What would Jesus blog for International Blog Against Racism Week?

August 8, 2007 at 8:15 pm 23 comments

Hands ShakingAugust 6-12 is International Blog Against Racism Week.

Racism is a serious issue for the Christian church especially in America. I’ve attended churches in the past where racist jokes were a part of the everyday conversation of many of the parishioners.

My wife grew up in a pentecostal church (Assemblies of God) in South St. Louis. After we were engaged, her pastor’s wife pulled her aside and told her that God did not approve of inter-racial marriages (I’m of East-Indian descent). She quoted a few Old Testament scriptures to support her point. At our wedding, several of the families from her church did not attend because they did not support our marriage. This even included the family who was instrumental in getting Stella and her family to church when she was a little girl.

Again, I should point out that the Bible was used as a justification for their racism. Yes, a majority of the scriptures were found in the Old Testament. However, even Jesus demonstrated bigotry as evident in this passage:

Matthew 15:22-28 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

If this is how Jesus feels about other races, I’m not sure he’d be a welcome participant in this week’s blog event.

- The de-Convert

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Perfecting God’s “Perfect” Law? The hypocrisy of today’s Christian Leaders

23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The de-Convert  |  August 8, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    In Jesus defense, here’s an explanation from http://christian-thinktank.com/ :

    The image Jesus has chosen is an image of endearment, not insult. The picture of supper-time, with little kids at the table, and their pet “puppies” (the Greek word for ‘dog’ here is not the standard, ‘outside’ dog–which MIGHT BE an insult–, but is the diminutive word, meaning ‘household pets, little dogs’…) at their feet, maybe tugging on their robes for food or play. The puppies, dear to the children and probably so too to the master (cf. 2 Sam 12.3f: but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.), were to be fed AFTER the children (notice: not DENIED food–there was no “NO” in Jesus image–only “WAIT”). But the temporal order is clear–Jesus must take care of His disciples FIRST, and if meeting her need involved interrupting their rest and GOING SOMEWHERE, then it was going to have to wait.

    If this is the case, then the woman’s reaction would be unmerited when she responded “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” She must have misunderstood Jesus’ “image of endearment.” To me it’s clear that the woman took this statement to be offensive even if she did not respond in like manner but accepted her position in society. Also, why was this considered “great faith”?

  • 2. JumpingFromConclusions  |  August 8, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Yeah, I’m also not so sure Jesus would join the blogosphere on this topic. He ignored a woman and then compared her to a dog because of the region where she grew up. It’s definitely racist, complete with a racial slur.

    I’m actually writing a piece questioning Jesus’ alleged moral perfection right now, and that little exchange is a key part in it.

  • 3. julieH  |  August 8, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    First of all, I think the racism stinks, and those from the church who apply it are being lousy representatives of Christ. Here’s another perspective from Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible, a plug-in to e-sword bible software –

    “The term is designed as an expression of the highest contempt. The Saviour means to say that he was sent to the Jews. The woman was a Gentile. He meant merely using a term in common use, and designed to test her faith in the strongest manner – that it did not comport with the design of his personal ministry to apply benefits intended for the Jews to others. Evidently he cannot be understood as intending to justify or sanction the use of such terms, or calling names. He meant to try her faith. As if he had said, “You are a Gentile; I am a Jew. The Jews call themselves children of God. You they vilify and abuse, calling you a dog. Are you willing to receive of a Jew, then, a favor? Are you willing to submit to these appellations to receive a favor of one of that nation, and to acknowledge your dependence on a people that so despise you?” It was, therefore, a trial of her faith, and was not a lending of his sanction to the propriety of the abusive term. He regarded her with a different feeling.”

