English: Marcus Borg speaking in Mansfield College chapel.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s been a busy couple of months, and time for posting here has fled away- my only hope is that someone missed these notes from BibleWorkbench!
One of our favorite biblical scholars, Marcus Borg, is interviewed by Candace Chellew-Hodge over at Religion Dispatches. His latest book, Evolution of the Word, presents the New Testament texts in chronological order and serves to highlight the influence that communities had on the shaping of the text and tradition. For some, simply the title will be unthinkable- how can the eternal Word Of God be changeable, much less evolving?
Here’s a bit of Borg’s perspective:
There were vibrant Christ communities spread out around the Mediterranean world before any of the documents were written, so the documents give us glimpses, or windows, into what those Christ communities were like.
And they make clear that the New Testament as a whole, including the gospels, are the product of those communities, written to those communities, and in many cases written within those communities. So, we learn that it’s not that the gospels created early Christianity but early Christianity produces the gospels as well as the other documents.
You can find the full interview at Religion Dispatches.
Bart Ehrman, a New Testament professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has penned a series of books on the Bible with often provocative titles: Misquoting Jesus, Lost Christianities, Forged: Writing in the Name of God, God’s Problem and Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible.
Much of what he writes is a popularization of what most first year seminarians learn about the Bible- that it didn’t drop fully-formed out of the heavens, that the books themselves underwent a long process of development and editing, and that social location, historical context, and the emergent church movement all shaped the texts.
But for many of his readers, this is startling news, and it has made him the bane of literalists and the darling of those who are critical of the Bible. Ehrman’s latest book might be a surprise to both sides- Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. In it, Ehrman examines what we know about Jesus and concludes that, while extreme views on both sides of the debate are incorrect, there is solid evidence for Jesus in the historical record. Continue reading
I grew up knowing there was this fella named Jesus, he was Jewish, he was important to my Catholic friends, and that my Catholic friends had a Bible that was very similar to the Bible we had in the synagogue. So my initial impression was that Christianity was like `the synagogue we didn’t go to,’ like a form of Judaism.
That’s how this interview with Vanderbilt School of Divinity Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies Amy-Jill Levine starts. Levine is the author of and The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, and recently co-edited The Jewish Annotated New Testament with Marc Z Brettler (Oxford 2011).
In this interview, Levine talks about what the New Testament can teach us about Jewish life and practice, and why Christians need to be sensitive to the Jewish context in order to understand Jesus.
Professor Amy-Jill Levine
The interview is at the website for the PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.
Text: Matthew 2:1-12
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
The Magi found their way to the child who has been born King of the Jews by means of a star; they paid homage to him and brought their treasure. They followed the rising star, and it led them to two places – to Herod, and to the holy child.
In the story, a dream warned them of Herod, and they left for their own country by another road. They went home by another way. Why? Perhaps to avoid Herod? Perhaps because they found they couldn’t go home they way they came?
What other ways have you taken as a result of an honored encounter? What brushes with Herod have you had as a result of the road taken to follow a glimmer in the night?
What about the times you went back to Herod’s palace after seeing that small holy possibility? When did you sense the danger? When did you take another road? What did that road look like? What road are you now on? Are you going back home? To the palace? Where? What might “home” look like, once you have taken such a journey?
– Beth Harrison
Text: Matthew 2:13-23
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Matthew offers Herod’s massacre of children as a “fulfillment” of the “prophecy,” found in Jeremiah 31:15. Yet, this image of Rachel, the matriarch of Israel, weeping for her children seems less a prophecy than a description of the tragic state of the people of Israel in exile, as yet unredeemed. How many other times in the past and even today is Jeremiah’s description “fulfilled.” Where do you find mothers weeping for their children in the pages of the morning newspaper, on the TV, in your own day-to-day living? What kind of “fulfillment” might these mothers wish for, hope for, dream of?
– Andy Kille
This Sunday’s design invites you to consider some artistic renderings of the story of Jesus, Herod, the Slaying of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt. Here are some links for your consideration: Continue reading
Text: James 5:7-10
Today’s reflection asks what you know of an inner “grumbler.” The same question might be asked of an inner “prophet” who is characterized by “patience and suffering.” What can you say about these inner characters in the ongoing drama that you are? Continue reading
Many universities have full length courses available online. Here are two classes on the Old and New Testament from Dale Martin and Christine Hayes. The listing at Open Yale Courses includes links to audio and video versions of the lectures, as well as transcripts and reading assignments. A good opportunity to get a deeper understanding of our texts. Continue reading