Cognitive Dissonance and the Resurrection of Jesus
How does one account for the rise of resurrection belief if the gospel accounts of a discovered empty tomb and corporeal postmortem appearances of Jesus are legends, as many scholars propose? The most popular answer to this question is that belief in the resurrection came about due to a post-mortem bereavement hallucination of Jesus by Peter, and possibly others. Another largely overlooked possibility for the rise of the resurrection belief is the extraordinary phenomenon of cognitive dissonance reduction.
An Interview with Raheel Raza
For Muslims the Qur’an is the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Mohammad over a period of twenty-three years. The message was an oral message and, since Mohammad was unlettered, the words were written on scraps of paper, tree bark, and animal skins. It was only after the death of the Prophet that his companions compiled the Qur’an into book form. For reasons known only to them, instead of compiling the revelations in chronological order, they assembled them in order of length, from longest verse to shortest.
A New New Testament: Interview with Editor Hal Taussig
My reasons for producing A New New Testament are rooted in the last twenty years of more than 150 speaking engagements around the country. … So many people spoke of the spiritual and intellectual nurture they found in these new documents—especially in their both constructive and challenging relationship to the New Testament canon, I became convinced that A New New Testament was desperately needed.
Framing the American Hero
Joseph Campbell, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, describes the development of the hero within a three-stage journey: Separation-Initiation-Return. How does this compare with American hero myths? Instead of a hero whose journey offers insight and growth through the process of maturation, Jewett and Lawrence suggest that “the American monomyth derives from tales of redemption” in which the hero is fundamentally complete. The crusader replaces the initiate.
Religious Naturalism and Its Place in the Family of Religions
Donald A. Crosby
Religious naturalism deserves recognition as an important form of religious faith among the various religious stances and outlooks of the world. It does so especially today, when its significance is coming to be increasingly acknowledged, vigorously developed, and actively propounded. What is religious naturalism? Simply put, it is the recognition that to be is to be natural and the conviction that nature in all of its forms and manifestations is a proper focus of religious commitment.
Review of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
Reza Aslan, associate professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside, has written a bestseller that is a pleasure to read. But, as with all interpretations of the historical Jesus and the early church, the reader must weigh what the author uses as evidence and what he lays aside.
What Comes after Christianity?
Some readers might already be offended by the very title of this article: “What comes after Christianity?” seems to imply that Christianity is ending, or soon will end, or even that it should end. But let me be clear.
David Loves Jonathan
Stephen J. Patterson
I learned in Bible School that the toughest, cleverest, most illustrious warrior of the Bible was David. Remember him? Here’s something Bible School did not teach me about David: David loved Jonathan.
When a Man Sleeps with a Man as with a Woman
Stephen J. Patterson
People today widely believe that the Bible condemns being gay. They get this idea from, well, reading the Bible. But what did it really mean to “lie with a man as with a woman”?
What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality
William O. Walker, Jr.
Most people apparently assume that the New Testament expresses strong opposition to homosexuality, but this simply is not the case.
Tradition and Faith in a New Era
Roy W. Hoover
Though all the challenges that must be faced if the Judeo-Christian tradition is to survive into the twenty-first century are worthy of serious and courageous attention, one seems to me to be primordial.
The Da Vinci Fraud
Robert M. Price
The Da Vinci Code is certainly a page-turner. Its brisk narrative is full of twists and turns, and the reader’s perseverance is frequently rewarded with deft turns of phrase, sparkling metaphors, and resonating observations. There is a wisdom in such art. And yet the book has certain major shortcomings.
Braveheart Does the Stations of the Cross
Film critic Roger Ebert readily recognized what no evangelical biblical scholar saw in Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.” Ebert observed: “The screenplay is inspired not so much by the Gospels as by the 14 Stations of the Cross.”
Is Christianity Going Anywhere?
Series by Lloyd Geering
1. Christianity at the Crossroads
2. Excavating Jesus
3. The Recovery of Jesus’ Teaching
4. The Diverse Futures of Christianity
Christianity stands today at a critical point in its long and complex history. Too few Christians realise that humankind is moving into an increasingly global and secular future. Christianity and all other religions must now come to terms with this new global context.
Did Jesus Fulfill Prophecy?
Robert J. Miller
The belief that Jesus fulfilled prophecy has been a cornerstone of the notion that Christianity supersedes Judaism. This belief owes in large part to Matthew. What did Matthew mean when he spoke of fulfilling prophecy?
Who Owns the Holy Land?
Series by Lloyd Geering
1. The Jewish Claim
2. The Palestinian Claim
3. The British Responsibility
4. Who Solves the Conflict?
Over the last thirty-five years I have visited all the Middle Eastern countries from Egypt to Iran, some of them many times. This background has shown me that the Holy Land has probably witnessed more violent conflict in the last four thousand years than any other spot in the whole world.
Jesus in Tibet
Robert M. Price
Have you ever wondered how Jesus might have been occupying himself before his public appearance to be baptized by John? One of the most popular guesses today is that Jesus was traveling to the Far East, specifically to Tibet in the exotic Himalayas. Is there any evidence for this astonishing claim?
How Did Easter Originally Happen?
Popular Christian piety holds that Jesus’ existence on earth extended beyond his death on Good Friday and spilled over into a miraculous six-week period. But the New Testament does not in fact assert that Jesus came back to life on earth, or that he physically left his grave alive after he had died, nor does it maintain that faith in him is based on an empty tomb. How did such beliefs emerge from the early Church?
