Jesus, the Buddha and the Prodigal Son (EHJ Series)

“The church as school, Jesus as teacher, and Christianity as lifestyle are all part of taking the historical Jesus to church.”
—David Galston, Embracing the Human Jesus

Consider this: Suppose you had the opportunity to spend a couple afternoons learning from the historical Jesus and the Buddha. After listening to the lessons they offer, which one would you follow? Jesus likely said things like, “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27 / Q) and “The empty jar is full because it is empty” (Thom 97:1–4). The Buddha likely said things like “A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune, from sorrow freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated—this is the greatest blessing” (Mangala Sutta), and  “The root of suffering is attachment” (Sunakkhatta Sutta, Pali canon).

In attempting to grab a couple representative quotes from each, I quickly realized that (1) it’s hard to know what quotes are authentic, and (2) it can be hard to decide which quotes best convey each teacher’s world-view. By the way, if you think you’re on safer ground finding the historical Buddha than with the historical Jesus, think again. Here’s one entertaining response to this problem. I’ve also heard David Galston, whose book we’ve been discussing the past several weeks on this blog, warn about the problem of the historical Buddha on at least one occasion.

Nevertheless, the quotes above I hope convey that Jesus is most often associated with loving where hate is expected, and giving where greed is expected. In other words, his wisdom turns on irony. The Buddha is most often associated with the problem of attachment to what is temporary/transitory. We suffer because we fixate on what ought to be rather than practicing openness to what a given moment brings.

These are not identical attitudes. They don’t necessarily cancel each other out, but they set different priorities. So who would you follow?

We are in the midst of a chapter-by-chapter reading of David Galston’s book, Embracing the Human Jesus. Don’t be a stranger—share your thoughts below!

Chapter 5 of 9, “Life Practices and Schools in Antiquity,” Embracing the Human Jesus (EHJ) series
« Chapter 4

David Galston suggests we understand the essence of teachings associated with Jesus as a “Trinity of Satire”—paradox, hyperbole, and irony. He gives examples of each, including the two quotes I cited above. An example of hyperbole mixed with a little irony is the parable of the Prodigal Son. In this parable, “the loser is celebrated and the winner feels jealous,” Galston explains. “The one with all the power is insecure and cannot let it go to enjoy the moment. The one with nothing is having the time of his life.”

If you have 5 minutes to spare, you can watch a video of David telling this parable and interpreting it.

David point out that Jesus’ saying, “Love your enemies,” is a paradox—an impossible statement. Once you begin to love your enemy, s/he is no longer your enemy. By embracing your enemy, the very idea of enemy becomes empty. Perhaps this was what sparked the philosopher Martin Heidegger to declare in Being and Time that our relationship with others is largely based on a false notion of “the they.” He writes,

“We take pleasure and enjoy ourselves as they take pleasure; we read, see, and judge about literature and art as they see and judge; likewise we shrink back from the great mass as they shrink back; we find ‘shocking’ what they find shocking. The ‘they’, which is nothing definite, and which all are, though not as the sum, prescribes the kind of Being of everydayness.” (164, emphasis mine)

In other words, we build up this idea in our heads of who the Other is, and we begin to think that we really understand that other person or other group, that we either are with them or against them. But when we have an authentic encounter with another human being, that whole notion falls apart. They are not the caricature we thought they were. “They” never existed at all. What we have left is another complex human being.

Would You Join the Jesus School of Wisdom?
David poses an interesting question here. If the whole issue of Jesus wasn’t about deciding whether or not he is God, but rather, whether or not we would follow his teachings, would we do it? This is the third time I’ve read David’s book. The first time was a couple years ago when it came out, and since then I’ve undergone some changes in perspective that offered me some surprises when I got to this chapter. I now doubt that Jesus has much meaningful to offer somebody who comes from a strongly agrarian perspective. I no longer believe the Jesus school demonstrates closeness with the land.

