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Christian mavericks find affirmation in ancient heresies
Christian Science Monitor ^ | 4/14/06 | G. Jeffrey MacDonald

Posted on 04/15/2006 11:36:25 AM PDT by wagglebee

When the Rev. John Buehrens gives his Easter sermon this Sunday, he'll borrow a page from an unlikely source: the Gospel of Judas. The gnostic text, unveiled by scholars with fanfare last week, portrays Jesus Christ as an enigmatic guru who venerates Judas, teaching him secret accounts of creation and approving his imminent betrayal.

Many Christians might find that offensive, or, like Mr. Buehrens of Unitarian First Parish in Needham, Mass., silly. But as an emblem of Christianity's long tradition of dissenting voices, the text is for him an inspiration nonetheless.

"An awful lot of what passes for orthodoxy today is something Jesus would have despised," Buehrens says, noting Christian support for "imperialism and militarism." As a challenge to orthodoxy in its time, he says, the Judas story is "a reminder that no single interpretation of the Christ event can exhaust the spiritual implications."

Across the country, observers say, the Gospel of Judas is striking a chord with progressive Christians. Not so much for its heretical theology, but as an ancient symbol of their modern mission to update what defines faithfulness. It's an approach that's winning approval from scholars, who say Christianity has always attracted diverse beliefs. But others worry that this revisionism misrepresents time-tested truths.

Modern theologians attracted to the Judas gospel are reminding today's dissenters that they follow a long, legitimate tradition. At last week's press conference, four academics used either "diverse" or "diversity" to describe what the text reveals about the beliefs and attitudes of the early church. If the church was so varied in its early days, they suggest, then contemporary Christians can perhaps accept the growing diversity of beliefs and lifestyles in their religious communities as well.

"The Christianity of the ancient world was even more diverse than it is today," says Bart Ehrman, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former fundamentalist Christian turned self-described "happy agnostic" - someone who claims it cannot be known if God exists. "My hope is that when people see how diverse Christianity was in its origins, [they] will be a little bit more tolerant of diversity in Christianity today."

That may be easier said than done. One reason: many of early Christianity's most steadfast figures rejected gnostic teachings as heresy - that is, false representations of Jesus' life and of God's nature. (Gnostic doctrines assert rival divine beings and emphasize salvation through secret knowledge.) Although heresy is seldom a matter of public debate in the 21st century, the problem of embracing all beliefs that purport to be "Christian" persists.

To think that noncanonical texts legitimizes diversity today "is to ignore the fact that that diversity was not accepted [in the early church]," says Ronald Simkins, director of the Kripke Center for the Study of Religion & Society at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. "It's a naive use of history."

Adjustments to Easter service

At the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston, the congregation has stripped Holy Week observances of traditional content that strikes members as offensive. On Palm Sunday last weekend, for instance, parishioners heard an adapted Passion narrative that removes biblical language seen as blaming Jews for Jesus' crucifixion. And the hundreds who observe Good Friday won't pray for those who haven't yet received "the Gospel of Christ" but for those untouched by "the grace of God" - a new gesture of respect for the Muslims who use the church for Friday worship.

The goal of these adjustments, says Cathedral Dean Jep Streit, is to reflect in practice who Jesus is and what he represents. And that message-refining process, he says, echoes the debate between orthodox believers and dissenters centuries ago.

"We have this give and take through the first two or three centuries [after Christ's birth], and it continues today, as it should," he says.

In Atlanta, the Rev. Chip Carson plans to proclaim Jesus' triumph over sin and death when he celebrates Easter at First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, a church with predominantly gay membership. But he won't provide the traditional explanation, which says God required a sacrificial atonement for human sin, because he prefers a "love-based theology rather than a fear-based theology."

"Whoever is in power decides what's heresy," Carson says. "We don't tell people what to believe. We only encourage them to have closer contact with God."

Who defines what's Christian?

