Saturday, March 21, 2009

He's got very Jewish eyes...

...And he's looking at the Bible with'em! The gent I'm speaking about is John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop and wonderfully excellent thinker. For years, this man has been writing about the mess Christianity's gotten itself in and has been suggesting ways it can get itself out of this mess without dying out altogether. I first became acquainted with this man's writings when I read 'Why Christianity must change or die', a book that blew me out of the water. I think it was after I read this book that I chose Agnosticism and stopped going to church. To this day, 'Why Christianity must change or die' remains one of my most favourite books.
Spong has written many other books, and today I'm going to write about 'Liberating the Gospels', which is the book I'm reading currently. In addition to enjoying Spong's writing style, I am blown away by the novel theory he presents by 'looking at the Gospels with Jewish eyes' and thus freeing it from Christian clutches. After all, the Bible (the Old Testament especially) was written by a bunch of Jewish dudes centuries ago and is only the Bible because some wealthy figure put a bunch of books he liked and that fit his concept of Christianity and rushed this hodge-podge to Guttenberg. Given this stance, anybody with money and power could publish a bunch of stuff and call it a Bible. Hey, aren't people doing that now?
Moving on... Spong, inspired by a fellow named Goulder, has come up with a most novel take on the Gospels. If one looks at the four books against the Jewish background in which they were all conceived, one comes to see that the Gospels are not inerrant nor are they the literal truth (DUH!), but that they were created to teach and remind the new generations of Jewish folk on how they should conduct themselves in Judaism. The atmosphere after Jesus was pretty tense, and the Jews and Christians were just starting to go their separate ways. The writers of the Gospels (years after J.C. left the scene) were trying to placate several groups of faithful, and Spong, by placing key N.T. events in line with Torah readings and Jewish holidays shows not only what each Gospel writer was trying to say, but to which group he was addressing.
The skeptic in me is of course warning me not to fall instantly into this theory. I don't have enough of a background in Judaism and Talmudic studies to either accept or reject these concepts, but Spong has once again given me much to think about. I recommend at least having a gander at this book. To reiterate, the book is called 'Liberating the Gospels'. BYE.

No comments: