built are the IVORY kind that are designed to safely protect those who pontificate.

As an exPentecostile and recovering Agnostic I am continually torn between dissolving the historically questionable re-edited uber-truth as fantastic metaphor and the plain as the nose on your face comon sense axioms of a peaceful backwoods carpenter turned preacher or facsimile.

I agree that the a la carte method can be used to solidify one's opposition to anything from Glowbowling to the AntiChrist rising from the United Nations!

The absolute beauty of your 'what's all this then' forum is that we have the priviledge to actually do it. What a great time and place to be alive in.

How about a 'lil Camus to end with...the absurd desire for meaning and clarity in a world that offers neither...is absolutely intoxicating!

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Darius said...

MATTHEW: I agree. On the one hand, I think reflecting critically on sacred texts is critically important. A tradition that doesn't respond to guidance from the spirit in our own time - the best that's in us as living persons - is dead. Discernment, in my view, is ongoing.

On the other hand, as you say, it's not for nothing such texts are revered. The criticism is secondary and only to help, imo, with the positive process of coming to better discern the truth in scripture.

I'd just add that I don't think scripture is the only place where genuine inspiration is to be found; and that some of what we call scripture just isn't inspired (more on that is upcoming...)


Welcome, and that sounds like a good point on those passages about the Kingdom. Jesus certainly appears to have had an apocalyptic point of view, if we go by the many times, throughout the gospels, that he makes it clear that he was expecting the end of time to occur in his own generation.

Yet this would provide another example, not of a textual contradiction, but a major inaccuracy. James Barr's The Scope and Authority of the Bible is a good book regarding the historical inaccuracies and contradictions. I don't have them at my fingertips. As a pastor dealing with the text frequently, I expect you're more familiar with the specifics than I.

The fact that an anthology with a complex history of composition should contain some inaccuracies/contradictions to me in no way invalidates its spiritual authority.

I understand how hating your father and mother, the plank in the eye, and similar sayings are deliberate hyperbole; but you'd need to explain to me how the one I cited as a non-sequitor isn't a non-sequitor.

"Servanthood..." Do you mean something along the lines of indentured servitude? Sounds like you're making a good historical point about the difference with slavery as it existed in the US; yet the NT has lines about slaves being beaten, receiving arbitrary wages (that’s still a good parable, its point, of course, isn't about wages in terms of money)- this just off the top of my head. Anyway, it sounds quite different from how we employ servants today.

HOMOESCAPEONS: Not everyone who lives in an ivory tower lives in an ivory tower!

Existentialism: I enjoyed reading a little Camus and Sartre, or one of those, a long time ago.

To me it was interesting that despite the meaninglessness of life they seemed to describe, they were very much driven to write about what they saw as truth. Seems kind of meaning-driven... What do you think?

At 3:15 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

When Marissa opens with 'I don't believe in a god per se', many of us here seem to agree, at least to have a sense of where she is coming from. Maybe Marissa is an atheist but I get the impression she merely doesn't apply to the traditional Christian interpretation of God as an (external creator and) father figure.

And those earlier words of Darius that 'the reason we no longer perceive gods, goddesses, or prophets walking the earth and taking divine dictation is because changes in society and world-view in the intervening millennia have made it impossible for most of us to view other persons in such terms.' Our concept of God and our faith is influenced by cultural assumptions.

No, I don't believe in scripture but I could do. Its funny, to believe in God in terms of the way the writers of Gospel believed in God would be regarded as mad nowadays, as schizophrenia.


At 3:59 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Well, as usual, I come down on both sides of the fence here, Darius (ouch!)

On the one hand, when an emperor has no clothes, I think someone should say so. And some accepted scriptures are just plain bad, or even nasty -- like the bit (I forget where, in the old testament, where the writer is writing gleefully about slaughtering the infant children of the enemy when sacking a city; no God who inspired that will ever have my alliegance, no way nohow.) Or the bit in Buddhist scripture when the Buddha says final enlightenment will take a lot longer because he's been soft and let women into the game. Ick.

But on the other hand, I think that reading with reverence leads a person to places that reading critically can't. One tenet that our faiths have in common is that it's absolutely necessary to surrender ourselves and be made new; that we have to open ourselves radically. Critical reading is sort of the opposite of that. When I take on the authority to dismiss the text if I dislike it or disapprove of it, haven't I just condemned myself to be imprisoned in my present understanding?

