RLGA02H3 Lecture Notes - General Idea, Book Of Deuteronomy, Polemic
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AGENDA FOR February 7
JESUS IN THE GOSPELS
LOVE AND THE TWO COMMANDMENTS
EARLY CHRISTIAN BELIEF AND HISTORY
THE STRUCTURE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
- Jesus and mosaic
- Some scholars are radical enough to call Paul the founder of Christianity
JESUS IN THE GOSPELS
MOSAIC: “COMPOSITE PORTRAIT” OF JESUS
THE TWO COMMANDMENTS
LOVE FOR GOD
LOVE FOR ONE’S NEIGHBOUR
SPIRITUAL VS. POLITICAL KINGDOM
- 1st century the destruction of the second temple is very a chromatic and dramatic moment in
Jewish history. Bear in mind that by the time of Jesus 1st century, Israel is part of the Roman
Empire. Also because of the chronic occupation in the region by this time there is a lot of anti-
roman sentiment, which just means people protesting and keeping occupied. This leads to
dreams and hopes of some sort of messianic figure that is going to come in and fix things. Let’s
bear in mind that in the Judaic context that is the idea of a spiritual, political ruler were not yet
at the Christian reinterpretation of messiah as the cosmic savior of sin.
- So connected with this hope for a messiah, this sort of bad situation of being occupied is
precisely the tradition of Apocalyticism. This is the tradition of people giving the rest of the
community that God is angry with us, we have done something wrong and if we don’t figure
things out, we are going to get punished severely.
- The Apocalyticism is usually some radical change where the unjust are punished and the
righteous are rewarded. So it’s not the full on cataclysmic, absolute annihilation of the world.
Well it is a radical moment of conflict that leads to something else after. So this all kind of takes
place in kind of our world.
- Eschatology is the beliefs about afterlife
- “ology” means the study of
- “end times” that is usually, especially in Islam and Christianity
- It’s the end time where the dead are resurrected, they are judged by God and it is
decided on whether they go to heaven or hell.
- Concern about the after life
- Apocalyticism is a different thing
- Apocalyticism it’s not the end in terms of the end of our live here. It’s the end of the stage of the
ways we have been doing things on this planet and percolates the start of something else.
- Early Christianity is often characterized as an Apocalyticism movement but it also has
Eschatological components. **Don’t confuse the terms
- Jews at the time are hoping for some kind of kingly, military leader to rise up and get rid of the
Romans and allow them to reclaim the land of Israel.
- What’s interesting is that this idea of the messiah returning and correcting the wrongs of the
world; there is hints of it in the Hebrew bible, so some of the later prophets talk about visions
they have of messiahs coming. So when certain figures appear and are very politically active it’s
no surprise that some of that community identify these people as potential messiahs.
- So were not going to find one singular portrayal of Jesus in the Christian tradition at all even
within the Holy book itself. The four gospels sort of present four angles on the story. Sometimes
it’s the same story but sometimes they have additions or differences.
- Jesus: His life if very short and our knowledge of who he is come to us from the most part
through the Gospels. Don’t want to think of the Gospels as the historical record of events that
- Scholars agree that it is pretty well believed that Jesus was born in 4 BCE, which differs from
tradition which believes he was born around zero. There is consensus that he lives to about
30/33. There is evidence outside of Christian tradition that there was a guy named Jesus who
was arrested and crucified. There is some historical collaboration that the person (Jesus) was
around, but the stories that he actually did has only really come to us through the Gospels.
- Let’s think of the gospels as paintings and each painting sort of gives us a perspective or angle
on who this person was.
- Metaphor: Mosaic (tiles) each tile is sort of a different interpretation or perspective on who
Jesus was. So as historians we collect the tiles and try to put together some sort of composite
picture of who he was.
- Usually Mosaics can use tiles but also sometimes they use stain glass.
- Stain glass (Mosaic): pieces put framed together, kind of glued together. The glue that
glues them together is lead like solder. You melt is and kind of stick the pieces and when
it dries it kind of seals it altogether. It does sort of presume that there is some sort of
glue that keeps all the pieces or all the different pictures of Jesus together. Some over
arching idea or framework to put all the pieces in. Radically move away from this idea.
We might just maybe think that the glue is the central notion of Christianity, some
organizing concept but we don’t really think we need that. Its more profound to think of
the mosaic in a different way and in this context; (William James) he wanted to say
image the world as a mosaic and now we have to image that this lines there are no
longer solder lines but James pictured the mosaic as sort of glass pieces fused together.
So instead of having the solder lead glue them together you are just melting them
together so you know the red piece of glass is fused with the blue piece. So you get this
more interconnected metaphor. So there is this no overarching glue, the glue that holds
the whole picture together is just the pieces themselves. The pieces by connecting in
with each other create the glue.
- So applying the metaphor to Jesus ;( Gospels, Historians, etc) There is no singular glue
that kind of binds all these together, it’s the ideas and how they connect together that
gives us the picture. Also another thing is this idea that these things can be clearly
separate off with borders. Pieces of glasses melted together are reminding us that it
isn’t just Mathew or Mark in isolation; you can only really understand who Jesus was by
looking at the whole picture.
- Scholars cannot really focus on who Jesus was, but can focus on what early Christians
thought about him. So really scholars analyzing the Gospels, it’s really almost like
historical sociology. They are really trying to recapture what was going on at the time.
There is less of a focus on trying to recapture Jesus as a historical person and all the
events that happened in his life and all the things that he said.
- All four Gospels were canonized
- 4 gospels CANON; when something is part of a canon, what does that mean part of
the tradition scripture
- As soon as you say canon
- Authoritative material
- Authoritative Gospels what this implies is that there are other gospels but they didn’t
become canon. So not only are there four authoritative versions there are other stories.
As the tradition solidified they decided to only run with the four.
- So as scholars we want to be curious and say why they wouldn’t have simply opted one
version and created that as the authoritative text. Why have the diversity embedded in
the holy book itself.
- Early Christians are Jews so it’s no surprise that the Hebrew bible is an integral part of
the early tradition and as Christianity develops it always stays part of the holy books.
The Holy Bible in Christianity is both the Old Testament which is the Hebrew bible as
well as the new.
- One scholarly half explanation of why there is four authoritative Gospels, is tied into the
belief in revelation. That maybe there is reason why there were four different
perspectives and if we lose those perspectives we might miss out on something that
God is trying to tell us. So if God gives us a message you want to make sure we have all
the different variations of it because we’re human beings, we make mistakes and we