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A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room...
The worlds of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, left, Michael Benson, center, and Mayor Cory Booker collided 20 years ago. The unlikely trio has maintained a friendship ever since.
June 23rd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room...

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Newark, New Jersey (CNN) – Mayor Cory Booker waits in his wood-paneled city hall office for his next visitors. His life, even on a Sunday, is tightly scheduled. He checks the time on his cell phone and lets the ribbing of his two friends, who are now late, begin.

“Jewish time is even worse than black time,” he says, “although I should never drag all the Jewish people down with Shmuley.” And then, about the other guy: “I thought Mormons were always 15 minutes early?”

If the friendship between these men – a black Christian mayor, a rabbi running for Congress and a Mormon university president – wasn't so real, this would sound like a bad joke. Instead, it’s a reflection of how three men from profoundly different backgrounds met 20 years ago, connected and changed one another.

So when this unusual trio got together for a rare meeting this spring, we jumped at the chance to join them.

But before the others arrive, let’s introduce the players.

There’s Booker, the 43-year-old Democratic mayor of Newark, a rising political star and headline grabber, a man who was recently lauded for saving a neighbor from a burning building and grilled for his perceived off-message remarks on a Sunday talk show. He was raised by parents who fought in the courts to integrate the northern New Jersey suburbs where he grew up.

Mayor Cory Booker takes a break on a Sunday from running Newark to dish about his old friends – two men from profoundly different backgrounds. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

The two men he’s waiting for are no schlubs themselves.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, 45, is a TV personality, former radio host, prolific author - his books include “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Jesus” - and now Republican congressional candidate in New Jersey. He was also an unofficial spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson. He was raised by a single mom in Miami.

And Michael Benson, a 47-year-old political scientist and president of Southern Utah University, comes from Mormon and Utah royalty, of sorts. His grandfather is the late Ezra Taft Benson, secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the 13th prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

With his wife and two young children in tow, the Mormon shows up first.

“Brother Benson,” Booker booms, addressing his friend in Mormon-speak as he stands to give him a big hug.

The last time these two had seen each other was five years ago, when they both helped celebrate the rabbi’s 40th birthday in New York. The massive party, as described by the mayor, was “a mosh pit of yarmulkes and sweat.”

CNN's Belief Blog: the faith angles behind the big stories

Boteach, who lives in New Jersey and sees the mayor often, rushes into the room on this Sunday a half-hour late.

“Let the record reflect, the Mormon got me lost,” he says by way of hello. The rabbi then glances down at Benson’s two little ones, who sweetly peer up at him.

“They’re a little too Mormon perfect,” he quips. “When Mormons walk into a hurricane, does their hair move?”

Booker, whose nearby desk features a stack of religious texts including the Bhagavad Gita and the Quran, watches as a crowd streams in behind Boteach. The mayor has box seats for this afternoon’s Cirque du Soleil performance of “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” and he wants his friends and their families to join him. But first he demands to know of the rabbi, “How many people are with you? … They just multiply.”

“Are you kidding?” Boteach shoots back. “We have 30 kids.” Actually, he only has nine.

Long before he became an author, TV personality and now congressional candidate, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach ran a popular student organization at Oxford University, which is where he met Benson and Booker. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

The three men and their very different worlds collided in the early 1990s at Oxford University in England, where they overlapped for two years. Booker was there on a Rhodes scholarship; Benson on a Rotary scholarship - "but if I slurred, it sounded like Rhodes,” he says. Boteach was there as an emissary for Chabad Lubavitch, a Hasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism.

The first one to arrive at Oxford was Boteach, in 1988. His official mission was to serve as a rabbi to the students, but by 1990 he’d broadened his outreach by establishing the all-inclusive L’Chaim Society, a campus organization to promote the universal values of Judaism while celebrating differences. The society, whose Hebrew name means “To Life,” became the second largest student group on campus, surging to 5,000 members – no more than 800 of them Jewish.

The Mormon arrived in 1991, having spent six months in Israel at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center. Benson, who earned a doctorate at Oxford, would write his dissertation on President Harry S. Truman and eventually write a book about the Jewish influences in Truman's life and his contributions to Israel’s founding. (The “Mormon perfect” son in the mayor’s office, it turns out, is named Truman.)

