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My Take: Who owns Jesus? Who owns yoga?
December 7th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: Who owns Jesus? Who owns yoga?

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

The recent scuffle over Christianity and yoga, initiated by remarks of the head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Albert Mohler and picked up in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and here at CNN, has raised a series of questions far broader than whether Christian faith and yoga practice are compatible.

The most intriguing of these questions is: Who owns the stuff of a religion? When my Christian and Jewish friends adopt and adapt yoga postures are they stealing something? Who owns Christmas? Who owns the Buddha? Who owns Jesus?

Religious symbols and rituals and beliefs cannot be trademarked and copyrighted. So techniques for achieving nirvana or salvation are different from the secret formula of Coca Cola or the image of Ronald McDonald. In this respect, global religious traditions have far less control over their “products” and “services” than do multinational corporations. And that control weakens as the popularity of a religion's “products” and “services” spreads.

When I was working years ago on my book, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, I was surprised to see how beloved Jesus had become among non-Christian groups in the United States. Jesus’s status here as “the man nobody hates” initially led me to see the United States as even more of a Christian country than I had previously believed it to be.

Eventually, however, I came to see how little control Christians and Christianity have over how Jesus is seen and used by Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and other non-Christians.

Some of the most beloved Christmas songs in American life - “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by Johnny Marks and “Silver Bells” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans - were written by Jewish composers. Jews, of course, do not affirm the divinity of Jesus.

So these songs do not celebrate the miraculous birth of God to a virgin in a Bethlehem stable.  In fact, they serve to secularize Christmas, by transforming it from a Christian holy day to a national holiday.

Or as Philip Roth’s narrator puts it in Operation Shylock, "God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, and He gave to Irving Berlin 'Easter Parade' and 'White Christmas.'  The two holidays that celebrate the divinity of Christ - the divinity that's the very heart of the Jewish rejection of Christianity - and what does Irving Berlin do? Easter he turns into a fashion show and Christmas into a holiday about snow."

This is what happens when a religious form becomes popular. Whether it is yoga or Christmas or Christ, as it spreads it diffuses, and its progenitors lose control not only over where it will go but what it will say or do.

But none of the recent commentators on the yoga and Christianity question have pointed out that whatever snatching is going on here is going both ways. Yes, Christians are bending and twisting the Hindu practice of yoga in their own directions. But Hindus are adopting and contorting Christian practices too. So if you want to wag a finger at the Christians you ought to wag one at the Hindus, too.

On December 24, the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society, just a few doors down from the Department of Religion at Boston University, where I work, will host a Christmas Eve service, complete with Christmas carols and readings from the New Testament about the birth of Jesus.

The Vedanta Society of Southern California includes on its website a much more extensive list of Christmas celebrations, including a Christmas Eve nativity play and a “Christ Worship” service on Christmas morning.

People who practice a religion often imagine that their tradition, at least, is both pure and unchanging, unadulterated by religions other than their own. But all religions are mash-ups, with new beats played under old lyrics - yoga asanas in a church basement - carols to Christ in a Hindu temple.

Something is lost, of course, when yoga is Americanized and Jesus is Hinduized, but no religion ever made it anywhere without mixing things up. In the Greek speaking world of the ancient Mediterranean, Christianity wouldn't have spread if it had confined itself to Jesus's native tongue of Aramaic. And one of the key characteristics of Hinduism is its willingness to say "yes" to foreign influences.

Got Jesus? Of course, my Hindu friends say, right alongside the Buddha as yet another incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Christianity • Hinduism • Opinion

soundoff (348 Responses)
  1. JC

    Truly, we live in a fear society when not only entire words, but parts of words, which may convey very different and completely acceptable meanings must be suppressed. And speaking of words, the article is clearly written by someone who is paid by the word for his submissions. Why? Because it has all the significance of the early church arguments regarding how many angles could fit on the head of a pin. To paraphrase a well-known television comedy "It is a story about... nothing."

    December 7, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • ScottK

      I'll bet you can fit all the angles on the head of a pin, acute, obtuse, right, straight and even reflex.

      And an even better question, how many pins can you fit on the head of an angel?
      Answer: Only Jacob would know since he wrestled one...