  • 4. StaCeY  |  August 9, 2007 at 5:46 am

    Jesus regularly spoke in sign and symbol.
    (something I personally would love to see more people engaging in). Things POINT to things…
    deeper things… other meanings…

    Jesus obviously did not despise this woman!
    He engagued with her! a WOMAN… and a “foreigner” no less! She not only knew faith…
    but she understood the underlying subtulty of meaning in Jesus words! He was delighted with her answer! She GOT IT. He acknowledged her FAITH and HER INTELLIGENCE! He healed her daughter! (a CHILD a GIRL and a FORIEIGNER)
    jESUS always went against the racist mindsets of those who surrounded him. Children… women… “enemies” of the Jews (the race of which He was born).

    If the immediate healing of a terribly suffering and troubled child constitutes “table scraps” then LORD JESUS rain down your table scraps on me!

    Jesus was never quick to speak.
    He weighed his words wisely…
    and often waited for others to speak first…
    so that HIS RESPONSES … to everyone… to entire situations… would come through more poingnantly and pointedly. Like music breathing with space… speaks of deeper things… as the phrases come alive there… life itself is a living story… a call and response.

    Words can be interpreted in as many different ways as we are different! But how can one put a negative spin on Jesus ACTUAL RESPONSE? Jesus was a healer of people… and he loved everyone. His actions tell that story with total clarity… in SPITE of the stupidity he was surrounded by.

    I think it’s a matter of listening between the lines… and in the silences. They speak volumes.

    (sorry to dissapoint all of you literalists out there…
    spinning silly yarns to explain away what you do not understand. It would be better to wait in the silence for a truth to emurge… still that would not mean you are “ignoring” the situation.)

    Let’s learn to translate LIFE…
    instead of twisting words every which way to make them mean what we want them to. (or cover the discomfort that arises out of not knowing… when for some reason we always think we should have an answer or an explination.)

    Really I’m not out to be exclusionary in my comments… or “pick on anyone”…but I’m trying to get at something deeper….

    Don’t know if I’ve succeeded.

  • 5. StaCeY  |  August 9, 2007 at 5:56 am

    I said…

    “jESUS always went against the racist mindsets of those who surrounded him. Children… women… “enemies” of the Jews (the race of which He was born)”.

    but somehow never completed my thought.

    By “those who surrounded him” I meant the 12…his deciples…. the pharisees… and his race as a whole.

    He regularly reached out to all of those who the world around him rejected. Lepers… women… children… samaritans…. Let the children come unto me. We are all Father’s Children.
    Jesus’ prayer was that we would all be one as he and Father are one. His own actions did not exclude any race sex or creed from this family.

    Why is Jesus so misunderstood in every possible way?

  • 6. robd  |  August 9, 2007 at 9:19 am

    I wonder how long it will take before someone remarks that
    Martin Luther King was a christian;
    and forgets to mention that the leader of the KKK was too.
    The bible has always been used to “justify” already-held beliefs.

  • 7. The de-Convert  |  August 9, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Stacey,

    Maybe he’s misunderstood because he was misquoted :) Of course that would open up the possibility of the BIble being fallible. The way I see it, you can’t believe Jesus is everything you stated AND that the Bible is infallible. One has to give.

    Check out this earlier post and let me know what you think:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/03/27/wwjd-series-jesus-and-family-values/

    Paul

  • 8. Brad  |  August 9, 2007 at 10:59 am

    “After we were engaged, her pastor’s wife pulled her aside and told her that God did not approve of inter-racial marriages (I’m of East-Indian descent).”

    I would love to “lay-on-hands” of said pastor and his wife (Neh. 13: 21).

    “Again, I should point out that the Bible was used as a justification for their racism.”

    Electricity is used for capital punishment. Food is used as political leverage in starving countries. Freedom is used to take advantage of the innocent. Even the most good and pure things of this world can be twisted and used for evil by evil people. Just because they are used as such does not mean that they are also evil. It is tragic, assuredly, but the evil/immorality is found in the “user,” not the item used for evil.

    Others have already expounded on Jesus’ place in this debate (particularly Julie H. in comment #3), so I will refrain from diluting their already powerful explanation.

