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Opinion: Seeking the truth about Jesus
A nativity scene from St. Catherine's Church in Bethlehem in the West Bank.
December 26th, 2012
05:01 AM ET

Opinion: Seeking the truth about Jesus

By Jay Parini, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Jay Parini, poet and novelist, is author of the forthcoming book, "Jesus: The Human Face of God." He is the Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College.

(CNN) - At Christmas, the name of Jesus resounds everywhere in homes, churches, in hauntingly gorgeous carols, even casual conversations. Yet Christians didn't settle on December 25 as Christmas day until the fourth century, and this choice probably had something to do with its proximity to the winter solstice or its position as the final day of the Roman Saturnalia.

It was in the late third century, in fact, that the Roman emperor Aurelian established this date as a feast day celebrating the birth of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus), so it already had festive and quasi-religious prominence. Now it serves to welcome the infant who became Christ, the Greek word for Messiah.

There are probably as many visions of Jesus, and versions, as there are Christians. Many regard him as their savior, the Son of God sent to Earth to save human beings from themselves. Others see him as a great teacher, a healer or rabbi of extraordinary power, a holy man or prophet who proposed a new covenant between heaven and earth. To some, he represents a new world order, an egalitarian society, a preacher of nonviolence who asked us to turn the other cheek.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Jesus • Opinion

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. lionlylamb

    Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

    God said "Let us" make man and let "them" not one man be the dominion of all earthly life. Did not Henry Ford make in his image and likeness the model T? If I were to make a cookie out of my likeness and image could it look quite different then me? Who among us know the true image of God, the creator of every and all cosmos plural? Who among us knows the "us" that made men in the beginning moments of mankind's creation?

    December 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  2. Bob

    Don't try to reason with Chad. He is simply deluded.

    December 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  3. Bob

    Chad, how come your sky fairy can't do better than a book that is so subject to interpretation and is so readily misinterpreted? And furthermore, how come your sky fairy can't even get with the last decade and produce his own website, or even push some tweets out? Even the pope, that evil shielder of child molesters, can do that much.

    The answer is that your god does not exist as claimed. Do the world a favor and get over your idiotic Christian myths already.

    December 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Bolz

      I love that in this day and age despite every reason not to people still gather and greet each other in the name of Jesus and pray and sing our hearts to God.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Chad

      You have rejected the God of Israel because he doesnt have a website?

      that's your reason?

      December 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Really

      Chad
      I take it that the lack of response to why I reject the god of Isreal is correct and you agree, Thank You.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I wish God had a website so I could go troll on it.

      December 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Well, you can always count on Chad to completely miss the point.

      December 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  4. Really

    Chad
    Always throw out another question. Why I do not have faith in any deity, let alone one of the most silly, the god of Isreal, let me count the ways? A man made myth full of hocus pocus, that has impeded knowledge, fostered fear and dependancy, ans is responsible for much of the war, oppresion and misery in the history of the world.
    Now, That you know why I could not possibly believe in youe delusion, try answering the many questions put to you without running to some apologetics website for quotations from those that think like you do?

    December 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Chad

      The problem is, it is impossible to assign any credibility to your criticism of the God of Israel, as you arent familiar with the bible.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Really

      You again continue to make a false as*sumption, when did I say i have not read or understood what is written in the bible? To me it is a book of fiction that it took me some time to discard. As a matter of intrest, how much do you know about the gods you reject, you have stated that it is not worth the effort?

      December 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  5. Happy Snake

    How climate shifts sparked human evolution just read somewhere...

    December 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Angel Moronic

      Yes. Talks of global warming made CONservatives ape crazy 😉

      December 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  6. Bootyfunk

    the truth about jesus? there's no good evidence he ever existed. the jesus myth is plagiarized from other cultures/religions/mythologies. see mitra, horus, dionysus and others. the bible constantly plagiarizes. want to read about the garden of eden? read the epic of gilgamesh - it's where the garden story was 'borrowed' from. if jesus did exist, he was just a looney cult leader, like david koresh, telling everyone to worship him. if jesus did exist, he wasn't the son of god, he didn't do anything magic - he was just a man.

    December 26, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Goodness

      We know that Jesus was the son of God. And He came into this world as a baby. So humble that many "important" people didn't realize who he was.

