PONDER on THIS for Monday, October 1st, 2012 by Nan Yielding in THINGS I NEVER LEARNED IN SUNDAY SCHOOL

“For over two thousand years, Christians have seen Jesus through the eyes of the gospel writers, believing they were disciples of Jesus and eyewitnesses to the events they described. Many may be surprised, as I was, to learn this is not the case. Nearly all modern biblical scholars agree the gospels were written several decades after Jesus’ death by unknown authors, none of which knew Jesus personally or were present at any of the events they described. Not only is this evidenced by the number of discrepancies in the various accounts, but even the author of Luke writes the information he recorded was “handed on” to him (Luke 1:2).

Furthermore, following tradition, the writers did not write historical facts; they wrote stories about Jesus – much as a fiction author would do today – based on hearsay that spread after his death. They even copied content from other manuscripts that were in circulation. In other words, the gospels were created from received information, filtered and modified by imaginative writers.

According to E.P. Sanders and others, the goal was not to provide a biography of Jesus, but rather to express and reinforce a faith-based perspective of this man who walked the dusty roads of Palestine. As C.H. Dodd puts it, each gospel was “a report of certain happenings, together with, and inseparably interwoven with, an interpretation of these happenings.” Yet centuries of Christians have taken these accounts at face value and experienced little difficulty in explaining away inconsistencies.”

             Nan Yielding, in “Things I Never Learned in Sunday School”
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Compiler’s Note: I read an advanced copy of this book earlier this summer and found it very compelling. It is now available in eBook format from both Amazon.com for Kindle and BarnesandNoble.com for the Nook or any other reader that supports ePUB files. 

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