*Comment made on Carly Jo’s blog ‘Historicity of Jesus’
“According to the gospels of the NT they had it wrong in a lot of ways. You must compare, yeah, but always in light of the NT interpretation” (Carly Jo)
Wrong? If they had it wrong how can we be sure we have it right? We are basing our gospels on the Tanakh texts – not vice versa.
To compare in light of the NT interpretation as always being right is – well arrogant? It’s like saying the latest version always is a better re-write of the earlier version – since it has new additions! If this is the case then Mormonism and Islam need to be given more serious consideration.
You see the key thing here is ‘historical study’ – inside and outside of the NT texts. Things we know:
Jesus was Jewish and so were all of his early disciples – therefore what religion were they following?
In Acts 15 we see Peter, James, and John hanging out with the Pharisee’s and leaders in Judaism – why exactly? In fact, in that story the Pharisee’s help rule on what Paul is doing in Gentile territories. This was some years ater Jesus’ death and we find these same core disciples following what seems to be early Judaism.
Paul has a mission into Gentile territories – many places in various regions (according to his letters). We know Paul used the local beliefs to help interpret his message – from Acts. The unknown God story is a great example of this. Paul seemed to understand the idea of making Christianity relevant via the iconagraphy around him to get the point home.
Paul dies at some point and his communities continue. These are clearly seperated from Judaism – according to Paul’s own letters. They would have had no access to Jewish texts and the original teachings behind them. So when the stories they use need a common interpretation they ‘borrow’ from their own cultures (what they know personally) to make the relevant points they need to.
These stories appear in the later versions of the gospels – again written by 70 AD and after – no original disciple could of proof-read the additions to advocate for what was or was not original in nature.
By about the time Paul left for his missionary journies there was already a power-play set in motion for the heart of the Christian mentality. Read Paul and it’s all clearly there – in Acts (written by Luke – a Gentile) and within his own letters. Paul, who was never an apostle according to the community in Jerusalem, becomes one – the most important one in fact. Self-appointed albeit – but his mission and his ideas become the cornerstone for later Christianity in centuries after.
If one thing is clear it is this – there was a Jewish Jesus with Jewish disciples that started this movement. Paul continued it and I believe was strongly misinterpreted in Gentile communities about ideas (from Judaism) that these Gentiles would have had little access to (for corrections and mistakes).
But we live in quite the freedom of information age – so it’s weird to imagine someone not having access to what we do – biblically and historically. But with this knowledge comes a responsibility concerning those texts to get at what is being meant. In the end, it’s the study of the Tanakh that will enlighten our own texts – not vice versa.