    Jesus was the “great leveler.” Everything about his ministry and message is that we should love all people sacrificially, even our enemies, regardless of race, religion, creed, or socio-economic class. Taking a few verses out of context and applying our own understanding to an ancient text gives a very limited (and easily misinterpreted) view of that fact.

    However, Christians and non-Christians alike are severely guilty of this. Paul, my heart truly goes out to you for the horrible crime committed to you on behalf of someone calling themselves Christian. The Bible has been, and is continued to be used as a “carte blanc” for abuse, discrimination, and sheer spite.

    On that note, if you still have the address for said pastor, I would love it if you could send their info to me. I live in St. Louis, and would have no problem informing them of their error personally.

    “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,”
    (Luke 17:3)

    I have my own scriptural back-up for injustice.

  • 9. superhappyjen  |  August 9, 2007 at 11:57 am

    I don’t personnally know enough about the bible to comment on what Jesus meant when he said this or that. But I don’t really care. I have my own morals that aren’t based on what any one person says or does.

  • 10. JumpingFromConclusions  |  August 9, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    I really think granting Jesus innocence here is just making the text say what one wants it to say. It avoids what is actually recorded in the text. This woman is crying out to Jesus, asking him for help. He ignores her. He does not answer her at all until the disciples speak up to him, complaining about her (apparently she kept it up for a little while). He tells her he was only sent for the Israelites, but she stays and kneels before him anyway. Jesus then compares Canaanites to dogs and denies her his healing. She responds to that with a quick-thinking smart saying, and Jesus heals her daughter. He says it is because of her great faith, but it seems to me he did it because of the woman’s heady response. She showed great faith the first time she cried out for help, just by believing that Jesus could heal her daughter. So if Jesus was healing based on her faith, he would have done it before ignoring her and comparing her to a dog. Instead, he appears to have come across a quick-witted woman who would not leave him alone, so he rewards her thinking and her perseverance with a healed daughter.

  • 11. Heather  |  August 9, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I really think granting Jesus innocence here is just making the text say what one wants it to say. It avoids what is actually recorded in the text.

    I can understand this, and partially agree. One of the frustrating things in dealing with inerrancy is that the Bible is approached with the conclusion already in place. If Jesus can do no wrong, then this passage doesn’t mean what it says, we have to apply another meaning to it. Same with any other verse that has negative connotations. I mean, the reasons to explain away the troublesome passages can sometimes be five times as long as the passage itself.

    This doesn’t really happen with the positive passages.

  • 12. Brad  |  August 9, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    This is why a contextualized reading is so important. How can we possibly assume that “how words mean” for us today is anything like the way words mean 2,000 years ago? Anyone can apply meaning to the bible, but drawing meaning from the bible requires us to look beyond the surface and engage the context.

    Heather said,
    “If Jesus can do no wrong, then this passage doesn’t mean what it says, we have to apply another meaning to it.”

    This “assumption” is not generated out of the blue, or from even just a few verses, but from the whole, horizontal and vertical substance of scripture. Taking one example from the whole that “may” seem contradictory by modern context does not constitute an identity, much less Jesus’ probable stance.

    Here are a couple other related events from the context:
    - In John 4:5, Jesus drinks water drawn from a well by an adulterous Samarian woman who had multiple affairs and was living with a man not her husband. There was no more of an “unclean” person than she (particularly as Jews reviled Samarians), yet Jesus showed her kindness and forgave her of all these “unclean” acts.

    - This same event is recounted in Mark 7, where Jesus said “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (27) This phrasing of the statement truly brings to light the explanation that Julie H quoted in comment #3.

    Israel, as God’s people, were given the “Good News” first because they were God’s chosen. Their preference was NOT because other races were “inferior,” or bearing God’s image any less. Inf act, the Jews did proselytize, and there were many Jews who were not necessarily “hebrew” by blood. Paul uses variations of the phrase “For the Jew first, but also for the gentile,” in many writings (particularly Romans). This has NOTHING to do with race, and everything to do with the concept of being one of “God’s children,” and being a part of the “covenant community” (a whole other topic in itself).

