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What I learned profiling a ‘blasphemous’ Jesus scholar
March 3rd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

What I learned profiling a ‘blasphemous’ Jesus scholar

By John Blake, CNN

I first heard of the biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan through a head-turning quote. He said the body of Jesus wasn’t physically raised on Easter morning but was probably taken down from the cross and eaten by stray dogs.

You don’t forget comments like that. And indeed over the years, that’s how I came to know Crossan. He was that bespectacled historic Jesus scholar with the Irish accent who was always lobbing verbal hand grenades at traditional Christian beliefs in media interviews and in religious documentaries.

But recently I decided to write a profile of Crossan, and I learned that my perception of him was simplistic. Plenty of people who read the profile shared their impressions of him - the article netted over 12,000 comments and Facebook shares.

Now I’d like to share my own comments. I spent about two months talking to Crossan and his wife and reading his books. Three discoveries stood out.

1. He’s not anti-religion

It seems like a simple thing to say, but not in the case of Crossan. So much of the media focuses on what Crossan questions - the bodily resurrection of Jesus, miracles attributed to Jesus - that people assume he’s not a Christian.

Not so. I could hear the passion in Crossan’s voice as he marveled over Jesus’ stance on nonviolence and declared his faith. Even critics who strongly disagree with Crossan said he has a deep Christian spirituality and a passion for the Bible.

Some of it may be due to his background. He grew up in a theological boot-camp: years of monastery training and intensive study of the Bible. He told me Roman Catholicism was the “wallpaper” of his early life.

As someone who has written about religion for years, I’ve noticed a pattern. Conservative Christians are often describe as passionate; progressive Christians as more intellectual. But Crossan seems to show you can be both: passionate and intellectual.

2. Maybe monasteries aren’t so bad

The Roman Catholic Church gets a lot of bad press today. Crossan, though, revealed another side of the church to me: its passion for learning and social justice.

Crossan told me had a “magnificent" education growing up in Ireland and entering the monastery as a teenager. He grew up in an era before Twitter, smartphones and shouting matches on cable TV. I was struck by how much time he had in his early life for reading, contemplation and bonding with his family.

Today, Crossan is a fierce critic of the Roman Catholic Church. But I suspect he’d be the first to admit that he personally benefited from the foundation it gave him  during his early life.

3. Jesus was his media coach

Crossan is what some journalists like to call a “quote machine.” Translation: He likes to talk to the media, and he provides great quotes.

A sample: When Crossan was once trying to describe how Jesus and his disciples stood out during the rule of the Roman emperor Augustus, he said they were “hippies in an Augustan age of yuppies.”

I thought Crossan’s talent for quotes came because he was adept at dealing with the media. He told me, though, that he learned how to talk to the media from studying the parables of Jesus. Jesus, he says, was a master of distilling complex thoughts into accessible forms.

It turns out that Crossan was known as a groundbreaking scholar on the parables of Jesus in academic circles before he became a public figure. He backed into his study of the historic Jesus, and his later fame.

Crossan is a prolific author. I suspect this won’t be the last time I hear from him. But given what I know of him now, I’ll look at him as more than the Jesus scholar who gets people angry.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Jesus

soundoff (561 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Only for the new members:

    And now the nitty-gritty of it all:

    "John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to their god to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today

    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed." J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that such religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    September 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  2. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    November 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  3. Barry

    We who are Christians certainly believe in the resurrection of Jesus, as we believe that he is the Messiah or Christ (which the Greek word for messiah); and, we accept what the Apostle Paul wrote about Christ and the resurrection.

    We must remember, however, that over the centuries God’s people have had different understandings about exactly what was meant by the Gospel accounts and other New Testament Scriptures, as is also true of the Old Testament Scriptures.

    Bear in mind that the early Christians at Alexandria read the Scriptures and interpreted them figuratively (or allegorically); whereas, the Christians at Antioch interpreted them literally. Both groups were Christians.

    Moreover Christians have had differing views on many aspects of the Christian message, since the beginning.

