Thursday, September 20, 2012

Introduction Part 1: How dare I? and Why I am writing an updated Gospel.

Greetings Dear Reader,
Thank you for taking the time to read this modern revision of a gospel of Jesus the Nazarene.  I hope you will return feedback about what you truly think of it.  Below are several issues I think need to be mentioned for you to understand this gospel. Thank you.

How dare I?  Well, because the original gospel writers did same the same thing.  They collected oral and written sayings and stories and wrote narrative gospels that addressed concerns of their communities.  I embarked on this endeavor by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as encountered in my wife, my home Eucharist group, prayer, meditation, and New Testament study.  I am writing this for the following reasons:
  • To make the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection more accessible to post-modern people, given their world view.
  • To highlight the human Jesus of the earthly ministry against the God-Man presented in the canonical gospels (especially in John).
  • To highlight that Jesus was a Jew.  This will entail using Hebrew/Aramaic proper names and terms for God.
  • To redefine the traditional Kingdom of God/Heaven in inclusive concepts and terminology.
  • To assert the role of women in Jesus' ministry and the early Church.  This role was certainly not represented well in the gospels because of the patriarchal prejudice held by those in Jesus' day and in the second or third generation Christians who wrote the gospels.
  • To set the record straight, that the Pharisees were not “the bad guys" and why they were portrayed that way.
  • To set the record straight, that the Sadducees were “the bad guys," who had Jesus killed and why they were not picked on as much as the Pharisees.
  • To set the record straight, that Pontius Pilate was a brutal governor, portrayed as reluctant to kill Jesus because early Christians did not want to anger Rome.
The original gospels projected a post-Easter resurrected Christ onto the human Jesus of the earthly ministry.
This made sense for their time, trying to prove Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, in a pagan world with many God-Men myths.  Today however, for many post-modern people it presents problems. We can without argument assume Jesus was human, but to assume that he was self-aware of his Father’s entire plan or, more difficult yet, that he had the awareness of God, interferes with us hearing Jesus’ real message—the good news of the kingdom of heaven.  My guiding principles for discerning scriptures are found in the preeminent New Testament scholar, Günther Bornkamm’s book Jesus of Nazareth (1960) written for layperson and scripture scholar alike.  I highly recommend it; you can buy it for less than $10 at

So, to try and “draw back the veil” on that more human Jesus, who was certainly a prophet and Rabbi of the kingdom of heaven, I will make several changes to the gospel texts without changing the nature of the message Jesus is delivering about the kingdom of heaven.  Yeshua was about the kingdom of heaven, not about himself!  After the resurrection the first followers see that he “embodies” the message of the kingdom, and that is why he becomes the primary focus.  But to quote Günther Bornkamm*, “the Messianic character of his being is contained in his words and deeds and in the unmediatedness of his historic appearance.”  So we don’t need to constantly point out what his ultimate identity becomes after the resurrection.  Therefore, I will delete passages that indicate that he knew he was the Messiah, the Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, or I AM.  Statements that he knows he will be resurrected on the third day will be deleted.  Does he see himself as special?  Yes.  A prophet and Rabbi?  Yes. Annointed by the Holy Spirit?  Yes.  Does he anticipate his death?  Yes.  Does he trust in God’s vindication by resurrection?  Yes, but in the larger context of Jewish expectation that the just servant will be resurrected.  Does he think the Holy Spirit is his Mother and the heavenly God is his Father? Yes, but he sees all people as children of the Holy Spirit Mother* and heavenly Father.  And NONE of these things is the same as him thinking himself to be the Messiah who will lead Israel to political power again, Son of Man who judges the world at the end of ages, Savior of the world, THE Son of God, and certainly not God made flesh!
*Note: You'll understand the Holy Spirit Mother part in a few posts. I don't know if his fellow Jews all saw it this way or not.

More introduction to come in the next several posts. And I want to thank my wife, Annette, for her feedback and editing.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps in your final version you can explain more clearly why it would be more difficult to hear Jesus' message if he had the awareness of God. If his message is the good news of the kingdom of heaven, then people might think he had a better authority of that knowledge if he DID have the awareness of God.