      December 7, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Bruce

    I think Steven P. is trying to create a different spin on the subject matter. Retorically, no one owns or has regestered a "Belief". That does not make sense. However, a belief in something like exercise with the right exercise methods produces a better structured physical body. If I say I believe in exercise my body would have a certain appearance, however, if I assent to exercise, meaning I believe exercise is the right thing to do, my body may or may not have a certain appearance. In fact, my body could look like any body large or skinny because I am not involved with what I say I beleive. Same with what Albert Molher was saying to his group. He would take the stand of not mixing the two because the exercise or belief method would not produce the same results. Steroids enhances the appearance of the one exercising, but, may have a fatal result. Mixing Jesus with Yoga would never mix just like mixing Evolution with Jesus doesn't mix.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Bruce,
      "Mixing Jesus with Yoga would never mix just like mixing Evolution with Jesus doesn't mix."
      Interesting, I wonder what the statistics are on the results of Christians practicing Yoga versus Hindus versus say Atheists as a control group.
      I'm not sure what you mean by Jesus not mixing with Evolution. It doesn't make any sense unless Jesus advocated not using our ability to reason, which seems unlikely.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:10 am |
    • Bruce

      Reason is a moving target. When people mix information, experience and belief then begin to use what they know in the arena of reason you can come up with a Pandora's Box of stupidity. Never think I would put any value in reason.

      December 7, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  3. natalia

    Yoga is a choice....Both Jesus and Yoga can benefit you if you know how

    December 7, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  4. natalia

    Jesus is in you

    December 7, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • David Johnson

      @natalia

      Really? Where?

      Curious in Arizona

      December 7, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • ;-)

      ...that's what the priest said to the altar boy

      December 7, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @;-)

      You said: "...that's what the priest said to the altar boy"

      That was terrible! But funny. God is definitely going to get you!

      Cheers!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • jobleaux

      In your imagination. Get a brain.

      December 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  5. David Johnson

    Note Moderators:

    Someone is using my name to post comments. I did not take back my comment to karek.

    The turtle comment was funny. This one was not.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • Sumerian Dude

      O Mighty Moderators hear the earnest ramblings of brother David!
      See his pure cussedness! His long years of suffering under the heavy yoke of having his favorite screen-name taken from him by an unwashed turtle-lover!

      O Mighty Genie! Grant David three wishes!
      oh, wait...where was I going with this?....Sorry, DJ. Maybe you should fire up your barbecue.. 😛

      December 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  6. Seth

    We need to think globally without borders as one race. Its an outside the box approach, but why keep segregating ourselves with things like race and religion. It must stop. Look at the middle east, the holy land. Yea its holy alright. Full of bullett holes. Killing in the name of... but why? WE'RE ALL THE SAME!

    December 7, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  7. Anitha

    The Hindus are not adopting or contorting Chrisitan practices, nor are they trying to rewrite history, rather they are paying homage to Jesus. Christianity is after all the third largest population in India, with approximately 24 milion followers. In India it is not unusual for people of different religions to celebrate other religious holidays.
    That said, anyone can choose to practise Yoga. But just as Jesus Christ had a history that people can not go changing to suit their purposes, Yoga has a history and spiritual origin that can not be rewritten just because someone can not stomach its origins. It is not just an exercise, it has a whole value system attached to it, including tolerance.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Ravi

      Well said.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:30 am |
    • Dev Alok

      You go girl!!! I would have written something similar.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • guest

      Good point.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • tintin

      well said

      December 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
    • KanzerAce

      Couldn't have put it better myself.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • Sarin

      well said Anitha..

      End of the day it's all about humanity.Person with real values welcome all religions.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • sandip

      Very well said........

      December 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
    • jobleaux

      BS

      December 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • arun

      Beautifully said. For those who dispute, Here is something to enlighten..
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pranava_yoga

      December 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • PG

      Yooga is an inalienable part of Hinduism – one path to attain moksha and be one with Bhagwan (God). Dilieanating yoga from Hinduism is just another business strategy of Vedanta Soc. Like decoupling vedas from Hinduism. We must actively and not passively work against such insiduous activities.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
    • PG

      Yoga is an inalienable part of Hinduism – one path to attain moksha and be one with Bhagwan (God). Dilieanating yoga from Hinduism is just another business strategy of Vedanta Soc. Like decoupling vedas from Hinduism. We must actively and not passively work against such insiduous activities.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  8. David Johnson

    Some one is posting as me. I thought that wasn't possible?

    I did not say "I like turtles". I actually find them only barely palatable.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:39 am |
    • :(

      of course it's possible, DJ.
      It's that turtle guy. (not me – I'm jes' passin' thru)

      You'd have to register and have a web-link in your name like Kate used to do.
      I wish I was a moderator – I'd be keepin it real.
      ttfn

      December 7, 2010 at 11:56 am |
  9. Meaty Portion

    All religions stem from the same ideas, roots, and practices. Therefore, they are either all true or false. I'm leaning towards false.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  10. Sweetenedtea

    Cute. The bit about Jews secularizing Christianity is written in that exact "I'm no anti-Semite, but..." manner that all the best and most respectable bigots use. Jews, blacks, hispanics, they're all good for "I'm no bigot, but have you noticed that X takes our proud culture/tradition and ruins it?"

