On the way home I caught a little of an interview with Bart Ehrman on NPR's Fresh Air. His latest book is Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) - this interview was simply amazing.
One of my favorite things in studying religion is understanding the circumstances under which portions of the Bible were written. It's interesting to me that studying the Bible often takes the ability to split oneself into two distinct mindsets: the academic and the spiritual. Many people have difficulty separating the two sides when studying religion. I argue that its a good practice to set aside one's spiritual and emotional attachment to some of Religious Studies because it allows the student to analyze the texts, begin to understand the context of stories and gives people a fuller understanding of the religion itself. I know that many people are vocally opposed to setting one's beliefs aside when studying religion, often siting the infallible word of God.
Hopefully you'll take a listen to the interview and take away a little of the landscape of the time of Jesus. So much went into the writing of the four Gospels, each by a different person, at varying intervals after the death of Jesus. Each was canonized, yet there were other gospels written. Often times, where there are differences and discrepancies in the texts, we learn the most. How do the differing stories give us a fuller picture of Jesus? Let me know what you think!