Can.A.Baby Just Die.In.The Womb And.You.Not.Know Closer To Reality: Some Theology About Jesus

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Closer To Reality: Some Theology About Jesus

My old debating nemesis, the Accidental Meta-physician and I, recently had an electronic chin-wag over the relative merits of some of the theology relevant to the subject of Jesus. He is a true believer who seems to take the Bible (New and Old Testament) pretty literally. I see this subject as part of the vast literature we call historical fiction, even mythology, not as literal historical truth. So here are some introductory comments of mine on the general topic of the theology surrounding Jesus.

Christology and Science

Actually what follows has nothing to do with the Accidental Meta-physician but rather came out of a comedy sketch on Jesus I watched so I’m not taking credit for any originality here. However, the comic point that was made was quite relevant with a lot of theological implications. The trust was that Jesus could walk on water, feed the hungry with just a few loaves and fishes, turn water into wine, raise the dead, heal the sick, and yet couldn’t handle just three nails! Methinks that theologically speaking, something is screwy somewhere. Why couldn’t Jesus handle just three nails?

Jesus Said 1

There are lots of Biblical “Jesus said” quotations given in the New Testament of the Bible and oft quoted by the multitudes.

As a matter of observation, my central question is how anyone actually knows what Jesus said in the first place, in any language, in any translation, in any re-translation, in any retelling. I mean who was actually acting as scribe for Jesus writing down for posterity all of his words of wisdom? It surely wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke and John since the Gospels weren’t written down until decades after the fact. Another case in point: how can we know what Jesus said when he only had Satan for chin-wagging company?

Jesus himself never penned a word. Jesus never wrote down anything that we know about at least. He probably couldn’t even read or write as he was hardly one of those select elite in that society who were well heeled and well educated. And all of the people he associated with were pretty much of the same social class and status, which was just as one of the commoners – farmers, herdsmen, fishermen, labourers. Back then there wasn’t any pressing need for the common folk, like Jesus, to be given universal, even compulsory schooling.

The whole Biblical phrase “Jesus said” is extremely iffy at best; more likely as not such sayings are pure fiction; pure human invention.

Jesus Said 2

The Beatles (George Harrison) quite rightly said that the Beatles in their heyday were way more famous than Jesus was in his heyday. Jesus was an incredibly minor figure in his day. He had no superstar or cult status. There weren’t dozens upon dozens of adoring fans, autograph seekers and other hangers-on. There were no journalists and news reporters awaiting at the ready. There were no paparazzi.

Assuming that Jesus actually existed, the Accidental Meta-physician can tell me what Jesus allegedly said, but could he tell me what Cleopatra said? Could he tell me what Alexander the Great said? Could he tell me what Socrates said? Could he tell me what Tutankhamen (King ‘Tut’) ever said? Now surely Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, Socrates and King ‘Tut’ were way more famous in their day than Jesus was in his day, so how come their words of wisdom weren’t written down by adoring scribes at the ready? For that matter, even in more recent times how can we be sure of the exact exchange of words between Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh (Mutiny on the Bounty)? How can we know what Jesus said when he had only Satan for chin-wag company out in the wilderness?

But he shouldn’t take my word for it. I suggested that he, and by extension anyone reading this, should go and ask his or your local clergy or pastor or whoever about whether the Gospels were written decade’s after-the-fact. Go on, ask your theological experts how then anyone could know what Jesus said and who was his scribe(s) or who was writing all his words of wisdom down (on papyrus parchment or sheepskin no doubt). Or perhaps the Gospels like the rest of the New Testament (and of course equally the Old Testament) is all just a work of historical fiction like any other historically themed novel. It’s just the word “novel” didn’t exist back then. You can no more rely on the Bible to get an accurate overview of ancient Near and Mid-East history than you can rely on “Gone with the Wind” to give you an accurate historical overview of the American Civil War.

We know of course what select people (the relative elite) in antiquity wrote, like Plato, but not what they said. Jesus never wrote down anything that we know about at least. He probably couldn’t even read or write as he was hardly one of those select elite in that society who were well heeled and well educated. And all of the people he associated with were of pretty much the same social class and status, which was just one of the commoners – farmers, herdsmen, fishermen, labourers. Back then there wasn’t any pressing need for the common folk to be given universal, even compulsory schooling.

Jesus Said 3

For all you doubters out there (which includes the Accidental Meta-physician) who doubt that what ‘Jesus said’ wasn’t written down until many, many decades after the fact, kindly check out the “Wikipedia” entries on “Gospels” subsection “Dating” or the section on the “Historical Reliability of the Gospels” subsection “Synoptic Gospels” under the heading “Authorship and Date” and you will see that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were in fact written decades after Jesus kicked the bucket. As to Biblical archaeology, the Bible verified by archaeology, check out “Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction” by Eric H. Cline (Oxford University Press: 2009). After you do that, feel free to get back to me.