    December 7, 2010 at 10:38 am |
    • KDW31

      How was that in any way anti-semetic? He is talking about how various religions co-opting parts of other religions. He specifically is talking about how not only yoga has been co-opted by other religions but how christian traditions have too. There is nothing anti-semetic about pointing out how someone who is Jewish has added to the secularization of Christmas. Just like there is nothing bigoted about pointing out that hindus view Jesus as another avatar of Vishnu.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  11. Bruce

    All religions are subject to reinterpretation by its followers. The main intent of the priests is to maintain their own power over the followers not to preserve the religion. Some people want the comfort of a static religion that provides them with a comfort zone that does not force them to understand new concepts. Some people are not comfortable with the idea that only a priest can interpret their faith. From this clash we get the fracturing of all religions. All the major religions attempt to subjugate their followers to a finite set of rules all of which place the priests at the panicle of power. Some people don’t wish to have a priest tell them what is what and expand their views to see the beliefs of others and adopt pieces they like. Many religions have expanded by the brute force of the followers. Once freedom of religion is allowed and enforced most religions lose their ability to subject followers to the rule of the priests and people change their views over time. Change is the normal state of human thought. Religion attempts to cause a static condition to allow the priests to control the power over their followers.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  12. karek40

    were written by Jewish composers. Jews, of course, do not affirm the divinity of Jesus. Eventually we all will – every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is lord. Knowing this I suggest it is infinitely more profitable now than then.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • David Johnson

      i like turtles!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • David Johnson

      @karek40

      hmmm... Since you have no evidence your Jesus/god exists, perhaps we all will confess Allah and Muhammad. Or Krishna,
      Or some god we don't even know about yet.

      Cheers!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • David Johnson

      karek, i take it back.

      i love you : )

      December 7, 2010 at 10:38 am |
    • Normon

      All will bow before me, so better avoid the rush and start now.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Normon

      Bow a little lower, brother. I can't quite reach you wallet.

      Cheers!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  13. NL

    Yeah, to claim 'ownership' of something you basically have to prove that you invented it, and I doubt that Christians will be willing to say that about Jesus.

    So, with Jesus in the public domain people have been given free license to portray him any way they like, from the ultra white baby of the recently sent governor's nativity scenes, to the Shroud of Turin version, to the 'Undefeated' boxer Jesus of Stephen Sawyer, to 'Buddy Christ', to the 'Left Behind' image of Christ returning like Schwarzenegger in Terminator , to the recent 'antsy' Jesus. All become equally valid unless you can claim artistic invention, I suppose.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:19 am |
    • Bob

      Furthermore, due to Fair Use, even if Jesus was owned, he could be copied for personal use, reserarch or parody.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • David Johnson

      @NL

      I think Paul of Tarsus invented the Christian Religion. Pauline Christianity is what most Christians believe in.

      Perhaps Paul owns Jesus. ?

      Asking your most valued opinion.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • Reality

      Paul of Taurus was first of the "necessary accessories". He recognized early on the great wealth of Roman and Greek Gentiles so he wrote his epistles raising Jesus and his embellished life from the dead and the Gentiles "ate it up". His promise of the imminent second coming was shear brilliance in gathering much silver and gold (the prime necessary accessory). The Romans got jealous ending the life of the first necessay accessory.

      Pilate, although not the founder of Christianity, was another "necessary accessory i.e. he could have easily sent Jesus to the salt mines.

      Constantine and his swords finished the "necessary accessory" scenario.

      Adding this to God not knowing the future, eliminates any God (if one exists) involvement in the foundation of Christianity.

      Conclusion:

      Christianity and the other contemporary religions with the exception of Islam are the result of human evolution away from the "dark side".

      December 7, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • NL

      Well, Paul's Jesus isn't really evident in the gospels. All the 'Jewishness' seems to be washed out of him.

      I often wonder what Paul's ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor 12:7-10) that was holding him back from complete devotion and commitment actually was. Nagging sense of reason, perhaps? A brain tumor would certainly explain the collapse and 'white light' he alone saw by that roadside, and the sudden change in his mood, personality, and later ability to concentrate.

      That's reason enough to doubt the whole thing right there: It all hinges on one guy who admits to having a mental issue. The earliest Jesus follower movement in Acts just seems to die on the vine as Paul takes over. We only have the RCC's assurance that it lived on with Peter as he moved to Rome but, either way, the Christianity that came down to us here in the west was filtered through Roman sensibilities and made into a religion for gentiles, although Jews can get a feeling for pharisaic teaching at the time by reading the red letter part of the New Testament, I think.

      I also try to imagine, if Jesus were just a devout rabbi, how he would feel about being made out to be the son of God?

      December 7, 2010 at 11:37 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Reality

      You said: "Adding this to God not knowing the future, eliminates any God (if one exists) involvement in the foundation of Christianity."

