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Anatoly Seleznev
Anatoly Seleznev

The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say Th...

The gospels are not biographies in the modern sense of the word. Rather,they are stories told in such a way as to evoke a certain image of Jesus for aparticular audience. They're trying to convey a message about Jesus, about hissignificance to the audience and thus we we have to think of them as a kind ofpreaching, as well as story telling. That's what the gospel, The Good News, isreally all about.

The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say Th...


Most of the people in the early Christian movement couldn't read so theywouldn't have been reading the gospels.... Probably the greatest contact theywould have had is hearing these read or preached in connection with churchservices. Certainly what we think of today as literal interpretation of thescripture would not really have been available in quite the same way to peoplein the ancient world. I think it's important to understand that whatcontemporary Americans, for example, think of as a literal reading of scriptureis really a product of the late 19th and early 20th century, as development orpart of fundamentalism's reaction to Biblical scholarship and Biblicalcriticism as it had developed in the 19th century.

Early Christians certainly read scripture allegorically, understanding it torefer to some kind of so-called higher realities that weren't really present inthe text itself. They could interpret it morally, as giving advice for life.Very often in the 2nd and 3rd century, you find a kind of scripturalinterpretation which we call "typological", and what that means is that eventsand details that are found in the Hebrew Bible are seen as types pointing aheadto the coming of Jesus. So that, for example, the scapegoat of the Book ofLeviticus who bears off the sins of the Israelites is a type pointing ahead toJesus and his bearing the sins of the world, according to Christianteaching....

The Jesus Seminar is a group of New Testament scholars organized in California by Robert Funk in 1985. The initial purpose of the seminar was to apply critical methods to determine what Jesus "really said," as against what is attributed to him in the Christian gospels. The biennial meetings focused on particular sayings attributed to Jesus in ancient gospels, canonical and noncanonical. Votes were taken on the sayings' authenticity, using colored beads dropped into a box: red, indicating that Jesus undoubtedly said this; pink, indicating that Jesus probably said something like this; gray, indicating that Jesus did not say this, though the idea or ideas contained in the saying may reflect something of Jesus' own; and black, indicating that Jesus did not saying anything like it. Each color was assigned a rating (red = 3; pink = 2; gray = 1; black = 0), and the results were tabulated to achieve a "weighted average."

The next item on the seminar's agenda was to determine what Jesus of Nazareth really did and what was done to him. The approach taken was the same as for the earlier work. The results were published in 1998 as The Acts of Jesus. The combined number of red and pink events (authentic deeds) constitute 16 percent of the total events studied.