      God acts in ways that "Bootyfunk" does not understand. And this is ok.

      Every major culture has a version of the flood story. That suggests to me a truth to the Biblical story.

      Same with the story of Jesus.

      God didn’t come to us telling our story. God came to us telling God’s story and God has always chosen the weirdest and most subversive ways of doing that.

      He has a lot more information and understanding of the world than we do. And this is actually a good thing for me. I am happy with it.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Jesus Box !!!!

      December 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're right, i don't understand the mind of a megalomaniacal god that drowns babies. yeah, you mentioned the flood... the basic flood story around the world shows that flooding has always been a force man has had to contend with, ie nature. yet we know there is a finite amount of water on earth, so where'd the extra water go? all relevant disciplines of science also says there was no world wide flood. but let me humor you. god drowned all but one human family in his great flood. that means god drowned babies. read that again: BABIES. what kind of a monster fills babies' lungs with water and calls it divine justice? think of your son or daughter, niece or nephew, drowning. the christian god is disgusting.

      John 1:14-16
      “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
      ^ jesus doesn't sound so humble here, telling everyone to worship him as the messiah or they don't go to heaven - which means they burn in hell. yes, quite the humble cult leader.

      "God didn’t come to us telling our story. God came to us telling God’s story and God has always chosen the weirdest and most subversive ways of doing that."
      ^ yeah, like drowning babies.

      "He has a lot more information and understanding of the world than we do. And this is actually a good thing for me. I am happy with it."
      ^ you've turned your brain off. try thinking for yourself instead being guided by a 2k year old book written by people that thought the earth was flat.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Really

      Goodness
      Has your family kept up the fine traditions of Adam and Eve, and Noah's family of incest that would have been required to re-populate the earth. Like cousin Clem said. "This here is Sally Sue, my mom, my sister and my wife."

      December 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Chad

      @Really "Has your family kept up the fine traditions of Adam and Eve..."

      =>question for you, who did cain marry?
      Reason I ask is pretty simple, atheists rarely if ever have any understanding at all of the bible. They take something that isnt stated, then criticize it.

      If you'll do some reading in Genesis, you'll see that whether or not there were other humans on earth at the time of Adam and Eve is an unanswered question.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad, we know it's not stated – that's why we ask. There are only a few explanations: incest, Adam and Eve weren't the only creation, or there is no god. Clearly only the first maintains the fiction of the bible. Not sure why they're so coy about incest, Lot committed incest with both of hos daughters so it's not unknown in the bible.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Reason I ask is pretty simple, atheists rarely if ever have any understanding at all of the bible. They take something that isnt stated, then criticize it."
      wrong. studies show atheists have more bible knowledge than your average christian. when christian here a criticism, that's the first lame excuse they throw out - you just don't understand the bible. instead of making excuses for your book - answer the criticisms. god drowned babies - how do you justify that? or did i get that one wrong too because i don't understand the bible?

      "If you'll do some reading in Genesis, you'll see that whether or not there were other humans on earth at the time of Adam and Eve is an unanswered question."
      and if you do some math, you'll see the question is not unanswerable - just unappetizing. adam and eve had two sons - since eve was the only female on earth, 1 + 1 = incest. see, it's a cute creation myth, but when you look at it critically, it's obvious it's a fairy tale. that's the point that YOU didn't get.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Goodness

      I just don't see God as Megalomaniacal. He is the Creator. He is soverign. He is the judge.

      Not me.

      He knows what is best for His creation.

      Praise God. Evil surely hates it when we do this!

      December 26, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Goodness,

      The Life of God is in the forever telling of stories about God and God's mingling with the people of our past. We are the judges of God. I would rather judge God rightly than wrongly just because I want to be known as treading against God and stand with those who dare be ridiculing the God, who was and is and shall forever be! God, the Father of Creation and all things evolved lives deeply inside all living evolutions of every life yet living! We are all God's buildings as scripture does so say! God in all God's ways, takes in all celestially terrestrial life's strays!

