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Yet More Links & Resources

November 17, 2016


Whatever we do to enter that rotunda and get a whiff of heavenly air (ML 191), to make a vacuum for heavenly nourishment (ML 73), or to simply stop, look and listen (ML 74); whether we use keys, loving Jesus, meditation, contemplation, centering prayer or simple silence, once we disrobe of our false self, we always experience intimacy.

Now, rooted in this awareness and keeping that connection strong, let us embark on some more studying. We know that faith does not rest on scholarly wisdom, but neither does it rest on ignorance and superstition. Too often, however, religion has carries around a baggage of just that. Religious folks usually fear questioning it, because they have been taught to just trust and believe, and that questions and doubts are a sign of weakness. Concluding that religion is a matter of take it or leave it and unable to see any another way, they either accept it as is or leave it altogether. Too often, people are made to feel that the choice is between being a dumb Christian or a smart atheist. There are reason why this is mainly a western, Christian phenomenon, but the good news is that there is another way. The answer to the dichotomy between superstitious belief and a intellectual unbelief, rests in first knowing and experiencing God, while also embracing the academia and its uncomfortable truths, even at the cost of discovering that what we were taught as children wasn’t necessarily so.

In our specific case, we were strong on the experiential side of things but fairly weak in the latter. For example, we memorized the Bible and knew it inside out, but knew next to nothing about it’s origins, authors, history, archeology, redaction, canonical variances, the scholarly instruments for textual analysis and so forth. That’s where the academia can help us separate facts from fiction. The peer review helps us to also recognize the difference between the personal opinions and speculations of scholars and what instead is the consensus on facts, how it was reached and the data behind it. Ultimately, it is from this added information that we can proceed to recognize within ourselves that which we interpreted correctly and that which we merely clang to superstitiously. If our experience of God is true and our connection is strong, then even an uncomfortable truth can liberate us to experience it more fully. As Thomas Aquinas said “all truth is from the Holy Spirit”.

So here I go with links to some scholars who do challenge some of our traditional views, but first a word of advise: if something strikes you as being just a personal opinion, it may be so, but if data is provided, historical, exegetical, about sources, authors, archeology or other, then take it as an invitation to further research. That said, I would seek for more opinions, for the general consensus but avoid public debates, mainly because they thrive on controversy, on polarizing issues into contrasting, dualistic opposites and this tends to miss what we are aiming for.

I’ll start with some You Tube links:

So we need to read the Bible from the vantage point of the new information we have about it. Now that we understand better its matrix, we can approach it afresh and see what more we can learn from it. Perhaps the best place to start is by facing some of the differences existing between the four gospels. We are so used to see them as one that we can’t even begin to understand how they came about, why they were different and how their first audiences understood them. There is a recent book on the gospel of John, that makes light on this issue:

The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic by John Shelby Spong

Then there is one on the gospel of Matthew, even more recent and by the same author.

Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy: A Journey into a New Christianity Through the Doorway of Matthew’s Gospel by John Shelby Spong

Then a volume on Christian history. It is not easy reading but I have not seen anywhere else so much put on a single volume, meaning the history of Christianity accompanied with the history of its theology, how it developed, changed and impacted Christianity through the various centuries:

Christianity by Hans Kung

As audio lecture on the history of theology I would recommend:

Learning to read the gospels with the added knowledge of modern scholarship is a must. Equally important is to read the rest of the New Testament with these added instruments. I already included and excellent book on the authentic Paul in my first list but I’ll repeat it here:

The Authentic Letters of Paul, by Arthur J. Dewey, Roy W. Hoover, Lane McGaughy, Daryl D. Schmidt

A must for any student is to also get a good grip on how the Bible was formed. Here is a helpful and fairly complete series of audio lectures:

Then a Jewish scholar with an excellent message for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Also an excellent speaker and worth listening to.

For those interested to know more, I highly recommend her courses on both the Old and the New Testament. I would almost rate them as a must for anyone serious about their Bible.…/great-figures-of-the-new-t…

I’ll then end it with two more You-tube links. An excellent shortcut to taking lengthy courses on Christian history. In just six hours they cover the whole 2000 years.


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