      I never thought of that. That is really profound. I will be thinking on that for days!

      Thanks man!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
    • Ricky Bobby

      I like to picture Jesus as a mischievous badger.

      December 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • Frogist

      @NL: You forgot Raptor Jesus...

      December 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Sumerian Dude

      @NL

      H.A.H. to you!
      I think that "thorn in the flesh" is definitely se-xual in nature. It could be a gay thing or not, but it definitely seems to indicate lust...and jokes about "prlcks" and how they can make virgins bleed seem likely enough in those old days...and considering many se-xual aspects of religious symbolism also point to this sort of thing going on in the early CC.
      Nothing like se-x, you know, unless it is scratching an itch....se-x is hardwired into our brains and also subject to some influence by our conscious will....and now I'm just rambling.... 😛

      December 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • NL

      Sumerian Dude-
      So, you are thinking that Paul was just the first in the long line of Christian leaders who crusaded against gays through self-loathing?

      December 9, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  14. Alice

    I just have one question....What's the point of this story?

    It was a terrible mismash of random thoughts not put together very well. Please CNN. You can do better than this.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:03 am |
    • Jack

      Simple. Who decides whether yoga is anti christian

      December 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  15. Nonimus

    Stephen,

    I think the copyrights on Jesus and Yoga have long since expired; they are now in the public domain. This may seem fact.itious, but it is as valid as the idea of ownership of these things.

    I do find the idea that the commercial/popular/secular aspects, "...serve to secularize Christmas, by transforming it from a Christian holy day to a national holiday" an interesting one. This, in addition to the abdication of reverence for certain holy phrases such as, 'in God we trust' and 'under God', by printing them on currency and/or tying them to one particular political/national ident.ity, this has served to marginalize the Christians claim on their Christianity.

    December 7, 2010 at 9:55 am |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Precisely why religion has become the scourge of modern man. Religion chooses to make the rules for living, rather than to foster belief. In most cases, that is nothing but power mongering, on the part of religious leaders. They are no better than dictators.

    December 7, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  17. :(

    I don't like yogurt.

    December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am |
    • mr pink

      i like turtles

      December 7, 2010 at 10:35 am |
    • :(

      I don't liek you using David Johnson's name. O_o

      But turtles are ok.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  18. Reality

    A historical and religious update of the holiday called X-mas:

    1.
    Professor JD Crossan with great tho-ro-ughness examined all the existing scr-iptural writings from the first and second ce-nturies AD/CE to include those noting the birth of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus. If you do not have his 505 page book, The Historical Jesus, see Google Books.

    Using these doc-uments plus the co-nclusions of the major NT exegetes in the past two hundred years, he compared Jesus' reported acts and sayings to when they were reported and how many reports were made. Those acts and sayings with single or later att-estations along with the current biblical scholarship negativity, were judged not to be done or said by the historical Jesus. Approximately 67% of the NT was judged to be in that category, i.e. embellishments of the facts typically made to compete with the "Caesar", "Al-exander" and Egyptian gods. See wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=Crossan_Inventory

    Use this latter site to analyze your NT references for "Crossan" acceptance, e.g. Matt 1:23
    26±. Jesus Vi-r-g-inally Conceived: (1) Gos. Heb. 1; (2) Matt 1:18-25; (3) Luke 1:26-38; (4a) Ign. Eph. 7:2; (4b) Ign. Eph. 18:2a; (4c) Ign. Eph. 19:1; (4d) Ign. Smyrn. 1:1b., were judged to be not from the historical Jesus but of th-eolo-gical importance.

    These same passages also are in direct conflict with
    (!5a) John 6:42
    (!5b) John 7:40-44
    (!5c) John 8:39-41
    (!6) Luke 2:27,33,41,48

    where Joseph is reported to be the father of Jesus.

    "In Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000), Bruce Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a ma-mzer; someone whose irre-gular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the co-mm-unity. He argues for the natural pat-er-nity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous co-nception. In his subsequent reco-nstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-identi-ty, his concept of God and his spiritual quest."

    "John P,Meier [Marginal Jew I,220-22] discusses the vi-rginal conception as part of his larger chapter on Jesus' origins. He earlier notes that both infancy narratives "seem to be largely the product of Christian reflection on the salvific meaning of Jesus Christ in the light of OT prophecies (p. 213).

    At the end of his examination, Meier concludes:

    "The ends result of this survey must remain meager and disappointing to both defenders and opponents of the doctrine of the vir-ginal conception. Taken by itself, historical-critical research simply does not have the sources and tools available to reach a final decision on the historicity of the vi-rginal conception as narrated by Matthew and Luke. One's acceptance or rejection of the doctrine will be largely influenced by one's own philosophical and theological presu-ppositions, as well as the weight one gives to Church teaching."

