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Monday, July 2, 2018

The Problem with History

How do we ever know what really happened? If we flip around channels listening to "news," we can quickly see that even what happened this morning cannot be agreed upon. So what about hundreds or thousands of years ago?

My particular interest has been focused primarily on the 1st century CE. Most written documents of the day have not been found up until now. Paul's letters,written around 51 to 60 CE, are much later copies. Scholars are able to identify that some elements of Paul's letters are insertions from some later scribe, but it is assumed that for the most part his 7 letters that have been authenticated are what he really wrote.

A careful reader of the Gospels will note that there are significant differences in details and often also in theology. Who was at the tomb first? Did the risen Jesus tell them to meet in Jerusalem or return to Galilee? When did Jesus become the son of God? At his baptism or at his birth or from the beginning of time? Was he the adopted son?

The people of the early church had heated debates over these and other things pertinent to the development of the faith.

What bothers me, as a person who wants to know, is there are no definitive  answers. There were no recordings, no cameras, practically no literate people. And from the git go, there were wildly divergent ideas flying around. And there still are.

There are hundreds of different versions of Christianity this very minute. Each of them is sure their version is THE right one.

It takes a lot of study, contemplation, prayer, and common sense to wind our way through this maze of thought and opinion. I am fascinated by the journey.

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