'What Would Any Jesus Do?'
(April, 2000, Column)
Read your piece What Would (any) Jesus Do. Found it of interest as I'm reading the book "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Yancy. Basic tenet of the book is we have sugar-coated the Jesus of the gospels. Profound moral implication or question: if Christ called people to perfection he must have been nuts -- or what? The chapter I just read deals with remarkable similarities and differences between Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. They were contemporaries -- yet never met. Both dealt with spiritual matters but with differed pretty widely on their conclusions about spirituality. Tolstoy tried to live a moral life based on the gospels -- Dostoyevsky live a moral (and sometimes immoral) life based on belief about the person and nature of whom the gospels preach. The point of the Sermon on the Mount was that it is nuts to try and live ideally. That teaching is about who God or Jesus is vs. how we should live. Live a God-like life based on living an exchanged life -- Christ's for yours. That doesn't mean you live perfectly (as the lives of both individuals attest). It's a collaboration to live Christ's life in you vs. your life on your own.
I'm interested in your idea that Christ was a myth -- or a nationalist. How did you come by these conclusion?
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Saturday, May 20, 2000 11:50 PM
I am, as Robert M. Price puts it in his new book "Deconstructing Jesus," a "Jesus Agnostic." For the past ten years, though, I have liked the "Jesus" described by Maccoby in "Revolution in Judaea." Maccoby's "Jesus" is, by far, the most dignified "Jesus" I have encountered.
In his book, Price shows that the beginning of Christianity is not as the Parable of the Wheat and Tares suggests: one pure doctrine set down at one time, into which the tares of heresy were later sown. Instead, he describes a garden with hundreds of different flowers, wherein one vine grew and suffocated the rest.
He shows that the Jesus that we know today can easily and rightly be seen as a militant Jewish loyalist, a healer, a teacher, a charlatan, and others. Marcion, who first assembled the Epistles of Saint Paul, held doctrines from which almost all modern Christians would recoil.
Whoever Jesus was or was not, we cannot know today, says Price. This is the first book that expounds upon how I have felt for a long time.
Prometheus has already granted permission for us to reprint several sections of this wonderful book, which we will do, perhaps, in June or July. For now, though, because I have been struggling to get a new business off the ground and because I have finally met a woman with whom I would like to spend the rest of my life, I am almost a month behind in publishing PA and almost three months behind in posting letters. I hope to catch up within the next few months. Meanwhile, I will continue to relax and
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2000 3:19 AM
Thanks very much for the reply (no need to reply to this so quickly). Sounds like Hyam thinks along Albert Schweitzer's lines, that is, apocalyptic interpretation of the sermon on the mount. Live righteously and extremely in light of imminent annihilation and summation of all things.
My wheels are turning. Meanwhile, if you get a chance, check out my Bierce and Marcus Aurelius pages:
-- Regards Mike
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