This is an important issue to me for two reasons: (1) Just because Jesus may have resisted the Roman Empire, doesn’t mean he did so in a way that cultivates a positive relationship with the earth. Those are two separate issues. Jesus may not be a good role model for what to me is our single greatest challenge in modern life: replenishing our damaged earth. (2) Itinerant teachers like Jesus may also not offer good advice for long-term communal life.

If these two values are high on your list, you may need to search elsewhere for a school of wisdom that can provide helpful insights. That’s how I felt after reading this chapter.

This claim might need justification. It’s true that Jesus uses nature metaphors, but I think he has more in common with people who live in urban settings. Even today, especially today, urban life makes migrants out of us. “Though we fled from distant lands to America, we continue to live much like refugees, never staying long enough to cultivate the richest values possible in a specific place,” says Ben Falk in The Resilient Farm and Homestead. “We need the opposite kind of culture, a people that mean to stay” (14)

We already know the Jesus movement involved itinerant teachers who traveled from community to community, dependent on those they met to sustain them. Galston observes the similarity between this practice and that of the Greek Stoics, who likewise lived with little beyond the clothes on their backs. They did this on principle; it was part of the lifestyle of the school. It makes me think of Thoreau at Walden’s Pond. I value simplicity to a point, but simplicity is easier for the itinerant than to the person who stays in one place, embedded in a community with all the messiness that entails.

By contrast, agrarian people usually live in multi-generational households in the same basic landscape, and are deeply shaped by that landscape the longer they live on it. This attitude is present in the Bible, mostly in what became the Old Testament. “The very pervasiveness of agrarian thinking in the Bible challenges the common assumption that those who composed or edited the writings were members of an urban elite whose perspectives ‘distort or ignore the everyday reality of [villagers’] lives,” explains Ellen F. Davis in Scripture, Culture and Agriculture (3).

I am especially taken with Davis’ interpretation of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt. She sees the commandments given to the Israelites as a way to separate them from the exploitative practices of Egypt (or, metaphorically, the Israel’s ruling class at the time the story was written). “Exploitative agricultural economies were for millenia a fixed feature of various Near Eastern societies,” she explains, “including that of Israel and Judah in the period of the divided monarchy” (72). She notes that in this story the Israelites are not allowed to keep the manna overnight. In short, they aren’t allowed to stockpile or control the distribution of food.

In complete contrast to agribusiness in both ancient and contemporary cultures, the first story of Israel out of Egypt shows that food is, more than anything else, an expression of God’s sovereignty over creation and generosity toward humankind. (73)

I would substitute “God’s sovereignty over creation” in this sentence with something about honoring our inability to force life to come into being. Davis is right, I think, to identify the importance of gratitude. In every book I have read, and every interaction I’ve had with long-time farmers in their least frustrated and anxious moments, gratitude is their highest value. In the words of Rilke:

Though he works and worries, the farmer
never reaches down to where the seed turns
into summer. The earth grants.

In this, I at last find a commonality between the Jesus tradition and the land-based attitude I am currently cultivating in my own life. While I think anybody with commonsense knowledge of nature would disagree with the notion that ravens “neither reap nor sow” (how untrue!), and with the notion that worrying about the future isn’t occasionally useful to a cultivator of the land (surely it’s helpful to prepare for contingencies!), we can at least agree with Jesus on this: “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these” (Luke 12:27).

Gratitude—for the earth, for others, and ultimately for our own fleeting lives—is a value I’d like to prioritize. Is that more in keeping with Jesus or the Buddha? I don’t know enough about the life of the Buddha, or popular ideas about that life, to comment intelligently on it. However, Jesus’ itinerant lifestyle suggests he resisted or was encouraged to abandon the ties to the exact lands and households that once sustained him. To be sure, he may have been forced out by social and personal pressures. I think this may have impoverished the lessons he taught in the particular area we most need wisdom today.

The Prodigal Son is the closest we come to what we need, with a twist: do we have the day-in, day-out staying power of the oldest son? Are we willing to celebrate what we have, including our brother, rather than be celebrated for nothing?

