“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the post-Christian blog where anything goes. I’m very excited by a new book just out by a member of the Jesus Seminar. It’s about those 2 ‘lost’ gospels, The Gospel of Thomas and Q. Especially Q¹ (the oldest portion of Q). For the first time, scholars can show how the early Jesus Movement may have lived and thought before the canonical gospels were penned. Jesus is not portrayed as a martyr but as a teacher of wisdom. This is a lost chapter in the story of Christian origins, one in which Jesus and other teachers of wisdom advocated something they called ‘The Way’, in which everyone, regardless of race, class, or gender, can become a “child of God.”
It’s by Professor Stephen Patterson, and is called “The Lost Way” Harper One (2014).
I shall undoubtedly be quoting from it in future Posts.
It never ceases to astonish me how more and more Christian scholars are coming to view Christianity in the same way as I do! It’s a bit confusing. They’re sweeping away the foundations that I have been knocking timidly at most of my atheist life – soon there won’t be anything left for atheists to attack: the church will have self-destructed! Done the atheists’ work for them, and all in the name of scholarship and integrity. I can’t fault them. They’re spot on. It’s the man (and woman) in the pew I feel sorry for. Gretta Vosper describes their situation in Canada where she’s a very progressive clergywoman. Her congregation are not happy to find the church has been lying to them all these years. But they usually know less about theology etc than the average reader of Zingcreed, and that’s their fault. Ignorance is just no excuse in a digital age.
One aspect of Jesus’ life that is underplayed however is his political radicalism. Zingcreed is ploughing a lonely furrow by calling Jesus ‘Comrade Jesus’ and reprinting ‘Red Christian documents’ and profiling ‘Red Christians’. Ched Myers, Walter Wink and John Yoder made a start on defining his left-wing leanings, then there are the rather naive evangelicals Shane Claiborne and Dave Andrews. My favourite 2 are William Herzog, whose interpretations of the parables I am currently translating into Zingcreed posts in the British Library, and anarchist Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, whose analysis has inspired many.
What is needed is one person, hopefully a black woman, maybe a disabled lesbian? in other words a person whose life has been grounded in oppression, to come along and pull it all together. To spell out Comrade Jesus’ red political programme for the 21st century, a programme grounded in the writings of the Hebrew prophets as so forthrightly expounded by José Miranda and Elsa Tamez, both, of course, liberation theologians.
The fusion of Lib. Theol. and the Jesus Seminar’s take on the gospels and Acts. A ‘Way’ for a new Jesus Movement to follow.
Christian or not, let’s all work on finding where this ‘Lost Way’ goes.”
Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.
P.S. More on Patterson’s ‘Lost Way’ in future Posts.
Sources/ books mentioned:
(i) Vosper, Gretta “With or without God. Why the way we live is more important than what we believe” HarperPerennial (2008)
(ii) Myers, Ched “Binding the Strong man. A political reading of Mark’s story of Jesus” Orbis (1988/2011)
(iii) Wink, Walter “Collected Readings” Fortress Press (2013)
(iv) Yoder, Johhn Howard “The politics of Jesus. Vicit Agnus Noster” Eerdmans (1972, 1994)
(v) Claiborne, Shane “The irresistible revolution. Living as an ordinary radical” Zondervan (2006)
(vi) Andrews, Dave “Christi-Anarchy: Discovering a radical spirituality of compassion” Lion (1999)
(vii) Herzog, William “Parables as subversive speech” John Knox press (1994)
(viii) Christoyannopoulos, Alexandre “Christian anarchism. A political commentary on the gospel” Imprint (2011)
(ix) Miranda, José “Communism in the bible” Wipf and Stock (1982)
(x) Tamez, Elsa “Bible of the oppressed” Orbis (1982)