A happy holy week to Christian readers and happy Passover to Jewish readers. I’ve already shared previously some of the most relevant links I’ve come across – such as the social media Exodus – but a few things I’ve seen appear on blogs over the past few days seem to be worth sharing, and somehow interconnected.
On the one hand, Duane Galbraith is discussing Maurice Casey’s recent book Jesus of Nazareth: An independent historian’s account of his life and teaching. I admit I was rather astonished to find him characterizing as mainstream a New Testament scholar as James D. G. Dunn as a “Conservative Christian apologist.” Dunn, in his The Evidence for Jesus, actually makes much the same point that Casey does about belief in an exalted, vindicated and even a raised Jesus not requiring an empty tomb or a missing body. And I’m not as confident as Casey that there was a complete disinterest in the place of Jesus’ burial, whether empty or not. Be that as it may, Casey seems to accept that Jesus would have been buried in a common tomb for criminals, and that seems to me as well to be probably correct.
On the other hand, Brian LePort is blogging through Michael Licona’s book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. It seems to me that the attempt to find ways to get history to investigate and pronounce on miracles is misguided. It doesn’t seem that any methodological adjustments will allow one to claim that it is more probable that a miracle occurred than that either a miracle story was fabricated, or a mundane event took on supernatural interpretations in the course of retelling. History deals in probabilities, and miracles are by definition improbable.
But I was struck by the fact that neither of these blog series made the impression on me that Ricky Gervais’ Easter message (HT Hemant Mehta). An atheist’s Easter message might immediately raise eyebrows among Christians, but there is something to Gervais’ description of himself as a “Good ‘Christian’ who doesn’t believe in God.” At the very least, I suspect that if there were more Christians like Ricky Gervais, there might be fewer atheists like Ricky Gervais. Rethinking notions of God in light of new scientific information and experience is something that Christians have always done and need to continue to do. It is far more often the hypocrisy and lovelessness of Christians – the unchristianness of Christians – that leads people to reject the whole package of Christianity altogether, rather than seeking to adjust and improve it.
On a related note, Jeri Massi suggests that if Paul were writing Romans today, he might write of today’s fundamentalist Christians that because of their evil and unrepentant attitudes, “God gave them over” to scandalous affairs, child molestation, and much else. Fundamentalists are fond of quoting Romans 1 in contemporary culture-war contexts, and miss the point, which requires, among other things, that one continue reading into chapter 2.
All of that can perhaps be disheartening. And so as we think about the past and the future, let me share a couple of more lighthearted items. The more serious of the two comes to me via Brad Matthies, and is in essence a timeline of the future based on what people typically search for about future years:
And finally (if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post) here’s the entirety of Doctor Who – all 47 years – reduced to 6 minutes!