    Consider the Arian Controversy (Arius and Athenasius), which was a critical issue in the early fourth century. Both of these Christian groups believed that Jesus was the son of God, but they had different understandings about exactly what that meant.

    The Ebonites Christians (an early sect of Christians) only had a copy of the Gospel of Matthew and the Torah, and they had an adoptionist view of Christ; but, they believed he was the son of God.

    I am careful not to say that someone is not a Christian, because they do not agree with me, or because they have a different understanding or interpretation of the Bible.

    If someone acknowledges that “ Jesus is Lord”, as Paul writes in First Corinthians, I consider them to be a Christian.

    Remember: According to Jesus (as stated in the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 25), Jesus said that our eternal destiny (heaven or Hell) will hinge on whether we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned. Jesus did not say that it hinged in whether a person agrees with me or with my interpretation of the Scripture.

    April 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  4. Kelly

    For me, this article comes at a great time; I've recently been undergoing a little crisis of faith and have been doing an awful lot of reading on the topic, and have run across Crossan's work pretty frequently. What I've had to realize for myself is that I've got to balance sense and faith. What makes sense to me is this: I take the existence of a loving God as a given. If God shows perfect love to everyone (which seems to be part of the definition of the Christian God), then He would not have designed a system where anyone were denied eternal life; he would have given it freely to everyone in his infinite love. What that means, to me, is that whether or not Jesus was or was not God's true son, how he died doesn't matter, because a true loving God would accept us without the condition of his son's death. All we can do now is learn from the lessons of Jesus.

    April 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  5. CDW

    1 Corinthians 15:17:
    "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."

    'nuff said.

    April 1, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Barry

      We who are Christians certainly believe in the resurrection of Jesus, as we believe that he is the Messiah or Christ (which the Greek word for messiah); and, we accept what the Apostle Paul wrote about Christ and the resurrection.

      We must remember, however, that over the centuries God’s people have had different understandings about exactly what was meant by the Gospel accounts and other New Testament Scriptures, as is also true of the Old Testament Scriptures.

      Bear in mind that the early Christians at Alexandria read the Scriptures and interpreted them figuratively (or allegorically); whereas, the Christians at Antioch interpreted them literally. Both groups were Christians.

      Moreover Christians have had differing views on many aspects of the Christian message, since the beginning.

      Consider the Arian Controversy (Arius and Athenasius), which was a critical issue in the early fourth century. Both of these Christian groups believed that Jesus was the son of God, but they had different understandings about exactly what that meant.

      The Ebonites Christians (an early sect of Christians) only had a copy of the Gospel of Matthew and the Torah, and they had an adoptionist view of Christ; but, they believed he was the son of God.

      I am careful not to say that someone is a Christian, because they do not agree with me, or because they have a different understanding or interpretation of the Bible.

      If someone acknowledges that “ Jesus is Lord”, as Paul writes in First Corinthians, I consider them to be a Christian.

      Remember: According to Jesus (as stated in the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 25), Jesus said that our eternal destiny (heaven or Hell) will hinge on whether we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned. Jesus did not say that it hinged in whether a person agrees with me or with my interpretation of the Scripture.

      April 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  6. yramts

    I'm a little slow – someone just forwarded the link. How do we sew together the brain/study and heart/faith net – the real "InnerNet"? I've had simlar questions during my studies – whether I accept Crossan's writings or not. I'm glad Crossan shared his observations when I was afraid to. My heart still has faith – long story... whatever the hard evidence is or isn't, the message of Jesus rings true in my heart, and I pray it will in all humans. Everyone needs to take some time off the grid every year to reflect on good and evil to find true freedom and salvation.

    March 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Barry

      YRAMTS,
      I appreciate your question and recommend you read Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Gospels Through Jewish Eyes, by Spong and Goulder. I believe you'll find some of the answers you're seeking there.

      The fact is learned and capable individuals have been considering these matters for centuries. It's just that the laity is unaware of this, because they haven't had access to these books and journal articles.

      Best wishes.