      December 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Really

      Chad Nov 12, 2012 @ 12:54 PM Page 52, Jesus Jokes Topics
      You stared "I am not intrested in, nor do I think it is an effort that should be expended to defend anything other than the Judeo-Christian belief system."
      So why should you place on me the burden of reading more about something I have already rejected? From what I still remember from my misspent youth getting the bible nonsense pounded into me, did not Cain have to move to the land of Nod to ge thimself hooked up? I am getting used to you, always answer a comment with a question, kind of cool.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Really

      stated not stared, obese fingers.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Chad

      @Bootyfunk "wrong. studies show atheists have more bible knowledge than your average christian"
      @Chad "no... the survey you are referencing is one by Pew which was a survey about religions, not specifically Christianity. Less than 40% of the questions had to do with Judeo/Christianity, the rest being Islam, Buddhism, etc.."

      @Booty "and if you do some math, you'll see the question is not unanswerable – just unappetizing. adam and eve had two sons – since eve was the only female on earth, 1 + 1 = incest. see, ."
      @Chad
      1. where does it say that Eve was the only female on earth at the time?
      2. where does the bible say that cain married his sister?

      December 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Goodness

      > lionlylamb

      Good point. And Jesus is that way in which I can understand God better.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Chad

      @Really "So why should you place on me the burden of reading more about something I have already rejected? "
      @Chad "interesting response!
      1. you've acknowledged you arent familiar with the bible
      2. you've acknowledged that you have rejected it PRIOR to understanding it's claims

      so.. on what basis have you rejected it?

      I have rejected all other religions because the God of Israel states that He is the only God.

      On what basis do YOU reject Christianity? It cant be on the basis of good authority like my decision. Science/naturalism states that it is impossible to disprove the existence of the God of Israel.

      so... on what do you base your rejection of the God of Israel?

      December 26, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Really

      Chad
      Ok, if Cain found another woman hanging around how does that equate with the creation story?
      You did not address the Noah story at all.
      Always switch the burden of proof, nice ploy.
      Another of your statements, something like...Atheists start with the belief that god does not exist, which is fallacious.....Now if you paid attention you would know that many of us on this blog were indoctrinated in one religion or another. It wasn't untill we could think for ourselves that we threw of the yoke of god and religion. I hope that does not confuse you, so much does.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • sam

      So, Chad, god had plenty of extra ribs around and created a few women instead of one?

      December 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Really

      Chad
      There you go again. I never acknowledged I was not familliar with the bible. You jumped to that conclusion on your own. I was dragged to church heard all the stories and sermons but chose not to believe those supernatural stories when I could think for myself. You use these debating tricks making a statement that I never made as if your staement is true.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Really

      I answered your question on a new thread, if you care to reply.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • lol??

      Boootsie, you confused the copycats with the real deal.

      December 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  7. Really

    Chad
    Why would you expect anyone to give you a direct answer to your questions, when you never do so yourself? You are a devious troll and are proud of it.

    December 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  8. Angel Moronic

    Truth can't be found in delusional minds, it can only be edict'ed by higher authority

    December 26, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      On whose authorities does one declare the delusions to so be predicated upon?

      December 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  9. lionlylamb

    Inside a Universally-Formed Multiple Cosmos of the Living Triune Cosmological Manifestation of the God-Being

    We all live amid two chasms of cosmological orders. We have the inner-cosmos and the outer-cosmos. The inner-cosmos is atomically made and is the universal construct of the outer-cosmos. One could not have an outer cosmos without there being an inner cosmos. Both are synonymously of the same natures. It stands to reason the inner-cosmos was made first and the outer-cosmos came into being only after the passive finalization of the inner-cosmos was made near complete. The inner-cosmos is transcendent and fixed while the outer-cosmos is ascendant and malleable in their dualities nurturing natures.

    The third cosmos is of megalithic life itself made from the inner-cosmos living upon the terrestrial planetary faces of the celestial outer-cosmos. This third cosmos is the celled cosmos or the cellular cosmologic orders duly ordained of and by and even for all megaliths of monolithic life forms to be made anywhere cellular life can grab a foothold to evolve and gain in the abundant natures toward the inner intellectual evolution of its structures ever evolving in intellectualized base pairings. Without the two main Cosmos coming into existence; all living cellular cosmologies in the celestial confines could not ever exist.