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: Please see the "blog-back" added to this post.

HI DALE: To me, surrender - or its opposite, a life of not surrendering - is not related to critical thinking in the way you suggest.

Spiritual surrender is surrender of the ego - the small, unenlighted, or sinful self that is alienated from the one in whom we live and move and have our being, to paraphrase Saint Paul.

Critical thinking isn't thinking for the sake of being critical. It's being open to the possibility of surrendering one's preconcieved notions and preferred conclusions, or finding them confirmed - either way. It's following and not leading.

It's surrender.

At 9:34 PM, Blogger Preachrboy said...

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. (Italics mine.)” Luke 16

Hyperbole. Directly analagous to "hating one's parents". Strong language to overstate a point about priorities.

Surely the Jesus who honored his parents and taught love for all men can't be understood to mean we should literally hate our parents.

Likewise, it is wrong to say that Jesus condemns owning private property. But on occasion he jolted people with the extreme words like these (thinking also of the rich young ruler) in order to convict of the sin of materialism and/or to simply make a point about priorities. Jesus comes first. Before family. Before posessions. The theme of this whole section is: "consider the cost"

Hyperbole. Not non sequitor.

At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They say the victors get to write history. When it comes to the Bible, the victors (orthodox Christianity as we know it today) got to edit it at least. Out went the so-called gnostic gospels of Mary, Thomas, Phillip and so on. These are the gospels that are said to represent the mystical messages of Jesus, ones that encourage followers to speak directly to the divine without the need for intercession from priests and ministers. These gospels were labelled as heretical, much as contemplative pray and meditation are today in some conservative Christian circles. Direct contact with God and Christ's secret teachings are considered dangerous by some, but there were early Christians who believed the mystical teachings of Jesus were the ones that were seminal. If that is so, then orthodox Christianity may have won a Pyrrhic victory.

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One needs to be careful when quoting from the Bible. As Shakespeare wrote, "The devil can cite scripture to his purpose."

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Darius said...

PREACHRBOY: A non-sequitur is a statement that doesn't follow logically from what was previously said.

You're only concentrating on the final sentence, which, yes, is hyperbolic. We can't literally subsist as "flowers of the field."

But that sentence is a non sequitur as well, because it doesnt logically derive from all the sentences that preceed it. It's written as if it's a conclusion drawn from the preceeding sentences in the paragraph. But logcically it doesn't follow.

ANONYMOUSES might want to invent pseudonyms. I'm assuming you're two different people...

ANONYMOUS I: I'm amazed that there may be "conservatives" - ? - who reject their own contemplative tradition, which is at least as ancient as the belief aspect of the faith. Christianity becomes a group of statements to which we are to give assent.

Where then did Yahweh go - I Am That I Am, the living God beyond words? And where is religious experience?

ANONYMOUS II: Your statement speaks for itself.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hello. Guess I'm quite honoured to have made the front page. Did Jesus think he was the son of God? Possibly. Did he just feel God was in everyone and everything? Possibly. I don't believe Jesus was the son of God but I can attest to the power of Jesus, there is a strength there that one can call on.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Both the anonymous quotes were by me. Sorry. I don't have a blog.

This is where I got the idea that some conservative Christians are against meditation, contemplative prayer and mysticism:

What's next? Burning incense, contemplative prayer, and tapes by Benedictine monks? Going into an altered state of consciousness? Is this the next wave of medicine?

It doesn't help when some of our churches today push the mystical, again reinforcing methods we need to avoid. If I were to name some top evangelicals today who are pushing such mysticism in a new DVD, "Be Still and Know," you would be quite alarmed.

The enemy is using deceitful practices today to further his agenda in these last days. People are literally caving in to "doctrines of demons" and "not giving heed to sound doctrine" (I and II Timothy).

To learn about today's rampant deception, visit this category at my Web sitehttp://www.olivetreeviews.org/topics/spiritual_deception.shtml

We are in a last days’ age of rampant deception and delusion for which we almost need a spiritual “Better Business Bureau.”