      March 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  7. Veldman

    if it came forth from a catholic priest then i have no surprise at all. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center of faith and forgiveness; that only God to be worshiped and that only God can forgive sins (simply because it is His laws that being transgressed and that God had have satisfied the sin's demand that is blood). Throwing these out then nothing left in the religion except the pope.

    This idea idea is "against" catholic view and so it must be usurped by supposed ousted priest.

    If no Jesus and no God, then the Pope can heights himself to be the God! If there is Jesus, no place for Pope. AntiChrist is not he outside of the house of God. He preaches in the house of God. You cannot hate somebody if you don't know him/her!

    March 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  8. Geri

    fsmgroupie

    It's the christian god who needs to get down on his knees and beg for forgiveness. Murdered everyone on earth save one family. And he even stooped so low as to ra-pe a vi-rgin named Mary. There is no hell hot enough for this sicko.

    Geri**** Forgive him father, for he knows not what he does...

    March 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  9. Barry

    Regarding the Authenticity of Jesus:

    The fact is that credible witnesses were convinced that a Jewish teacher named Jesus was crucified, that he was the messiah, and he rose from the dead.

    These credible witnesses (most all of them Jews, initially) were devout and godly people, who were committed to principles of truth, honesty and integrity.

    That these devout and credible witnesses were willing to subject themselves, their families and the ones they loved to ostracism, torture and death, in order to bear witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is enough to convince me. I trust them.

    The only question that remains is–what exactly was the nature of the resurrection, about which they were convinced.

    Again I encourage anyone seriously interested in this to read Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Gospels Through Jewish Eyes.

    "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31

    March 4, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • John Fenner

      On the trial & death of Jesus,
      Pontius Pilate was a real person–a military governor. He appears in Luke's Gospel, in another light. Josephus wrote that Pilate would put his own, local troops into the crowd in civilian clothes, to see who was arguing loudest against Rome.
      Pilate condemned Jesus in a "show trial".
      Josephus also wrote how the Elite were willing to die over Pilate putting statues of the Emperor, into the Temple.
      It was impossible for these people to convict Jesus in a nighttime trial, over Passover, without credible witnesses, and with an instant verdict, UNLESS Jesus volunteered to be Pilate's victim.
      Once you entertain that thought, it ties up many of the loose ends of the Gospels' account.
      PS, Piilate was recalled by Rome, after about 8 years as governor.

      November 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yeah, but Josephus believed and wrote about Hercules, too, so...

      November 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  10. Something

    Sam,

    "Either the New Testament is all wrong" - mostly, yes.

    "or Jesus was a hell of a lot more than Prof. Cross has figured out." - mostly, no.

    March 4, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Barry

      The fact is that credible witnesses were convinced that a Jewish teacher named Jesus was crucified, that he was the messiah, and he rose from the dead.

      These credible witnesses (most all of them Jews, initially) were devout and godly people, who were committed to principles of truth, honesty and integrity.

      That these devout and credible witnesses were willing to subject themselves, their families and the ones they loved to ostracism, torture and death, in order to bear witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is enough to convince me. I trust them.

      The only question that remains is–what exactly was the nature of the resurrection, about which they were convinced.

      Again I encourage anyone seriously interested in this to read Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Gospels Through Jewish Eyes.

      "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31

      March 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  11. Sam McInroy

    So, in other words, Jesus was just a really talented and neat guy.

    Either the New Testament is all wrong or Jesus was a hell of a lot more than Prof. Cross has figured out. The uneducatedites in the media just love stories that show traditionalists are a bunch of hypocritical rubes. I mean, after all, life is nothing more than an extended college dorm bull session, correct?

    March 4, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • Dunz Kap

      Yup. All dem intlectls wit deir nummers n buks. Wha dem no enny hau? God rote dis buk n didnt du nutin else. Ind stoorey, cuz eye don wanna reed no moor.

