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Friday, April 15, 2016

A Simple Question.


It is a simple question, but a loaded one at that. The question begs the reader to think long and hard about the answer. It requires understanding of history(Yes, there is a history outside of Christianity. I know, crazy right?), a knowledge of other religions and/or cultures.

So what is the question, well here it is......

Can you name a single genuinely new or original thing Jesus said or did?

It is a loaded question. I know of some things that Jesus said and did that had previously been done before him, but I am wondering if you could give me some examples that you can come up with where what Jesus said or did was indeed new or original. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good question, yes, it did cause me to think about my answer/response. While I am no expert on the origin of religions, syncretism, early Christianity, Judaism, etc., I do think that Jesus said and did some original things. I guess one question is: what are some examples where Jesus’ words are not original? Are we thinking of the Golden Rule? One factor I think is that the writers of the gospels and Paul were influenced by all the things around them – their context, so Greek philosophy, Roman society, first-century Palestinian Judaism. All of these things affected their depiction of the life of Jesus. Whether a person believes in ‘the Christ of faith’ or the historical Jesus, I think we can agree that Jesus was counter-cultural, he offered a challenge and critique of all those systems and orders around him – he healed on the Sabbath, used the ‘despised’ (Samaritans) as examples of right, loving action, he turned the money-tables in the temple, and his teachings (such as the Sermon on the Mount) were counter-cultural (just as his teachings are counter-cultural today). Does this make him original or his ideas original? Not sure. The evangelical in me says that he is the only sinless man to be murdered, which is original. Lastly, many people in history have lived lives of love and service to others, but I think, Jesus’ life of love and service to others is more than exemplary in this regard.

Philip CalledtoQuestion said...

@ Anonymous,

Thank you for stopping by.

While I too am no expert, I have come across many differing views from that of Christianity, views that I myself were never told while being raised in a Christian family, and I am sure that there are many others out there that have experienced the same.

Jesus did say and do some original things, however there was no originality in the things in and of themselves as such things had been claimed or done before Jesus (including that of the murder of a sinless man), rather the originality was in that Jesus, as the only one being Jesus as much as I am the only me and you the only you, said and did them. That is where the originality lays.

One can find that the claims and actions Jesus made (or christians say he made) have such a close similarity with the beliefs of other cultures that pre-date Jesus, and some even before the Jews, that one can easily question the claims' and actions' originality. Examples of the virgin birth, been done before. Death of a sinless man and his resurrection three days latter, been done before. Water to wine and other miracles, been done before. Being counter-cultural, been done before.

You are very correct about the influence of the surrounding political, social and religious culture on the gospel writers. They could not have escaped it, as I can not write this without the influence from our current culture impacting what I write. Perhaps it was the same with Jesus. He would not have been able to escape the tyranny of the past any more than you or I.

Jesus was indeed counter cultural, in as far as what we read in the books of the New Testament. The stories are challenging and inspirational. I love the passion shown for the poor, the dismantling of obedience to rigid structures, the upheaval of power of mind. He was a big middle finger to the system, standing up alone amongst the other fingers. In this way he was unique, as all others who stand out against the backdrop of the many are as well.

The claims of a sinless man being murdered have previous origins before that of Jesus. All those lives given to serving and loving the other are marvellous stories indeed, but why is Jesus' example any different? Why is it a better example to live by than that of the others?

The thoughts posted on this blog are not attempts to remove the beliefs of others but to challenge any absoluteness that may or may not be held by the believer. I sense that you are a welcoming person open to discussion and I thank you for that. I appreciate your thoughts here and the dialogue that we have.

Discourse leads us further forward but it is friendship that binds us together.