Perhaps if someone like Jesus appeared today, he or she would not be accused of schizophrenia but of being possessed by demons. If there was a "Spiritual Better Business Bureau," I wonder who would be on the board of directors? From the article, I gather not the Dali Lama.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: And thanks for such a thought-provoking comment. I also find plenty to question in the doctrines and theologies that have been propounded in Jesus' name, while at the same time find so much light refracted through scripture that I find the person of Jesus, in so far as I hope I'm discerning him, endlessly inspiring.

RACHEL: Scary stuff, I looked at the links. It's hard to know what to call the extreme right-wing of Christianity. To dismiss the Desert Fathers, Saints Augustine, John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, etc. etc...

It's hard to understand their view of themselves as "conservative" when they reject the contemplative aspect of the Christian tradition, which is at least as old as the doctrinal aspects. I wonder what they suppose Jesus was doing in the desert those forty days and forty nights.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

I have never read the New Testament, and as you know, as a Jew, I do not believe Jesus is the son of God.

That being said, I find your blog quite informative, and you ask some very good questions, with superior intellect as well.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Hello Darius,

I guess what I glean from your recent post, is your trouble with some verses which contradict or are outright inexplicable.

The way I look at it, or have come to look at it is

a) what is the big picture? What is the overall messege of the New Testament? (or any text?) ~ grumblefish alludes to this too.

b) where do find our connection with Reality, or God? (Jesus? Buddah? Tao? Ect)

I find lots of passages difficult to understand, difficult to accept, ect. Is this in itself a problem with the source; with the content of the text; or my understanding or lack of knowledge? Depends.

The typical 'scholarly' Islamic retourt for those passeges you mentioned is that the Old and New Testament are not reliable, because of the manner in which they were written and identified. Personally, I think that is a bit harsh, I dislike just wholesale throwing out another religious viewppoint, but I do think there may be a grain of truth this idea, nonetheless.

Maybe I will try to interpret these verses from an islamic vantage point later from my blog. If I am able, God willing.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BARBARA: As a Christian, I also don't believe Jesus was the Son of God - not in the sense of having a special identity with an Other-God such that he was Other-God in the flesh and personality, walking and talking and smiling like a kind of divine alien among us.

I didn't put that very well or explain all my terms, such as "Other-God" - but will as I get into the "Possible Gospel" itself and past these introductory posts.

Of course a lot of Christians would say this means I'm not a Christian. But certainly I was raised in that tradition; and certainly The New Testament has influenced me more than any other book. Without getting into what it is or isn't to be a Christian, people could google "Open Christianity" for an approach that isn't based on doctrine. And of course the Unitarians have been around for a while, though never in large numbers. (And I've always been a bit murky on what their faith consists of, which may well just be me - any Unitarians out there?)

KEVIN - Yes, what you say and Grumblefish alluded to makes perfect sense to me: it goes back to grade school and reading comprehension. "What's the main idea of this story?"

Not that there will be universal agreement, even taking that approach, on how we interpret scripture; but I think it would at least tend to increase the degree of agreement, and point out the silliness of pulling out verses to support our personal positions on sundry issues.

The contradictions and inaccuracies don't personally bother me at all, or call into question the ways in which I find scripture truthful. I pulled those verses to engage conservative readers, who sometimes have that tendency to want to insist The New Testament is "inerrant" or error-free, when it plainly is not.

When people take the view that the text is error free because it was literally written by God - God chose the actual language, so gee, it's God, it's gotta be true - then they feel they have to somehow explain away even the most clear and obvious factual flaws. Turn them into secret codes - anything! Because if God "said it," it must be true.

It's pretty clear that scripture is not highly reliable in some senses. Those who try to make it into science of historiography - well, it just isn't. It antedates the scientific method and the standards for research and at least attempted objectivity practiced in historiography as we know it today. It does have history in it, but it's blended in with different kinds of narratives and literature - what you might expect from a anthology written by many different authors over thousands of years.

To me, this doesn't detract from our ability to read the texts as sources of great spiritual truth, inspiration, and wisdom.

Since as a matter of historical fact Christianity and Islam are developments that came out of Judaism, I suspect that as scripture-based religions, we face many of the same basic questions, including what is scripture, what does it mean to speak of God's word, what is inspiration, and how does the experiential or contemplative ("mystical")aspect of our various traditions relate to their doctrinal aspects.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I have sometimes wondered how else Christ could have understood himself. He could work miracles, heal the sick, even bring back the dead. (According to the stories, anyway -- pretty much all the stories agree on this; I don't see why Jesus shouldn't have believed it, if everyone else did.) His tradition drew, as I understand it, an absolute distinction between human and divine -- there was no room in it for human beings with supernatural powers. He knew he wasn't possessed. What else could he think?