    The trinity or threefold nature of chasm cosmologies is being one of the greatest and grandest gestures ever to have been formulated! To say God had nothing to do with such a feat of cosmologic inter-dependencies seems to me, an infallible congruency inconsistent for one to say or think otherwise. To say the nature of God is to keep inflating the physical elements of the outer cosmos while deflating the essence needs for the inner-cosmos leaves one to wonder about the third cosmological construct’s real nature for having been created. Why then are there cellular cosmos of living cosmologies and when did such intra-celled cosmologic life become established?

    The history of multifaceted cosmological expansionism within celestial symmetries comes from the terrestrial complacencies of planetary regularities and solarized star-born objectivism wherever the abundance of inner cosmologies coalesces to form stars, planets and moons among many other fragmented structures within the spatial confines of a universe-formed Cosmos.

    Life, upon the celestial shorelines of the terrestrially compliant are as a megalithic monoliths of biologic ‘cellular’ cosmological constants, and were ever formed and are continually forming seemingly unto forever as well placed living megalithic conglomerations in naturalisms arcades of wondrous cavalcades marching in steps of melancholy tributes to God upon the most high cosmos of universally formidable formations on the highest of unimaginable grounds!

    If, that's IF our eternal souls were around from the very beginning moments of this amassed cosmos, what are then the reasons for our being physically born and then soulfully die? Were we not soulfully aware of our bodies being conceptualized within motherly wombs? IF our conscious consciences or our eternal souls are given placements within the bodies are we not but a two-folded being left adrift and apart of and away from the realm that our soul or spirit was first made manifest? Are not our consciences more than an abstraction of psychiatric wonderments?

    Who among us has the rights and wherewithal to be negatively certain of ethereal spiritual life being as a non-realness of the relativity suggestive pragmatisms in the grand dichotomies of lividness issues revolving around spiritualisms of suggested monotheistic faiths? Do Atheisms’ matters linger upon spiritual negatives and parlor about in banters of non-speculative scruples in denying others' faith issues?

    I am saying that deeply within all cellular life does live very intelligent forms of beings so tiny and very small! They are the husbandry of all megalithic life form structures. Christendom calls them as being Gods yet Star Wars calls them as being 'midi-chlorians', the force of all living megalithic monoliths of cellular structured life. I would rather call them very intelligent beings of unknown to us varieties of superiorly small intra-cellular life forms that dared to evolve within all monolithic megalith-celled creations of their own evolutional doing and thru time modified their ever evolving megalithic structures to finally create us!

    December 26, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Goodness

      Human power has failed me.

      God never does.

      You can NOT top that.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      goodness.. look up "Aberfan". i think those children suffocating in school as the mud came down were so pleased that God was there for them... and i expect their families were so disappointed they did not get to share the same fate.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  10. ReligionIsBS

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gHOObarjAk&w=420&h=315%5D

    December 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      http://youtu.be/1gHOObarjAk

      December 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Kind of funny how god didnt care about anything (murder, worshiping of other gods, lying, stealing, adultary, etc) for the first 100,000 years of human existance, then all of a sudden he went to the desert and gave man rules. Why didnt he care for the first 100,00o years? Why wouldnt he tell people not to worship other gods, BEFORE PEOPLE WERE WORSHIPING OTHER GODS?

      December 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      "then all of a sudden he went to the desert and gave man rules. Why didnt he care for the first 100,00o years? Why wouldnt he tell people not to worship other gods." Here's why. You believe in evolution, don't you? As in evolution, man emerged from the muck, or was brought forth fro it by God. It probably took a million years for man to develop simple consiousness, maybe another million to develop self-consiousness. Man was not ready for moral abstracts for a very long time.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Goodness

      It is about what you GET not HAVE to believe.

      We get to believe that God has not left us alone

      We get to believe that God has acted definitively on our behalf in Jesus Christ.

      We get to believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human, thus proving God’s relentless pursuit of his good Creation.

      We get to believe that death, the last great enemy that makes us all restless, hopeless, worried and discomforted has been given a fatal blow on Easter morning.

      We get to believe that Jesus Christ is the first fruits of what God intends to do for all of Creation.

      We get to believe that history is moving towards something, that the injustice we witness today will be made right when God acts decisively within history again, just as God has in the past.

