Sunday, 24 April 2011

Some thoughts on Easter

This is a special time for Christians. It used to be a special time for me. More special than any other time of the year. I mean, if Jesus genuinely rose from the dead it's pause for thought isn't it? Something to reflect upon?

Actually, no. A cursory study of ancient history shows that dying and rising Gods are two a penny, and that ancient texts have borrowed from each other in ways that are often quite blatant.

And then there's the Gospel problems. Nobody knows who actually wrote them. They were penned many years after the events they recount, and comparitive studies of ancient gospel extracts have identified that swathes of text have have been changed by well meaning scribes. They also outright contradict each other in key events, and efforts by theologians to merge these accounts are dubious to say the least. Worse, there are no direct accounts of the resurrection recorded in the ancient world. I've studied every single non biblical reference to the life of Jesus and I'm sorry to say they add nothing. Of the two most famous, one by the Jewish historian Josephus has been forged to sound more spectacular than an original version, whilst the Roman Tacitus refers to a Christus, and it is by no means clear that he was actually referring to the historical Jesus.

Of the other sources, they refer to early Christian tradition rather than directly to Christ himself. For what it's worth I think that on the balance of probabilities there was an itinerant 1st century preacher who may or may not have been called Jesus. He was charismatic, controversial, and we can learn much from him that could help frame our lives in a deep and meaningful way. I think the historical Jesus, the real Jesus is magnificent and inspirational. I don't think we need resurrections or miracles or virgin births to make this any more true.

1 comment:

  1. "the real Jesus is magnificent and inspirational"

    Indeed ... :) but I suspect we differ on the meaning of 'real' here.

    Rob: thanks for insights and challenges!