That Resurrection (and others) 1

The Accidental Meta-physician clearly believes in the resurrection of Jesus as well as the resurrection of all true believers.

Okay, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the resurrection of Jesus was an historical fact.

Jesus apparently looked much the same (and none the worse for wear) post resurrection as pre resurrection. Therefore, what about the pre and post appearance regarding the resurrection of:

A fetus that dies in the womb?

An infant that dies at childbirth?

A child who dies in an accident at five years of age?

A 90 year old with extremely severe dementia?

A quadriplegic?

A thalidomide victim?

What about someone vaporized at ground zero Hiroshima?

Do they all resurrect to whatever age and appearance Jesus was when he fell off his perch? Younger – say 21? Older – say 50? No change? Sound of mind? Sound of body? Isn’t this whole resurrection business total nonsense? But then we don’t want facts or the truth to get in the way of a good Biblical tall tale now, do we?

That Resurrection (and others) 2

Of course the Accidental Meta-physician took issue with me on the above, but the real issue was that he sidestepped my questions! Now, let’s try again. Let’s resurrect the Accidental Meta-physician (or put yourself in his shoes). When the Accidental Meta-physician gets resurrected, will he be resurrected exactly as he was at his time of death? Might the Accidental Meta-physician not prefer to be resurrected when he was younger and at his prime? But what does that mean? Physically prime? Mentally prime? Prime in terms of the knowledge gained and stored away? You (and I include here the Accidental Meta-physician) have put a lot of time, effort and energy into making you what you are yet you keep changing and ageing. There must have been a point in time when you were at your most optimal peak in one sense or other. Is it that you which will get resurrected? Surely you have a preference regarding what you, of all the variations of you that has existed, will get resurrected.

Regarding logic (a favourite subject of the Accidental Meta-physician), I can start with the assumption that there was a resurrection (as in the paragraph above) in order to show that such a concept is illogical and therefore can’t happen. I can start with the assumption that there is a spherical cube in order to show that a spherical cube is really illogical and therefore that a spherical cube can’t happen to exist in reality. This is what is known in the trade as logic!

That Resurrection (and others) 3

The Accidental Meta-physician eventually came to admit that he wasn’t sure about the answers to my scenarios. IMHO that was a cop-out answer if ever there was one. Why shouldn’t he be sure? He was the one who believes in the resurrection of the body. Surely he was basing that belief on some data as to what actually happens. I mean he has a personal stake in this worldview. He must have researched this and thought long and hard about the issue. Of course perhaps he don’t have answers because my scenarios make no sense in his resurrection worldview.

So let’s go back to the case of the infant who dies just a couple of days after its birth. These things do happen. The infant has had no time to develop a database of knowledge, memories, personality, etc. Its physiology is hardly complete. What is it’s resurrection to be? As a 21 year old complete with the essence and body it would have had had it lived to be 21? Some other age? It surely wouldn’t wander or crawl around heaven as a few day old infant without any ability to do anything or communicate. Based on this scenario, I conclude this whole resurrection scenario is nonsense. I rather suspect the Accidental Meta-physician logically knows it is nonsense too, just that he refuses to back down and admit it!

Historical Fiction?

Okay, so if ‘Jesus said” and the resurrection are nonsense, what about the rest of those Biblical texts, Biblical events and Biblical characters? Are they historical fact or historical fiction?

So can anyone show me the grave of Moses (or any other Biblical figure for that matter; anyone else starting with Adam and Eve; Cain and Abel; Noah and Methuselah; Joseph, Abraham, David, Ezekiel, Daniel, Jonah, Joshua or Solomon, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John as well as the alleged 12 Disciples, and so on and on). Show me where the Garden of Eden was. Show me Noah’s Ark. Show me the Ark of the Covenant and/or the stone tablets carved with the Ten Commandments. Show me the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah. True believers are telling me that 200,000 people wandered all over the wilderness for 40 years and yet there is not a single archaeological trace of their comings and goings. Pull the other leg! Do you realize that there’s enough pieces of the ‘true cross’ that exist that could rebuild Noah’s Ark.? Why was Jericho already in ruins – as verified by archaeology – when the alleged ‘battle’ of Jericho took place? Where’s the remains of the Tower of Babel? Why can’t the Bible name the Pharaoh of the Exodus? It would have been such an easy and the logical thing to do – name names, it’s important. Why in fact is there absolutely not a shred of independent archaeological or even Egyptian documentation that the Exodus ever happened? In fact even as to which mountain is THE Mt. Sinai so cited in Exodus is still very much an open question.

In conclusion here, that’s why belief in God, belief in Jesus, belief in the Bible and Biblical texts are all a matter of pure “faith”, not a matter of “evidence” because there is no actual “evidence” far less actual proof.

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