Bring Me That Ass

Bring Me That Ass Church-Sign-Fails-33-685x513

This sign was given as an example of a church sign fail, but I’m not sure that this Palm Sunday paraphrase is actually a failure. It gets your attention, makes someone who doesn’t know the Bible wonder if Jesus ever said something like this, and makes the person who does know the Bible smirk at the double entendre.

Feel free to discuss the above sign, whether you think Jesus did in fact ride a donkey into Jerusalem, and if so, what he meant by it.

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Well, the prophecy is that the king rides “a donkey – a colt,” so obviously Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding two animals at once.

    • John MacDonald

      The pericope clearly fulfills prophesy, so there is no reason to think there is any history there.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        This is precisely the kind of instance that shows a major problem with such reasoning. Are you honestly going to suggest that someone who claimed to be the long-awaited Davidic anointed one would not look at what was expected of that figure and actually do some of those things?!

        • John MacDonald

          You could use the same reasoning to defend the historicity of ANY pericope that is grounded in scripture fulfillment. I guess Jesus also went to Egypt as a child – Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I have called my son”)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Again, no, we’ve been over this before. First, elements in mythical birth stories are a different matter in an biographies of the Greco-Roman eras. But second and perhaps more importantly, Hosea 11:1 is not a prophecy about the messiah. It is about Israel and the Exodus from Egypt.

          • John MacDonald

            We’ll agree to disagree then. lol

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            No, I do not agree to disagree. You would recognize it as nonsensical and illogical if someone said that, if any president of the US is purported to have done something similar to an earlier president, the story about it must be unhistorical and invented on the basis of stories about the earlier president. Why on earth would you accept something so ridiculous in this case? It makes no sense. And throughout all this, you seem to be missing entirely that none of the texts that are spoken about in the New Testament as finding “fulfilment” in Jesus are actual predictions. Some, to be sure, are stories about people that the early Christians believed were comparable to Jesus, and so the NT authors filled in gaps in their knowledge with details drawn from those earlier stories, and told stories about actual events in ways that echoed those stories, perhaps because Jesus styled himself after those individuals in the first place.

            Must the stories in Josephus about messianic pretenders like Theudas, people who said the Jordan would part or led followers into the wilderness, be unhistorical, because there were earlier stories of going into the wilderness or about the Jordan parting?

            Can’t you see how illogical it is to simply ignore the fact that real people engage in historical acts that resemble stories about earlier times, often intentionally, precisely in order to depict themselves as akin to the characters in those earlier stories?

          • John MacDonald

            Dr. McGrath said: “Some, to be sure, are stories about people that the early Christians believed were comparable to Jesus, and so the NT authors filled in gaps in their knowledge with details drawn from those earlier stories, and told stories about actual events in ways that echoed those stories, perhaps because Jesus styled himself after those individuals in the first place.” ————————- The only “fact” is that the New Testament narratives resemble the Old Testament narratives. Your guess is that (a) this is happening because the facts of Jesus’ life resembled these stories, so the New Testament writers used the OT narratives to shape the stories. This is the position of earlier scholars (e.g., John Wick Bowman), as well as many today (e.g., J. Duncan M. Derrett). On the other hand, (b) other scholars such as John Dominic Crossan, Randel Helms, Dale and Patricia Miller, Thomas L. Brodie, Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price and Richard Carrier guess that the Old Testament scriptures were the starting point for the New Testament narratives. Why is your guess any better than theirs?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Because it isn’t mere guesswork, because the stance you (and others like Brodie) adopt is illogical as well as fitting poorly with the evidence, and because your argument can be shown to not work when applied to a variety of specific historical examples.

            I will write a blog post about this, since apparently it needs to be addressed. But I would encourage you to read my article in The Bible and Interpretation about Brodie and his approach.

          • John MacDonald

            ok lol

          • John MacDonald

            In the comment section of the article, Dr. Thompson makes the point that “One is given the impression that James McGrath dismisses Tom Brodie’s arguments and conclusions as unscholarly. Yet, he doesn’t discuss Brodie’s arguments–not even his very well known thesis that the miracle stories of the synoptic gospels are reiterations of the Elijah and Elisha narratives in Kings. Lacking argumentation or any serious addressing of Brodie’s actual scholarship one must wonder why McGrath indulgences in such an extended criticsim ad hominem. This is unacceptable. Thomas” There might be something to this. In the comment section you say “No one disputes that there are stories in the Gospels, and in other Jewish literature from around this time, which echoes stories from the Jewish Scriptures. Few find it persuasive that those works were composed entirely simply by reworking the Jewish Scriptures.” You still do not explain why you guess this takes place because (a) the biography of Jesus’ life is close enough so it can “luckily” be mapped onto Old Testament scriptures, rather than (b) the New Testament writers were inventing stories out of whole cloth. You assume (a) is true, but you are not saying why this option is preferable to (b).

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            This blog is not the only place where historical questions like this are discussed. I’ve written a blog post in response to your comments here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2016/03/palm-sunday-and-history.html

            The question of whether Jesus actually rode a donkey into Jerusalem can only be addressed using the tools of historical investigation. And to be open to doing that, you have to be willing (1) not to crowbar all texts into the Brodie framework of being patched together by inspiration from earlier stories, without caring that many stories fit that framework poorly, and (2) that there are specific historical examples which demonstrate clearly that your “logic” – it resembles Jewish Scripture, therefore it is unhistorical – is badly faulty. Until such time as you address your unwillingness to be logical and your faith commitment to the unfalsifiable claim that everything is explicable in terms of literary reworking (a claim for which the “evidence” is entirely the imagination of Brodie and others like him), how can we have a serious discussion about what the historical evidence suggests is likely?

      • Phil Ledgerwood

        Oh, totally. Anytime anyone thinks an event fulfilled prophecy, that is surefire evidence that event never actually happened.

        Like, take Eusebius. He believed Constantine was the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, so clearly Constantine never existed or ruled Rome. My thesis is that Constantine is actually a rehash of the Quetzalcoatl myth because of the similarities of the names.

        You can catch it in my next book “Fingerprints of Constantine.” It has a picture of a Mayan ziggurat on the cover.

        • John MacDonald

          lol

  • Arlene Adamo

    About the sign: This is an African American church so it should be viewed within the context of African American culture and humor.

    Because the colt or ass is mentioned in the Q source as well as the Book of John, I suspect that Jesus likely did this. If He did, it would have been to communicate to the Jews by using symbolism from their Holy book. (Zechariah 9:9) Jesus worked almost entirely in symbolism in order to communicate the complex spirituality He was attempting to convey and make them understand His presence in the world.