      March 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  12. Jesus The Christ, King of kings, Son of God

    He's right, freaking dogs ate me. Also I'm down with the gays (12 guys in the desert with no chicks, mean come on)

    March 4, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • Angles not Angels You Dummies

      The King of Kings was the name of Persia's king who rulled many kingdoms. Whether the dog ate him or not, it obviously p'd on his papers or ate his homework, since everyone's been disagreeing about what they said ever since. Being happy's what its all about, whether you're in the desert or San Fran. If you knew their wives you'd understand the real truth though. Anyone seen Mary Magdalene?

      March 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  13. Steve

    We have two wars going on, economic problems, and a planet thats going acidic. Who the hell cares about some dude from 2,000 years ago. Socrates said the liver was the oragan of love and heart was the center of thought. Just because its old doesn't make it wise. Lets focus on curent problems and up to date info.

    March 4, 2011 at 3:59 am |
    • Chain the Dog until its Tamed

      And yet I must agree this problem is the cause of a lot of the issues that plague our times. It's not the knowledge of the subject thats the issue though. Its obviously the sad lacking objective knowedge. So ignoring it won't make it go away. More than likely it will just put its bad side on your door step quicker.

      March 4, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  14. InEarnest

    There will ALWAYS be debates about the historical Jesus. Some would suggest He never lived. Some say He never died. Some say that He was NEVER the savior of the cross. As the debate rages on, there will be heated discussions about the REAL Jesus. It's what He means today that is most important, since He IS the Prince of Peace. Either He died on the cross and rose again or He never really existed. Arguing about Jesus is like arguing with an Atheist about God. It's who He is to the believer that matters. As long as He IS the Prince of Peace, regardless of how anyone feels about Him, we must NOT do any harm to anyone because they disagree with us. Peace.

    March 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Reality

      A synopsis of 21st Christianity based on the studies of Professors Crossan, Ludemann, Borg, Fredricksen et al:

      Jesus was an illiterate, Jewish, peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
      earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:

      Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,--

      March 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Objective Reality

      Okay now Reality. Here's a really big challenge for you, but since you are Reality you should be able to be objective about your task and come through with flying colors. Tell us all the objective Reality of what good has been provided by religion for thousands of years that make people hold on to it in spite of already knowing these wonderous truths you keep reminding us about over and over about like a broken record. Okay now Reality. Let's see your objective side. Ready, set go!

      March 4, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Something

      Objective Reality,

      I don't speak for @Reality, but my opinion is that, in the main, they stick with religion because of:

      – Family and cultural tradition

      – Fear and superst.ition

      – Attraction to a fantasy world

      March 4, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Reality

      "John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      The Situation Today
      Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed." J. Somerville

      It is very disturbing that such religious violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      March 4, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • David Johnson

      @InEarnest

      You said: " It's who He is to the believer that matters."

      If an adult believed in Santa, would you say that was all that mattered? You would be okay with them believing a myth?

      Curious in Arizona – The most racist state in the union

      March 4, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Something In the Air

      Something: You took Reality's challenge, and Reality helped and David jumped in and I'm fairly sure all your budies could do the same; yet all of you avoid the challenge as usual, because you know to scientifically evaluate religions, and acknowledge the pros as well as the cons, your BS one-sided non-scientific propaganda would vanish in the air along with your cherished beliefs that all religious followers are idiots and trouble makers. You claim the worthy praise of science, yet your scientific method on this subject is so sophmorically missing, and yet your jaws flap on. No Different. No Different. No Different. No better in intent than those you accuse.

      March 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  15. everteta

    "[T]he body of Jesus wasn’t physically raised on Easter morning but was probably taken down from the cross and eaten by stray dogs." There are two primary pieces of evidence that give us access to Jesus. One is the writings of the New Testament. The second is the community of believers. Both confess that Jesus was buried. John Dominic Crossan deems both of these witnesses to be untrustworthy. On what basis, then, can he know anything about Jesus, or even that he existed?

    March 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Kyle

      By applying the same critical thinking that we do in ANY study of history? If I said I ran across the state to attend a wedding, would you think I literally "ran"? Christians do a wonderful job understanding the parables and sayings of Jesus because it's obvious that he didn't mean people should literally hate their parents. So when jesus spent his ENTIRE ministry trying to reshape the concept of God into that of a loving father, do you think he was literally the "son" of god?

