Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jesus the Man - the deception in the very 33rd page


I am reading 'Jesus the Man'- a 'supposed to be controversial' book by Barbara Thiering - an Australian author. I read in 'amazon.com', the reviews praising it as an authentic work with the backing of deep research which will topple down our views about Jesus and Christianity. The back cover of the book reads as follows:

"Jesus was the leader of a radical faction of Essene priests. He was not of virgin birth. He did not die on the Cross. He married Mary Magdalene, fathered a family, and later divorced. He died sometime after AD 64."

One of the critics claims that "Barbara Thiering is a supreme academic and goes to great lengths to justify her theories with much referencing, to the point where I have to admit that I probably need to re-read this immediately and I do confess to only really reading the narrative chapters at the start - which is very readable."

So, I opened the book with great expectations. It is really intriguing. The theory she proposed to explain the Qumran (and the Gospel) texts is really gripping - something very similar to Vinci Code. She introduces peshar technique - a kind of technique to unlock the 'submerged mysteries' beneath the Qumran and Gospel texts. I would say, it is original. I have never heard or someone used before.

I kept on reading expecting more. Then I came to page 33. I was completely lost... disappointed. She was giving her first example to explain pesher technique. The example she selected was the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine (according to Gospels!)

I put down the words of Thiering account of the miracle of Cana (God I have to type all of it.. give me patience!).

"According to a story in John's gospel, Jesus was at a wedding...When, however, a drink was drawn from them and taken to the steward of the feast, it had miraculously turned into wine. The steward's reaction was strange: he did not comment on the miracle at all, but merely complained that Jesus had saved the good wine until last, whereas it was more usual to serve the good wine first and the poor wine later."

I stopped reading there - the text in italics (the text is Thiering's but i've given italics to highlight it) - what has she done?

Because, I never ever heard that the steward "complained that Jesus had saved the good wine. " According to my memory, the gospel clearly stated that the steward didn't know about the source of the 'new wine'. Did my memory fail. I reached home and searched all available versions of Bible. I was happy that my memory still works perfect!

She was quoting 'a story in John's gospel'. In the very 33th page itself, how could she go wrong? Was she just going wrong - a human error. NO WAY. without that small twist, she could not have justified her pesher theory in that instant. That was the pivot.

But it was too much... in the very 33th page manipulating the Gospel text to prove 'a theory'. I didn't expect that. If this is the case of the very first example, what would be the case of the rest of her work... the authenticity! May be her critic would have been right "Barbara Thiering is a supreme academic and goes to great lengths to justify her theories with much referencing..." except the comments put in italics!

Anyway, I will continue to read the book, to hear her stories and theories!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ON CONVERSION AND THE CHURCH



Here is an excerpt from our discussions in DaVinci Code - Helpdesk community on Orkut.

You can go to the whole lot of discussions about DVC, Christianity and more in this community, just follow the link. You may need an Orkut ID though!

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ON CONVERSION AND THE CHURCH
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basically there r 2 issues in our discussion, i guess - the conversion and the role of Catholic Church.

As Ian pointed out, conversion is not simply changing religion. basically, its about change of heart. As Ritin puts it, it should be stimulated by the good works of Christians, themselves.

but there are some issues - if we start to do good works - people say its wrong motivated. i know, after the earth quakes in north India (specifically Gujarat) a team of brothers from our seminary with a train full of supplies (we collected it from the public in Bangalore) were not even allowed to go to those villages. people were still dying and starving. look, we were seminarians with no intention to change their religion. (finally they did help them heroically).

so, its easy to blame church, Christianity etc... but the conversion issue, esp in India - is far more complicated. its not simply about church. people are not frightened about xians, for they convert them. rather they are frightened by the religious extremists with political, economic and cast ambitions 'to hate Christians' or 'risk consequences'. it's basically a political agenda and hate campaign. it was there all through out the history. in the first 3 centuries xians were treated like animals and killed like pigs! (ritin wont like to explain those killings of xians by state, wont u). but the same state accepted xianity as their state religion after that..ha ha.. that's politics, leave it.

then the church's role.

first point, the St Thomas xians in Kerala were catholic from the very beginning. any church initiated by an apostle is considered to be catholic. but the 16th century colonial powers failed to see it.. that's also true. they did a great harm to St Thomas xians. that's why we are divided now.

