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5137Re: [XTalk] Re: the jesus mysteries

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  • Antonio Jerez
    Oct 1, 2000
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      Ricki Watts wrote:

      > Actually, just to set the record straight "we who are accustomed to studying
      > comparative religion" do not in fact all share Mr. Jerez' point of view.
      > There are serious historical scholars who would reject quite firmly the
      > notion that early Christians mythologized Jesus (I could name a couple from
      > Cambridge and Oxford Universities for starters). Whatever else, the genre
      > of the gospels is hardly mythology--as I would hope that someone who really
      > was accustomed to studying comparative religion would recognize.

      I am a bit intrigued by this message. Is Mr. Watts trying to argue that there is
      not any midrashisation of the Jesus figure in the gospels? Is there not the slightest
      hint of mothologization? I don't doubt that a few "serious" historical scholars at
      Cambridge or Oxford question this - just as there exists christian "serious" geologists
      in the USA who still argue that the earth 6000 years old and that the universe was
      created in six days.

      As to the specific genre of the gospels that is a question that is debated endlessly. If Mr.
      Watts reads my message carefully again he will find that I am not arguing that the gospels
      are PURE mythology, in the same way as the Mithras or Osiris myth. What I am arguing
      is that the gospels have a historical core that has been highly developed in a typical "midrashic"
      jewish fashion. Call it mythologization if you want. The same phenomenon can be found in the
      "biographies" about Buddha. The parallels are often striking. The "midrash" in the synoptics of
      Jesus temptation by the devil has a counterpart in Buddhas temptation by the "devil" Mara just
      before his illumination. This is sacred myth that has as it purpose to show that the Hero has
      not fallen prey to the evil force but is now prepared to carry out his mission. Or is Mr. Watts going
      to argue that the early Christians and Buddhists were just trying to report history when they told
      us about Jesus fight with Satan or Buddhas fight with Mara? Or is he going to claim that the Christian
      story is true history while the Buddhist story is just mythology since any Christian should know that
      Mara doesn't exist?
      After years on this list talking with some highly intelligent people (and some less intelligent) I thought
      all of us who are left were agreed that there is "midrash" and mythologization in the gospels, not the
      least in GJohn. I thought the way forward was not to go back to ground zero and question this
      altogether but to discuss what exactly in the gospels may be history and what may be "midrash" or
      mythologization.

      Best wishes

      Antonio Jerez
      Göteborg, Sweden
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