      March 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • fsmgroupie

      Some loving father. God murdered everyone on the earth except for Noah and family. No, can't see a lot of love there.

      March 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Literal Nuts On Both Sides

      FMSGroupie: Okay. We know you think the Noah story is literal. That makes you no beter than those you make fun of. Grow up.

      March 4, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • David Johnson

      @everteta

      You asked: "On what basis, then, can he know anything about Jesus, or even that he existed?"

      There are some that do not think an actual Jesus existed.

      There were no eyewitness accounts of Jesus. The Gospels were written by god knows who in the third person. The Gospels were written with an agenda i.e., Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God.

      We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
      -Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (The Gnostic Gospels)

      The bottom line is we really don't know for sure who wrote the Gospels.
      -Jerome Neyrey, of the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. in "The Four Gospels," (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

      Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.
      -C. Dennis McKinsey, Bible critic (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy)

      There are no known secular writings about Jesus, that aren't forgeries, later insertions, or hearsay. NONE!
      Most of the writings came from people who lived AFTER Jesus was dead. Can you say hearsay?

      We don't even have a wooden shelf that Jesus might have built. Or anything written by Jesus (He was probably illiterate).

      The Dead Sea Scrolls did not mention Jesus or have any New Testament scripture.

      Jesus, if he existed, was not considered important enough to write about by any contemporary person. The myth hadn't had a chance to flourish.

      Paul's writings were the first, about Jesus. But, Paul's writing was done 25 to 30 years after Jesus was dead. In a primitive, ultra-supersti_tious society, 25 years is a lot of time for a myth to grow. Paul never met Jesus.
      Some people feel that Paul, not Jesus, is the real father of what most Christians believe today (Pauline Christianity).

      Questions on the Crucifixion story:

      "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save." Mark 15:31

      "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe..." Mark 15:32

      It would appear, that the chief priests are admitting that Jesus "saved" others. If they knew this, then there is no reason for them to demand that Jesus descend from the cross, in order for them to believe. They already admitted to knowing of Jesus's "miracles".

      If taken literally it would seem that this is just an embellishment by Mark. A work of fiction.

      Here is some more:

      According to Luke 23:44-45, there occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."

      Yet not a single mention of a three hour ecliptic event got recorded by anyone. 'Cause it didn't happen!

      Mathew 27 51:53
      51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
      How come nobody wrote about zombies running through the cities? 'Cause it is all b.s.

      If Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, who died for man's redemption, then this would be the most important event in the history of man.

      Why wouldn't god have ensured there was tons of evidence that this was true? Multiple Writings by contemporary eyewitnesses – Jews and Romans.

      You are going to want to say that there IS lots of evidence, but look at reality: There are way more people, in the world, who are not Christians than who are. Obviously, the evidence is not adequate to convince most if not all people.

      Cheers!

      March 4, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Barry

      Everteta,

      The fact is that credible witnesses were convinced that a Jewish teacher named Jesus was crucified, that he was the messiah, and he rose from the dead.

      These credible witnesses (most all of them Jews, initially) were devout and godly people, who were committed to principles of truth, honesty and integrity.

      That these devout and credible witnesses were willing to subject themselves, their families and the ones they loved to ostracism, torture and death, in order to bear witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is enough to convince me. I trust them.

      The only question that remains is–what exactly was the nature of the resurrection, about which they were convinced.

      Again I encourage anyone seriously interested in this to read Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Gospels Through Jewish Eyes.

      "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30-31

      March 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  16. Kaycee

    One more thing. – Romans 10:9 – If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD you will be saved.
    And don't tell me he was some kind of ghost. He ate fish with his disciples after the resurrection.
    Also- should have said many churches, instead of most in another post.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Chester

      Paul again!

