Daily Archives: 2007-07-30 21:11:27 GMT+0000

From Cephas to Peter?

Thanks to Josh asking if I thought Cephas and Peter were not the same, this is a fanciful think-aloud session, tossing Paul’s references and the Gospel of Mark around, to speculate how and why Cephas (Aramaic) may have been changed to Peter (Greek) . . . . read more »

Thank (the non-theistic) God for Spong: Why religious violence

Spong may not present the strongest arguments for the historicity of Jesus but who cares when he delivers such a clearheaded critique of the sins of religion and advances a wonderfully humane message for religious and nonreligious alike, as he does in his new book, Jesus for the Non Religious.

In explaining religious anger (does one need any examples here? Spong says of the 16 serious death threats he has received not one was from an atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, Moslem, leaving only you-know-who) Spong points the finger directly at the violent and angry god Christians worship. Christians are quick to deny this, saying they worship a God who sent his Son to die for our sins, who always extends his mercy to us. And that message, says Spong, was not the message of the earliest disciples and it contains the seeds of the most pernicious and destructive of attitudes. read more »

Spong on Jesus’ historicity: Paul’s contacts

I’ve responded to the first 3 of Spong’s stated reasons for believing Jesus was a historical character despite many of his analyses of the gospels leaving readers good cause to doubt this. They are listed in his new book, Jesus for the Non-Religious: Recovering the Divine at the Heart of the Human (2007).

  1. No “person setting out to create a mythical character would [ever] suggest that he hailed from the village of Nazareth . . . in Galilee”
  2. Jesus “clearly began his life as a disciple of John the Baptist”
  3. He was executed
  4. “Paul was in touch with those who knew the Jesus of history”

4. “Paul was in touch with those who knew the Jesus of history” (Spong, p. 210)

Response 1: To give this as a reason for believing in the historicity of Jesus is fallacious. It is another circular argument. read more »