Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From NPR: Bart Ehrman and Jesus, Interrupted

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!

3 comments:

Katherine E. said...

Yes I caught the end the of that interview and am planning on getting the podcast.

Jenna said...

Very interesting program. I don't know how much you know about the LDS beliefs concerning the bible, but it is summed up in the 8th Article of Faith

"We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."
Emphasis added

This would be why I don't have a hard time with what this man is saying, because we believe that the Bible was changed over time, either by accident or by choice, by scribes (men) who transcribed the words over and over. This is why I believe the Gospels can seem to be at oods with one another. We believe that Jesus himself spoke of men removing parts of the Bible in Luke 11:52.

One thing I have learned in my religious studies, is that the Gospels were written for different audiences (for me this helps explain why each of the authors focused on such different aspects in their writing.

Matthew wrote to the Jews, using the first 17 verses of the 1st chapter of his book to point out Jesus's genealogy and point out the Royal line. I have written in my scriptures "If Romans weren't in power, Joseph would have been King of Israel, Zacharias High Priest. After their deaths Jesus would have been King and John the Baptist, High Priest. He wrote to show that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament prophecies (i.e. Matt 2:17 fulfills Jer. 3:15)

Luke wrote to the Greeks to show Jesus is the Savior for everyone (not just the Jews), Mary's Pedigree from Jesus to Adam (Luke 3:23-38).

Make wrote to the Romans, and talked about Jesus' deeds and miracles. To show what the Son of God living and acting among men was like. Because of his audience he avoided long sermons.

John wrote to Members of His Church, to show Jesus is the Son of God (See John 20:30-31)

Some other random notes from classes I have taken:
Mark was written first
Matthew and Luke had Mark's writing.
John had all three.
The Synoptic Gospels deal with Jesus' Galilean ministry.
The Gospel of John deals with Jesus' Judean ministry.

Whew, long comment! I really enjoyed the radio program, thanks!

Paula said...

Thanks for your insights, Jenna. I have similar feelings on the translation issue; since humans wrote the Gospels and humans translated them, there is room for error. I took Biblical Hebrew for 4 years, and I know how easy it is to mix up a word or two ;-)

There's also some very interesting work around the four authors themselves. Ehrman brings some of this up - the gospels were written several years after the death (starting at about 20 years after Jesus dies) to as many as 80-100 years after his death. This puts the authors of the first gospels within the time that they did know Jesus, but the last one gives insight to how the first century of Christianity was starting to interpret His teachings.