Don’t leave the last word to me. Share your thoughts below ↓

Den förlorade sonens återkomst, Alex Kull (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Den förlorade sonens återkomst, Alex Kull (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


David, Ellen F. Scripture, Culture and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Falk, Ben. The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1962 [Original 1927].

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Cassandra FarrinCassandra Farrin joined Westar in 2010 and currently serves as Associate Publisher and Director of Marketing. A US-UK Fulbright Scholar, she has an M.A. in Religious Studies from Lancaster University (England) and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Willamette University.

61 replies
  1. Gene Stecher says:

    ” makes the sun rise on the bad and good, sends rain on the just and unjust.” (Matt 5:45, JS pink)

    Here we have a foundation for agrarian stewardship; all deserve to benefit equally from responsible ‘nature practices.’

    Parable: Responsible use of land is like the GF who made pennies off a wooden plow, the son who put kids through college off of dairy cows, and the grand-kids who get millions off of fracking practices.

  2. Gene Stecher says:

    Dr. Galston’s emphasis on using biblical criticism to enhance the Liturgy of Learning is on target but not up to date. He fails to mention the huge influence of Marcion as derived from the comments of the church fathers. It’s not just a matter of Matt/Luke (Q?) parallels, its Matt/Luke/Mar, Luke/Mar, Matt/Mar, and Mark/Mar parallels, as well as Marcion’s version of the Paulines. See BeDuhn’s The First New Testament (2013).

  3. Gene Stecher says:

    Mahlon Smith interprets the parable of the Prodigal as Jesus’ autobiography (see Profiles of Jesus, 2002, 87-116).

  4. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    The BuddhistsI know don’t fret about the authenticity of sayings of various Buddahs.They aren’t concerned about hero worship but of living a meaningful life. That fixation on historicity seems to be more of a Christian neurosis.

  5. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    “The prodigal son?” There is a much better one than that in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews,18.143 – 256. It is parable within parable, containing a similar theme. I call it “the prodigal petty ruler.”

    • Gene Stecher says:

      “Neither.” Very cleverly envisioned, Peter. On the other hand I’m thinking that the root of suicide is detachment. Certainly a core difference between Buddha and Jesus is crucifixion. Wisdom teachers probably don’t get crucified, but threats to the social order do. A parable: attachment is like a news reporter who went to Syria and used a pencil to describe the sufferings of war as a machete came down on his neck.

  6. Peter Kane says:

    Cassandra, when David describes parables as paradox, hyperbole, irony, the implication is that they are countercultural. Whether you like Paul’s response to Jesus or not, it also was heavily countercultural. If Paul was tutored in the school of Jesus, why don’t we see evidence of parables and aphorisms in his writing?

    • Cassandra says:

      Peter, it’s questions like this that make me want to go read up on what influence, if any, do we see of Jesus’ TEACHINGS on Paul. The closest I’ve come is references in Paul to early prayers/liturgy, which is not the same thing. Paul certainly doesn’t seem interested in emulating a Jesus known for wit, except perhaps in observing his own failings in this area?

      • Gene Stecher says:

        I think that Jesus and Paul largely share the vision of a benevolent Father and an inclusive kingdom where folks are not hung up on purity and legalism.

        • Peter Kane says:

          Answer #2: Jesus was such a profound and thought provoking personality that his unique teaching spread rapidly among people. It is true that the best adult discussion I ever did was using Brandon’s Reimagine the World. But part of the reason it worked was because the people participating thought they were the salt of the earth because they attended every Sunday morning. That is why I asked below if the parables were really that great. Thought provoking, certainly. Out of this world,…

        • Cassandra says:

          Gene, I could see that angle making sense. Paul seems to have interpreted it very differently from Jesus.

      • Peter Kane says:

        Cassandra: Can’t think of anything obvious in Paul related directly to, say, Q1 content, but plan to reread The Authentic Letters of Paul from that angle to see if anything pops out. (When in doubt, read the text was a frequent suggestion from Fellows.) Actually, stuff like 1Cor 2 seems to argue in the other direction, that HJ teaching wasn’t what interested Paul directly.