    Anyone can pull verses from the context and co-text. They will NOT have full or correct meaning without context and co-text.

  • 13. Thinking Ape  |  August 9, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Brad says,

    Their preference was NOT because other races were “inferior,” or bearing God’s image any less.

    How would you support this? This sounds an awful lot like your placing your own anachronistic values of plurality on 1st century Jews and Jewish Christians (again, to be distinguished from Paul, which such notions keep coming back to).

    How can we possibly assume that “how words mean” for us today is anything like the way words mean 2,000 years ago?

    And yet you feel perfectly comfortable with switching from one book to another – I don’t think you quoted the same book twice! The de-Convert was writing about Matthew, and you cited both John and Mark and then moved into Romans. Is this what you consider context? So if I read a book by Bill O’Reilly concerning George Bush, I can use that as context on a book by Noam Chomsky on the same subject?

  • 14. JumpingFromConclusions  |  August 9, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    **This is why a contextualized reading is so important. How can we possibly assume that “how words mean” for us today is anything like the way words mean 2,000 years ago?**

    I don’t know, but that’s what God supposedly left us with. Instead of giving us something that makes sense, we have to argue and debate over the true meaning, with no one ever reaching a conclusion that can be agreed upon. And as much as we try, we cannot truly put ourselves in the shoes of a first-century person. So since we can never fully understand what it was like in biblical times, does that mean we cannot gain anything from the Bible?

    This also reminds me of something that the Debunking Christianity writers are discussing right now. Here is a recent quote of John W. Loftus: “In fact, there is nothing in the Bible that could not have been written by a person without divine revelation in that era at all. Everything reflects the age in which it was written. Why is that?”

    **This phrasing of the statement truly brings to light the explanation that Julie H quoted in comment #3.**

    But what Julie H quoted in comment 3 is a real example of: “When Jesus said that, he didn’t really mean that. Here’s what he meant: . . . ” and then the author went on to replace Jesus’ actual quote with one of his/her own. That’s what the author may want the text to say, but it is not what the text actually says.

    **Israel, as God’s people, were given the “Good News” first because they were God’s chosen. Their preference was NOT because other races were “inferior,” or bearing God’s image any less.**

    Well, I find it very strange that God has any chosen people at all, if he is an all-good God. Just as a parent isn’t supposed to play favorites, neither should a deity. I guess that’s another topic altogether, but it just makes no sense to me that the God of the universe would pick one group of people as his favorite or chosen people.

    **Anyone can pull verses from the context and co-text. They will NOT have full or correct meaning without context and co-text.**

    Using the Mark 7 co-text just supports the theory that Jesus found a woman to be inferior because she was not an Israelite. She was still referred to as a dog in Jesus’ illustration. In the illustration, the children get the good food, while the dogs get crumbs. Crumbs may be something, but it is not nearly as good as the real thing. So in both Mark 7 and Matthew 15, outsiders to Israel are considered lesser than Israelites. That is racism, no different than if I was a doctor and I treated all my white patients before treating any minority patients.

    The Mark 7 text also bolsters my theory that Jesus healed the daughter because of the woman’s quick-witted response more than anything.

  • 15. Brad  |  August 9, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    TA,

    “How would you support this? This sounds an awful lot like your placing your own anachronistic values of plurality on 1st century Jews and Jewish Christians”

    1st century Jews, in many ways, did see other peoples and nations as “inferior.” Samarians are a good example. I far more meant to say that they (Jesus and Paul at the minimum) did not conform to this discriminatory attitude. And during the 1st century, plurality was quite common due to the unification under Pax Romana, and the increased volume of communication and travel made possible by roads and mail systems. Certainly, it was a different view of plurality, but not unlike our own.