    You might also say that here was a man whose simple teachings were embellished to compete with the gods of Rome, Greece, Ba-bylon, Pe-rsia and Eg-ypt to the point that only about 30% of the NT is historical.

    With respect to the Three Kings:

    The Three Kings/Wise Men myth was developed from all types of analogous legends and OT passages pre-Jesus. See faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=369_Star_of_Revelation for a lenthly review.

    An excerpt:

    Gerd Luedemann

    "Commenting on the infancy narratives overall, Luedemann [Jesus, 124-29] concludes that Luke and Matthew represent "two equally unhistorical narratives." He cites the occurrence of a miraculous heavenly sign at key points in the life of Mithridates VI in a history written by Justinus (active in the reign of Augustus, 2 BCE to 14 CE). "

    John P. Meier (Notre Dame professor)

    "Meier [Marginal Jew I,211ff and 376] considers these traditions to be "largely products of early Christian reflection on the salvific meaning of Jesus in the light of OT prophecies" and concludes that their historicity is "highly questionable."

    December 7, 2010 at 8:13 am |
    • Mike, not me

      Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels [Hardcover]

      http://www.amazon.com/Fabricating-Jesus-Scholars-Distort-Gospels/dp/0830833188

      Craig Evans is a very well-respected New Testament scholar with a background in historical studies. Although Fabricating Jesus includes brief though able refutations of claims made by The Da Vinci Code, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception, The Jesus Papers, and The Pagan Christ, the bulk of material addresses popularized claims made by more reputable commentators, such as J.D. Crossan, Bart Ehrman, James Robinson, the Jesus Seminar, and James Tabor.

      December 7, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • Mike, not me

      Can you just add this to the end of your post. That way lookers-on get both side of the debate and we don't cheat them by showing a slanted view, that would help a lot thanks.

      December 7, 2010 at 8:28 am |
    • jeff

      @Reality,

      Seriously? The passages referring to Joseph as Jesus' father are in conflict with the vir-ginal birth, so out it goes? You're too funny...

      These same passages also are in direct conflict with
      (!5a) John 6:42
      (!5b) John 7:40-44
      (!5c) John 8:39-41
      (!6) Luke 2:27,33,41,48

      where Joseph is reported to be the father of Jesus.

      As Frederick Buechner wrote in one of his sermons/essays, if God aligned the stars to read "I AM HERE", people would find a way to disbelieve, or would ultimately respond with, "So what?"

      I think the quote you provide above is a great one:

      "The ends result of this survey must remain meager and disappointing to both defenders and opponents of the doctrine of the vir-ginal conception. Taken by itself, historical-critical research simply does not have the sources and tools available to reach a final decision on the historicity of the vi-rginal conception as narrated by Matthew and Luke. One's acceptance or rejection of the doctrine will be largely influenced by one's own philosophical and theological presu-ppositions, as well as the weight one gives to Church teaching."

      To those who would believe, the signs and the scriptures are sufficient. To those who do not believe, no level of sign or doc-umentation will ever be sufficient. It is a matter of the heart, or faith.

      call me crazy, but grace and peace to all,

      -jeff

      December 7, 2010 at 9:22 am |
    • David Johnson

      @jeff

      Actually, I heard a rumor:

      Was the father of Jesus a Roman archer named Tiberius Abdes Pantera? A picture of his tombstone in Germany is in the book THE JESUS DYNASTY by James Tabor. The dates in which he lived would coincide in fathering Jesus combined with the fact he was stationed in Palestine. Also, Jewish critics of Jesus wrote in the Talmud his father was a Roman soldier named "Pantera."

      Back in the 1980s, Jane Schaberg wrote a scholarly book called THE ILLEGITIMACY OF JESUS which also touched on these controversial subjects.

      This is much more believable than: "God got him some".

      Love and Prayers!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:48 am |
    • Mike, not me

      "This is much more believable"
      Why? And this goes back to a much early day when you said you did not hold belief B instead of belief A.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:13 am |
    • Chris R

      Does it matter who Jesus' father was? If it was God that's fantastic. If it was a virgin birth, that's wonderful. If it was Joseph, then that's great. If it was Pantera, that's just fine and dandy. You see, it doesn't matter where Jesus came from. What matters is what he said. The teachings are far more important than the mystical claptrap that people are embellishing the teachings with.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • OCTears

      If you really dig deeper into the history of Christmas you will find that it took a lot of its customs and traditions from the much earlier Pagan religion called "Winter Solace" that old Europe celebrated.

      "Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the "Invincible Sun" in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi, was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice." Selena Fox.