        • Cassandra says:

          Peter, I’m about to start reading Brandon’s new book on Paul, which is coming out in the spring. I think it will tackle exactly some of these questions, and could be a good option for reading together on the blog unless Brandon tackles that subject in his own posts (more likely). Another way to read 1 Corinthians 2 might be to see Paul as continuing the ploy of irony David identified as characteristic of Jesus’ teaching.

          • Peter Kane says:

            Cassandra: I would be most interested in spending some time with Brandon’s book. Title and release date known? Besides the Packers, my retirement hobby is reading everything I can find on historical Paul, rather than theological Paul. That is why I really appreciated Westar meeting with SBL a couple years ago, so I could attend the Paul SBL sessions. (At casual conversations with SBL attendees at that meeting I was surprised how few had heard that there were new ways of reading Paul – go…

      • Peter Kane says:

        Perhaps there is a question lurking in the background here, what caused Christianity to grow so fast. The traditional answer is, the resurrection actually happened, and the word spread and everyone was amazed. Or Brian’s version, the resurrection might have been an Elmer Gantry scam, and everyone got bamboozled. Today resurrection is shot down from a scientific worldview usually, but I think a better argument against that theory could be made on HISTORICAL grounds.

      • Peter Kane says:

        Answer #3: Ideas such as Reza Aslan’s that Jesus was a Zealot. Or, in some sense the spread of Christianity was in somehow a fanatical response to (Roman) life. Surely the world has too many zealots, but what is the HISTORICAL evidence that HJ or early followers were all zealots?

        • Cassandra says:

          I learned in Sunday School that, “It’s so crazy it must be true. Why else would people be so adamant that he had risen from the grave?” Yet it’s true when you go back to the wide variety of texts from that era that this could be disputed on historical grounds, as for example being one of only several paths that formed away from Jesus, with mysticism and wisdom as other options.

      • Peter Kane says:

        Answers 1, 2, and 3 are theological answers. What would be a plausible historical answer?

        (Sorry, I clicked the wrong “reply’ for answer 2, and got out of sequence.)

      • Peter Kane says:

        Cassandra: Well, well – seek and ye shall find. Thes 5 is a long takeoff on Q/Thomas “If the householder had known when the burglar was coming he would have been on guard… (Mt24:43, Lk 12:39, Th 21 and 103). Thes 5 gives Paul’s slant on the saying, and also references “those who care for you.. and those who mentor you.” “Mentor” sounds like a “school”. Probably worth thinking about how the different sources employ the saying.

        • Gene Stecher says:

          Peter, I wonder if these verses might support an early date for 1 Thess as advocated by JS. Mt and Lk attach the “thief” break-in at night to the Mk 13:33 night time return of the “master,” referring to the apocalyp Son of Man. Thief, being a more ironic/reversal image, could be earlier than master, and more likely to come out of human Jesus tradition: “Do you think that a thief is going to give advance notice of his break-in?” Was J answering a ques about apocalyp?

          • Gene Stecher says:

            Other observations: the “thief” passage is also attested to for Marcion’s Evangelion (Proto-Luke, see BeDuhn), and similar thief references are found at 2 Pet 3:10 and Rev 3:3. Here’s something: the 1Thess and 2 Pet passages equate thief with “The Day,” while the others equate thief with “the person” (Son of Man, Jesus). So is 1 Thess mid 2nd century like 2 Pet. Disappointedly, this pauline/gospel // is not even discussed in Westar’s Authentic Letters of Paul.

          • Cassandra says:

            Gene, I’ve also learned to see 1 Thess as early, for reasons such as the less developed nature of the theology in the letter and some of the historical references to the collection. Dates for Revelation seem to vary quite a bit, some placing it early and others placing it late. I really like David Barr’s interpretation of it as another gospel, telling the Christ triumphant myth in more abstract terms. It’s nested in local political knowledge, like Dante, hard to understand without that…

        • Cassandra says:

          Paul seems to have been allegorizing this parable like the gospel writers did, by tying it into the Hebrew prophets in 1 Thess 5 (my Bible is showing allusions to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Wisdom of Solomon). This passage sounds so much like my pastor from childhood answering questions about the end times, practical to the point of absurdity (it’s hard to say that; I love my old pastor’s compassion and gentleness in other contexts).