Shortly after Benson arrived at Oxford, a Jewish friend told him about Boteach, saying, “You have to meet this rabbi.”

Boteach admits his previous impressions of Mormons had been pretty negative. Then Benson walked into the L’Chaim Society – and the rabbi’s life – one Friday evening. “Not a hair was out of place,” a slightly disheveled and wild-bearded Boteach says, remembering when they met. “I was fascinated.”

Benson never budged from his own religious beliefs, but he became a devout member and officer of the L’Chaim Society, which held legendary Friday night dinners.

Michael Benson, a grandson of the 13th prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helped change how his friends – and countless others – view Mormons. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

Booker arrived on campus a year later. He first met Benson through basketball - they both played for the Oxford Blues - then got to know Boteach with the help of a woman who stood him up for dinner. Booker was supposed to meet her outside the L’Chaim Society; when she never showed, he moseyed inside on his own to check out this mysterious place with a name he couldn’t pronounce.

Inside, hordes of people – many of them drunk – were dancing around with sacred scrolls containing the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. They were celebrating Simchat Torah, a holiday that marks the end of the annual Torah-reading cycle.

“I felt like I walked into a scene from ‘Yentl,’” Booker says.

Booker would go on to become president of the now-defunct organization, taking on tasks like lighting a Hanukkah menorah with Mikhail Gorbachev when the former Soviet leader visited Oxford.

Like Benson, Booker doesn’t drink; together they became allies as well as teammates. At the end of holidays like Simchat Torah or Purim – another raucous Jewish festival where celebrators often get drunk - they bonded as sober men in the room. They also led the Oxford Blues to win a British collegiate championship.

“I was their mascot,” boasts Boteach, whose friends tower above him.

The rabbi and Mormon say the mayor's humanity and heart inspire them. Booker says these two faithful men taught him to love and respect different religions, while helping him deepen his own beliefs and sense of awe. Likewise, both the mayor and Boteach say Benson changed how they and hundreds of others view Mormons.

Booker has been known to have his driver pull over when he spots young Mormon missionaries walking in pairs. He understands they’re often financially strapped, so he gives them some money for food and thanks them for being in his city.

“That’s something I never would have done if I hadn’t met Mike,” the mayor says.

And Booker certainly wouldn’t have pulled all-nighters studying Jewish texts before meeting Boteach. There’s a tradition, the rabbi explains, for a father to stay up and study the night before his son is circumcised. It was the middle of exams at Oxford when the rabbi first roped Booker in to join him the night before his first son Mendy's circumcision. Boteach came back again 11 years ago after the birth of Yosef, to which Booker responded, “Shmuley, you’re killing me” before he agreed to take part.

But the last time the rabbi issued his all-night study decree, Booker wasn’t having it.

“Forget it. Don’t even ask. I’m running for mayor,” the then-candidate told his friend six years ago, after Dovid Chaim was born. At 1 a.m., though, there was a knock on Boteach’s door. “You have 60 minutes. That’s it,” the mayor said as he rushed inside.

“Cory and I see each other whenever he needs advice,” the rabbi likes to say of Booker. And it's comments like this that prompt the mayor to retort, “He needs to get his head examined by a proctologist.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach rushes in for the reunion, and a hug from Booker, 30 minutes late. Michael Benson looks on, laughing as Boteach blames him, “the Mormon,” for making him late. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

All kidding aside, these three look out for each other's interests. After leaving Oxford for Yale Law School, Booker became a self-appointed kosher police officer, alerting the rabbi when he heard about Jewish L'Chaim Society members who had stopped keeping kosher. “You really need to do something,” he'd tell the rabbi.

Ever since Boteach learned that Benson’s older brother, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic, had shrugged off religion, the rabbi has said he’s on a mission to bring the older Benson back to the LDS Church.

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The Mormon can’t help but marvel at the rabbi’s chutzpah, but he’s happy to let him give it his best shot. So far Boteach has only e-mailed with the older Benson, but he looks forward to a face-to-face meeting so he, the Jew, can give the ex-Mormon the proper Latter-day Saint sell.

Boteach has fallen for the national parks of Utah, where the LDS Church is headquartered. He has lectured a handful of times at universities where Benson has been affiliated. Benson has led the way in scrambling to find kosher food for the rabbi before the two have headed out for weekend hikes.

