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John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' portrait of Jesus
February 27th, 2011
09:06 PM ET

John Dominic Crossan's 'blasphemous' portrait of Jesus

By John Blake, CNN

One of his first fan letters came from someone who declared:

"If Hell were not already created, it should be invented just for you."

Other critics have called him "demonic," "blasphemous" and a "schmuck."

When John Dominic Crossan was a teenager in Ireland, he dreamed of becoming a missionary priest. But the message he's spreading about Jesus today isn't the kind that would endear him to many church leaders.

Read the full story on Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan
- CNN Writer

Filed under: Books • Christianity • Culture & Science

soundoff (306 Responses)
  1. Gary Shop

    All this has made me think a lot about kindness. Not the abhorrent "The world just needs a little TLC, then we all could sing together!" kind that makes me cringe. Kindness as one of many personal traits.

    I sincerely believe that, even if I believed in God with all my soul, and loved him with all my heart, if I were given only 2 choices for my epitaph, "HE WAS A BELEIVER IN GOD" or "HE WAS KIND", I would be so happy to have the latter.

    What's for dinner?

    March 4, 2011 at 3:49 am |
  2. Gary Shop

    All this has made me think a lot about kindness. Not the abhorrant "The world just needs a little TLC, then we all could sing together!" kind that makes me cringe. Kindness as one of many personal traits.

    I sincerely believe that, even if I believed in God with all my soul, and loved him with all my heart, if I were given only 2 choices for my epitaph, "HE WAS A BELEIVER IN GOD" or "HE WAS KIND", I would be so happy to have the latter.

    What's for dinner?

    March 4, 2011 at 3:46 am |
  3. Gary Shop

    DAMN! I can't believe I said, "This is what I belief" (March 4, 2011 at 12:06 am) !

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    OH, WOW! I can't believe it's after midnight!

    March 4, 2011 at 3:16 am |
  4. Gary Shop

    Dammit, I used "their" instead of "there". I don't think I've ever done that before. Must be that evil drug.

    What's for dinner?

    March 4, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  5. Gary Shop

    If any of you out their like horror, consider this:

    Some of you may have thoroughly read my previous submission, and have received inspiration:

    "HE COWERS, AND HIDES, AND SINS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS WITH HIS EVIL DRUG."

    March 4, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  6. Gary Shop

    P.S. - I appended "-BAMN" to "zero-marijuana-tolerance" because 'by any means necessary" is the most loathsome expression I know.

    March 4, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  7. Gary Shop

    ALL:
    Re my last post:

    Incredible. SEE HOW EASY IT IS TO BREAK ONE'S OWN RULES OF CONDUCT AND ETHICS?!?

    I just finished alluding to my own personal code, and the next second I'm totally oblivious to the possibility that some people might not enjoy my careless humor about Catholic beliefs and rites. My own mom just turned eighty, and she absolutely depends on her Catholic faith to get her through the rest of her life – maybe all the more so since Dad's in Skilled Nursing now while she's still in Independent Living. I'd be very upset if someone made fun of – or questioned – my mom's beliefs. She needs them to live. Besides, they bring her great joy. How would I like it if she gaily scorned my music-writing, which helped me not kill myself a few years ago during a personal crisis, and which brings me the closest I have ever come to spiritual joy. (Don't blame my parents. They raised me and my unfortunately late sister to be Christians, and made sure we went to quality Catholic schools.)

    I'm sorry if I've offended any of you. I wish I'd never written that stuff.

    – – – – –

    On an entirely different subject:
    Re the several marijuana comments:

    Over the last 2 months I've lost 20 pounds through lack of appeti-te. I'm thinking reflux complications, my doc's thinking cancer. Either way, it has impaired my ability to belch, so I can't expel stomach gas as all humans (at least) physically must be able to do. As a result, the periods during which I can stomach the thought of eating have been getting fewer and shorter, and my difficulty swallowing and additional problems getting food stuck in my throat have been increasing. The last 3 days I haven't eaten until 4-6am the following morning, and even then my stomach tells me it would strongly prefer that I didn't eat, but it would let me if I had to.

