So, there’s a wave coming. It’s probably not going to be the tsunami I’d rather see, but it’s something.
Currently, an Italian judge has ordered a priest to prove the historical existence of Jesus. The priest has apparently published negative statements against the author of a book entitled “The Fable of Christ,” and the author is suing the priest for “abusing popular credulity.” (Wow! If we had those kinds of cases here in Los Angeles, we’d be in trouble!)
What’s cooler is that there’s a DVD now out entitled The God Who Wasn’t There. One of the participants in the DVD’s making is Dr. Robert Price, who is a Christian scholar, fellow of the Jesus Seminar, and Lovecraftian expert. I knew of him many, many years ago when he used to publish a Christian horror zine called “Churchyard.” After the Jesus Seminar, Dr. Price had an epiphany about the material they had been studying: there was no real evidence for the existence of Jesus. This sent him spiralling out of the popular fold of traditional scholasticism and straight into intellectual study of the texts in a whole new light. As a result, he wrote the book The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.
I’m encouraged that one of the alternate audio tracks includes Earl Doherty, who wrote The Jesus Puzzle, a very important book in the growing scholastic vein that deconstructs religious assumptions about Jesus’ existence. I just bought the DVD. I’ll be sure to write a review.
I know people who believe in Jesus aren’t going to watch this. If they do, they’re going to have the response that one woman on Amazon had: “I’am a born again Christian, and yes, I know for a fact that Jesus Christ existed and IS the Son of God, but aside from that, like another reviewer said, yeah, it is one thing to be skeptical if Jesus Christ is the Son of God who he claimed to be, but to completely deny Jesus’s existence is just the stupidiest thing.” (sic)
I think that speaks for itself.
I like my friend Seth’s analogy, although I’d lighten it a shade or two: It’s like King Arthur. There are these texts that refer to someone named Jesus, but they’re not contemporary texts and they are filled with supernatural stories, which affects their credibility on some fronts. They might or might not really refer to someone who actually lived. There’s heavy overlay with myth from earlier sources. Maybe there was once some guy over whose shoulders people later threw a mighty mantel. It’s just not provable. If someone wants to believe there was a King Arthur, that’s great! But when it comes to Jesus, Christianity loses a lot of its punch, as it claims to be the one religion whose God is a real, flesh and blood person (at least, that’s how it was presented to me in my many years as a Protestant and then a fundamentalist).
Don’t mind me. I’ll just be anxiously sitting by my mailbox.