Jesus of Nazareth has been called the Son of God but the Gospels do not say he is the Son of God. They only say this man will be called the Son of God, which means that is what he will rightly be called, because all Jews were Sons of God. Every Jew has the prayer "I thank you my Lord our Father". They all speak of "our Father", that is, they were all children of God. The only question is who shall be the right child of God which means "who is he that has overcome Adam"? But that is precisely what Jesus of Nazareth did do. He overcame Adam. So the Gospels say he will be called the Son of God and rightly so. In that sense he is the Son of God. The establishment of the infinite value of man and of every living person goes together with the establishment of absolute equality --- not equality in gifts, not equality in quantity (as many Americans like to think of it which is really equality in nothingness), but equality in quality that is, in the most fundamental aspect of the human person. It is this equality that Jesus established, and that is the meaning of his good tidings and good message. We can formulate it philosophically perhaps, in the style of Walt Whitman. What he really did was to tell us (without explicitly saying it): Whoever you are, wherever you have been born, whenever you have been born, however you have been born, you are of infinite value and I want you to be. I love you, every human person. That is his good tiding. We are all equal, and therefore all brothers and sisters before God. We are equal in quality and nobody shall harm us, nobody shall judge us finally. It took a long time until we attempted to realize real political equality but we would never have even tried, we would have lost remembrance of it, if Jesus of Nazareth had not lived and the Church had not preserved him. He said he was the King of the Jews and that he wanted to establish the Kingdom of God. We have seen how he sought to establish that Kingdom. Namely, that through this transpolitical establishment, if we come together as brothers and sisters or simply as equal persons, regardless of whether or not we are in fact a family, but only as persons who come together in his name, then Jesus of Nazareth is in our midst. This is as true as anything he ever said and it is spoken distinctly in his spirit, because when we realize that man is more than his capacities, that the value of man is greater than the value of his capacities, and that the greatest genius who says "My work will last for five- hundred years" will never know if Mr. Smith, who has never been noticed by anybody, hasn't done a few things in his life that will far outlast his deeds. We cannot pride ourselves before God as the Pharisees did, because we do not have that insight. We have to know we are infinitely more valuable than our deeds, even our highest deeds, so that our deeds will not get hold of us. That means that the greatest creation in politics, even the freest Republic in the world, has no right to overrule the conscience of one of its citizens. Man can rise above his works, and when man rises above his works he is in himself in his inwardness, and then he might meet God, because that is the place to meet God. Jesus said, so to speak, 'You cannot find God anywhere, wherever you look only in yourself'. (6) 'Heaven has come nearby' he says: 'It is in your midst'. (7) Heaven, eternal value, and relation to God; they are all within you. That is why he said to the Jewish people that their relation to God as a people was over. There is only this one relation; that every human person is immediate to God and only human persons are immediate to God. That, in his terms, makes for the infinite value of man. By establishing this inwardness, by rising above our own works, we not only can no longer pride ourselves on our work, but more importantly we cannot destroy ourselves, because of our misdeeds. From a philosophical viewpoint, that is the position Soren Kierkegaard was looking for. A position from where it is possible to jump into faith. A sign that man is really creative in the sense that he is not even a creative function but rather a real personality who can, or cannot, at any moment create , but who can smile on his creations and rise above them. Because this 'being' that man can experience (if only he goes far enough); this being has no other possibility of explaining himself to himself then through the assumption that he has been made by an Absolute Creator. But even - if be does not need this explanation, even if he does not want it, then he may still remain creative, his person may not be violated, because of the possibility of faith which he can still decide for. He has the possibility of faith, and philosophy can do no more than to state this possibility. The Christian Church, as an institution, is decaying throughout the west, and yet one can still feel the effects of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Whenever people decide to put themselves above the world, whenever they refuse to obey the commandments of the state, because those commandments go against their conscience, then they are together with Jesus of Nazareth. Man, in transcending the world, can to a certain degree transcend himself, and this transcending of the world, this refusal to be a mere function of the world, was established by Jesus when he spoke about heaven, about eternal bliss, eternal value, and on the other side eternal death. In this respect he was a Jew, a son of the Jewish people. The proof is that every time the Jews have lived under conditions that were a little bit favorable for their religious life, they produced Christianity again. They did it in Chassidism. It is so near, it comes so out of Judaism, and yet it is, so to speak, such a logical consequence of the heart. There are two kinds of punishment in Judaism. Either your children will be punished for your sins (which is a very cruel punishment that was, so to speak, abolished by Jesus of Nazareth); or, you will be blotted out of the book of life, the book of the living. No one will think of you any more. This is the highest form of punishment, and it is also the real concept of death that Jesus has. What is the worst thing that he can say about his betrayer, Judas Iscariot? He says 'For this man it would be better never to have been born' (Mark.14:21). By 'never to have been born' he means that he failed entirely in life. That he succeeded in destroying the infinite value given to every human being, because each and every human being is entirely free to do so. We ourselves are free to do so. Nobody else can destroy our infinite value, but we ourselves can destroy it, and then, as Jesus said, it would be better for us never to have been born. Nobody will think of us any more. We are out of the context of eternity! We have become merely temporal. We must now do entirely for ourselves. That is all. There is no more. There is no Hell, there is no eternal punishment, there is no eternal pain. How could a man who talked about eternal love also talk about eternal hatred (?), because eternal hatred is nothing less than eternal condemnation. It means to attribute hatred to God, something which we all have done, and something that we would do well to get completely rid of. And we can get completely rid of it, because there has been one man in the world who did, who showed us that it can be done, and that man was Jesus of Nazareth. His commandment "to love thy enemy as thyself" is the non-understandable commandment, the commandment that all of the Dostoyevskys' and Nietzsches' of this world and all of the Grand Inquisitors with them have never understood and never will understand, the commandment that they have always used to indicate "that if he wasn't an idiot who knew nothing of life, than he was certainly too young and boundlessly naive". He was not! He knew exactly what he had achieved. He knew that a human being can abolish hatred absolutely if only he recognizes the infinite value of every human person. He can drive out of himself completely any instinct of murder, can make himself incapable of murder regardless of the situation, and can come to understand that there is no possible reason for murder and at least one definite and fundamental reason against it. He can abolish hatred as Jesus did and then he will be able to love, because love stands in a kind of dialectical relation to another opposite which is not its absolute opposite, and that is scorn. Hatred makes any kind of love impossible. The man who has within him even the slightest trace of envy or hatred can never be sure he will ever be able to love. Jesus did not have hatred, but he was certainly a scornful person, because in scorn there is still love. Scorn never breaks the communication with another person. It still recognizes the infinite possibilities of that person and tries to do its best. In the most raging scorn there is still a remnant of love. In hatred there is none. And in the greatest love, the most absolute love, the most enthusiastic love for another human person there is still a remainder of scorn, a little place left for its possibility, and woe to us if there were not, because it would then mean that we have lost interest in that person. We do not want them any more to be ... to be more of themselves. That then, is the dialectical relation and Jesus lived it perfectly. And he could live it perfectly only because he was absolutely free of hatred, so the concept of Hell could not have been his. He would have been unable to envision such a concept. The quality of self-knowledge, to know thyself, as Socrates did is fine, but the quality of heart, to be able to live with oneself in the way that Jesus did, is much more. It means to be able to recognize that before we can enter into a creative life we have to first purify ourselves. What does it mean, to be purified? I said, the human heart means will! If we examine all of the activities of the mind we have considered up to now, we could describe them all with one German word. The word "Sinnen". That means to mean meaning, to aim at meaning. We have seen how each of these few fundamental philosophers have discovered quite different ways to aim at meaning, and to open the way towards a creative life. Now there is an opposite for this word in German, the word "trachten" which means "longing", and with this word we can describe nearly everything that Jesus says in the Bible, because what is given there can be described mostly as longing. The Jews had said that the human heart is evil from birth until death. Jesus of Nazareth was of the opinion that the human heart is evil, or not evil, good, or not good, but mostly mixed. How? Here is the difficult borderline between not the subconscious and conscious, which are psychological terms, but between man's desires and man's intentions. Desire is a great thing. When Nietzsche said "Man is the will to power" he did not know he was really saying man is evil, because if man could be the will to power then he could only be evil in the sense of Jesus of Nazareth. Man is will --- that is right. Man cannot help but being will. The only question is what kind of will will he be? The will, in the first place, has nothing to do with "will" as we normally conceive of it: Namely, as decision and so on. It is first really only a desire. That is how it starts, but that is not the answer as to its nature, because the question of its nature is linked with another question: Namely, who is man, that is, where does the last decision fall as to who he is? The answer, according to Jesus, is that it falls in the heart, because there are two possibilities in the heart. Either to act by impulse, or to act by compulsion. Compulsion is not meant here in any psychological sense. I will try to show why. Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next 041b061a72


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