          • Cassandra says:

            I feel myself resisting seeing Paul as fully part of his era, projecting Jesus as King Triumphant. I want to believe Paul was saying something else, but of course he is very much looking forward to an imminent end of the age. That reminds me (thinking of Gene’s comments) that of course the other reason given for an early date for 1 Thess is how hopeful Paul is. “The end is almost upon us!” In later letters he has tempered this.

  7. Gene Stecher says:

    How are we to think of a “school” of Jesus. His public activity may have been a year or less. The missions of the twelve and seventy might have been read into the original memories. The other side of the coin, do school members heal and exorcise (JS red)? Once heard Crossan say that Jesus probably had no more that 4 or 5 followers go with him to Jerusalem. Can someone who shares his view of life with a few fisherman be considered a head-master?

  8. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Here is a first century founder of a “school” who healed and exorcised demons.Apollonius performed other supernatural feats during that time, including raising the dead.Seem like he appeared after death to two who disbelieved in the hereafter. He had followers, a “school” of them I reckon.There was a temple in Tyana dedicated to him.

  9. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    One problem with “following” Jesus.Literate culture recognizes that he’s but 1 of many wisdom teachers.An inclusive school would include as the many others,as equals.It would recognize that wisdom cuts across cultures and across time.Sufi wisdom is my favorite.Who can argue with ‘Trust in God but keep your camel’s leg tied?’ Another timeless aphorist was Mark Twain.But study doesn’t make one wise.Taking from the best to create novelty should be the goal,I would think.Char count is close.

    • Cassandra says:

      Dennis, Roger Aldi from the Facebook page also touched on this very important point. He said, “I think you might have identified a problem for many people. That is the idea of following a person. Through the years I have found myself less concerned about the people and more interested in their ideas and methods.”

      • Gene Stecher says:

        Cassandra, yes, more interest in their ideas than the people themselves works at one level. But at another level, one had better get in line with the marchers and Dr. King in Selma, or fall in behind Jesus walking to Jerusalem. Sometimes its not that five persons said something similar across cultures but the context in which someone said it. Sometimes its not said across cultures – the Jews had lived in a Hellenistic world for several hundred years before Jesus.

  10. Brian says:

    “Jesus’ itinerant lifestyle suggests he resisted or was encouraged to abandon the ties to the exact lands and households that once sustained him. To be sure, he may have been forced out by social and personal pressures.”

    I find it more believable that Jesus (in the Jesus story), and many like him at that time, embarked on their itinerant preaching career as a way to make a living. The interesting question for me is: was he sincere, or an Elmer Gantry?

      • Brian says:

        Sorry for the late reply, I am currently in the middle of moving.

        Gene: evidence of an Elmer Gantry: the many itinerant preachers in Judea, running around claiming to be able to perform miracles and be messiahs. Jesus was just one of many grifters trying to make it. And like those who have nothing to lose, he went with the most extreme (attention-getting) message he knew of: love your enemy, turn the other cheek, etc. (Please note: I always mean Jesus as a fictional character; he is the…

    • Cassandra says:

      I think I was wondering something similar when I posted last week, Brian. I can’t decide if I want to think of Jesus as essentially self-proclaiming, like a David Koresh (even if less violent), or if I want to follow the Jesus Seminar’s dominant finding of wisdom teacher/social critic.

      • Brian says:

        It doesn’t have to be either/or, he can be both and likely was. He is a complex fictional character, he is apocalyptic/wisdom/cranky/sleight-of-hand master on the make.