Ian's observation is valuable - the church may be a communion of saints as well as sinners , but theologically its infallible. that's all.

it does not mean that whatever church does will be right. as a human entity, it may go wrong in its decisions and practice. but what its tells will be infallible - ie, without error - esp regarding the matters of faith and morals.

its a special charism, to make sure that what is good and what is wrong in this very confusing world. church exercise this with utmost care. it does not pass judgments on the realms out side its scope. it has no say in matters of science and mathematics, but of course, in its applications to human life.

i am happy that Ritin came up with the very idea that forcible conversion - in its rude meaning is not a possibility these days.. of course, we, even catholics may have to refine their means of evangelization. but a fact remains - much of the harm is done by the aggressive and unacceptable means adopted by the protestant and evangelical churches (its a great threat to catholic church in India too... why do they aggressively baptize catholics to their churches.. did Jesus tell that!).

I would strongly suggest those so called missionaries - who tries to create communal rifts in our country to stop their way of 'instant conversions'. whoever they may be, they are doing much harm to Christ and Christianity.

but at the same time, every Christian has a right and obligation to live their Christian life in its fullness and to invite others to share its beauty.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Men/women of Destiny


This Sunday (24th June) Church celebrates the birthday of John the Baptist, the prophet and forerunner of Jesus. Usually Church celebrates only the death of a saint. John is the only exception! Why he is special?

He was a man of destiny!

Read Luke 1:57-66 [online Bible at http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+1]

It's about the 'naming ceremony' of the child.. " they were going to name him Zechariah after his father". But Elizabeth, his mother wanted to give him the name JOHN. His father reiterated it even without listening to his wife (he was dump at that moment). But miraculously all came in line! What's in that name?

The name John means “God is gracious.” His name was chosen by God and communicated to his father. He was chosen by God... a man of destiny. God had a dream about him - which had gone even to its particulars - what to eat, what to wear and how to act. He just followed his destiny, cooperating with the plan of God. He was called by Jesus, “among those born of women no one is greater than John” (Luke 7:28). Church respects and acknowledges her master's voice by celebrating his feast day twice, on par with Jesus!

As we all know John's journey was not a cakewalk. From the very beginning, he had to fight against all odds. His relatives and neighbours wanted to give him his father’s name “Zachary.” They objected to his being named John because “None of your relatives has this name” (Luke 1:61). For them what a child can be is determined by what his family and lineage has been. Their dream of a wonderful future for the child is limited by his family background. But, JOHN had to grow beyond all odds... to finally embrace martyrdom!

God’s dream for us far exceeds the wildest ever dreams we had about ourselves. We all are men and women of destiny. What we need to do is to just float - float in the gracefulness of God's bounty, according to His plan.

If you wanna get the full meaning of this mystery, just immerse in the depth of this song: "The dream I have today my lord
Is only a shadow of your dreams my Lord for me"

-----------------(full text)-----------------------------------------------------
ONLY A SHADOW
by Rev Carey Landry

The Love I have for you my Lord
is only a shadow of your love for me
Only a shadow of your love for me
Your deep and abiding love.

My own belief in you my Lord
is only a shadow of your faith in me
Only a shadow of your faith in me
your deep and lasting faith.

My life is in your hands my Lord
My life is in your hands my lord
My love for you will grow my God
Your light in me will always shine

The dream I have today my lord
Is only a shadow of your dreams my Lord for me
Only a shadow of all that will be
if I follow you my Lord.

The joy I feel today my lord
Is only a shadow of your Joys for me.
Only a shadows of your joys for me
when we meet face to face.

courtesy: http://www.munachi.com/z/birthofjohnthebaptist.htm

Tuesday, June 19, 2007