    But a lot of that is my own fault. I've spent an enormous amount of time the past 3 days immersed in reading my Google News homepage, branching off to explore various science and art topics, and eventually discovering this blog via a news item's eye-catching headline containing the words "Jesus" and "blasphemous" in close proximity. (I actually thought I was going to read about an archeological find, and I've never heard of John Dominic Crossan.)

    Consequently I've let many hours pass before I realize I have to take a marijuana break immediately because I've become light-headed and still can't stomach food. After 2 hits I usually start belching a little at a time, and always (until just recently) after 3-5 hits I'm wondering what's for dinner. It's an amazing relief I receive from a godsend, whether metaphorical or metaphysical.

    But of course I have to do this in my bathroom and take a lot of precautions (including spraying hazardous amounts of air sanitizer) so that my landlady doesn't find out. Smoking of any kind is considered to be sufficient cause for eviction here. And I'm sure that I'd lose my eligibility for the lifesaving behavioral health services I have received through the county's homeless program. (In particular, my case manager has been invaluable in helping me get medical services, especially since I'm kind of a self-imposed shut-in with lots of smarts and no idea how to use them.)

    I think that the government folks and other zero-marijuana-tolerance-BAMN people and organizations are brutally, shocking sadistic – not simply disrespectful and unkind, but yes, C R U E L , as some of you have said. I already have many deeply personal reasons why, if God does exist, I want nothing to do with him. Please – I don't need further encouragement from people who, regardless of their spiritual orientation, will do whatever they can to effectively cause me additional pain, because their personal opinions are more important to them than their concern for their fellow man, possibly created in God's own image, who's truly in need. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    – – – – –

    And, ending on a spiritually uplifting if ironic note:

    My last series of marijuana hits didn't work because after the 2rd hit I recognized my regrettable comments, and stopped smoking so I could submit my apology. I'm very glad I did.

    Bless those of you who receive joy from blessings.

    March 4, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  8. Gary Shop

    Truth: Thanks again. I copied it to a file for future use. You'd think it would be so much simpler – certainly more respectful – if CNN did a little paradigm shift to the notion of helping their user community submit contributions.

    ALL: I've been reading through this lively discussion – very stimulating and thought-provoking comments from varying views. Pretty civil, but many (to me) instances of intolerance, condescension, and epithets from all corners, consistent with how people have treated others' religious beliefs for 6000 or 8000 or 15000 or 125000 years. No killings, so that's a plus.

    Does anyone ever say, "This is what I belief, and so I do this and I don't do that. I try to be a ___ person and be ___ toward others. What do you believe in, and how does that affect what you do in life?" - without even thinking, let alone saying, "That's evil" or That's unhealthy"?

    My former psychologist told me that mental illness is defined (somewhere) as any mental process that interferes with or limits that person's life activities. In other words, what's right for me may not be right for you.

    Two things everyone seems to agree on are (1) each of us has our own individual free will; and (2) it's highly desirable to talk to and otherwise treat another person in a manner that you consider to be respectful and kind when others treat you that way.

    Geez, I guess I gotta preach, too.

    My bad, my very bad, my oh-so-egregious bad.

    Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary.

    Whew!

    March 4, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  9. Gary Shop

    CNN ought to have a utility to locate character strings that must be altered before submitting it.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • The Truth

      They most certainly should. I find it hilarious (and disturbing) that a company that has made billions of dollars off of our freedom of speech, so easily censors speech from their customers/viewers/general public. Ah, the irony...

      March 3, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  10. Gary Shop

    Thanks, Truth! I just had to hyphenate ti-thes and insti-tution. Crazy, man.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • The Truth

      LOL..NP Gary... glad to help.

      I did some searching for you and if you read Reality's post on page 1 below, you'll see a solid list of the no-no words:

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/22/da-in-philly-priest-case-speaks-out/comment-page-1/

      Glad you figured it out!

      Cheers!
      🙂

      March 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  11. Gary Shop

    God-Awful, by Me
    "Please reproduce freely and tell all your friends!"

    In my opinion, there is no deity;
    Only red herring cooked up for the laity.
    No Father or Ghost or Son named Jesus;
    No overlord to smite or please us.

    No need for ti-thes or piety,
    No hell for impropriety;
    No afterdeath for a chosen few,
    And no heavn'ly rewards awaiting you.

