Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Jesus' message one big Yawn...?


NT Wright in ‘Who was Jesus?’ makes a powerful but uncomfortable point. (quoted in some forge material)
“Twentieth-century Western Christians need to shed a few ideas…

When people downed their tools for a while and trudged up a hillside to hear this Jesus talking, we can be sure they weren’t going to hear someone tell them to be nice to each other; or that if they behaved themselves (or got their minds around the right theological scheme) there would be a rosy future waiting for them when they got to ‘heaven’, or that God had decided at last to do something about forgiving them for their sins. First-century Jews knew that they ought to be nice to each other…they believed that their God would look after them and give them new physical bodies in his renewed world…there was no sign that they were walking around gloomily wondering how their sins were ever going to be forgiven. They had the Temple and the sacrificial system.

If Jesus had only said what a lot of Western Christians seem to think he said, he would have been just a big yawn-maker”
hmmmm?

3 comments:

Sister said...

..there was no sign that they were walking around gloomily wondering how their sins were ever going to be forgiven. They had the Temple and the sacrificial system...
er.... I am not sure NT Wright has ever been Jewish!!! Judging from the 22 volumes of Talmud even the sacrificial system left one wondering!

Gordon said...

:o) - I'm pretty sure NT Wright isn't jewish and certainly was not a first-century jew!!

The point I am trying to mull over centres around the layers of meaning that centuries of largely western non-jewish thought have built up upon the message of Jesus.

Sister said...

There' something niggling me here. Jesus was Jewish, and Jews were always worrying away at how to identify what stood at the top of the pyramid of legal principles. What was niggling the first century Jews, I imagine.... *imagines curiously*... was what lay at the absolute irreducible heart of Judaism - and would it ease the agony of occupation and reassure them in their sadness. People have quoted that verse in Micah for centuries. But that searching for the basis of it all reassures people who could never get to grips with the mass of legal arguments that took years to learn. They reach for an overarching legal precept that if they obey it, they will obey the whole of the Torah without having to spend thirty years in Yeshiva learning all its finer points. The point that hits me was that the sermon on the mount (Darkei Shalom in the Talmud) was just an introduction to an even simpler summary of the Torah, law and all,... the love of God demonstrated in the cross, the simplest and most dramatic statement of all. But the reality is that people yawn at that message just like Jews yawn at the message of Micah's verse. Like the attentions of an unwanted admirer, the love of God is - irrelevant - to them. And like an admirer with integrity, God is so, so, gentle, so respectful of our free will, so tolerant of our intolerance, and so unreservedly loving. Though I sometimes feel I am being stalked!! lol