Booker reflects on his old friends and says, “I love the fact that those two have kept such a good friendship. They’re very different. Mike is humble and soft-spoken; Shmuley is loud and bordering on obnoxious.”

Noticing the time, Booker rushes off to squeeze in a meeting before Cirque du Soleil.

The mayor's friends, at home in his office, take their time leaving. They stroll down the empty and echoing hallways toward the exit of Newark City Hall. The Mormon throws his arm around the rabbi's shoulder.

“I have to get back to Utah soon,” Boteach says. “It's been too long.”

“This time, we'll get you baptized,” Benson tells him.

The suggestion of a Mormon conversion, even in jest, might stop other rabbis in their tracks. But Boteach doesn’t skip a beat: “If it'll get me votes, fine.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Faith Now • Interfaith issues • Judaism • Politics • Race

soundoff (941 Responses)
  1. wonder

    Most of the time, we talk differences only at this common media, assaulting each other. In real life, we don't talk about faith too much, perhaps a bit of weather, family, games, .... especially with our best buddy buddy during naive years.

    June 24, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  2. IN GOD WE TRUST

    LOL the Rabbi wrote the book "Kosher Jesus" just because more Christians will like him and to vote for him.
    Nobody will ever vote for non-Christian president.. get over it your moron!

    June 24, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • chaz8181

      Then Romney has no chance

      June 24, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • Mike Norman

      Sorry to inform you but the Jews are and have been running the country and the system in the US for a long time. So it is a matter of time before we have a Jew president. Like it or not , it is coming.

      June 24, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • DemMarcus

      Ignorant! If a person does not follow Christ, does that make him a Christian? My point exactly. How many people have you voted for call themselves Christian, but do not act like ones? My point exactly.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  3. Mark

    These 3 men are great examples of their 3 religions. They look at each others hearts and NOT their religious differences! If only the rest of the world would learn from their examples!!!

    June 24, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • DemMarcus

      WELL SPOKEN MARK!! People are pointing fingers like Obama and the GOP. Failure to lead, leads to failure.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  4. OMG

    Mormons are Christians too !

    June 24, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Barbie P

      Reporting accurately is as important as the story. Since Mormons are Christians (Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints), you did this wonderful story a disservice.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Denver

      Mormons are NOT Christians. Just as the Church of Scientology's name doesn't make it a church or scientific, neither does the LDS church's name mean anything. You are 'another gospel' and you know it.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Denver

      And btw, the Prophet Gordon, who Mormons claim is as much a prophet of God as Joseph Smith or Moses or Peter, responding to a question whether the LDS believe in the “traditional Christ,” of Christianity, stated:

      "No I don't. The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak [the Mormon christ] has been revealed in this the dispensation of the fullness of times."

      June 24, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • souptwins

      His name was Gordon B. Hinckley and the reason he claimed to speak of a different Christ is that the Nicene creed changed Christ to be a three in one figure that the LDS church differs with in it's beliefs. LDS people believe God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one in purpose and will but separate beings. We believe in Christ, we hope in Christ, we preach of Christ in all that we do and hopefully in how we live.

      June 24, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • chaz8181

      Oh my did Jesus tolerate polygamy? Brigham Young had 50+ wives and some were under 17. Was he a pedophile>??

      June 24, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Eric

      Chaz, what are you trying to say?

      If you are so informed, what DID Jesus say about polygamy? By the way, how many wives did Abraham have? How about David, even before the Bathsheba incident? There are times when God has allowed polygamy.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  5. Luis

    Judaism is a religious cult that treat its people crap with their strict modesty clothing, strict sabbath observants, being taught to hate non-Jews, etc.

    June 24, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Howard's Daddy

      So they are guilty of not being all that different to other religions. Who knew.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Patrick

      Liar, you have just described I S L A M.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  6. Numyorangay

    please no more stories about Corey Boogeyman. . .he's not all there. . .I can see it from across the Hudson. . .he ain't all there.
    please no more stories of him and his Underdog routine. . .he's starting to creep me out.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Sean

      Luckily, you're free to choose another news outlet. Can you see that from across the Hudson as well?