    The Western Creator of you and me
    Was created for opportunity:
    For divine teachings, to be taught by the wise,
    Conceived in the spirit of self-serving lies.

    Look closely, now, and you will see
    How religions are organized financially.
    The arbiters of what's Good and Just
    Are charlatans – and they prey for us.

    Though evidence of this is ample,
    May I offer you a little sample?
    I promise not to force-feed my view;
    I merely want to share opinions with you.

    The Protestant denominations, it seems,
    Are managed exactly like pyramid schemes.
    The Jewish leadership, by and large,
    Will seat you at temple, for a fee that they charge.

    Roman Catholics and their infallible Pop
    Sell collectible things at their online gift shop.
    And Islamic imams demand you look east
    So you won't see them gloating over the funds they have fleeced.

    These businesses claim that their goal is to nourish,
    But you'd be surprised how their bank accounts flourish.
    And each insti-tution is monotheistic,
    With a one-true-God claim that makes me go ballistic.

    It's nothing more than "You're wrong and I'm right!"
    "Mine's bigger than yours!" "Take that back or I'll fight!"
    Whenever this happens, there's always a war
    Since believers will die for the Cause they fight for

    But that Cause gives me pause. It's been crafted, you know,
    To cause me to kill you, 'cause God told me so.
    Radical terrorism and righteous atrocities
    Have always been tactics of religious monstrosities.

    And it's all based upon a command that's absurd:
    That you seek total strangers to tell them the Word.
    It's offensive and pushy, presumptuous behavior
    To intrude upon strangers to talk of your savior.

    It's controlling and utterly blind to the idea
    That the stranger you've corralled may have urgent diarrhea.
    But worst of all is the tyrannical view
    That you won't listen to me, but I must listen to you.

    Now, one-way communication is totally welcome
    When you are the party that I'm seeking help from.
    But I will not tolerate insufferable people
    Who ride on a high horse and shout from a steeple

    You lose me the moment you say you've been sent
    To deliver God's Message and to help me repent.
    If you must play post office, then let's give it a twist:
    Return to sender, and take my name off your list.

    It's a wonder that Christians and Muslims and Jews
    Are still with us today, with the methods they use.
    If God really existed, I'll bet he'd be sore
    At their lies and their greed and their fondness for war.

    Yet somehow I think things will work out okay;
    That is, eventually… for us, anyway.
    Your people, your nation, and all that's therein
    Will add to our riches – as long as we win.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  12. Gary Shop

    OK, I give up. Maybe God doesn't want me to share my opinion.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  13. Gary Shop

    Sorry to interrupt, but I submitted a godawful poem, and all day long it's had a line above it that says, "Your comment is awaiting moderation." Does that mean none of you can see it? It should be between Johann's comment of March 3, 2011 at 5:09 am, and Geri's comment of March 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm.

    I just want to find out if it's out there or if it's stuck in limbo (purgatory?) - Thanks!

    March 3, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • The Truth

      Gary... there are a bunch of no-no words that you can't say here. And the words are ridiculous. Unless you remove that word or hypenate it, no one can see what you are writing. The words that get me the most are:

      t-it (e.g. ident-ity)
      c-um (e.g. doc-ument)
      s-ex

      Then there are other less common words such as:
      v-ag (e.g. va-gue)

      Do a CTRL + F and look for t-it ad c-um (with no hyphen) and the chances are good you'll find your issue.

      Good luck!

      March 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  14. Geri

    evolvedDNA

    Geri..why accept any supernatural being to be your saviour. You all practice safe faith, to put your life in gods hands if it was in immediate danger is foolish as you know what will happen..I have asked this question before but would you and 200 of your most devout friends.. they can be any religion, but I would expect that they would all be the same as religions don't play well with others, take an airplane ride knowing that the pilots would bail at 40,000 ft and you all would have to pray to god for safe return..I would wager it would end badly with a hole in the ground some distance from the airport.. or do you think it would be good.. would you be wiling to test it ?..

    @evolvedDNA...LOL...Are you really serious? If I was stupid enuff to do that thing, I would deserve to die. Not a matter of praying to God, I am sure he wants me to live, till he is ready for me to come home.

