As an insider's insider to the world of American religion I was described by the New York Times like this: His crime is not financial profligacy, like some pastors' sons, but turning his back on Christian conservatives. I not only lived in the pressure cooker of big time American religion my family was part of the political and religious history of modern America.
As my dad's sidekick schmoozing with congressmen, famous preachers and even US presidents, I watched and participated during the s and 80s as fundamentalist religion shaped American politics. I've charted my fraught and funny journey out of big time American religion in my book on the inner anatomy of religious delusion: And God Said, "Billy! And I can tell you this movie gets the details right! American Jesus shines a bright light on big time American religion and its effect on society and on the world. Through interviews, with such clear-eyed thinkers as Michelle Goldberg , American journalist and author, the movie also intimately explores the quest for meaning so many of us find in our personal struggles to reconcile ourselves to mortality through religion.
The movie also highlights how the wounded churches in America spread their contagion globally. And the movie is fair to religion. For instance it provides a platform for the well known and deservedly admired evangelical Shane Claiborne , to speak up. Shane is an author and leading figure in the New Monasticism movement as well as one of the founding members of The Simple Way. Shane talks about his Christ-centered work with the outcasts of our society.
And having him in the movie is a clear indicator that the director is not out to "get" religious people because he shows some of the best American religion has to offer in terms of social justice issues and compassion. The film also includes luminary evangelical filmmaker and musician Steve Taylor, street minister to the indigent, Pastor Bob Beeman of Nashville and the remarkable author Jason Boyett.
These interviews bring the viewer into a deep and nuanced dialogue with some thoughtful religious people who have deep insights into faith and spirituality and even share their doubts about their most intimate hopes and beliefs. In a way this film is a plea for the true spirituality that can survive the false gods of commerce and power.
Sincere believers will not feel threatened by this film, rather affirmed by its debunking of all that is worst in religion. That dark side of faith hurts the witness of faith more than anything any so-called new ashiest writer has to offer. Because America is powerful understanding what makes America "tick" is not optional.
That's why I say that this film should be required viewing for everyone, at least for every world leader. What political leaders who deal with America need to know is that what motivates so-called American exceptionalism is not rational. It is rooted in magical thinking. America, like some of the more fundamentalist Islamic countries trying to impose Sharia law, brings irrational religious conviction to world affairs.
For instance America's long involvement in the Middle East, and twelve years of non-stop war in Iraq and Afghanistan, can't be understood outside of the context of religious delusional thinking explored in American Jesus. The fantasies about Jesus in India were also soon recognized as invention Westminster John Knox Press. Jesus Outside the New Testament: Jesus' putative travels to India and Tibet, his grave in Srinagar, Kashmir, and so forth. Scholarship has almost unanimously agreed that these references to Jesus are so late and tendentious as to contain virtually nothing of value for understanding the Historical Jesus.
In Dunn, James D. The Historical Jesus in Recent Research. Schneemelcher states that Kersten's work is based on "fantasy, untruth and ignorance above all in the linguistic area " Schneemelcher states that ""Kersten for example attempted to work up Notovitch and Ahmadiyya legends with many other alleged witnesses into a complete picture.
Thus Levi's Aquarian Gospel is pressed into service, along with the Turin shroud and the Qumran texts. Page ""And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being as was supposed the son of Joseph. But Christ, of course, did not belong to the Levitical priesthood.
He had descended neither from Aaron nor from the tribe of Levi. Harrington , Donald P. Davies, Dale Allison , Jr. Batey, 'Is not this the Carpenter? A College Textbook and a Study Guide Brill Publishers ; , Page "Edmund Wilson suggests that the unknown years in the life of Jesus ages might have been spent with the sect, but there is no reference to this in the texts.
Potter The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed Random House "For centuries Christian students of the Bible have wondered where Jesus was and what he did during the so-called "eighteen silent years" between the ages of twelve and thirty. The amazing and dramatic scrolls of the great Essene library found in cave after cave near the Dead Sea have given us the answer at last.
That during those "lost years" Jesus was a student at this Essene school is becoming increasingly apparent. The Evangelists have left "a narrative vacuum," and many have attempted to fill it.