      This is the good news that the Christian faith has to offer the world. This is the doctrine which brings healing, encouragement, hope, comfort and rest. It is the same sort of hope we find expressed in the earliest creeds. Doctrine and Creed are invitations into something cosmic that God is doing even now in our midst. We don’t have to believe it. By the grace of God, we get to.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      believe in humanity - not an invisible sky fairy. believe in your brothers and sisters. believe that we can give a helping hand to those in need around us. but don't believe in fairy tales - religion does the true story of humanity a disservice.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Goodness

      Human power has failed me.

      God never does.

      You can NOT top that.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      goodness. You're attributing your good fortune to a god. You're fortunate if nothing bad has happened to you, but bad things happen to a lot of people many of whom believe in a god. Luck is just that, not the whims of a capricious supernatural being.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Goodness

      I am NOT a product of a God that pours out good fortunes for me.

      I have had a lot of bad fortune in this life.

      God tells me to expect this. He helps me through it.

      My weaknessess and bad fortunes have turned into blessings. God can do this.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Yes, I do beleive in evolution and that has nothing to do with anything. Youre saying that people didnt have the brain power yet to follow your god, but they had the brain power to follow other gods? LOL. Your god either doesnt exist or he is an idiot.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • sam

      Goodness: a being that only lives in your head is never going to let you down. Unless, of course, you have split personalities that disagree.

      December 26, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  11. New Alias

    .... and on the second day, man made God in his image.
    That is how so many different Gods were born in different parts of the world.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • PrimeNumber

      The first thing atheists need to know about Jesus is this: Jesus has had perhaps 1000 times more influence on human thought than 10,000,000 Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens (who spent most of his time "slapping" which has no intellectual merit) ,Einstein, Plato, etc. And since Darwin was mostly concerned with the evolution of a mere body, he is not even relevant to the conversation.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Primenumber..what did Jesus bring us then that was not already known by the human race?

      December 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Chad

      @EvolvedDNA "hat did Jesus bring us then that was not already known by the human race?"

      =>a way to be reconciled with God

      December 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • mama k

      Now tell us, PrimeNumber, exactly how the influence was conveyed and who conveyed it. This is where things get very interesting.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Really

      Chad
      But, Chad I want to reconciled with Vishnu, I am already chilled out with Dionysus, just how in hell is jesus going to do that for me?

      December 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Chad.. Humans had been reconciling with gods long before yours was invented.. In fact your religion copied sacrifice as a way to do this just as the ancients had done for thousands of years... remember Jesus..just had to be sacrificed nothing new here folks. Mind you he may not have been a virgin.. so that may have been a new twist?

      December 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  12. Reality

    A 21st century review of the historic Jesus: (only for the new members of this blog)

    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/

    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!!!!

    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,

    December 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      Got to love irrelevant copy/paste with incorrect information.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "Most of the things mankind find important doesn't have strong facts to fall back on."

      Like what?

      December 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Ed

      Rollin' with syphilis,

      Why is it not relevant and which parts are not true?

      December 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      "Why is it not relevant and which parts are not true?"

      Considering the topic revolves around Christmas..most of his comment is irrelevant. That and he posts it quite a bit for no reason at all. As for what is wrong:

      1. "Jesus was an illiterate"
      No evidence of that. In fact there is more evidence that he could read and write than he could not.

      "Jewish peasant/carpenter"
      He got that one right at least.

      "simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations"
      "Simple" is hardly definable in this context and unless Dr. Who is taking a pychologist to determine his mental status then the writer is talking out his @ss.

      Then the rest is mostly an appeal to authority. He offers not real evidence except the tired out "they borrowed it from..." argument that is never proven but @ssumed based on haphazard co mparissons.

      Then to top it off he dives into a rant about the Catholics. As if that means much to the primarily protestant ppl on these boards.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Reality

      The illiteracy of the simple preacher man aka Jesus, as per some contemporary experts:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography, p. 99,

      "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate m–amzer (pp. 98-102) in his claim to be the Lord's anointed".

      Note: Luke 4: 16 is a single attestation. No where else in the NT does it say Jesus could read thereby making said passage historically unreliable. (Luke 4:16-24) has been compared to a number of other passage and found to be equivalent with the exception of Luke 4: 16 which is the only passage in the list of equivalents that mentions reading:

      http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=022_Prophets_Own_Country (leave out the hyphen in "t-itle" if you access the reference)

      GThom. 31 & P. Oxy. 1.31
      (2) Mark 6:1-6a = Matt 13:53-58
      (3) Luke 4:16-24
      (4) John 4:44

      Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was illiterate coming from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist. e.g. The Excavation of Jesus (with Professor Reed), pp 30-31..