      If you really look at all religions you will find many similarities and shared customs that were incorporated or taken out of each religiion during the centuries based upon the times.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • Reality

      Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels [Hardcover]

      http://www.amazon.com/Fabricating-Jesus-Scholars-Distort-Gospels/dp/0830833188

      Another review of this book:

      "Evans makes the same mistakes every Christian apologist does–he mixes faith with scholarship. This is akin to mixing oil and water. Where does it lead? Where the scholar's preconceived notions will it. Devotional Method does not belong beside Historical Method.

      Thanks to the above reviewer for this little tidbit that I had forgotten ... " About this particular writing, which was discovered by Morton Smith, Evans adds "despite the facts that no one besides Smith has actually studied the physical docu-ment and that the paper and ink have never been subjected to the kinds of tests normally undertaken, many scholars have accepted the Clementine letter as genuine and its testimony as valid as that there was in circulation, in the second century, a secret version of the Gospel of Mark" (page 95)."

      Total bunk! This is blatantly false! Smith has been roundly criticized by scholars of every ilk–so much so, that his reputation has been permanently damaged! Evan's is being completely dishonest here! He's trying to make a case for his very conservative views ... and resorting to ne-fa-rious means to do so.

      Who is fabricating Jesus? Christian apologists like Evans, Wright, Craig, Strobel, Geisler, McDowell et al. Thankfully their ilk have fallen into the minority these days. Proper scholarship (Textual Criticism) has led us to a better understanding of Jesus and the Gospels. One such scholar, James Robinson, provides a much more honest assessment of this issue in his much hailed work "The Gospel of Jesus: In Search of the Original Good News." I would also include "The Historical Figure of Jesus" by E.P. Sanders and "The Authentic Gospel of Jesus" by Geza Vermes. All are far superior to that of Evans. "

      December 7, 2010 at 11:49 am |
    • Mike, not me

      So your rebuttal source is By Sean Holderread (Hendersonville NC, United States)... nice.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike, not me

      I believe the man Jesus existed. Am I positive? No. It is a moot point because I don't believe he was the Messiah or the Son Of God.

      It is more believable that Jesus was fathered by a human. Maybe Joseph? Gods fathering children, is more like the ancient Gods, such as the Greek and Roman deities. Do you believe in them? That they seduced humans? No? But, you believe your god did. Hmmm...

      Cheers!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Hmmm, Sean Holderread (Hendersonville NC, United States)... is right up there with C. Price "Layman, Lawyer, Blogger" in the book critique arena assuming you can believe any of there bio information.

      December 7, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Keith1952

      So, Buda was to Hinduism what Jesus was to Judaism. If Jesus was a holy man, during his life on earth, he probably knew a lot about both other religions. He probably even studied them. He certainly never advocated starting a new religion. He never once said the word Christian. You folks that call yourselves Christians are followers of Paul. He was Zealot, an extreme right radical who killed Christians before his so called conversion. He remained a Zealot but his persecution changed focus after his conversion.

      No matter what you believe if you are a Christian today you do not believe what 1st century Christians believed, you don’t even believe what Christians believed 600 years ago. So, lighten up, you have already changed a lot of stuff, adding yoga to your personal practice will not condemn you to hell.

      December 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • Mike, not me

      Reality
      My apologies, I though I was taking the synopsis of the book, I guess I scrolled down too far. I will find a good quote from inside the book and use that in future posts... Thank you

      December 8, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  19. sanjaychoudhry

    The dispute is about origins of Yoga, not its ownership. Is it so difficult to understand? It is like arguing that Bible has nothing to do with Christinaity and then writing philosophically "Who owns Jesus?"

    December 7, 2010 at 8:12 am |
    • jesus

      l am announcing my claim for copyright infringement. I also want all those religion brokers (i.e. Priests, Ministers, Pastors) to turn over 90% of their yearly take from folks who gave in my name. I had enough of people ripping me off. BTW, did you folks see my obliques on the cross? I worked real hard to achieve that look. Some artist think he can simply copy my image and make bucks off it without giving me a cut. It's unfair!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  20. Mike, not me

    Jesus’s status here as “the man nobody hates”... obviously this man has never read the comment section of his own articles.

    December 7, 2010 at 8:05 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike, not me

      I hate the militant Muslims, people who hurt children, the Christian Right.

      I don't hate Santa, the Easter Bunny or Jesus/god. I just don't think they exist. Big difference.

      Cheers!

      December 7, 2010 at 10:26 am |
    • NL

      The character who appears in the Gospels is difficult to dislike because he is generally gentile, kind, wise and nonjudgmental. It's the damning, torturing, warring Christ that he is supposed to metamorphose into who is repugnant. There is a big difference between the two.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:27 am |
    • Bob

      Let me sum up Mike's logic for people who didn't catch it.

      "You object to our faith. YOU HATE JESUS."
      "You object to our anti-terrorism laws. YOU HATE AMERICA."
      "You object to the grade your child gets. YOU HATE TEACHERS."