Milestones in the Quest for the Historical Jesus
Robert W. Funk
The quest for the historical Jesus has been underway for more than two centuries. It was launched about 1775, the same time the United States was being founded. Its progress is marked by milestones, landmark developments that represent the transition from one stage to another.
W. Barnes Tatum
Something about the Easter season brings Jesus out of the vaults and projects him onto television screens. To what extent is a film about Jesus not only cinematically interesting, but literarily sensitive to the gospel sources, historically probable, and theologically satisfying?
Charles W. Hedrick
One of the most controversial manuscript discoveries of the twentieth century was a fragment of a previously unknown letter of Clement of Alexandria (end of the second century) to an otherwise unknown Theodore. The form of discovery, together with the homoerotic themes of the narrative, created a major controversy.
Dionysius and the New Millennium
Dionysius Exiguus, a monk from Russia who died about 544, was asked by Pope John I to set out the dates for Easter from the years 527 to 626. It seems that the Pope was keen to produce some order in the celebration of Easter.
The Very Rev. Nicholas Thomas (N. T.) Wright, former teacher at Oxford and Cambridge, and current dean of Lichfield Cathedral, became a prolific writer committed to defending and maintaining Protestant Christianity in its Anglican form. Yet the approach he has taken is not only grossly misleading but is potentially disastrous for the church.
The Coming Radical Reformation
Robert W. Funk
Robert W. Funk lays out 21 Theses about the future of faith and human thought, beginning with the end of our former notions of God.
A Call for a New Reformation
John Shelby Spong
In the 16th century the Christian Church, which had been the source of much of the stability of the western world, entered a period of internal and violent upheaval. It is my conviction that such a moment is facing the Christian world today.
How Did Jesus Become God and Why
Whereas the glorification of the tragic Diana, Princess of Wales, took place in the space of only one year, the process of the glorification of Jesus as the Christ figure — and its subsequent deconstruction — has taken place over a space of two thousand years.
The Search for the Historical Jesus: Why Start with the Sayings?
Lane C. McGaughy
All investigations must begin somewhere — why did the Jesus Seminar (1985 – 1998) begin with the sayings of Jesus rather than with his actions? And what difference does this make for the resulting reconstruction of the historical Jesus?
In my office at Texas Christian University hangs a framed aerial-view photograph of the dairy farm I grew up on in South Dakota. When students ask what it is, I tell them it’s a reminder of why I became a professor.
Write What You See
My first vivid encounter with Jesus took place in the fourth grade, when I was expelled from Sunday School for rowdiness. My parents punished me by making me skip Sunday dinner and stay in my room. For my comfort, my mother handed me the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, which had just been published.
Me and Jesus – The Journey Home
A few years ago I received an invitation from an Episcopal group in the San Francisco Bay area. “We want you to talk to us about Jesus,” they said, “and we want you to make it personal.”
Almost the Whole Truth
John Dominic Crossan
Memories? What you remember, what you forget, and, most unnervingly of all, what is in there somewhere, forgotten but recoverable with some accidental and external prompting.
How the Canon Was Formed
Roy W. Hoover
How did the church decide which books belong to the New Testament? When was the decision made? The answers to these questions constitute one of the most revealing yet least known aspects of early Christian history.
The Significance of the Work of the Jesus Seminar for Judaism
I was a Jewish child growing up in the Bronx during World War II when I first began to hear the old charge that the Jews were Christ killers. I didn’t exactly know who this Christ was supposed to be. His first name was Jesus and I was cautioned never to utter the word.
David Friedrich Strauss: Miracle & Myth
Of all the books on the historical Jesus published in the nineteenth century, David Friedrich Strauss’s The Life of Jesus (1835) has had the most enduring significance. It was wildly controversial. One reviewer called it “the Iscariotism of our days” and another “the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell.”
About Westar: Community and History
The Significance of San Diego NEW
The concurrent meetings of the AAR, SBL, and Westar in San Diego in Fall 2014 will be a tribute to Bob Funk’s multifaceted and remarkable professional legacy.
Westar 2013—Celebrating a Landmark Year
Westar Institute is celebrating a landmark year. In 2013 the organization both acquired Polebridge Press and retired the debt this acquisition incurred, thanks to the generosity of Westar supporters. The news articles here, which first appeared in The Fourth R, provide a glimpse of the major events of the past year.
Meet ‘Joe Westar’: A Report on Westar’s Membership Survey
Lynn Tuttle Gunney
If you’ve ever been to a Westar meeting or Jesus Seminar on the Road (JSOR), you might have met him. He’s a guy in his sixties, likely a layperson affiliated with a mainline Protestant church. His interests start with the historical Jesus and early Christianity and extend to topics like Humanism and Religion and Science.
The Road to the Jesus Seminar
As a fellow of the Westar Institute’s Jesus Seminar, I have had many opportunities to discuss the historical Jesus with interested audiences. While these audiences are usually enthusiastic to learn, most are not aware of the larger intellectual context for the work of the Seminar. This is an overview of that context.
Editorial: A Few Good People
Robert W. Funk
Christian congregations continue to pretend that the old orthodoxies are still valid and functional. We now know that is no longer the case. During the half century just ended, we have come to the end of the Christian era: the hegemony of the christianized, industrialized West over the rest of the globe has crumbled.