Friday, April 09, 2010

Clever Fowk

Heard a sermon today about a fellow-melancholic - Thomas, author (allegedly) of my favourite Gnostic Gospel, apostle (allegedly) to Arabia and India and founder of the Coptic Church. You remember him, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that very few dead people turned up for lunch and he basically said out loud what all the others were thinking. Caravaggio's portrait is memorable for the furrows on his brow when realisation dawned, also the close attention paid by the onlookers.

When I was at theological college, the academic staff were very much concerned with 'the quest for the historical Jesus'. Needles in haystacks? No, more like finding a replica of London Bridge at the bottom of the Atlantic. Many were more accepting of Thomas' Gospel than that of John.

Various clever fowk have worried themselves into senility over this, using a voting system to decide truth from fantasy. Textual authenticity was determined by multiple attestation - in other words how often the same story crops up in different places and also something called 'embarrassment' whereby the early church would hardly have gone out of its way to create stuff and place it on record which only embarrassed its creator or weakened its position in arguments with opponents.
According to the Jesus Seminar, a group of over a hundred and fifty scholars with advanced degrees and presumably, equally advanced critical faculties and theological positions - caveat lector - :
Jesus of Nazareth was born during the reign of Herod the Great.
His mother's name was Mary, and he had a human father whose name may (or may not) have been Joseph.
Jesus was born in Nazareth, not in Bethlehem.
Jesus was an itinerant 'sage' who shared meals with social outcasts. I was tempted to make reference to accountants here, but I won't.
Jesus practised healing without the use of ancient medicine or magic, relieving afflictions we now consider psychosomatic. Oh. The 'issue of blood', disease-related haemorrhagia was obviously caused by psychological childhood trauma. So sorry.
He did not walk on water, feed the multitude with loaves and fishes, change water into wine or raise Lazarus from the dead. Neither was he a regular contributor to the Washington Post.
He was arrested in Jerusalem and was executed by the Romans as a public nuisance, not for claiming to be the Son of God.
The empty tomb is a fiction – Jesus was not raised bodily from the dead.
Belief in the resurrection is based on the visionary experiences of Paul, Peter and Mary Magdalene.
Ah. Of course. That's settled, then.

These people voted with COLOURED BUTTONS, for God's sake, to decide which bits are made-up and which bits are historically accurate. Might be worth them voting with buttons to begin with 'who thinks God is a construct based solely on the human need for him to exist, then....

Here's my own little logical fallacy: if clever fowk believe it, it must be true. 

This image is much more like it. Peter is telling Thomas how big the fish was that got away.

1 comment:

  1. ClosetRebel will appreciate your (non) reference to accountants. lol You could balance it off with a reference to the law profession. According to CR the proper ratio is three lawyers for every accountant. Or something like that.

    (I do love coloured buttons!)


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