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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Quick but Perhaps Disturbing Thought

I'm reading a Bishop Spong (Episcopal Bishop) book. I've read most of them and now a new one to me that came into being in 2009.

Just a quick outline of one of the new and disturbing ideas.

Paul, his writings the earliest written, has two simple statements: Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. and He was buried. Mark was the first Gospel written, somewhere between 50 and 75 c.e. (Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 c.e.), and only wrote 8 verses are about the Easter narrative, while over 100 are about the last 24 hours.

The point that struck me was that the disciples scattered, so there was no one to give an historical type account. None of them were with Jesus during his prayer time in the garden, before the Jewish leaders, in the interview with Pilate, they scattered away from the crucifixion, were not at the burial, did not stand by the tomb, and were not there when the empty tomb was found. Of course, Paul was not present for any of it and took what he knew about it from Peter, and he only wrote 13 words about it. It would seem that is all Peter told him.

Even though they did not have a first hand knowledge of the Passion, the developing Jesus Movement leaders could not ignore the impact of Jesus on their lives and the lives of many, especially in Galilee which was primarily populated by the poor, and by the way also heavily Gentile. So not being present at the events, they looked to the scriptures (what we call the Old Testament). And there they found ways to speak about what surely had happened.

He says the accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection cannot possibly be historical. They are liturgical and based heavily on Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. I re-read those 2 yesterday, and it is really striking. He is not saying the the crucifixion and resurrection didn't happen. He is saying that not being present for the key events, the disciples had to find a way that made sense to them to speak about the whole thing, and they found it in their Jewish scriptures.

A lot to think about.

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