In the Faith, What do we Really Know?

I’m reading a book, Evolution of the Word, by liberal preacher, Marcus J. Borg.  At the same time, I check out blogs of Author/Professor Bart Ehrman, an atheist/agnostic Bible scholar.  I try to figure out where they went in two different directions.

I mentioned yesterday they do not give the same level of credibility to those who “saw Jesus” after he popped up from being dead.  Preacher Borg says people saw a spiritual version of Jesus, not a corpse come to life.  Professor Ehrman says probably no one saw anything.

Then, there is the view of what Paul was thinking.  One would think two people who have spent their lives reading, discussing with other scholars and writing about Paul would agree on the basics of what Paul was thinking.  Not the case.

Preacher Borg is absolutely certain Paul thought the resurrected Jesus was a spiritual being, not a reconstituted human.  He cites Paul’s writing about the differences between the before and after versions of dead humans.

Professor Ehrman has studied Paul for years as well.  There can be no doubt, he says, Paul thought the after death Jesus was fully human.

I’m a rank amateur in this, but a few things I do understand.  No one who wrote the Bible ever saw Paul’s original writing.  It had been recopied many times.

Recopies of stuff written back then have been compared to their sources.  The material changed.

Understanding what Paul supposedly wrote and what he was thinking is a crap shoot.

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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20 Responses to In the Faith, What do we Really Know?

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    Only an observation of fact. Jarcus J Borg; Former student of Concordia Moorhead, ELCA, Same as Dustin’s current institution of “learning”. Member of the Jesus Seminar. Ehrman; “atheist/agnostic”. Interesting, but not surprising they both would be used in the same topic by Jon. Just saying, not discussing.

  2. I Corinthians 15:

    12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

    Paul better have gotten this one right or there is no basis for our Christian faith.
    The resurrection is the great fulcrum of human history. Creation – Resurrection – Consummation

    • entech says:

      Paul better have gotten this one right or there is no basis for our Christian faith.

      Just a personal view, he didn’t and there isn’t.

  3. entech says:

    Jon, one of the reasons I like the scientific method and approach is that when different aspects are studied deeply all the conclusions tend to converge, no one says that gravity is a repulsive force and attractive. At the edges of research and theory there are some contradictory speculations, string theory for example,but even the proponents agree that as they can’t be demonstrated they must remain speculation.
    There seems to be almost as many interpretations of the Jesus story as there are scholarly studies. Not just modern scholarship, almost from the beginning the accusations of heresy have been swapped and changed between Bishops. The problem is that each will have it that they are right and the others wrong, actually they are all wrong.

  4. “There seems to be almost as many interpretations of the Jesus story as there are scholarly studies. Not just modern scholarship, almost from the beginning the accusations of heresy have been swapped and changed between Bishops.”

    “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
    That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” (Proverbs 4:18)

    Light is wisdom, understanding, and truth. Walking in the light is a gradual, growing experience, through our lives and through history. A biblically literate society has been in existence only about 300 years of the 2000 year history of Christianity. There will always be room for varying interpretations but many of the heresies, apparent contradictions, and contentions will be settled over time and scoffers will be silenced.

    “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isaiah 35:8)

    • entech says:

      Alike for those who for To-day prepare,
      And those that after some To-morrow stare,
      A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
      “Fools! your Reward is neither Here nor There.”

      Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss’d
      Of the Two Worlds so wisely–they are thrust
      Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
      Are scatter’d, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

      Myself when young did eagerly frequent
      Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
      About it and about: but evermore
      Came out by the same door where in I went.

      With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
      And with mine own hand wrought to make it grow;
      And this was all the Harvest that I reap’d–
      “I came like Water, and like Wind I go.”

      Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
      Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
      And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
      I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

      Omar Khayyam. The Rubaiyat.

      Omar Khayyam 1048 – 1122
      Islamic scholar and poet. A mathematician and astronomer, he compiled astronomical tables, contributed to calendar reform and discovered a geometrical method of solving cubic equations by intersecting a parabola with a circle.

      What is it, apart from belief and faith, that makes your quotes any more likely to be true than mine? Mine have the virtue of indicating a continuing search for truth instead of a blind acceptance of the speculations of a primitive period in man’s development, and are from a man known to have existed.

      I particularly like the highlighted quatrain, now that I can look back quite a few decades to the time “when young” I can say that I am increasingly convinced that your Bible is myth and magic with some history but no valid philosophy or explanation of the real world.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        entech 6:00 “What is it, apart from belief and faith, that make your quotes any more likely to be true than mine? Mine have the virtue of indicating a continuing seach for truth instead of blind acceptance of speculation of a primitive period in man’s development…”

        Never have I seen it expressed more eloquently.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Jon; As once said by a famous person; “I could quote any number of well known vehemently anit-religous atheists because they all say things what the others say means only that they believe the same thing”.

      • If a fair maiden kisses a frog which instantly changes into a handsome prince, you would call it a fairy tale. But if the change takes 40 million years, you call it science.

      • Henry says:

        entech: “Mine have the virtue of indicating a continuing search for truth”

        Otherwise known as blind speculations in regards to evolootion.

  5. entech says:

    The subject started as faith and belief and the resurrection and the different interpretations by two different scholars in the field.

    First we get ad hominem -as in former student of X and member of Jesus seminar. Obviously not reliable and therefore obvious choices for Jon.

    Then, quotes, quotes about the beliefs from the believers. If they were not believers they would not be saying such things – show me something from a none believer that even indicates a possibility.
    Quotes continue I simply ask why one is true and profound and the other just talk.

    None one seems to seems to have any definitive answer to why some quotes should be taken as “gospel truth” ( :) ), there would be many quotes from the same sources that would not be used, (get out and kill them all, women, children, men and livestock said the Lord – or similar).

    No obvious answer so the desperate turn to evolution, total change of subject indicates a total lack of defensible arguments for the original.

    Borg and Erhman are interpreting writings from long ago, authorship of which is speculative and about events that are also speculative, some of the things that have supposed to have accompanied these events are not recorded anywhere except in the words of the writings describing them – you would expect that hours of darkness would have been reported in Greece or Rome – the dead roaming the streets should also have raised some interest.

  6. Doubtful says:

    These are both interesting authors but Borg is a much better thinker. Ehrman was a pretty fundamentalist believer until about 3 years ago. The man studied religion for many years and could not get beyond the juvenile understanding of Christianity that he shares with Jon. To me that is a good indication that he is not thinking but is believing what he is told. Borg, on the other hand, has been developing interesting understandings of scripture that do not conflict with science since he was a young man.

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