At 5:46 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Still thinking over what you say about surrender and critical thinking. I'm pretty sure you're both right and wrong about it :-)

At 6:48 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

"What the Bible calls slavery, we would more likely think of as servanthood, even if our cultural inclination is not comfortable with that."

I've heard that one before, but I'm an old lion, so I won't invite you to pull the other one.

If you want a small and humorous (albeit politically incorrect) introduction into the culture you are romanticizing, look up Jean Shepherd on the Internet and download his radio broadcast saved as 1964-10-15_Tuareg_culture.mp3, if you can find it. I just looked and it seems to be “missing”. I wonder why it was pulled... Muslim sensitivity, or the Volkswagon?

At 4:56 PM, Blogger Darius said...

DALE: You're right about the tremendous overlap in Mark, Matthew, and Luke - the "synoptic" gospels.

The similarities are so striking that scholars are sure that it represents not three independent sources, but three people writing largely on the basis of a single written source that's been lost to which all three had access. It's called the "Q" source, I forget what the Q stands for.

At 5:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forget what the Q stands for

Quelle, German for "source". (Not incredibly imaginative, eh?)

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Darius said...

ANONYMOUS: No, but to the point I guess! Thanks.

At 3:12 AM, Anonymous jazzy said...

I find your blog very interesting. I'm wondering where you are going with this line of thought. I look forward to reading more.

I have to say though, that I disagree with you that the first two quotes are contradictory. From what I understand, they are not speaking of the same point in time or the same event. I think you may have taken the quotes out of context.

Please do not take my comment in a bad way. I think you are a very well-informed thinking individual. It's rare to find a religious person these days who actually thinks for themselves and disects the scriptures in search of knowledge. You are a breath of fresh air!

I myself have given up on religion all together. However, I still find my interest piqued when I read something like this!

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Darius said...

JAZZY: That was my original problem - I'd given up on religion too. Then, many years ago, it snuck up behind me and whomped me over the head without using a Bible, even though outside of that dope slap from Infinity (I know, not a good metaphor), The New Testament has influenced me more than anything else.

Preachrboy, in his first comment above, also comments on the non-contradictory status of those first two first quotes, but it happens that the information he provided seems to help make my larger point, as I explain in my reply to him.

However, it's good to have people out there who have studied the Bible - Crystal is another - who can help add that kind of clarifying information. I've read it, and I know the generalities around its composition - one of them being that it has many historical inaccuracies and contradictions, which for me doesn't make it any less important. (For details on that, James Barr's, The Scope and Authority of the Bible ie excellent - he started out as a fundamentalist but ended up rejecting that position. Really knows his Bible, to say the least...)

But personally, I've never studied the Bible in its historical and cultural context passage by passage the way some readers have, so I appreciate corrections and clarifying information.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Typo180 said...

I know this is an old post, but I just thought I'd point out a few things about your intro:

1) The first two passages only contradict if you equate the coming of the Kingdom of God with the second coming of Christ. These are actually completely separate events/ideas.

2) Your judgment on the third passage is based on your interpretation through the eyes of our culture today. It doesn't make sense to judge that teaching within the context of a culture that abhors slavery. If you accept slavery as present in a culture(even if you don't agree with it) then the teaching is in line with other Biblical teachings. Obliviously, the abolition of slavery was not one of the main goals of Jesus' teaching, but there are many other issues of social justice that were not addressed.

3) The 4th passage is Luke 14:28, not 16. The point at the end does follow from the analogy in that Jesus is telling his disciples to count the cost of following him before they get into the middle of it, realize they aren't willing/able to be his disciple, and turn back.

I haven't directly consulted scholarly sources to make these points, but it's pretty important to do the legwork and make sure you're interpreting the Bible in context of the original language, culture, and authors. Especially if you're making great claims about the Bible (for or against). It just doesn't make sense to interpret a 2000 year-old Jewish document written in Greek and Hebrew solely in the context of contemporary American culture in English.


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