Jesus Died For Somebody's Sins, But...
Roland and I are getting ready for our trip to Kerala. I was there in 1970, driving between Goa and Sri Lanka. I've never been back and Roland, who loves India and has been there several times, has never seen Kerala except on YouTube. He asked me what I could remember from my trip there over 40 years ago. A lot of lush green, a broken down, abandoned old synagogue and dacoits who had put a big boulder in the middle of the road so they could rob us (although they screwed it up and we were able to drive around the boulder). I'm not great with specifics. Oh, and I remember that if you ate in a "high class" joint the food was served on a banana leaf; otherwise they just slopped it down onto the table in front of you.
I'm so bad at remembering specifics though. I remember impressions but almost never details. Roland's great at it. He remembers every little detail of everything. He describes meals we ate in restaurants in towns I don't even remember going to. With all the hubbub in Israel-Palestine last week, he asked me if I remembered much about our trip to the West Bank. I recalled the Israeli Army presence in Bethelhem on Christmas Eve and I remember it was cold and that we saw the spot where Jesus was born. Roland put his head in it in the hopes he'd keep his hair and then told me to put my head in it so my hair would grow back. I didn't-- and it didn't. He's 40 already and no signs of baldness whatsoever. And then, yesterday I was struck with the revelation that Jesus might not have even been born in the silver encased spot Roland put his head on His birthday eve-- nor was that even remotely His birthday.
Pope Benedict, the Nazi Pope, has a brand new book out, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. Ratzinger, the Nazi Pope, claims Jesus was born several years earlier than Christian
The belief that animals were in the stable where Christ was born has proved an enduring tradition even in the Vatican-- the elaborate Nativity scene set up in St Peter's Square in the weeks before Christmas each year has featured livestock such as sheep. Virgin birth, on the other hand, that's absolutely true, "an 'unequivocal' pillar of Christian belief," according to the Nazi Pope. But where Jesus was born... well, the Nazi Pope has something to say about that too; he says Bethelhem, not Nazareth. Thank goodness!
John Barton, Professor of the Interpretation of the Holy Scripture at Oriel College, Oxford University, said most academics agreed with the Pope that the Christian calendar was wrong and that Jesus was born several years earlier than commonly thought, probably between 6BC and 4BC.I don't want to get Roland crazy about his hair falling out, so I'll just keep this whole thing to myself. And there is still just one partridge in a pear tree.
"There is no reference to when he was born in the Bible-- all we know is that he was born in the reign of Herod the Great, who died before 1AD," he told the Daily Telegraph. "It's been surmised for a very long time that Jesus was born before 1AD-- no one knows for sure."
The idea that Christ was born on Dec 25 also has no basis in historical fact. "We don't even know which season he was born in. The whole idea of celebrating his birth during the darkest part of the year is probably linked to pagan traditions and the winter solstice."
..."The accounts of Matthew and Luke are not myths taken a stage further. They are firmly rooted, in terms of their basic conception, in the biblical tradition of God the Creator and Redeemer," he writes.
The virgin birth and the story of Christ's resurrection were "cornerstones of faith."
...The Pope also sounded a note of caution over the popular belief that angels sang to the shepherds to proclaim Christ's birth, as recalled in the Christmas carol "Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King."
He writes that when the gospels refer to the "heavenly host" of angels "praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest," they in fact spoke the words rather than sang them.
"According to the evangelist, the angels "said" this," Benedict writes. "But Christianity has always understood that the speech of angels is actually song, in which all the glory of the great joy that they proclaim becomes tangibly present."
The misunderstanding spawned the tradition of carol singing, the Pope said. "To this day... simple believers join in their caroling on the Holy Night, proclaiming in song the great joy that, from then until the end of time, is bestowed on all people."