    “And yet you feel perfectly comfortable with switching from one book to another”
    Absolutely! If each of the gospel authors had a sujective view of the same objective truth, taking into account each view and their perspective helps us form a better picture of the objective truth. To use an analogy, we can better replicate a building from pictures of 4 different photographers from different sides of the building, than just from one photographer taking a picture of the front.

    “The de-Convert was writing about Matthew, and you cited both John and Mark and then moved into Romans. Is this what you consider context?”

    Very much so. The problem I have with The de-Convert’s analysis is that only taking one quote from an entire book of quotes and forming a perception or identity around that, is a fallacy. Mark in particular, gave an account of the same event that Matthew did. If a detective were trying to figure out what happened at a crime scene, would he consult only one witness? Would he base the entire case on one (or even a few) piece of evidence? He would be a fool to make any conclusion that did not weigh the WHOLE body of evidence. There is nothing wrong with bringing in other parts of the bible to explain and give light to individual points.

    “So if I read a book by Bill O’Reilly concerning George Bush, I can use that as context on a book by Noam Chomsky on the same subject?”

    The situation is different, but yes. A critical analysis of where each are coming from would be important. I am not saying that each of the gospel writers are to be taken literally at face value. We must ask the text questions. Your example is somewhat helpful, yet these two perspectives are far more polar than Matthew and Mark, John, or Paul.

  • 16. Brad  |  August 9, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    JFC,

    “Instead of giving us something that makes sense, we have to argue and debate over the true meaning, with no one ever reaching a conclusion that can be agreed upon.”

    But it does! It made great sense to people in the first 3-4 centuries. As culture has changed, society has evolved, and all manner of history has happened, we must interpret through the context it was written. Why else would we need commentaries? Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to us, but it is because the authors are using figures of speech, language, slang, and symbolism unfamiliar with us today. Do you think that a 1st or 2nd century Christian would understand what we mean by saying that something is “cool”? Or do you think you would need to explain it to them within the context that you live?

    “And as much as we try, we cannot truly put ourselves in the shoes of a first-century person. So since we can never fully understand what it was like in biblical times, does that mean we cannot gain anything from the Bible?”
    A very legitimate question. We view it through our own subjective lens. But just because we cannot know 100%, objective, absolute truth, does not mean that we cannot learn “enough of it.” We can gain VERY much from the Bible. Just because we will never fully understand does not mean we cannot relate, empathize, and understand to a great degree.

    In reading ANYTHING, we will never fully be able to be in the shoes of an author, but does that make the book any less worth reading? Does it make a song not worth listening to?

    “That’s what the author may want the text to say, but it is not what the text actually says.”
    Literally, you are correct. But it does not mean that it conveys different meaning. We have multiple translations of scripture. Some of the most literal translations (wooden, word for word) simply do not make sense because of the differences between the Greek and English languages. But, while words may change over the years, we can glean meaning. For example, due to context and an understanding of the Hebrew culture, we can know that when Jesus said “My yoke is easy,” he does not ONLY mean “burden” or “yoke,” but also “teaching,” and “guidance. Multiple words are used to convey the same or similar meaning.

    “Well, I find it very strange that God has any chosen people at all, if he is an all-good God. Just as a parent isn’t supposed to play favorites, neither should a deity.”

    Why is this? If there is a God who created the universe, why must he be forced to work in ways that we dictate and expect? Multiple times in the OT, it says that God entered into covenant with Abraham so his seed could be a “blessing to all nations.” Setting apart His chosen people is intended to yield very good and positive benefits to the whole world.

    “That is racism, no different than if I was a doctor and I treated all my white patients before treating any minority patients.”
    I honestly do not have an answer for you beyond what Julie already stated. I certainly see and do not deny how one can come to your conclusion, but I do know that (at a minimum) the rest of Jesus’ actions in scripture do not support the claim that he was racist.