      Yeah.

      December 7, 2010 at 10:38 am |
    • Brian

      Let me sum up Bob's logic for people who don't get it:

      Mike made a tongue-in-cheek comment that I don't agree with, so he's a right-wing radical.

      Yeah

      December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • Mike, not me

      NL
      " he is generally gentile, kind, wise and nonjudgmental. "

      Like in Matthew 25:31-46, ch. 11, 18, and 23
      Luke 18
      John 5:29ff

      That's just the gospels

      December 7, 2010 at 11:11 am |
    • purple80

      This is what irritates me. Articles like this. Who cares. Why do people make such a big deal out of people and their religions. Let people believe what they want to. Athiests talk about how stupid Christians are and I'm just wondering why you have to knock people and their beliefs. You talk about how Christians are hypocritical, well you do the same. Bashing people for no reason so what you are saying it doesn't matter if you are religious or not, people are just sinful. The only difference is people who bash Christianity have nothing to gain. THey just do it to be mean and spiteful. At least when Christians try to tell people about the love of God they do it out of the good of their heart. They want people to know what they know. Most will keep what they consider treasures to themselves but maybe it is annoying but at least Christians want to share their joy and they don't do it to harm. Leave people alone. Also Jews don't make Christmas songs to take away from Christians they do it because Christmas whether you believe in Christ or not is a time of joy for everyone. Let it be.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:19 am |
    • OCTears

      Purple80,

      You have contradicted yourself by stating "athiest talk about christians how stupid christians are..." Im an Athiest and I have never condemned another person for their faith. Maybe the word "hypocrite" should be looked up in the thesaurus. Humans should show more empathy towards one another.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Reality

      http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb425.html i.e. Matt 25: 31-46 is a single attestation found no where else in the scriptural doc-uments therefore making it historically unreliable.

      e.g.

      "Luedemann [Jesus, 236f]:

      This co-ncluding text of Jesus' eschatological discourse fits Matthaean theology seamlessly. After the paraenesis in 24.32-25.30 the judgment by the Son of Man is depicted in a great painting. The judgment is of all human beings, but Matthew has his community in particular in view: cf. 13.37-43,49-50. In view of this similarity we must seriously consider whether the whole passage should be regarded as a Matthaean construction.

      John P. Meier (professor of theology at Notre Dame)

      When commenting on the use of phylake (prison) in Matt 11:2, Meier [Marginal Jew II,198] notes that "the whole passage depicting the last judgment is either a Matthean creation or heavily redacted by Matthew."

      "There are several passages in 1 Enoch that express similar ideas:

      /38:1/ The first thing:
      When the congregation of the righteous shall appear,
      sinners shall be judged for their sins,
      for they shall be driven from the face of the earth.
      /2/ and when the Righteous One shall appear before the face of the righteous,
      those elect ones, their deeds are hung upon the Lord of the Spirits
      he shall reveal light to the righteous and the elect who dwell upon the earth,
      where will the dwelling of sinners be,
      and where the resting place of those who denied the name of the Lord of the Spirits?
      It would have been better for them not to have been born.
      /3/ When the secrets of the Righteous One are revealed,
      he shall judge the sinners;
      and the wicked ones will be driven from the presence of the righteous and the elect,
      /4/ and from that time, those who possess the earth will be neither rulers nor princess,
      for they shall not be able to behold the faces of the holy ones,
      for the light of the Lord of the Spirits has shined
      upon the face of the holy, the righteous, and the elect.
      /5/ At that moment, kings and rulers shall perish,
      they shall be delivered into the hands of the righteous and holy ones,
      /6/ and from henceforth no one shall be able to induce the Lord of the Spirits to show them mercy. [OTP]

      /61:8/ [The Lord of all Spirits] placed the Elect One on the throne of glory; and he shall judge all the works of the holy ones in heaven above, weighing in the balance their deeds ... [OTP]

      /62:1/ Thus the Lord commanded the kings, governors, the high officials, and the landlords and said, "Open your eyes and lift up your eyebrows—if you are able to recognize the Elect One!" ... /3/ On the day of judgment all the kings, governors, the high officials, and the landlords shall see and recognize him—how he sits on his throne of glory, and righteousness is judged before him, and that no nonsensical talk shall be uttered in his presence. [OTP]

      /63:11/ After that, their faces will be filled with shame before that Son of Man; and from before his face they shall be driven out. [OTP]"

      December 7, 2010 at 11:36 am |
    • NL

      Mike, not me-
      I did say 'generally', remember?