      The question of Jesus's literacy has also been much discussed by the Jesus Seminar and others and they note that references in the Gospels to Jesus reading and writing may well be fictions.

      The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.

      Luke 2: 41-52, the twelve year old Jesus in the temple- As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 275, " the episode is unhistorical" (again, a single attestaion). See also http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=433_Jesus_at_Twelve

      It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the new members of this blog:

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      December 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Reality

      Some of the references used by many contemporary historic Jesus scholars:

      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.
      o
      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.

      Added references available upon request.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      @Reality, work from home job?

      December 26, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      @Reality
      Ignoring your constant appeal to authority. You are missing the point. There is more evidence that he could read than that he could not read. Whether you agree (or put your faith in selective experts) isn't important. The fact that there is more evidence that he could read is the point. Unless you have some sort of references that point out that he couldn't.

      You mention the notion that Jesus was a follower of John. Well, John was of the preistly families which point to the chances that he could read. If Jesus (in your theory) was a close follower of John, wouldn't the odds be that John would have taught him to read?

      "It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses."

      Again you lie. You do NOT know if Jesus could not read. You presume that he couldn't without any evidence. You also have no evidence that the gospels were all written by non-witnesses.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Reality

      Rollin....

      I have provided the necessary references for your perusal.

      Some excerpts:

      With respect to John's Gospel and John' epistles, from Professor/Father Raymond Brown in his book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (The book has both a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur from the Catholic Church),

      John's Gospel, Date- 80-110 CE, Traditional Attribution, (2nd Century), St. John, one of the Twelve,

      Author Detectable from the Contents, One who regards himself in the tradition of the disciple.

      First Epistle of John, Authenticity- Certainly by a writer in the Johannine tradition, probably NOT by the one responsible for most of the Gospel.

      From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

      "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

      "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

      "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

      And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

      "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

      December 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      Reality- "I have provided the necessary references for your perusal. "

      I have found them and you to be lacking.

      December 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • lol??

      Gerd Ludemann???? "Although the call for his dismissal was rejected by the state government of Lower Saxony,.........." Saved by a BEAST!! How 'bout some quotes from Hugh Hefner's scholarship?

      December 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  13. Thoth

    'Seeking Truth About Jesus" – well first you have to decide if you are actually pursuing objective truth, or simply seeking to confirm what you want to believe. Academic theologians, and historians tend to lean towards Jesus having existed as a man, and that his life was revisioned by his followers to add mysticism to compete with other, more accepted belief systems of the day. There are a select few non-christian references to followers of Kristos (annointed one), but they are one liners or footnotes indicating the contemporary view of christians as primitive and barbaric. None mention the v.i r gin birth, miracles, massive gatherings to hear christ preach, or resurection.

    December 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  14. tb

    Truth is truth no matter if one believes it or not. Truth has not been revealed to you yet.
    In 1038 or so the Christian church set aside 12/25 as a day to remember the birth of the Messiah which means Christ.
    Mas was added which denoted communion. Thus Merry Christmas.Now we have candlelight service, or carolsin appreciation of the Lord coming. We now have Immanuel, God with us.Read the Bible and ask God to make it real.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Truth does not ask to be believed, it asks to be tested. Scientists do not join hands every Saturday or Sunday and sing…”Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have Faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up, must come down, down, down! Amen!” If they did we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      Sometimes truth doesn't have any reliable facts. Most of the things mankind find important doesn't have strong facts to fall back on.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "Most of the things mankind find important doesn't have strong facts to fall back on."

      This should be fun.

      Like what? Please explain

      December 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Which God?

      jeebus christ, sissypus, that was dumb. So you have 'faith, right? You believe in the unknown and unknowable, yes? Drink much? Smoke too much weed? Seen any pink elephants riding on ufo's?

      December 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Akira

      tb: "Truth has not been revealed to you yet."
      Well, then, how can one know it's the truth? Kind of an odd assertion.
      How can a person have faith in a truth that nobody knows about?

      December 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      @ReligionIsBS- it's always fun on here. Why do you come on here if not for the fun?