    “The Mark 7 text also bolsters my theory that Jesus healed the daughter because of the woman’s quick-witted response more than anything.”
    Then why would he say, “great is your faith,” or the many times that he has said “your faith has healed you” elsewhere in scripture? (Mark 5: 34 for example)

  • 17. StaCeY  |  August 9, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Hey The de-Convert…

    Well I’m not actually one for biblical “infallability”.
    (how’d you get the smiley in here?!)
    How can a book be infallable anyway?…
    when we each see things through our own eyes…
    experience… perspective… personality.

    Some people thrive in disection… explination…or sarcasm and humor… some in explatives… some in more proper gentile language…
    some in symbology… analogy… allegory…

    and those last three in particular would rather describe me.
    So is it really any wonder that I dig Jesus’ parables so much…
    and reach deep into everything he (was recorded to have) said … in light of allegory? In fact that is almost always how Father speaks to me in the old testament as well. Allegorically. I love literature and film and verse that speak in allegory. I actually thirst for it.

    Is it any wonder than that I do NOT dig at all the self appointed apostle paul’s writings? flat. like a board. and people beat each other over the head with it continually.

    I read the link you referenced… and can honestly say that every single thing there made total sense to me.
    Jesus did not speak like a wuss. He was a spiritual signpost. He spent three years implanting signs. Too bad the “churches” do not teach people how to READ LIFE SIGNS.

    You’re better off in art and literature… music…
    to learn the FINE art of “reading”.

    At another period in my life… I used to say that the Carlos Castenada books were my “bible”.
    I CLUNG to the supernatural vision there.
    But I ALSO loved the absolutely OUTRAGEOUS teaching tactics and techniques of don juan and genero.
    Were they “nice” teachers? LOLROTF!

    Teachers GUIDE their students into SELF realization and personal inner understanding.
    Hell! Jesus only had three years to rip open the veil and reveal the Kingdom of God on earth!

    Would you have prefered he sat around singing kumbuyah … handing out stupid little peace tunic ribbons… at his multicultural peace fest while serving unlimited fish and wine and bread?

    In the face of lies and slavery…
    the truth is often cruel.

    I rather see that God infallably speaks to each one of us…
    where we are willing to hear HIm…. and see Him.

    I’m willing to hear and see Him everywhere…
    and in everything. So I do… hear and see Him there…
    speaking everywhere.

    Sometimes He speaks and says “now that… my daughter… is a heaping pile of bull shit. go tip the cow.”

  • 18. Thinking Ape  |  August 9, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Brad,

    I far more meant to say that they (Jesus and Paul at the minimum) did not conform to this discriminatory attitude.

    Yes, I realize this is your position, but I am still unconvinced that the two characters are uniform in their treatment. Both were obviously reacting to the clash of Roman and Jewish cultures, which had shown that people liked the piety and legality of Jewish culture and religion, but at the same time didn’t care much for some of its oddball laws. The problem is that already in the 1st century people were already believing whatever they pretty much wanted about Jesus and so we have very different views, even within the canonized NT. I am skeptical to whether you can be critically-minded and continue to convolute all the differences into one uniform message.

    And during the 1st century, plurality was quite common due to the unification under Pax Romana, and the increased volume of communication and travel made possible by roads and mail systems. Certainly, it was a different view of plurality, but not unlike our own.

    I agree that plurality was quite common, but it certainly was not by choice and it was nothing like our own, at least not here in Canada. Roman “plurality” was forced through imperialism, yet the majority of people did not associate with people of other groups. Every Roman city had its own “little Israel,” “little Syria” and/or “little Gaul.” The “pax romana” was a relative peace, but still a time of anxiety due to the the rapid cultural clash.

    Absolutely! If each of the gospel authors had a subjective view of the same objective truth, taking into account each view and their perspective helps us form a better picture of the objective truth.

    But they didn’t have a subjective view of the same objective truth. At this point if you believe that the gospel stories were written by the apostle’s themselves, we really don’t have any common ground in which to further this discussion. If, however, this is not your view, then we have a whole different issue on how to critically examine the gospels, don’t we?