Only Luke reports that Jesus This tale seems to have arisen quite A Life by A. Though written sources for this folk-tale are Film review "And Did Those Feet". Retrieved 4 March St Augustine wrote to the Pope to say he'd discovered a church in Glastonbury built by followers of Jesus. Joseph , "Jesus in India? Notovitch is a rogue. Notovitch had never been there. Skorupski The Cultural Heritage of Ladakh , p. Modern Forgeries, Lies, and Deceptions".
Retrieved September 8, Dowling by Levi H. From Jesus to Christ. He suggested the importance of Arabic intermediaries, showing that confusion of diacritical markings turned Budhasaf Bodhisattva, the Buddha-to-be into Yudasaf, Iodasaph, Yuzasaf and Josaphat. By a curious roundabout journey this error reappears in once-Buddhist Kashmir where the modern Ahmadiyya Muslims, well known for their Woking mosque, claim that a tomb of Yus Asad was the tomb of Jesus who died in Kashmir, after having been taken down live from the cross; though the Bombay Arabic edition of the book Balahvar makes its hero die in Kashmir, by confusion with Kushinara the traditional place of the Buddha's death.
In Greek, his name is Ioasaph; in Latin, Josaphat, A Brief History Page "On the site, there appears the title in English with eye-catching flourishes: In this article, I would like to show how shaky the evidence is regarding the alleged existence of a would-be messiah named Jesus. I now feel it is more reasonable to suppose he never existed. It is easier to account for the facts of early Christian history if Jesus were a fiction than if he once were real. Although what follows may fairly be interpreted to be a proof of the non-historicity of Jesus, it must be realized that the burden of proof does not rest upon the skeptic in this matter.
As always is the case, the burden of proof weighs upon those who assert that some thing or some process exists. If someone claims that he never has to shave because every morning before he can get to the bathroom he is assaulted by a six-foot rabbit with extremely sharp teeth who trims his whiskers better than a razor — if someone makes such a claim, no skeptic need worry about constructing a disproof. Unless evidence for the claim is produced, the skeptic can treat the claim as false. This is nothing more than sane, every-day practice. Wright, quoted at the beginning of this article, a small number of scholars have tried over the centuries to prove that Jesus was in fact historical.
It may be conceded that it is not surprising that there are no coins surviving from the first century with the image of Jesus on them. Even so, we must point out that we do have coins dating from the early first century that bear images of Tiberius that change with the age of their subject.
Citation 1 Would Mr. Wright have us believe that these coins are figments of the imagination? Can we be dealing with fig-mints? Citation 2 Engravings and gems show him with his entire family. Citation 4 There are contemporary inscriptions all over the former empire that record his deeds. Citation 5 There is an ossuary of at least one member of his family, and the Greek text of a speech made by his son Germanicus has been found at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Citation 6 And then there are the remains of his villa on Capri. Is there anything advocates of an historical Jesus can produce that could be as compelling as this evidence for Tiberius?
A College Textbook and a Study Guide Brill Publishers ; , Page "Edmund Wilson suggests that the unknown years in the life of Jesus ages might have been spent with the sect, but there is no reference to this in the texts. Swoon hypothesis and Islamic view of Jesus' death. Webber wrote the show as a retelling of the life of Jesus from the perspective of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Christ to the Roman authorities in the New Testament gospels. Discover the true history of the Vikings! It is easier to account for the facts of early Christian history if Jesus were a fiction than if he once were real. Scholars have shown that the gospel originally ended at verses of Chapter
I think not, and I thank N. Wright for making a challenge that brings this disparity so clearly to light. There is really only one area where evidence for Jesus is even claimed to be of a sort similar to that adduced for Tiberius — the area of biographies written by contemporaries or near contemporaries. Sometimes it is claimed that there is extrabiblical evidence as well.
However, Jesus also taught people of Jewish descent in another land: the American continents. That visit was life-changing for them then. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon [Stephen Note: Available at a lower price from other sellers that may not offer free Prime.
Let us then examine this would-be evidence. Let us consider the so-called biblical evidence first. Essentially, the NT is composed of two types of documents: A third category of writing, apocalyptic, Note C of which the Book of Revelation is an example, also exists, but it gives no support for the historicity of Jesus. In fact, it would appear to be an intellectual fossil of the thought-world from which Christianity sprang — a Jewish apocalypse that was reworked for Christian use.