Yet the same standards hold from age to age, regardless of who's in charge, according to Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"You can have disagreements about doctrinal interpretations of particular issues - that's why we have Catholics, and we have Presbyterians, and we have Baptists, and we have Methodists.... But if you deny the resurrection [or other core teachings], well, according to historic Christianity, you are beyond the pale."

For some the debate isn't about theology; it's about freedom of conscience.

The Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA., says that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression."


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Evangelical Christian; History; Mainline Protestant; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: gnosticism; gospelofjudas; heresy; secularism
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The Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA., says that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression."

Actually, it is a fundamental belief of Christianity.

1 posted on 04/15/2006 11:36:27 AM PDT by wagglebee
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To: NYer; Coleus; narses; Salvation; Pyro7480; TonyRo76; sionnsar; newheart; Huber; HarleyD

Ping.


2 posted on 04/15/2006 11:40:23 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: wagglebee

or, like Mr. Buehrens of "Unitarian First Parish" in Needham, Mass



No point in reading further.


3 posted on 04/15/2006 11:40:47 AM PDT by trubluolyguy (I will vote for a RINO or CINO they day they have to sprinkle rocksalt where hell froze over.)
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To: wagglebee

The Rev. Jayne allows the smoke of Satan to pass thru her lips.


4 posted on 04/15/2006 11:41:39 AM PDT by big'ol_freeper (..it takes some pretty serious yodeling to..filibuster from a five star ski resort in the Swiss Alps)
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To: wagglebee; GatorGirl; maryz; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; livius; ...

"On Palm Sunday last weekend, for instance, parishioners heard an adapted Passion narrative that removes biblical language seen as blaming Jews for Jesus' crucifixion."

Didn't the NO Catholic's do this as well?


5 posted on 04/15/2006 11:44:24 AM PDT by narses (St Thomas says “lex injusta non obligat”)
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To: wagglebee

The Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA., says that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression."



Proof that Satan is still out there and very much at work.


6 posted on 04/15/2006 11:45:15 AM PDT by trubluolyguy (I will vote for a RINO or CINO they day they have to sprinkle rocksalt where hell froze over.)
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To: trubluolyguy

It negates every single thing our Lord told us.


7 posted on 04/15/2006 11:47:37 AM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: wagglebee
"An awful lot of what passes for orthodoxy today is something Jesus would have despised,"

You can say that again.

8 posted on 04/15/2006 11:51:14 AM PDT by kerryusama04 (Isa 8:20)
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To: wagglebee
teaching him secret accounts of creation

Did he teach 'em the secret handshake? 'Cause that would be over the top.

9 posted on 04/15/2006 11:54:24 AM PDT by Drango (A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.)
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To: ahadams2; meandog; gogeo; Lord Washbourne; Calabash; axegrinder; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; ...
Thanks to wagglebee for the ping.

Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans: http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com
More Anglican articles here.

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

10 posted on 04/15/2006 12:06:25 PM PDT by sionnsar (†trad-anglican.faithweb.com† | Iran Azadi 2006 | 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs (SONY))
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To: wagglebee

The non Christians leaders work 24/7/365 to remove any Christian reality from the churches they lead and are destroying.


11 posted on 04/15/2006 12:14:27 PM PDT by Grampa Dave (There's a dwindling market for Marxist homosexual lunatic wet dreams posing as journalism)
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To: narses
Didn't the NO Catholic's do this as well?

Nope. It was there in the Palm Sunday Gospel, and on Good Friday too.

12 posted on 04/15/2006 1:06:26 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: wagglebee
The Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA., says that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression."

Yet another confirmation that it was High Time we swam the Tiber . . . just when I think the Episcopalians can't possibly get any nuttier, they surprise me again.

13 posted on 04/15/2006 1:09:26 PM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: wagglebee

""We don't tell people what to believe. We only encourage them to have closer contact with God."

"Who defines Christianity?"

"And Jesus said unto them, "I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

That's who defines Christianity....The VERY person who started it, not anyone else. So when people say we are being intolerant, bigoted, divisive, what they're really saying is that JESUS is intolerant, bigoted, divisive because it was HE who spoke these words. We only quoted what HE stated.