    The problem I have with The de-Convert’s analysis is that only taking one quote from an entire book of quotes and forming a perception or identity around that, is a fallacy. Mark in particular, gave an account of the same event that Matthew did. If a detective were trying to figure out what happened at a crime scene, would he consult only one witness?

    I see no fallacy in The de-Convert’s original post. The gospels were written based on earlier oral tradition mainly as a collection of sayings, which is one of the reasons why the gospels (not just canonical) have such different timelines. One of these sayings would have been the one that The de-Convert pointed out. If anything, it was Mark who added a fictional context to the teaching, which was later used by Matthew and Luke. Mark did not “give an account of the same event that Matthew did”, Matthew used Mark’s account of the same event. A detective would give much credibility to a 4th-hand account of a crime, especially if it was by one of the co-conspirators, would she? She might use that as evidence, but with much suspicion.

  • 19. Heather  |  August 9, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    To use an analogy, we can better replicate a building from pictures of 4 different photographers from different sides of the building, than just from one photographer taking a picture of the front.

    But if we have four subjective views of something, in order to say that they are showing an objective truth, you still have to apply an outside conclusion to the Bible. Even to say that the writers of the gospels were only giving us pieces is to apply something to the BIble, because it’s assuming that they didn’t think they had the whole picture. It’s also saying that the writers didn’t intend to give us the whole building, but just the front of the building. Except when we try and tell a story, we don’t try to tell the “front” but the entire story.

    Then why would he say, “great is your faith,” or the many times that he has said “your faith has healed you” elsewhere in scripture? (Mark 5: 34 for example)

    Because he wouldn’t have said that without her response. Had she just walked away, it’s likely the daughter wouldn’t have been healed.

    but I do know that (at a minimum) the rest of Jesus’ actions in scripture do not support the claim that he was racist.

    It’s not an either/or thing, though. I’m sure you, just as I, know someone who, for the most part, isn’t a bad person, except in one area. I mean, someone could be racist against Hispanics, and not against Indians.

  • 20. Brad  |  August 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    TA,
    “The problem is that already in the 1st century people were already believing whatever they pretty much wanted about Jesus and so we have very different views, even within the canonized NT.”

    Agreed on the first part, but I would love to know where in the canonized NT you are referring to. I am familiar with the gnostic insinuations made of John, but (as with Paul) this can be easily explained through an analysis of the audience being written to. I will refrain from saying more until I fully understand what you are saying.

    “The “pax romana” was a relative peace, but still a time of anxiety due to the the rapid cultural clash.”
    I definitely agree. The reach of helenism and Pax Romana was more unifying and more segregating in some areas more than others. It very much depended on the area (i.e. Corinth versus Jerusalem versus Rome).

    “At this point if you believe that the gospel stories were written by the apostle’s themselves, we really don’t have any common ground in which to further this discussion.”
    Not all, no (i.e. Luke wrote from the accounts of first hand witnesses, but was not one himself).

    “If, however, this is not your view, then we have a whole different issue on how to critically examine the gospels, don’t we?”

    Yes and no. I do believe that Matthew was written by the same Matthew who was one of the original twelve. Also, Paul says that “his” revelation (or his writing) was direct from Christ Himself and not through man (Galatians 1: 12 – 16). There are varying degrees of subjectivity in scripture, but in no way does that mean it is any less divinely inspired or inerrent (which, is a whole nother post of course, but in no way means “without paradox” either).

    “One of these sayings would have been the one that The de-Convert pointed out. If anything, it was Mark who added a fictional context to the teaching, which was later used by Matthew and Luke. Mark did not “give an account of the same event that Matthew did”, Matthew used Mark’s account of the same event.”

    I am familiar with both the Q Document theory and that Mark was used by Matthew and Luke. I will simply have to disagree with the validity or basis of this argument. It is entirely circumstantial (I know you will disagree, but trust me, we will have to agree to disagree on this point). To me, this identifies why we are not working on the same page for exegesis.