      March 3, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Question

      And didn't Paul have major disagreements with the other disciples? Most of Paul's books are arguing against all the misunderstandings in the Christain communities that heor others started. While jesus said Peter was the rock upon which his church would be built, not Paul. Meanwhile Thomas had long left for India to start churches there using a Book of the Hebrews not found in the bible; and it would seem the other disciples may have went off on similar tangents, since there ended up so many varieties of Christianity and its Holy Books. Why would god leave such confusion if he didn't want people to take what they were capable of understanding, instead of insisting everyone believe the exact same thing, when it wouldn't have the exact same relevance to them?

      March 4, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • Doug

      Oh I would never argue that he was a ghost, I don't believe in those either.

      March 4, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  17. ThisGuy

    Sounds like a false teacher. Remember what Paul said about those? Rebuke them and forbid them to spread their lies. Think that's harsh? It's God's way of protecting His people from being led astray. Would you like someone to come and lie to your kid against all the ideals you've taught them? That's how God feels about people coming in and lying to His people against what is said in the Bible.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @ThisGuy

      The funny part, is that if Crossan had proclaimed the dogma according to your belief, he would have been a man of god. Yes?

      Believers are sooo lame.

      Cheers!

      March 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Kyle

      Like another poster pointed out, its a good thing then that I'm a christian and not a paulian

      March 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • ThisGuy

      You must have a different Bible than me, as my Bible has books written by Paul.

      March 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Chester

      Believing in Jesus and believing what Paul wrote are two completely different things. The bible was written by people. Study the historical Jesus and you will begin to understand how revolutionary he was and how very differently he is portrayed by so many who call themselves Christians today. So many actually follow the teachings of Paul who often conflicts directly with the teachings of Christ.

      March 3, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Doug

      Is this the same Paul who claimed to have been taught by Hillel, but can't substantiate that claim? The same Paul who disagreed with many of Jesus' actual followers, followers who had actually met Jesus? The same Paul who never actually met Jesus, but claims to have had a "vision" and fell off a horse (another unsubstantiated claim.) If someone were to claim that now, they would be deemed mentally incompetent, but you folks follow his word based upon no evidence that anything he says was true.

      March 4, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  18. Kaycee

    Magic,
    Didn't say MORE blessed. Didn't say MORE worthy.Good point – that many people have been willing to die for a leader and/or.their
    faith. I just think these guys who followed Jesus were pretty cowardly. The night he was taken in, the account says they scattered. Peter cursed, and said he never was with him, didn't know him. Just think if they hadn't seen him, after he was buried and risen, they would have gone back to their lives, instead of spreading the good news. I brought up Thomas had to be convinced.I mean, no wonder. The thing hard to believe is that not only was Jesus God in human form, (he said I and my father are one..if you've seen me, you've seen the father) but I (my spirit) will be in you. As my father is in me, so I will be in you. Sounds good to me. If I am going to choose to believe in the teaching of Christ, the gospels, or something else – I want to know Jesus, not any of the above faiths mentioned.
    Sad thing -some people who say they are Christians, give it a bad name. It is not true, if it is not about love, helping sick people, doing good, feeding the hungry. It's an all about me world..even in most churches, I'm afraid.
    No one can answer the why does God allow whatever..or stop whatever. What is truth? Jesus said he was/is. Why they killed him.
    I only know I believe he is. Doubted? Yes. Gotten angry at God? Yes. Never been able to deny him..never been ashamed to say he is who he says he is. Those of like faith know what I mean. Jesus is alive right now, with his father.. He's alive in us. Hard to explain, if you have never talked to him, met him. Know more than one person who asked Jesus "If you are real, let me know". who found out. Be careful..unlike some other "gods" you need to at least think maybe he is alive, maybe he can hear me.
    I'm outta here. Peace.

    March 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  19. Mike

    "He said the body of Jesus wasn’t physically raised....people assume he’s not a Christian. Not so." Um...yes, so. Believing in the physical resurrection of Jesus is a 100% essential article of faith to anyone who wishes to claim the moniker "Christian" for him/herself. No exceptions. If you don't believe that Christ was raised from the dead in the body as well as in spirit, you're not a Christian - you can call yourself one, and other people might buy into your claim and affirm your pseudo-Christianity, but you're not a Christian. Does Crossan follow Christ? To the extent that he tries to live according to what he believes Christ would want of him, perhaps. But lots of people "follow Christ" without actually being Christians, and that's the category into which Crossan clearly falls.