    Thats like me asking you, (putting you on that same plane, with that same senario, if you would test out your belief that there is nothing once you die, and then saying "would you do it? Afterall, its only a test...albeit an act of russian roulette!

    March 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  15. Johann

    It's so simple: If you don't like McDonald's then stay out of the shop and stop trying to tell me how fake and gross the food is, because I have made up my mind that I enjoy McD's food. Rather focus on something positive: like find out you actually like KFC then go over there and tell everyone how delicious that is....
    ‎...People would be much MORE interested in you praising KFC than bashing McD's because here is the bottom line: I like McD's and nothing you do or say will make me change my mind. So in other words you are just making a fool of yourself and irritating me while I'm trying to enjoy my meal... Same here: If you don't like Jesus then leave Him alone. Why put yourself through this? Man, get another hobby you old grouch.

    March 3, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  16. Geri

    **CAUGHT correct the above

    March 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  17. Geri

    NL, Thanks for answering my questions. You said you escaped the Catholic Church, You said to me "looks like you got causght"....

    LOL...Yep, I did. But, not by them. Actually, a preacher from West Va and his wife and kids moved next door, when I was 14. I became thier babysitter, they were both in thier 20's, and he was not a preacher actually, till they moved some years later.
    But, he was the one who told me about Jesus dying for me on the cross, and asked if I wanted to be saved. I said yes, and I knelt on the lr floor, and we prayed together. I repented of my sins, and gladly invited Jesus into my heart.
    I was in the Catholic Church to, but they never told us this. Oh, surprise, surprise!
    I got outta there, all my fear and despair left me when I left that church.
    I actually read about Jesus, and was not afraid to read my bible. I am now happy and love praising God! Have been for many years.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  18. Count Marco

    John Dominic Crossan? Sorry "reporter" from CNN. Crossan's book is based on research done more than 20 years ago and has been strongly challenged, analyzed, critiqued and largely undermined for more than a decade by "historical Jesus" scholars for well over a decade. I know. I spent 8 years in graduate level studies in Jesus and early Christiqanity and the Jewish environment in which Jesus lived. I've also met face to face with "Dom" Crossan on many occassions at scholarly conferences (and over dinner). He's a great writer, but really not a methodical, convincing scholar when you actually get into the issue a bit deeper than a rip-and-read CNN story that doesn't even know that Crossan's very short book made cover story news in the early 1990's and was not taken seriously by mainstream scholars. (Crossan's difficult-to-read sprawling tome published earlier did make an impact rather briefly). Sorry, but the fact that hes received apparent "hate mail" doesn't make his arguments convincing, nor does it make him some kind of brave truth-0telling martyr. It only means that his publisher did a great job marketing a snappy book ... especially to the gullible media. He'sreally just a loveable, funny Irish-American storyteller.

    March 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Geri

      HeavenSent

      Amen, Geri.

      The rest of my blog is being refused by the CNN mod squadders to have it post. As a Christian, I know Jesus' truth and love His wisdom.

      Amen

      Geri**** Thanks, Heaven Scent, for your kindness, and professing our Lord. Even if it is blocked, what you are putting out there for our side,is wonderful! You stay blessed and keep up your good work for the Lord!

      March 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  19. Geri

    Yikes,,I meant to say like signing you name in concrete

    March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  20. Geri

    NL

    Geri-
    "So, that concludes that the God you are talking about, is not the God of Christians."
    That might work on folks who are only 99.99% atheist, like Christians, but not on 100% atheists. We don't believe that any gods are real, so that automatically applies to whatever it is that you worship. There is no evidence to suggest that anything that qualifies as a god actually exists.

    See, aren't you glad we cleared that up?

    Wow, Nl. really like signing your in concrete!
    My God, I am sure you Know is the one and only Jesus Christ! The only true God there ever was and ever will be. I don't care what anybody else says or believes in.
    I would sign that in concrete or gold, but especialy it is written on my heart and soul.

    Geri is owned by Jesus, and proud of it!

    March 2, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Amen, Geri.

      The rest of my blog is being refused by the CNN mod squadders to have it post. As a Christian, I know Jesus' truth and love His wisdom.

      Amen.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:43 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.