      As a human being Jesus, had he been real, would have had just as much right as anyone else to get snarky from time to time. After all, nobody's perfect, right? 😉

      December 7, 2010 at 11:42 am |
    • JP

      NL – The Jesus from the gospels was actually despised by the religious leaders of His day. That is why He was crucified. The Jesus of the gospels said very polarizing things like "I am the Way, The Truth and The Life, no one gets to the Father except through the Son."
      He claimed divinity, He claimed to be the giver of life everlasting, the Truth that sets men/women free from Sin/lies/deception. The didn't claim to be one of the ways but rather the single way the only way. The reason why people love Jesus is because he is the Savior of the world. His name Jesus in Hebrew is yeshua which means "to save/one who saves/to deliver" See Christ delivers us from sin and sins power over sin

      December 7, 2010 at 11:48 am |
    • Art

      How does one define what a Christian is anyhow? I call myself a Christian but, according to the tenets of some Christian groups, I am certainly not a Christian.

      Either way, I do yoga regularly. Of all the exercises I've learned over the years, yoga has had the greatest benefit to my overall health, both physically and mentally.

      So to die at a young age from health complications (e.g. obesity, so rampant in the church) is more "Christian" than performing yoga for its health benefits?

      December 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • No body

      praying for you all the same

      December 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
    • naveen

      Articles like these are not required...I didn't expect this from CNN.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Frogist

      @JP: I don't think what you are saying is true. People do not love Jesus because he is the saviour of the world. I believe someone who is gentle, kind, and tolerant would garner a great deal of respect froma wide range of people. Much like you won't find many people who would say bad things about Ghandi or Nelson Mandela.

      December 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • NL

      JP-
      Interesting thing is, you can make a pretty good case for Jesus probably being a Pharisee himself, like Paul. The great Hillel first came up with the 'Golden Rule' and maybe Jesus studied under his school. There are lots of similarities between Jesus' sayings and contemporary pharisetic teachings.

      December 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
    • Trulio Disgracias

      Jesus is a zombie. I'm wide awake now.

      December 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
    • AM I A HINDU? International Best Seller

      “Who owns the stuff of a religion? When my Christian and Jewish friends adopt and adapt yoga postures are they stealing something? Who owns Christmas? Who owns the Buddha? Who owns Jesus?-– “

      1------Fact of the matter is every body owns everything.

      2-----"Truth, God and Salvation " etc are UNIVERSAL.

      3------No country, no Culture, no religion, no temple, no church can MONOPOLIZE universal truths. Nobody can take copyrights or patent UNIVERSAL TRUTHS.

      4-----Hindu Rig Veda the very first book of Hindus written at lest 2000 years before the Bible states " Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadani" [ TRUTH OR GOD IS ONE; BUT LEARNED DESCRIBE IT IN MANY WAYS].

      5----–The greatest as well as the very best book of Yoga by sage Patanjali states " Yoga Chitta Vrithi Nirodha" means " SALVATION OR UNION WITH GOD MEANS STOPPAGE OF ALL THOUGHTS" which is a very universal idea which can be accepted and respected by every one, irrespective of one is a Hindu or not.

      6-----If some one is praying to Krishna, he/she is practicing BHAKTI YOGA [ path of devotion]; if some one is praying to Jesus, he/she also is practicing BHAKTI YOGA [ path of devotion] since there is ONLY ONE GOD which expresses itself in trillions of names and in trillions of forms.

      All these things are UNIVERSAL TRUTHS and no body can deny that.

      December 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • AM I A HINDU? International Best Seller

      “Who owns the stuff of a religion? When my Christian and Jewish friends adopt and adapt yoga postures are they stealing something? Who owns Christmas? Who owns the Buddha? Who owns Jesus?-– “

      1------Fact of the matter is every body owns everything.

      2-----"Truth, God and Salvation " etc are UNIVERSAL.

      3------No country, no Culture, no religion, no temple, no church can MONOPOLIZE universal truths. Nobody can take copyrights or patent UNIVERSAL TRUTHS.

      4-----Hindu Rig Veda the very first book of Hindus written at lest 2000 years before the Bible states " Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadani" [ TRUTH OR GOD IS ONE; BUT LEARNED DESCRIBE IT IN MANY WAYS].

      5----–The greatest as well as the very best book of Yoga by sage Patanjali states " Yoga Chitta Vrithi Nirodha" means " SALVATION OR UNION WITH GOD MEANS STOPPAGE OF ALL THOUGHTS" which is a very universal idea which can be accepted and respected by every one, irrespective of one is a Hindu or not.

      6-----If some one is praying to Krishna, he/she is practicing BHAKTI YOGA [ path of devotion]; if some one is praying to Jesus, he/she also is practicing BHAKTI YOGA [ path of devotion] since there is ONLY ONE GOD which expresses itself in trillions of names and in trillions of forms.

      All these things are TRUTH and no body can deny that.

      December 8, 2010 at 6:21 pm |
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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.