14 posted on 04/15/2006 1:39:48 PM PDT by Iam1ru1-2
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To: wagglebee
"An awful lot of what passes for orthodoxy today is something Jesus would have despised," Buehrens says, noting Christian support for "imperialism and militarism."

This person should be challenged to show citations of where orthodox Christians argue that imperialism and militarism are articles of faith. People can argue prudential questions on the application of just war doctrine, but that doesn't mean that anyone is saying imperialism and militarism are orthodox teachings. These heretics are simply settting a caricature of orthodoxy.

15 posted on 04/15/2006 1:49:42 PM PDT by Unam Sanctam
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To: Unam Sanctam

He cannot seem to differentiate between political beliefs that some Christians have and Christian beliefs. What I find most discouraging is that people attend his church believing that they are practicing Christianity.


16 posted on 04/15/2006 1:54:13 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: Drango
Did he teach 'em the secret handshake? 'Cause that would be over the top.

Especially if he has to change brands of underwear afterwards.

17 posted on 04/15/2006 2:30:03 PM PDT by Alex Murphy (Colossians 4:5)
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To: wagglebee

The Gnostic writings, such as the "Gospel" of Judas, were not LOST, they were DISCARDED. The Fathers of the Church used very specific criteria in determining the Canon of the New Testament.
Don't let any of this upset you. It just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. People will always try to find ways to rationalize and justify their unbelief.
Have a beautiful Easter!


18 posted on 04/15/2006 3:06:31 PM PDT by Frankster
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To: wagglebee

"Across the country, observers say, the Gospel of Judas is striking a chord with progressive Christians."

Guess I'm not a very progressive Christian.


19 posted on 04/15/2006 3:12:25 PM PDT by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: Frankster

You have a wonderful Easter as well!


20 posted on 04/15/2006 3:36:25 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: AnAmericanMother

Wow, I was misinformed. I was told that the references to the perfidious jew was taken out.


21 posted on 04/15/2006 3:51:14 PM PDT by narses (St Thomas says “lex injusta non obligat”)
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To: wagglebee
Christian mavericks find affirmation in ancient heresies

Mavericks? More like Pintos.

(Or maybe even Yugos....)

22 posted on 04/15/2006 4:08:51 PM PDT by RichInOC (Jesus is coming back soon...and boy, is He one unhappy camper.)
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: TonyRo76

And a very Happy Easter to you as well!


24 posted on 04/15/2006 6:38:13 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: TonyRo76
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves."(Matthew 7:15)
27 posted on 04/15/2006 6:44:15 PM PDT by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: wagglebee

Thanks for the ping. Excellent but sad commentary on the way many think of God today. But this is the way many are heading today; shaping God into man's image.


28 posted on 04/16/2006 9:23:18 AM PDT by HarleyD ("A man's steps are from the Lord, How then can man understand his way?" Prov 20:24 (HNV))
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To: wagglebee
The Rev. Jayne Oasin, a social justice officer for the Episcopal Church, USA., says that "to consider there to be only one truth is to me a form of oppression."

Pilate replied, "Truth? What is truth?"-John 18:8

29 posted on 04/16/2006 10:47:41 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: narses
There was a reference in the old Roman Missal as part of the Good Friday liturgy. It was never in the Gospel (I went and checked the Vulgate to make sure). But of course Judas was perfidious, and he was Jewish . . . and just about everyone else involved was Jewish too (including Our Lord himself), hence I guess the adjective to distinguish him from the faithful Jews.

There are plenty of derogatory references to "the Jews" in the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels -- seems clear from context that this refers to the religious authorities who were doing their level best to wipe out this "cult" . . . naturally the members of said cult would be kinda sore at them . . .

30 posted on 04/17/2006 6:21:44 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother
There are plenty of derogatory references to "the Jews" in the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels -- seems clear from context that this refers to the religious authorities who were doing their level best to wipe out this "cult" . . . naturally the members of said cult would be kinda sore at them . .