The name Jesus occurs only seven times in the entire book, Christ only four times, and Jesus Christ only twice! While Revelation may very well derive from a very early period contrary to the views of most biblical scholars, who deal with the book only in its final form , the Jesus of which it whispers obviously is not a man.
He is a supernatural being. He has not yet acquired the physiological and metabolic properties of which we read in the gospels. The Jesus of Revelation is a god who would later be made into a man — not a man who would later become a god, as liberal religious scholars would have it. Thus, although Papias ca. At a minimum, this forces us to examine the gospels to see if their contents are even compatible with the notion that they were written by eye-witnesses.
We cannot even assume that each of the gospels had but one author or redactor. It is clear that the gospels of Matthew and Luke could not possibly have been written by an eye-witness of the tales they tell. Ignoring the fact that Matthew and Luke contradict each other in such critical details as the genealogy of Jesus — and thus cannot both be correct — we must ask why real eye-witnesses would have to plagiarize the entire ham-hocks-and-potatoes of the story, contenting themselves with adding merely a little gravy, salt, and pepper.
Both can be dismissed as unreliable without further cause. But what about the gospel of Mark, the oldest surviving gospel? Attaining essentially its final form probably as late as 90 CE but containing core material dating possibly as early as 70 CE, it omits, as we have seen, almost the entire traditional biography of Jesus, beginning the story with John the Baptist giving Jesus a bath, and ending — in the oldest manuscripts — with women running frightened from the empty tomb.
Stories do indeed grow with the retelling.
I have claimed that the unknown author of Mark was a non-Palestinian non-disciple, which would make his story mere hearsay. What evidence do we have for this assertion? First of all, Mark shows no first-hand understanding of the social situation in Palestine. He is clearly a foreigner, removed both in space and time from the events he alleges.
For example, in Mark Such an utterance would have been meaningless in Palestine, where only men could obtain divorce. One further evidence of the inauthenticity of Mark is the fact that in chapter 7, where Jesus is arguing with the Pharisees, Jesus is made to quote the Greek Septuagint version of Isaiah in order to score his debate point. Unfortunately, the Hebrew version says something different from the Greek. Wells observes dryly [p. Another powerful argument against the idea that Mark could have been an eye-witness of the existence of Jesus is based upon the observation that the author of Mark displays a profound lack of familiarity with Palestinian geography.
If he had actually lived in Palestine, he would not have made the blunders to be found in his gospel. If he never lived in Palestine, he could not have been an eye-witness of Jesus. You get the point. If your only source of information is the King James Bible, you might not ever know.
The King James says this marvel occurred in the land of the Gadarenes, whereas the oldest Greek manuscripts say this miracle took place in the land of the Gerasenes. Luke, who also knew no Palestinian geography, also passes on this bit of absurdity. But Matthew, who had some knowledge of Palestine, changed the name to Gadarene in his new, improved version; but this is further improved to Gergesenes in the King James version.
By now the reader must be dizzy with all the distinctions between Gerasenes, Gadarenes, and Gergesenes. What difference does it make? A lot of difference, as we shall see.
Gerasa, the place mentioned in the oldest manuscripts of Mark, is located about 31 miles from the shore of the Sea of Galilee! Those poor pigs had to run a course five miles longer than a marathon in order to find a place to drown! Not even lemmings have to go that far. Since the only town in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee that he knew of that started with G was Gadara, he changed Gerasa to Gadara. But even Gadara was five miles from the shore — and in a different country. Later copyists of the Greek manuscripts of all three pig-drowning gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke improved Gadara further to Gergesa, a region now thought to have actually formed part of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
So much for the trustworthiness of the biblical tradition. According to Mark 7: Since to Sidon and back would be 40 miles, this means that the wisest of all men walked 70 miles when he could have walked only At least they knew more than did the author of Mark! The unreliability of the gospels is underscored when we learn that, with the possible exception of John, the first three gospels bear no internal indication of who wrote them.
Can we glean anything of significance from the fourth and latest gospel, the gospel of John? It is so unworldly, it can scarcely be cited for historical evidence. No Star of Bethlehem, no embarrassment of pregnant virgins, no hint that Jesus ever wore diapers: Moreover, in its present form, the gospel of John is the latest of all the official gospels.
The gospel of John was compiled around the year CE.