      You ask for what....how about the concept of love? A great deal of human literature focuses on it yet being able to prove with the scientific method that someone loves you is elusive.

      December 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Akira

      So faith is an emotion?

      December 26, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • mama k

      @Akira – no, dear. They were Pamela, Sheila and Wanda, I believe. Happy holidays by the way, Akira!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GXhLfvAky0

      December 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Akira

      mama k:
      Thanks for clearing that up!
      Happy Holidays right back atcha!

      December 26, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Betty Bowers

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVok167KJPw

      December 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Rollin' with Sisyphus

      Akira- "So faith is an emotion?"

      Not at all. I wasn't talking about the emtoion one feels. I am talking about the concept of love. When you think you are loved...that is not an emotion. You are thinking it through. But the truth of the matter is that you cannot prove that you are loved. You make think you are and you may well be but how to prove it in a scientific way?

      I just brought it up as an example of something that is very important to us, swear it is true but cannot prove.

      December 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  15. Akira

    This article seems unfinished, for an opinion piece...am I missing some of it?

    December 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Deal

      You can click on "Full Story" at the bottom...

      December 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Akira

      Ah...thank you.
      I have no "full story" link on my mobile version; it just ends with "asked us to turn the other cheek."
      I hate when it does that, lol.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Deal

      Akira,

      I don't know if this will help you:
      http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/23/opinion/parini-jesus-christmas/index.html

      If not, don't fret. It's really pretty long and boring anyway...

      December 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Akira

      Deal:
      Thanks!
      Problem is, my phone takes forever to load regular version, which is why I don't switch it over, lol.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  16. lionlylamb

    1. The inner cosmology of the atomized realms. Are these realms not the first realms conceived in the grand schemes of cosmology?

    2. The outer cosmology of the celestial realms. Did not this realm become conceived only after the inner cosmological realm was made nearing a completion?

    3. The cellular cosmology of the living realms. Did this living realm of cosmological matter come about by sheer coincidence or was there a cosmological order for the living realms of cellular cosmology to become an ever evolving realm ending upon these celestial shores as being mankind?

    December 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Click onlionly lambs name, it takes you to his "website." Try not to fall over lauhing.

      Cosmologies!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Akira

      Ah, I think it's nice that ll has an outlet for his writing...outside of the BB.
      Now we know where he practices.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      ReligionIsBS,

      At least I have made a rudimentary bid to understanding life's issues which is more than atheistic barbarisms care to contrive in making groundless smatterings of their mockeries and disrespectful innuendoes!

      December 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Really??

    Silly child
    You claim to have faith, so lets examine that. What is faith. It is the ability to believe in something, without question. If you choose to believe a book written 2000 years ago by men who wrote it all second=hand, you must let go of reason (reason dictates that one should have much more information with which to form an EDUCATED opinion. ) without more information leaping to believe it is unreasonable and irrational.

    Again, this is why you cannot reason with believers. They have let go of reason and replaced it with belief in secondhand stories, myths, and legends

    December 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Jesus freaker

    'didn't believe a god existed. i never read the bible at all and dismissed it as myth'

    Now you've read it and believe it? Reading it had the opposite effect on me. I grew up believing it because I was told it was the truth. Then I read it and realized how ridiculous it is.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Same here

      December 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. John Stefanyszyn

    The truth is simple...Christ is the Son of the One and Only Creator God, the One who gives existence.
    The problem is man does not desire to serve the Will of the One Creator but instead believes it is right to be free to justify any "god" as one's personal religious faith.

    Satan and his demons were at one time in the presence of the Creator, and yet they embraced the freedom to "know good and evil"...to do what they justified to be right for their self interest...to serve and magnify oneself (XES).

    And for this "freedom" man will deny and reject Christ, as the One King, at His return.

    December 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      You have no proof for any of that. Any other religion and god out there is just as valid as yours. And claiming there is no god is just as valid as well.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Cult logic

      December 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • December

      Thanks for sharing. Praise God.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Akira

      "The problem is man does not desire to serve the Will of the One Creator but instead believes it is right to be free to justify any “god” as one’s personal religious faith."
      The problem is that man cannot who the correct deity to worship is; man is convinced that their God is the right one, and are willing to kill...or die...for that belief...