      June 24, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  7. Ken

    Way to go Steve Benson for shrugging off religion.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  8. Andacar

    Good non-heavens! Three different men getting along. Whatever is the world coming to? No wonder we have so many bottom feeders posting here tonight. Thanks you three. I wish we saw a lot more people like this.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  9. americanumber1

    who cares what this typical user Jew has to say

    June 24, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Patrick

      You are a good muslim.
      You propagate hate.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  10. Cassarit

    If he's so open minded, why doesn't this rabbi get himself some moslem friends?

    June 24, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Rock T

      Yes, that would be one of the many hundreds of questions I have after reading this chuckle-headed article with virtually zero semantic content.
      They are all Republicans? All about money and political favors? About their common yet nasty sociopathic values?
      Is that why they are friends? Because they all suck as human beings like most Republicans?
      That would certainly explain much.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • DemMarcus

      Rocket T: You are ignorant. Please, do some research (aka google) before you open your ignorant toothless mouth. I am a Dem and do not appreciate such lack of consideration. Read a bit more, would you? Oh, and if you are set on pointing fingers at Reps, get this one. . . . How many of the top 200 2008 Obama campaign contributors have received positions of appointment or government backed loans? You see, we are not all clean handed. GROW UP!!

      June 24, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Patrick

      Ask the muslims.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  11. Cassarit

    I guess it's good for black folks to see who their organizers are in bed with.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • DemMarcus

      What about white folk? Hispanics? Seriously?? Grow up. This is not about anything, but embracing our differences. Are we all supposed to be polarizing like Pres Obama and the GOP???

      Clinton was a moderate as well as other successful presidents like Reagan. Reagan was a Dem before he was President. When the two sides work together, things get accomplished. Something the man I voted for in 2008 doesn't know anything about.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Patrick

      Trying to stir up some crap.
      You are clueless.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  12. karenjay

    It will be interesting to see if CNN does at least one story a week about Mormonism prior to the election. I wonder if they think this election will be about religion rather than politics?

    June 24, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • souptwins

      It does seem a bit of overkill. I wonder if CNN just baits the hook knowing that commenters will spread the lies and myths for them on these boards in an effort to lose Romney some votes. It shouldn't but it might.

      June 24, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Trent

      They've been doing pretty well so far, as have most new outlets. Type Mormon into google news and see how many articles come up- Washington Post, New York Times, LA Times, Boston- they all have at least an article a week. I see them all the time. I wonder if it gets old to Mormons.

      June 24, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  13. Jack

    As a jew – I think the rabbi is walking a dangerous line. the saintly rabbi Amnon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnon_of_Mainz ) was tortured (and ultimately died) because he refused to commit to a verbal jesture to a catholic priest / bishop – to convert to Christianity. And here Boteach jokes about getting baptised a mormon if it will get him votes? Obviously he has a good sense of humor, but jews don't joke about that kind of thing. That would be like someone who is black in the USA joking that he'd willingly become a slave for a week if he'd get a new pair of Adidas sneakers. I mean – its just pathetic. You don't joke about converting to get a few votes when you have thousands of years of people being tortured because they didn't adopt Catholicism. Its dumb humor.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Rock T

      Excellent point. Their lack of ethics must have brought them together since I have seen nothing to suggest otherwise.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • IN GOD WE TRUST

      Jack.... you are a moron liar who shows your intolerant and bigotry against Catholics/Christians!

      June 24, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • mighty7

      Are you kidding me? Your logic dictates that he should be careful because of some legend (not a historical fact) from the

      11TH CENTURY!!!!!?????

      Pathetic.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Patrick

      Nothing you have said makes you a Jew.
      Lie much.
      What is your agenda?

      July 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  14. Liz Phantom

    please help my son get autism therapy help he deserves!!! http://www.indiegogo.com/iPod4Elton?a=760195

    June 24, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • mighty7

      A nice story about three guys who have known each other for years and have different races and faiths.....

      And all you get is one cretin after another posting bizarre comments, insults, loopy conspiracy theories, making insane comparisons with historical myths from 10 centuries ago, arguing the most idiotic points, sidetracking into bigotry, etc, etc....

      If I was God I would wipe out 90% of the human race....right.....now.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  15. truth be told

    and they all believed different versions of the same stupid cr@p.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  16. Michael

    A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room... they use to imprison young boys as their s3x slaves.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Sean

      that the best you can do? Terrible.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  17. Reality

    Some contemporary historical and theological reality for the three of them:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) 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 Ludemann, 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 sects.

