The real man from Galilee
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication, Bart Ehrman, The Teaching Company (2002)
In this lecture series, Professor Bart Ehrman takes us on a fantastic journey through the centuries just after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
From the first century to the Council of Nicea — the first official proclamation of what was (and what was not) “orthodox” Christianity — there was a whole lot of confusion over Jesus’ life and teachings. Interestingly, despite endless attempts to define “orthodox” or “accepted” Christianity, the wide range of questions asked in these early centuries are still being asked in Christianity today. For example:
- What’s the rightful place of the Old Testament in light of Jesus’ teachings?
- Does the Resurrection apply to the physical, the spiritual, or both?
- Is God a personal being in the sky, or an impersonal force behind all life?
The viewer may see many of his own questions and beliefs mirrored in early Christian writings — and may be surprised to learn how many of those beliefs were considered heretical!
Yet the Council of Nicea “eliminated, for most Christians, many of the earlier options” as to the official meaning of Jesus’ teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection. These “earlier options” are the subject of the lectures, and Ehrnman’s research really helps the viewer understand why these beliefs existed, and why they were considered Christian.
Perhaps more important, the lecture series jolts the modern conception of Jesus — who at times may seem to us an unapproachable personality too high above human attainment.
For early Christians, Jesus was not a doctrine or historical figure, but a hard-to-define contemporary. His views were entirely revolutionary, but they were also firmly grounded in the culture and belief structure of the time. This immediacy was inherently different from the connections we make to Jesus today.
It literally took centuries for the “high-in-the-sky”, untouchable picture of Jesus to develop. Before that there was a real, little-known man from Galilee who not only challenged the status quo, but demonstrated that his ideas were founded on a law that governed every human condition. His theology could not simply be dismissed because he proved it — and taught others to do the same — by healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, and casting out demons.
And this little-known man from Galilee stirred a tiny yet powerful group of followers who were passionate about the new doctrine. So small was this group that neither Jesus nor Paul (the two most prominent figures in Christianity) are ever mentioned by a Roman author of the first century. They were a minority group within a minority (Judaism). But this tiny group would eventually make a big splash in the religious scene, and forever change the history of the world.
Behind each “Lost Christianity” we find real people making a stand for their highest sense of good—honestly seeking knowledge and salvation, genuinely concerned for others, with logical beliefs supported by the writings available to them. And in these writings we find a real man named Jesus, subject to praise, misunderstanding, and even forgery — yet no longer unapproachable or preaching from the sky.RSS feed
Topics: Christ Jesus | Tags: Galilee