a blog with cultural bulimia.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Seeking to free Jesus the man from the symbol of Christ

(christos is the word for ''messiah'' in Greek)
via NYTimes Sunday Book Review : 'American Jesus': Our Favorite Philosopher"

On Jan. 20, 1804, Thomas Jefferson ordered from a Philadelphia bookseller two copies of the King James Version of the New Testament. An unflinching rationalist, Jefferson deeply admired Jesus the man but disdained the cloak of doctrine and mysticism in which he'd been draped. And so, despite all his duties as president, Jefferson found the time to sit down in the White House with his Bibles and, over several evenings, excise with a razor all those passages that related to the virgin birth, the resurrection, the incarnation and anything else that smacked of the supernatural. Only about 1 in 10 verses survived. Raised an Anglican, Jefferson became enthralled with the Enlightenment, and he came to see tenets like the Trinity and transubstantiation as "an engine for enslaving mankind."

not just humane, but human

"In fact, Jesus was a Jew" declared Rabbi Stephen S. Wise before a crowd of 3,000 at Carnegie Hall in 1925. Jews had traditionally been led to believe that Jesus had never existed. "And Jews should accept him as one of their own." Today, Jewish scholars are in the forefront of the movement to recover the historical Jesus, and even Christian researchers have come to see him as more and more Jewish.

You don't have to be a Christian to love Jesus. Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists and other groups not in the mainstream have all sought to remake Jesus in their own image, to steal Jesus away from Christianity, freeing him to be all things to all people.