    March 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Paul

      Who made you the definitive authority on the definition of "Christian"? Who made ANYONE the definitive authority? Paul? Whom?

      March 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Chester

      I believe you are wrong. Your interpretation of Christianity requires the belief that Jesus physically rose, but that is just your interpretation. Just because Paul said that, doesn't mean Jesus said it. We are talking about Christianity, not Paulianity. Jesus taught that we should believe many things, but this is not one. And he taught in parables that were meant to represent a "bigger picture." The parable of a risen Savior means that He wins and will win in the end over the empires that people set up on this world. This is a distortion that was created long after Jesus' death on the cross and is very much like the distortion of fact that blames the Jews for His death rather than Rome.

      March 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Justin

      This guy is definitely not a Christian. Read the Word of God. Jesus said:
      "I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins.”
      -John 8:24

      Jesus is God.
      People are blinded to the truth. And as the Scriptures say:
      "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
      -2 Corinthians 4:4

      March 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Question

      Who will cast the first stone?

      March 4, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Leif

      I think you have staked out a position that you cannot possibly defend. You can offer no proof that would be accepted by everyone.

      March 4, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • scott

      wrong my freind. to be a 'christian' is to not to adhere to a dogmatic version of his life codified in literature (i.e. the bible and the church that formed in his absense) but to be 'christ like'. So if you lack all empathy and you are willing to strip someone of their relationship to the 'christ' because they do not adhere to your specific dogmatic code of 'christianity' then you are failing to live up to your goal of being a 'christian' because that's not a very 'christ like' behavior. Good thing he would forgive you for it anyway.

      March 4, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • Onyango

      I find it absurd and self defeating for humans to believe in Jesus who was just a messenger just like any religious person. Jesus did not command huge following like Prophet Owuor, prophet Mohammed, or Ondeto. In fact if Jesus was sent to save the human race then his gospel of salvation should have started in Egypt where he was raced. Just imagine Jesus abandoning the Egyptians for the people of Israel. What a fallacy and racial discrimination depicted by the man purported to be the son of God. Those calling themselves Christians are people who rebelled from the mainstream God given religion 'Judaism' where Jesus himself belonged. Jesus in his conduct never advocated for a different religion his condemnation of the religious leadership not withstanding. However, in his own self assessment and self indictment (he preached divisiveness) he foresaw a future where religious leaders would be scrambling to hold leadership positions just like he did at the expense of the word of God. Death is mandatory, it doesn't really matter how you die. It is also a fallacy that some people die for a good course. By the way, who is ready to face death one on one. The pope did the right thing by demeaning the perception that some people committed a crime against humanity by having Jesus die. Just believe in one supernatural being God, the others are just human beings whether they resurrected, went to heaven using a chariot or disappeared.

      March 4, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • AnglicanXn

      Good for you, Mike! Many people think that "being a Christian" means taking Jesus as a teacher and an example and seeking to live like him. That is a commendable goal, and it is essential to being a Christian. But if you take Jesus seriously as a teacher, you cannot simply take his instructions on how human beings should relate to one another, but also his teachings about his role and his destiny. And Jesus is very clear on the fact that he was not just a prophet but the incarnate Son of God, and that human beings are sinful and need to reconciled to a holy and loving God – and that his death and resurrection were to be the key to such reconciliation.
      There are many people who want to broaden the definition of what it means to be a Christian because sticking with the Bible's definition means admitting that one is a sinner in need of mercy and that we are incapable of saving ourselves, but must instead rely upon the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (which atoned for our sins) and upon his physical resurrection (which raises us to spiritual life and guarantees our resurrection on the Last Day). It is tempting to take Jesus as a teacher but not a Redeemer, because to do so inflates our ego – our problem is not rebellion against God (sin) but mere ignorance, which can be corrected by a good teacher.
      Crosson denies the heart of the Gospel. He may like Jesus, but he is not a Christian.

