I recently finished two books, one after the other, about the historical (as opposed to theological) existence of the man we call Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth is the historical man. Jesus Christ in the theological man. The two books, in chronological order (but in my reverse reading order), are Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth“, and Reza Aslan’s more recent “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth“. As you can surmise, both of these books explore the question of who the actual man named Jesus was, as opposed to the myths and religions we’ve created around him. In short, they attempt to analyze the latest historical scholarship about him, while regurgitating it for the layman. In the process they give their own considered opinion about exactly who Jesus was.
I’ve been drawn into an interesting discussion on a few other blogs. It started the other day while watching the TODAY show as I dressed for work. Matt Lauer had his panel of “experts” addressing controversial topics of the day, and one of them involved “outsourcing” Christmas obligations, like shopping, card sending etc, and the propriety of doing so. In the course of the conversation, Nancy Snyderman said she didn’t like the religious element of Christmas, in effect, it’s what ruins it for her. It was a short exchange, not well fleshed out, but it was clear there was a disagreement between Star Jones, who felt “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” while Snyderman did not.
A friend sent this link to an article on HuffPo to me this week. I took me awhile to read it, then a little longer to reply to my friend. I thought that since my reply was lengthy, and I havent posted anything in awhile, I’d reproduce my response.
Ehrman’s book (which I have not read yet) apparently concludes that Jesus was not a myth, but actually existed. Carrier is a mythicist, concluding that there is little evidence for an historical Jesus. So it’s not surprising that he might disagree with Ehrman. His conclusion, though, is not very dispassionate. In fact it’s downright harsh, to say the least, at times devolving into the personal.
There is far too much discussion about religion in this election. I don’t care who has the better theology, whether one is a better Christian than another, what god says about gays, vaginas or the price of oil for that matter. I don’t care what every two-bit preacher with a mail-order degree thinks. I don’t care what Obama’s pastor said once or twice in the 20 years he attended service in his church (that issue is old news and I don’t want to hear it re-hashed by Santorum).
My good friend JohnEvo (a/k/a The Ancient Atheist, tho’ he’s not so ancient) sent me a link to this video. This is a really good example of the contention that religion has simply become a big business. Here we have a doctor, one schooled, presumably, in science and the necessity of basing the application of medicine on evidence, who’s simply shilling for a book he wrote that supposedly presents evidence for human resurrection. He travels the Extreme Christian circuit of talk shows, web sites and other forms of media hawking his book. The video blogger who created it makes a good case that there’s big bucks in the process, which, to understate it, somewhat diminishes the credibility of the claims.
You know. That New American political movement that is so against big government. The one’s that want government to stay out of our business. Shouldn’t they be rushing in to save the day in cases like this?