    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, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", 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 "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., 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:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    June 24, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • DJ

      Historical and theological reality? LOL.

      It's a terrific exercise - that you've likely cited/quoted from such lightweight, biased and dishonest scholars of the "Jesus Seminars, but perhaps you should consult some heavyweights next time. Historians, philosophers and theologians who actually wrestle with exegeting text, hermeneutics, archaeology, canonization of scripture, et al. which actually requires intellectual honesty and humility.

      If you want to re-enact Bill Maher for the easily amused and cretinist, then I guess you'll find your audience.

      June 24, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • chaz8181

      We can debate the history of the life of Jesus., but it is a matter of faith, and it is a matter of trust. Whether we believe in the "supernatural" or not. the philosophy of Jesus as taught by him is the greatest of all ..It is simple..change your ways , love one another . Many of these bloggers are full of hatred..WHY??

      June 24, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Reality

      Required reading list before making added commentary:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.
      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
      10.The Gnostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
      by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm
      11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
      12. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
      13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:
      faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb016.html
      14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:
      mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

      Continued below:

      June 24, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Reality

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      17. Diseases in the Bible:
      etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-08022006-125807/unrestricted/02dissertation.pdf
      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.org/
      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
      mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
      members.aol.com/DrSwiney/seminar.html
      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf
      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
      faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtf

      June 24, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Reality

      Continued from above:

      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
      infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      29. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/
      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      June 24, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • DJ

      @Reality - required reading. According to whom? Clearly you have you own scholarship bents and issues.
      I can take a cursory glance and already see some problems:

      You cite: Jesus Seminar (hardly a surprise) - debunked by the majority of orthodox scholars and theologians. Karen Armstrong hardly qualifies as one who lives in the spectrum of orthodoxy. An interesting "religious narratives" writer, maybe. Interesting that you cite Bishop Wright. Have you actually ready any of his tomes? Not sure he'd agree with the majority of what you list.

      And "Q" ? Another debunked, sloppy and altogether unreasonable 'theory.'

      I was half expecting you'd list: Marianne Willliamson, Deepak Chopra, et al.

      If you want another list of requireds, I'd be happy to provide you one: that is, if you can toss kneejerk emotions aside and embrace real open, reasonable, balanced theology.

      June 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • trmm

      Reality -
      I know it's boring there in your mom's basement, but seriously – you need to get a new hobby.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  18. Truth

    A muslim, a communist, a f@&&ot and a nagger walk into a bar.
    The bartender says, "What will it be, Mr. pResident?

    June 24, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Andrew

      Your a sad person.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Michael

      Wow what a way to turn people off from any message you may have had about conservatism.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • truth be told

      pls don't breed.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Drew

      Yeah, damn all those Muslim Communists!!! Idiot...

      June 24, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Randy Johnson

      Good start to a joke maybe? but which one is Romeny – (reminder he has been tanning a lot lately – and digging in his back yard looking for old books.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • dave

      ...and then you hear: "Okay, I'm coming mom."

      Get off your computer and go eats some dinner, little child.

      June 24, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • chaz8181

      Brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck , O Reilly and Hannity. Continue to believe them ..add to their cash..Beck makes $31 million a year making morons and willing "sheep" follow him.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • rob68Missouri

      Good one Truth!!! Sadly, it is 100% correct!!!

      June 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  19. Patiat

    Rabbi Shmuley gives me the creeps. He has tried desperately to be part of the "TV clergy" and I've seen him debate Christopher Hitchens, who not only tore him to shreds, but was insulted and annoyed at having to debate someone who was only in the debate for his own self-promotion.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • AJD

      I saw that debate too. It was really pathetic. Hitchens beat him to a pulp figuratively in that debate. Boteach's whole argument after Hitchens made his case was "personal attack, personal attack, personal attack....therefore God." I was disgusted with Boteach's snarky personal attacks that really did nothing to prove the point he was trying to make...in fact I had a hard time finding any real point to what he was saying, any facts that would prove his argument that there's a god.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Patrick

      I did not see the debate but from your statements I am sure the both of you are full of camel dung.

      July 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  20. southernwonder

    nice story. i bet the republican rabbi does not get in to a debate with democrat mayor booker on evolution or contraceptives.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:04 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.