Clear to you maybe. Its clearer to me that writers, redactors and interpolaters in Rome, a place from where invaders wiped out Jerusalem a couple of centuries earlier, inherited their anti-semetic attitudes.

31 posted on 04/17/2006 6:48:59 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
Nope, I've read the Gospels in the original Greek, and that material is plainly there for all to read. We have more copies of the Gospels (and the Acts of the Apostles) in the original Greek than most texts from the ancient world (many of which we do in fact have only in later Latin translations -- but that is NOT the case with the NT).

The idea about "writers, redactors, and interpolators in Rome" is simply a red herring thrown up by those who insist on treating eastern-Mediterranean Jews as anti-Semites because they report negatively on their persecutors.

32 posted on 04/17/2006 7:00:09 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: AnAmericanMother
Nope, I've read the Gospels in the original Greek, and that material is plainly there for all to read. We have more copies of the Gospels (and the Acts of the Apostles) in the original Greek than most texts from the ancient world (many of which we do in fact have only in later Latin translations -- but that is NOT the case with the NT).

Yup. Whoop de do you've read the gospels in Greek. Doesn't matter what language. If you want to assume groups such as the Pharisees were raving lunatics, kniving conspirators involved in a plot to kill their own people that's your problem.

The idea about "writers, redactors, and interpolators in Rome" is simply a red herring thrown up by those who insist on treating eastern-Mediterranean Jews as anti-Semites because they report negatively on their persecutors.

You got it. All except for the red herring part.

33 posted on 04/17/2006 7:05:04 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Invincibly Ignorant; AnAmericanMother
Yeah, I'm not sure why you'd blame anybody in Rome. The "writing, redacting, and interpolating" you think you've identified is evident in the Greek and Syriac text as well. Roman Christians didn't have anything to do with that.

IIRC, we have partial Greek manuscripts of Matthew which have been dated before AD 50. They are essentially the same as what we have today.

34 posted on 04/17/2006 7:07:21 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
If you want to assume groups such as the Pharisees were raving lunatics, kniving conspirators involved in a plot to kill their own people that's your problem.

There's plenty of evidence from Jewish sources that some of the Sadduccees, including the Temple Sanhedrin, in the late 2nd temple period were Roman quislings who would have happily killed off a homegrown holy man if they thought he threatened their relationship with their Roman overlords.

35 posted on 04/17/2006 7:10:00 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Campion
IIRC, we have partial Greek manuscripts of Matthew which have been dated before AD 50. They are essentially the same as what we have today.

Can I see those please?

36 posted on 04/17/2006 7:10:11 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Campion
There's plenty of evidence from Jewish sources that some of the Sadduccees, including the Temple Sanhedrin, in the late 2nd temple period were Roman quislings who would have happily killed off a homegrown holy man if they thought he threatened their relationship with their Roman overlords.

That's true. Saduccees were part of the corruption of the Temple at the time. My defense is more of the Pharisees.

37 posted on 04/17/2006 7:14:51 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: trubluolyguy
Compare to my experience at a rural Methodist church last Sunday:
38 posted on 04/17/2006 7:15:03 AM PDT by TomSmedley (Calvinist, optimist, home schooling dad, exuberant husband, technical writer)
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
Can I see those please?

They're right here in my briefcase, see?

Do a Google on NT dating, Gospel of Matthew, that sort of thing. It was in the news a couple of years ago.

39 posted on 04/17/2006 7:16:58 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
You can whoop all you want, but the date and original language of the Gospels mean that Rome had nothing to do with the state of the received text. At the time our first copies of the Gospels and Acts were written, Rome was still very much pagan, and had zero interest in revising or altering the obscure texts of what to them was an annoying cult on the fringes of the Empire. That was my point.

Of course the religious authorities in Jerusalem were conspiring to wipe out Jesus's followers. That isn't disputed by anyone. Their motives, however, had to do with the fear of attracting attention from the occupying authorities, not with race hatred. Caiaphas is quoted in one of the Passion Gospels as stating that it was better that one man should be sacrificed than the entire people. The religious authorities were trying to avoid what happened soon afterwards with the revolt and destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

The idea that this had anything to do with "anti-Semitism" as it is currently understood ignores the politics of the eastern Mediterranean at the time.