  11. Gene Stecher says:

    Dr. Galston wrote: “The Cynic-like view of Jesus can be gained from Ecclesiastes alone.” (99) Look at Geering’s “Such is Life: A Close Encounter with E,” 2009. Two Jewish sages: G appreciates E’s earthiness (enjoy life with your wife) and honesty about life’s futility, perhaps seen from ‘exalted social status and individualism;” he concludes that Jesus had a superior sense of “the essential importance of communal living,” so necessary for “facing the coming worldwide crises.” (208)

  12. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    That’s a fairly humorous thought,Gene!Galston’s elevated Jesus from human to one with a superior sense of importance of communal living.Superior to whom?Maybe modern Western white dudes with centralized govt.Good theology,less than impressive historiography.It does provide a chuckle, though!

    • Gene Stecher says:

      Sorry I wasn’t clearer Dennis, one of the downfalls of 500 characters. Geering was the one who said that Jesus had a superior sense of community, “Jesus sketched a vision of a human community in which prejudice, friction, and enmity would be overcome by love.” (208)

  13. developer says:

    Testing comment character limit. Please ignore. Sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi…

  14. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    It still seems poor historiography, Gene, since (according to Josephus, Philo, the DSS), there was “communal living” happening in first centuries (bce/ce) Palestine and Egypt Judaism.One would need to delve further into practices of Essenes, Therapeutae, the authors of the DSS and other practices to know the characteristics.The authors of the Gospels might have pushed this.After the war.

  15. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Love your enemy? A few quotes… when you have to be beaten like an ass,and throughout…you have to love those who are beating you as if you were father or brother to them. (Epictetus).How shall I defend myself against my enemy? By being good and kind towards him, replied Diogenes. Someone gets angry with you. Challenge him with kindness in return… Enmity immediately tumbles away when one side lets it fall. (Seneca). (from Price, Deconstructing Jesus, p. 151) Common wisdom.

    • Cassandra says:

      Definitely agree with this sentiment, Dennis, that certain of the teachings associated with Jesus are not unique to him and show signs of his followers appropriating the sayings for the movement. I’m not willing to say there was no historical figure at all, but like David said last week, we can have more myth than figure and still recognize the natural path historical writings about someone in Jesus’ position would have taken.

      • Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

        I see a lot of Jesus ben Ananias (see Forum, New Series 6.2) in the Markan Passion Jesus. The Markan walks around Galilee appear to be patterned after Moses, the healing stories Elijah/Elisha.There are many recognizable heroes,around 150 scriptural allusions/quotes.I look at the Jesus story in terms of writer’s purpose, not looking for a voiceprint, seeing those as telling one more about the modern world than the past.

  16. Gene Stecher says:

    I thought chap 5 ended strong: “The J voiceprint… satirical wisdom honed in…paradox (Love Enemy, Dead Bury Dead), hyperbole (Speck/Plank, Dinner Pary), and irony (Save/Lose Life, Prodigal)…the contours of the world J calls the K of G. Looking at the news we need J’s “foreign policy” statement: “Settle with your accuser on the way to court (war), or else be thrown into jail (conflict) and never get out (escape) till the last penny (drop of blood) is squeezed from you.”

    • Cassandra says:

      I think this is where Jesus’ wisdom shines – in critique of Roman governance (and, by extension, modern military and economic powers). That’s one of the reasons I posed the question of whether he was at all helpful for other areas of human concern in the modern world, like ecology. I was asking myself what I DON’T see represented here, where I find myself looking elsewhere, like to Buddhist teachings.

  17. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    More:From Epictetus, The Golden Sayings (my copy): Asked how a man should best grieve his enemy, Epictetus replied, “By setting himself to live the noblest life himself.”—“Even as the Sun does not wait for prayers and incantations to rise, but shines forth and is welcomed by all: so you also wait not for clapping of hands and shouts and praise to do your duty; nay, do good of your own accord, and you will be loved like the Sun.”Timeless wisdom again.Not ‘school of Jesus.’

