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Contents:


  1. The Radical Origins of Christianity
  2. Radical Quotes (59 quotes)
  3. Posted Apr 13, 2018

I have three groups of friends to acknowledge for helping me with this book and DVD: scholars whose books are listed in the bibliography, artists and art teachers, and personal and professional friends. I am indebted to the scholars who have applied the tools of historical criticism to Scripture and history, but I also include the voices of the formally colonized people. The term Postcolonial is a label for these scholars and Bible readers.

I have learned much from native people who were colonized by the United States and who still struggle to free Christianity from its abuse as a tool of western domination. Thomas Troeger of Yale Divinity School helped me with his imaginative poetry, art appreciation, and music. I am especially grateful for his Foreword to this book.

My editor, Ulrike Guthrie, also a fine painter, did careful work on the text for which I am grateful. Doug Purnell, artist and theologian, is always helpful. Most of all I am grateful for the constant support of my life partner and wife, Carol K. She has given endless hours of crucial work to this project, especially to the DVD and its technical challenges. All of the stories in the book are real experiences, but I have disguised names and contexts in most, but not all, stories to avoid embarrassing friends and myself. She was stuck in New York City traffic on the way to a party wondering if she was dressed properly.

A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. She looked out the car window to see a woman rooting through a dumpster. That dumpster diver was her mother. Yet Walls seems to have thrived as a child, graduated from college, and is now a successful writer. What is truly shocking and almost unbelievable is how Walls could write a book all about her growing up in such a degrading environment without the slightest hint of judgment or blame of her parents or anyone else, only a lovingly kind book about a woman who followed the wisdom: Do not judge.

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The Radical Origins of Christianity

We all live our daily lives following the stated and assumed wisdom of the past. If we are Christians, we try to live by, teach, and preach the wisdom of Jesus each day and most deliberately on Sundays. For example, Jesus is quoted as saying: Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Matt —3; Luke — We know from psychology that though judging and blaming others may be an entertaining habit, it is usually useless and often makes matters worse.

On a personal level, psychological counseling succeeds only when the patient feels he or she is not being judged or blamed. The same applies on interpersonal and social levels. Marriage counseling begins with the wisdom of Do Not Blame. Judging and blaming on all levels is counterproductive, and Jesus preached this already over two thousand years ago.

Maybe a picture can communicate when words do not. To show with images as well as to tell with words the meaning of wisdom sayings attributed to Jesus;. To interpret those wisdom sayings in the context of the economic and political world in which they were spoken; and. To provide practical ways to teach, preach, and live that wisdom today on both a private and a public level with both words and images.

I will assume the scholarly study of the gospels and the details of historical, form, textual, redactive, source, reader response, and postcolonial criticism, but I will keep that in the background. For I am aware that people today, and especially the young, obtain and maintain their wisdom in concise doses and with visual images.

Radical Quotes (59 quotes)

For example, when we read that Jesus was called the Son of God, it makes a big difference to know that Caesar was also called the Son of God, or that Herod was supposed to be the King of the Jews while his disciples called Jesus that same name. One scholar calls such naming of Jesus, high treason. To be sure, a recent rash of scholarly books has emphasized empire, peasant, subaltern, and political studies in the use and abuse of the Bible. But who in our pews or even our pulpits really reads these books or thinks from more than the radical, individualistic perspective of modern, western thought?

I have read most of these books and delight in such visual resources as Living the Questions LTQ , which I have used in my church. Yet even so they are essentially talking heads. My interpretation recognizes the interconnectedness of the economy, politics, and religion in the Bible for there was no separation of these areas in Biblical times. Unlike our modern separation of church and state, no such separation existed in biblical times.

Wisdom is a very broad and even a cosmic and apocalyptic concept. Most often in this book I will refer to proverbs. Alyce McKenzie helpfully defines a proverb as: "a short saying that expresses a complete thought, which, while. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join.

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Summary This book interprets the wisdom of Jesus' sayings in the gospels in words and images. That gospel spoke to him so powerfully that he began to read a daily extract and write commentary on it. It was a fairly short fever.

Posted Apr 13, 2018

What shocks him is the extremism of his faith. He was drawn to theological stringency, melodramatic all-or-nothings, and obnoxiously proud circularity. A believer knows that God exists. One has an opinion, the other knowledge. There are no references and very few named sources, yet the material appears to rely on the established record, and is clearly built from the same archival labor that a conventional biographer would perform.

He likes intervening frames. Instead of surreptitiously fictionalizing his story of the rise of early Christianity, he proceeds like a freelance—and slightly offbeat—scholar.


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His inquiry into the lives and testimonies of Paul and Luke, and their journeys through the far-flung extremities of the Roman Empire, is scrupulously thorough, and relies on an enormous amount of reading, gently summoned. He likes to psychologize, to reconstruct scenes and episodes, to speculate when the historical record is thin.


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  6. He lightly amplifies four fairly reticent verses from the Acts of the Apostles, our only source. But there is a little group that gathers outside the walls on the banks of a river, to celebrate the Sabbath in an informal way. On the contrary, they thank God for having sent them such a learned rabbi. In silence, the bread and the wine are passed around the table, and everyone eats a piece of bread, drinks a mouthful of wine. In memory, Paul says, of the last meal that the savior ate on this earth before being crucified.

    Local Jews might well be hostile to an upstart group that espoused such beliefs as the notion that the Messiah was God made flesh, or that we will be spiritually and physically restored to eternal life in a heavenly kingdom. The Romans mainly left the Christians alone until Nero the emperor between 54 and 68 A. For several reasons, perhaps. We know more about Paul than about Jesus. But it was another thing entirely to claim—as Paul did—that Jesus came to earth to wash away an original sin contracted by humans in Eden; that this Jesus was crucified by the Romans, was buried, and rose from the dead; and that he would soon come again, in a rescue mission that would usher in a new eternal kingdom.

    In place of the intimate, familial struggle of the Jews and their God, Paul invokes a strict theology of sin and salvation. Paul was born Saul, in Tarsus now in Turkey , perhaps a few years after the birth of Jesus, whom he never met. He was a devout student of Judaism, and was sent to Jerusalem for schooling with one of the most eminent rabbis of the age.

    During the next twenty years, this incandescent missionary visited Christian churches and communities from Corinth to Antioch; and when he could not reach them he wrote to them, setting down the epistles that form with the Gospels the core of the New Testament. And then he wheels back to Paul. The person he once was had become a monster to him, and he had become a monster to the person he once was. If the two could have met, the person he once was would have cursed him. Once contaminated, their only thought is to bite others in turn, in particular those who come at them with a stake to make good the promise they made to the person who no longer exists.

    Rampant speculation, outrageous psychologizing, insouciantly unscholarly behavior—but diabolically plausible. We are hardly surprised when he adds what we have all been thinking: that he is really talking about himself. The first is epistemological, and has to do with the claim that Jesus is God made flesh, and that he died and rose again from the dead. Yes, he got angry, and he could be intolerant, enigmatic, even faltering in strength; he died, humanly, on the Cross.