    Heather,
    You said,
    “Even to say that the writers of the gospels were only giving us pieces is to apply something to the BIble, because it’s assuming that they didn’t think they had the whole picture.”

    And that is a weakness in my analogy… hrmm… I would not say that it is not the whole picture as a result, but maybe the same picture from a different viewpoint and perspective. To build on the “building” scenario (no pun intended), only a single picture from a single perspective does not make the building any less a building. It just provides one view of it. Hrmmm… I’m seeing more weaknesses in this analogy.

    When I think of a better one, I’ll let you know.

    “It’s also saying that the writers didn’t intend to give us the whole building, but just the front of the building. ”

    Oh, not necessarily at all! They are simply writing to the needs and relevancy of their audience, which must also be considered. As with John, we could assume a ton of gnosticism in his writing if we did not know that he was writing to the church in Antioch, which was greatly struggling with a split in the church due directly to Gnosticism. Thus, John was using terminology that was common to both sides to illustrate how the gospel is not gnostic at all (in in particular, that Jesus was anything less than the Eternal God).

    “Had she just walked away, it’s likely the daughter wouldn’t have been healed.”

    Yes, but “faith” was the cause (Jesus was the catalyst and healer of course), not a “quick” or “snappy” comeback.

    “It’s not an either/or thing, though. I’m sure you, just as I, know someone who, for the most part, isn’t a bad person, except in one area. I mean, someone could be racist against Hispanics, and not against Indians.”

    True, but I would challenge that there is no other scripture (contextualized) that would support this claim. He was not racist against this or any other person in the synoptic gospels.

  • 21. Chattanoogan  |  August 9, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    It’s pretty amazing that Jesus spoke to women in those days when women were lower than low on the totem pole.

  • 22. Thinking Ape  |  August 10, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Chattanoogan,
    It isn’t as amazing as you might think – progressive, yes, but hardly unique or even radical at that time. It might have been radical within the Pharisaic element, but in the Greco-Roman world, which had very much become apart of the Palestinian landscape, had many women in community leadership and, compared to some elements of Judaic tradition, very progressive ideas concerning women (at that time anyway).

    Brad,
    The gospel of Matthew and the gospel of John offer radically different perspectives that only someone who NEEDS to justify some reconciliation of the two will be able to do so. I would also argue, on a lesser extent, that the author of Mark had a very different meaning and interpretation of who Jesus was compared to any of the other three canonical gospels. I would have to disagree that a critical analysis of John would excuse the differences based solely on audience. Although John was certainly used by gnostic groups, it is not decidedly gnostic, but when used in combination with Mark and Thomas, as the gnostics did, a radically different interpretation is presented.

    I am enjoying our dialogue, but I am afraid we are straying far from the original post. The rest of your comment can only be answered through our study into biblical scholarship and the argument could get tedious for this setting. While I myself have agreed with Markan primacy for quite some time now, I have been very skeptical of the hypothetical Q until recently where I have seen some breakthroughs in contemporary scholarship. Also, the dating of the gospels has been a tedious task for the past 150 years and there will always remain two camps, one early and one later. I personally hold to most of the late, if not on the more extreme scale (especially with Matthew, Luke, and John) and so I would have to say that the apostle Matthew was probably dead for quite some time before the gospel attributed to him was written. The only narrative I could see being written by an eyewitness or even 2nd or 3rd hand accounts would be the Gospel of Mark. Again, I have appreciated this debate, but I think we have to agree to disagree on our current conclusions. Any evidences that I can give you are readily available in biblical scholarship (although maybe not on the shelves of a seminary). The one thing I must stress is that any scholarship, whether from an etic or emic position, of an ancient text is highly circumstantial, it is what has kept gurus, theologians and now religious studies scholars in business for well over two and half millennia. If there was direct evidence, there would be no need.

  • 23. The Apostate  |  August 4, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I figure this is the best place to post this link.

    This CNN story should make all Christians cry, yet I doubt anything in America is going to change anytime soon.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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