      December 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, the truth is simple, and it is this. Your BELIEF is what is working for you; THAT is obvious and easily demonstrated and daily measured. Since "Christ as god-man" is not at all obvious nor is it measurable or demonstrable.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If you just blindly believe John's assertions IS simple. But if you start applying logic and common sense the whole premise falls apart.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Which God?

      Hey Johnny boy, if I have to "serve" your fukking goD, that makes me his slave. GoD loves slave holders, and he's the biggest of them all. What a fukking moron you are.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  20. pillsville piper

    i was an atheist at one time in my life. i too, didn't believe a god existed. i never read the bible at all and dismissed it as myth. but god reveals himself to whom he chooses. Jesus said, "no man cometh unto me save the father who sent me draw him". in 1979 he revealed himself to me, his majesty, his perfection, his holiness, and i have never doubted since. and though i haven't such a great christian, he has been a magnificent god. and yes, i believe the bible, the miracles, the prophesies, and most important, the words in red.

    December 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "but god reveals himself to whom he chooses"

      So you have to beleive to get to heaven, but he only reveals himself to certain people? Geee, what a lovely god.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • New Alias

      So how do you explain all the Hindus and Muslims who think a different god revealed hinself to them?

      December 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • December

      Thanks for sharing. I'm amazed how God was with me, even when I was at my lowest and hated Him. His ways our not our ways, for sure.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • The Truth

      " and most important, the words in red." w t f does that mean? My bible didn't have any "words in red" so there is nothing scarier to me than a religious zealot claiming God has revealed himself to them and they see "words in red"... I hear that and cannot but fear for your neighbors and hope I am not one of them.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Thoth

      Revealed himself to you did he? Seems LSD, Acid, etc....were kinda popular in the 70's.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • December

      Relax. Some Bibles print the words of Jesus in red. That is all that means.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Interesting book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer tiitled "The Cost of Discipleship". In it, DB outlines how obedience comes before faith. So, based on this well reasoned and Scipturally supported thesis, I think it is easy to see how some people could have faith while it eludes others. Instead of seeking proof or reason to believe, why not try obedience?

      December 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Bill

      Seriously? LOL obey first then you will get faith. And you find this somehow good? Really?

      December 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Has it ever occured to you that many people tried that? I did. I thought I beleived. I was obedient. Then I read the bible and I became an atheist. Many people obeyed first and now do not have any faith. Your point is invalid.

      December 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Really??

      Dill Beacon
      Obedience is why there were so many ped o philes in the church yet they did nothing about it, obedience is why the sapnish inquisition was able to reign. Obedience is why the german people allowed the nazis to gain power. Obedience is a very slippery slope. I obey the laws of this nation, normally just becasue just being myself is obeying the laws. I occasionally speed, but know the consequences if I do not obey. Problem is that most religions, especially the evil empire known as the catholics, require blind obedience. It's fine if you are a lemming or a sheep, but I am a human, and have blind obedience to no one.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Deal

      Bill Deacon
      " Instead of seeking proof or reason to believe, why not try obedience?"

      Obedience to what? The old Middle Eastern Hebrew scriptures? Why don't you try obedience to The Quran? The Egyptian Books of the Dead? The Hindu Vedas? The Book of Scientology? The Book of Mormon? etc.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      " Instead of seeking proof or reason to believe, why not try obedience?"

      That sounds like an argument Jim Jones would have made.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Which God?

      You are a liar and a troll, pillsbury doughboy.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It's not my point. It's Bonhoeffer's. I'm sure you could refute him but you'd have to read his book first.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bill, you put the point forward as if it reasonably made sense, it doesn't.

      December 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Akira

      Bill Deacon:
      "So, based on this well reasoned and Scipturally supported thesis, I think it is easy to see how some people could have faith while it eludes others. Instead of seeking proof or reason to believe, why not try obedience?"
      That wasn't your opinion?
      Yes, it was.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Surprise

      Bill Deacon
      Glad it wasn't you. Read a story about a Deacon, William, Bill for short, that was arrested for one of the RCCs favories, child po*rn. Never seems to stop among the good Christians, suffer the children.

      December 26, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Pills Sorry to hear that you had to revert to the supernatural, but it it helps, then great. Self confidence is a great thing.

      December 26, 2012 at 6:16 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.