      March 4, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • biblescholar

      Jesus was raised as a spirit being. His perfect life and physical body was offered up as a sacrifice to replace what we lost in Adam. When he appeared to his disciples they did not recognize him, why you may ask, because he materialized using a completely different appearance. And the disciples themselves state each time that he appeared to them suggesting he was really a spirit being taking on a physical appearance so that his disciples could see him; just like how angels materialized. Remember the bible says that flesh and blood cannot reside in the heaven. You can learn how God dealt with Moses' body in the book of Jude. That is how Jesus body may have been dealt with.
      Jesus was raised in spirit not physcally. His perfect body was the sacrifice that bought back what we lost in the perfect man adam

      March 4, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Jean

      Languages are man-made. Meanings of words are simply a combination of the speakers intent and the listeners understanding. You don't get to define "Christian." If he believes that Jesus existed, taught, and was the son of God, most people would say he can call himself a Christian. The details that matter to you may not be the details that matter to others.

      March 5, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Keith

      I am a Christian – raised in a Protestant/Catholic home. I have studied theology at University. The debate about the divinity/ resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is as old as the story. At one point – the story was clamped shut – and derivations were listed as heresy and punishable by death for centuries. Not very Christ like if you ask me. AT other times – the message was expanded on and fought for it's right at the table (Protestant Reformation).
      What is the purpose of resurrecting the body when we are spiritual being – "star" children (eastern orthodox christian concept). Resurrection was a much touted concept before, during and after Jesus' time on earth. The coming of the Messiah was a big cultural phenomenon of the day – not just preached by Jesus nor indoctrinated by the followers of Jesus using the Old Testament as proof and the resurrection story as final proof. What if much of the time touted Christian story has been subverted by Christianity itself. Most people I know love the message of Jesus – they just can't stand Christians. I guess in the end... we can't be certain for sure otherwise it wouldn't be called faith. Personally – if we kept to message of love and compassion which Christ probably spoke more on than the doctrinal intricacies his followers became entangled in – who knows what might happen in the world. I know one thing... less blood would have been spilled.

      March 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Maybe

      "Most people I know love the message of Jesus – they just can't stand Christians."

      For this you can thank Paul of Tarsus, a bitter, controlling zealot... and those who adhere to his tripe.

      March 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Peter Grenader

      @ Mike: I don't believe in the arc and that Adam took a rib to create Eve, does this make me nt a CHristian, either?

      @ Scott: BRAVO!!! There is no reason to make the comment I originally intended as your's was so perfectly put. Thank you.

      March 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Barry

      Mike,

      The Apostle Paul wrote in his New Testament epistle (I Corinthians.12) that anyone who says that "Jesus is Lord", are not only professing their allegiance to Jesus, but they were also only able to do this by the spirit of God.

      Thus they are members of the one body of Christ, which was the point of Paul's epistle.

      If Paul accepted anyone who believed that Jesus was the Lord, I would not contradict what Paul says and say they a person was not a Christian, because they do not interpret the Scripture the way I do.

      Remember the Christians at Alexandria interpreted the Scripture allegorically (or figuratively), while the Christians at Antioch interpreted them literally.

      Remember on the final judgment day, Jesus rewards and punishes people, based on whether they did what was right. See: Matthew 25.

      31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
      34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

      37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

      41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

      46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

      Depart from me, I never knew you. For I was naked, and you never clothed me; I was hungry, and you gave me no food; I was sick, and you never visited me; I was in prison and you never visited me.

      And Jesus said to those who did these things: Enter into the joys of my father.

      Finally when Paul speaks about those who were denying the resurrection (I Cor. 15), he is not saying that they were denying the literal resurrection, they were denying the resurrection altogether.

      In other words they were saying, there is no life after death. Paul’s response: If there is no life after death, then we of all people are the most pitiable; for, if there is no life after death, we might as well eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

      April 5, 2011 at 10:28 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.