40 posted on 04/17/2006 7:17:13 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
My defense is more of the Pharisees.

Saul was a Pharisee.

41 posted on 04/17/2006 7:18:08 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
That's true.

"The Jews" who killed Jesus were the Temple Sanhedrin. The Gospels also accuse (some of) the Pharisees of plotting to kill him, but they didn't do the deed.

42 posted on 04/17/2006 7:18:25 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: AnAmericanMother
Saul was a Pharisee.

Allegedly

43 posted on 04/17/2006 7:19:13 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Campion
"The Jews" who killed Jesus were the Temple Sanhedrin. Actually the Romans killed him.
44 posted on 04/17/2006 7:20:22 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
Nice try, but you've been steadily backing away from your original assertion, and now you're caught dead to rights.

The only evidence we have is that Saul was a Pharisee, there is no evidence to the contrary. Unless you want to contend that the whole thing is a fabrication, in which case there is really nothing to discuss with you.

45 posted on 04/17/2006 7:21:48 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
Actually the Romans killed him.

You know exactly what I mean.

46 posted on 04/17/2006 7:24:15 AM PDT by Campion ("I am so tired of you, liberal church in America" -- Mother Angelica, 1993)
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To: AnAmericanMother
You can whoop all you want,

Ok. One more time. Whoop de doo.

but the date and original language of the Gospels mean that Rome had nothing to do with the state of the received text. At the time our first copies of the Gospels and Acts were written, Rome was still very much pagan, and had zero interest in revising or altering the obscure texts of what to them was an annoying cult on the fringes of the Empire. That was my point.

Perhaps. But I don't ignore existence of proto-orthodoxy. Funny coincidence that the thousands of Jewish believers James was talking about in acts were nowhere to be found in the mid 2nd century. Of course by that time a human was given divinity. Not too many Jews would want to stick around for that.

Of course the religious authorities in Jerusalem were conspiring to wipe out Jesus's followers. That isn't disputed by anyone.

It would be helpful if you pointed out which religious leaders and source something other than the NT.

Their motives, however, had to do with the fear of attracting attention from the occupying authorities, not with race hatred. Caiaphas is quoted in one of the Passion Gospels as stating that it was better that one man should be sacrificed than the entire people. The religious authorities were trying to avoid what happened soon afterwards with the revolt and destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

Obviously "Jewish" Religious leaders were not motivated to hate their own race. That came later by Orthodoxy. Things like outlawing Sabbath observance and such. Not everyone believes NT is inspired. So its probably going to be difficult to prove a point with all the NT quotes.

The idea that this had anything to do with "anti-Semitism" as it is currently understood ignores the politics of the eastern Mediterranean at the time.

I thought I made it clear later writers, redactors and interpolaters were anti-semetic? You'll probably notice I didnt' cede your point that all these early manuscipts read then as they do now.

47 posted on 04/17/2006 7:36:27 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: AnAmericanMother
Nice try, but you've been steadily backing away from your original assertion, and now you're caught dead to rights.

I must have missed backing away from something.

The only evidence we have is that Saul was a Pharisee, there is no evidence to the contrary. Unless you want to contend that the whole thing is a fabrication, in which case there is really nothing to discuss with you.

He can say he's a pharisee all he wants. Talk is cheap. Most of his actions, as depicted in NT writings, confirm otherwise.

48 posted on 04/17/2006 7:40:22 AM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: Invincibly Ignorant
Like I said, there's no point in discussing this further.

It's like trying to nail jello to the wall.

49 posted on 04/17/2006 8:24:16 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: TomSmedley

If I want feminist humanism, I can turn on the TV or pick up any magazine at the supemarket checkout counter



You really don't find this in my church. I am sorry that you have it in yours.


50 posted on 04/17/2006 8:43:21 AM PDT by trubluolyguy (Freedom of choice? Choose to keep your legs closed, and your pants on!)
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