Friday, December 21, 2012

"From Jesus to Christ ..."

Anyone inclined towards Christianity might want to take a look at "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians."

A Public Broadcast System presentation by the program "Frontline," the lengthy production is measured and thoughtful and gives some sense of how something called "Christianity" gained currency. Although I didn't watch all of it -- I'm only interested up to a point in Christianity -- still I admired the care in speculation and history that it offered. Serious Christians might be interested too.

Bits a snippets of information -- nothing grand -- stuck in my mind. Christianity is the religion of the culture I live in, so I was grateful for something other than swooning bias, no matter how uncertain the historical footing of the presentation.

Bits and snippets ... Jesus was more than likely not the poverty-stricken simple man he is sometimes portrayed as: In order to do business as a carpenter, the odds favor his having known at least a smattering of three languages ... Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic; when he preached, most of it was done in smaller, less sophisticated communities where preachers were not a dime a dozen; authorities did not object to the miracles attributed to Jesus -- miracles were something they already credited -- but they did object to the suggestion that God was the framework in which they occurred ... God and not the authority of Rome; overturning the money tables in the temple was no big deal -- people routinely criticized what went on in the temple; the notion that a group would have gathered at Jesus' crucifixion is highly unlikely ... crucifixion was a Roman punishment not a Jewish one; it was as grisly in people's eyes then as it is now; it was held in a place reserved for such things, away from populations and yet near enough to serve as a warning; death by crucifixion was slow and painful and resulted not so much from bleeding as from the elements and the slumping of the body and the increasing difficulty of breathing....

And there were other bits and pieces. I am probably not doing accurate justice to what I do recall.

History and archaeology and credulousness were all given a quiet attention in what I saw of the show. In my mind, the show was not a question of  the truth or falsehood of a given spiritual persuasion ... it was a matter of how a credulousness might have been spawned.

Anglican thinker Charles Williams once wrote, "People believe what they want to believe." What impresses me is a willingness to investigate the foundations of that belief, whatever it may be. Belief is such an inspiration for starters and such a hellish acquisition in the long haul. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism ... same stuff, different day: Belief inspires and then, if that's all there is to it, becomes selfish, cruel and destructive.

Anyway ... I thought it was a good show ... FWIW.

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