  18. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Who would a Jesus of Judean defeated, Roman defeated Galilee have meant as enemy?In the Samaritan story the Judeans would have been enemy through their apathy.They weren’t part of the KoG. Samaritans, who fought Judean annexation, were a part. In other parables dishonesty, deception, as well as pestering, dissolution, and stupidity are rewarded.In aphorisms it is the poor, the widow, the child, a motley crew also found in the Tanakh, not the educated white middleclassed living vicariously were…

  19. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    That post didn’t even make 500 chars, according to my Word counter, including spaces. I guess it is a salute to a generation that can’t think in more than one cellphone text at a time!

  20. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    If one defines Jesus with love your enemies one must define his enemies.Also, when looking at the use of irony, paradox, hyperbole, etc, these are literary terms,not speech patterns.Looking at Evangelion 6, where Matt probably got much of his material, the chiastic structure stands out: new/old wine,cloak::healing, gleaning on Sabbath::exhortation (love bad guys)::fit/unfit tree::trust/healing. Hint: This is the author speaking! It’s one of his more important statements.

  21. Gene Stecher says:

    I think they are Peter, understood as the structure, passion, and content of and for the Kingdom of God, an alternative way to live. I don’t think one finds another body of work quite like them. Each must read and decide for herself, however.

  22. Brian says:

    “David point out that Jesus’ saying, ‘Love your enemies,’ is a paradox—an impossible statement. Once you begin to love your enemy, s/he is no longer your enemy. By embracing your enemy, the very idea of enemy becomes empty.”

    I disagree, here. A person may train themselves to love their enemy, but that enemy may still harm or kill the saintly person, thus still being an enemy.

  23. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Mark created his parables to display his theme of enlightenment in the face of ignorance. The disciples or others were foils, not understanding. The “wise teacher” needed to explain.So those are important to a theme of the book.

  24. Gene Stecher says:

    It seems that we are defining human as “words” and not “behaviors?” The JS said Jesus was a healer. Do not humans heal wounds and remove demons? Dr. Galston seems to reject these as mythical products of the authors. Who knows of a page where he clearly explains the matter? If Jesus is to go to church then words and behaviors have to get into the creeds: both the J who said ‘It’s harder for a rich man…’ and the one in whom a hemorrhaging woman found healing.

  25. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    It really sounds like an error I’ve seen before. Lump the miracles and throw them out since they don’t comport with modern science, certainly must be the authors’ work. At the same time, authors who believed this certainly – according to scholars -had little ability to “create” “good” sayings or parables. It overestimates orality and underestimates the abilities of the authors, giving one a 2D Jesus.

  26. Gene Stecher says:

    Language accuracy, please. Dr. Galston (81-83) reviews the Mustard Seed parable: “…a wild plant that can easily take over a vegetable garden… scrawny and troubling wild shrub…spreading out at our feet.” If so, why do the gospels (including Marcion) call it a shrub/tree where birds can nest, and which plant is most likely referred; e.g., the black mustard grows to 8 to 10 ft. I’ve got a Pokeweed that easily reaches 10 ft and can hold birds. I think theology has colored Dr. G’s choices.

  27. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Mustard won’t “take over” a vegetable garden unless it is allowed to go to seed.This, I know.It propogates through seed.But,that has nothing to do with the parable,though it is the standard “reading into” the text.The parable is about the smallest becoming largest.One must remember that it is the smallest,the weakest like children, who’re part of Mark’s kingdom.And, this plant,which can become very large,has very small seeds.

  28. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    If one is living from growing mustard for seed,invasive is a value judgment.It IS the fruit of the plot.Lev.19.19 demands only 1 kind of seed per field,so grown according to biblical custom other plants aren’t involved.I have grown it for about 50 years,planted it this week.Cool weather crop controlled by weather,bolting,dying when heat hits.So,I not only disagree with the author’s eisegesis,I wonder of his experience growing mustard.I grow for seed & leaf.

  29. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Mustard isn’t “scrawny” either and has been cultivated for seed for millennia, so isn’t necessarily seen as a pest. I found an abandoned bird’s nest a couple of years ago and placed it in the limbs of a mustard plant. Through wretched weather, it stayed in place, limbs holding it.

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