When you approach the New Testament – and the Bible as a whole – as though it were a single text, implicit to that approach is a belief in an ahistorical unity of composition, as though the individual books were written with the intention of becoming a single volume. But this was not the case, and as the individual books of the New Testament were being written, there is absolutely no evidence that there was any thought given to compiling them into a single volume. That single volume was assembled by others, centuries later, and in response to very specific and particular historical conditions – to say nothing of the fact that the texts were then edited to agree with one another doctrinally. One glaring example of this comes from the very opening lines of the Gospel of Mark, which in later versions of the text have the words υἱοῦ θεοῦ (“son of God”) added. These are notably missing from our earliest extant copy of Mark, the Codex Sinaiticus, which anyone can verify online.Continue reading
It was represented to me that in my approach to the New Testament gospels I was missing the “core message,” and in the process I was seemingly denying the central tenant of Christianity, namely that Jesus is God. Although certainly central to Christian faith today, the notion that Jesus is God – that he was always and will forever be God – was not always quite so simple. Although it is evident that Christians believe Jesus is now God, there was at one point in time an extensive debate regarding the relationship between God and Jesus, a debate which ultimately culminated in the doctrine of the Trinity.Continue reading
Historical analysis is not a judgement of truth. It is a judgement of fact, which is expressly different from the concept of truth. Simply because I am interested in exploring the larger historical context of the Bible in order to better understand Jesus, his followers, the community of believers, what they believed, the texts, the authors, etc., is explicitly not the same thing as avoiding its core message. I must reiterate that what you interpret as the core message in scripture is not necessarily the same core message that all other Christians interpret. This is even true today, with each “non-denomination” and denomination having its own emphasis of faith, taking conflicting stances among themselves on matters some find central to their beliefs. For example, how do you feel about the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s stance permitting same-sex marriage and the ordination of members of the LGBTQ community? There is clearly a question here about defiance of Law, as is often cited from the Old Testament. Do you think this means that PC(USA) is an illegitimate form of Christianity?
On the webpage you sent to me, it states the following regarding Aramaic primacy: “Textual scholars have examined the Peshitta and found clear evidence of influence from later translations. The dialect used in the Peshitta is from a later time period than that of Jesus and His disciples.” This is a fact, but it entirely ignores the fact that the earliest texts we have of the New Testament are dated precisely on the same methods they are using to criticize the Peshitta. Both the conclusion that the earliest preserved fragments of the New Testament are dated to the 2nd-3rd Centuries and that the dialect of Aramaic used in the Peshitta does not match that spoken by Jesus and his followers is based entirely on the study of handwriting styles.
God’s love is not unconditional.
Though the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth imply that through grace God forgives and saves, the notion that God dispenses love unconditionally and equitably is a lie. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of Moses, of David — this same god is not the merciful, peace-loving deity which Jesus makes him out to be. In point of fact, the distinction between God (“the Father”) and Jesus is so stark that one is left to wonder if the act of being made mortally manifest changed the supernatural entity to be more merciful and more understanding than the temperamental, crazy-ex-level jealous God of the Old Testament. No wonder Ridley Scott thought to portray the Hebrew God as an insidious preteen who taunts the reticent Moses.
The story of Eden contained in the Biblical books of Genesis and Ezekiel — and its variations in other ancient literature, such as that in the Epic of Gilgamesh — reflects the flight of early nomadic peoples from the “wet Sahara” some 5,000 years ago.
The question is not why Judas betrayed God, but why God betrayed Judas.