So, Jesus said nothing original?
Well, if this is true, there’s no point in the Zingcreed blog continuing! (And perhaps it will change direction – Islam anyone?)
Of course believers will always be there to remind us that only Jesus can save us, that if he wasn’t resurrected none of us will be, that he is God’s only begotten….you know the whole dubious story inside out, like I do, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this Post. My past and future Posts dismiss the whole divinity of Jesus thing – atonement, resurrection, ascension are all myths created decades after his death which were written back into the gospels by men trying to get their disparate early Christian communities into line with some kind of doctrinal agreement. The actual words and deeds of JC were twisted and misreported to an extent we will never ever fully know. But they are all we have – there is no spiritual supernatural world out there, it’s simply memories we’re dealing with here. The Jesus Seminar (upon whom be peace) are world leaders in exposing the fragility of the whole story. They reckon only about 18% of words attributed to JC are authentic. Hence my use of the phrase “Residual Jesus” (or in Bornkamm’s memorable words the torso of Jesus) (i)
If your response to this is “but the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God so all of the words attributed to Jesus are true” then all I can say is ‘Welcome, friend – I hope you can handle a steep learning curve!’ Seriously, where have you been? Get a library ticket! Really read your bible with an open mind, google Jesus Seminar, and read these blogs through from the first one in November 2012 (I know there are a lot of them, but many of them are only one paragraph long). Write in the comment boxes at the end of each Post.
Enough wittering, let’s get down to business with some more German quotes (they’ve always been about a century ahead of the english-speaking world of theology and biblical criticism).
Jesus’ preaching was “not new in its content of ideas, because, as far as this content is concerned, his preaching was nothing but pure judaism and pure prophetism.” (ii) and I must quote from that most thorough and meticulous reader of the Bible the christian-communist layman Wilhelm Weitling (See the Post “Red Christians # 4“): “The eternal truths of the teaching of Jesus were already taught before him”. (iii) Weitling then goes on to quote Homer, Antonius and Seneca to show how closely Jesus’ views match their writings.
As far as the Hebrew Testament (Old Testament) is concerned, it’s probably not surprising that there are a lot of matches. Just try some of these quotes out on your friends – they’ll never guess they weren’t the words from Jesus’ very lips! (All spotted by Weitling)
- On hating: “Do not hate your brother in your heart” (Leviticus 19:17)
- On bearing a grudge: “Do not… bear a grudge…but love your neighbour as yourself ” (Lev 19:18)
- On love: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink” (Proverbs 25:21)
- On freeing the oppressed: “…I have chosen to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke….To share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked to clothe him” (Isaiah 58:6-7)
- On sharing: “John answered, ‘the man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same” (Lk 3:11) (that’s John the Baptist)
Here are the views of 2 (english-speaking!) writers who know far more about the Bible than I ever will:
- “Perhaps the most widespread delusion about the moral precepts of Jesus is that they are strikingly unusual and original. Nothing could be further from the truth.” (iv)
- “Point for point there is nothing in the teaching of Jesus which cannot be found in the Old Testament or in the rabbinical teachings.” (v)
TO BE ADDED TO, AS MORE EXAMPLES COME TO MY ATTENTION….could be a while…
(i) Bornkamm, Günther “Jesus von Nazareth” Stuttgart (1960) p.13 (quoted in full in “Who said that?” blog; item no. 31)
(ii) Bultmann, Rudolph “Glauben und Verstehen” I, Tübingen (1961) p. 265
(iii) Weitling, Wilhelm “The poor sinner’s gospel” Sheed and Ward (1843) (1969) p.124
(iv) Smith, George H., “Atheism. The Case Against God” Prometheus Books (1979)
(v) Harkness, Georgia “Christian Ethics” Abingdon Press (1957) p.48