What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by gillyflower on Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:51 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:
gillyflower wrote:Does no one here have a problem with a god blinding a person just so the god can give the person back his sight in a showy manner so that other people are impressed?

Huh? Where does any portion of this text (John 9:1-12) say that God caused the man to have been born blind?

The point that Jesus makes, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me,...[RSV, John 9-4], is not that God blinded the man so that Jesus could give the man sight but rather that "We must work the works of him who sent me." This point, I suspect, is part of a manuscript different from those of the rest of the story about the blind man given sight. (Wish I had a book that breaks down the Bible into what comes from which manuscript. It would be interesting to see if the story is all from a single manuscript. So much of the Bible is not that I have my doubts.)

That "We must work the works of him who sent me" is the point. We take what we have in life and use that to develop spiritually if we make progress. If we do not work with our circumstances but instead bemoan them, we are not progressing.

I think the portion I've quoted is quite consistent with the beliefs I mentioned previously. The blind man chose that condition in order to better "work the works of him who sent me."

Now, if you choose to believe that Jesus gave him sight, then he would work out his spiritual lesson henceforth by other means than attempting to work around being blind.

Was being a beggar the only thing open to a blind man in that time and place? I wonder, or is that possibly an illustration that the story is actually about someone wallowing in his blindness and refusing to work to make the most of his life despite being blind? Is this story really about being spiritually "blind" and then having one's eyes "opened" by some extraordinary experience that then shows a person the way to manifesting spirit in life?

I don't suppose we'll ever know.

This is the quote from the bible that I am addressing:

Now as Jesus was passing by, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him.

Or this one from the King James version:


<< John 9 >>
King James Bible
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Are you saying that God did not dictate that the man was blind? And that Jesus isn't saying that it was done so that Jesus could heal him and people be impressed?

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Mon Dec 21, 2009 3:00 pm

It doesn't say that God (or Yahweh or whoever) dictated the man born blind; but rather that he was so that the works of God could be made manifest. It leaves a lot open to question; could it, as I would believe, be the mans choice from before birth that he be born blind to be a spiritual demonstration to many?

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:23 pm

Yes, that's precisely the passage to which I'm referring.

gillyflower wrote: Are you saying that God did not dictate that the man was blind?

Absolutely. And as TED points out, nowhere does it mention a belief that God decreed that the man be born blind.

And that Jesus isn't saying that it was done so that Jesus could heal him and people be impressed?

Weeeelll, there might be some question about Jesus's having happened to be there so that he could heal the man, but no, I don't think at all that Jesus is implying that his healing the man was done to make a point about what wonders Jesus could do as the presumed Son of God. For one thing, such an attitude would be very out of character for Jesus.

Healing the man was Jesus's means of "making manifest the works of God." You use your talents as you're able to help others.

Remember John F. Kennedy's famous statement, "Here on earth, God's works must truly be our own"? I think that's an echo of this story. We are all here to bring into being on earth the goodness of God, limited though our ability to do so may be.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:04 pm

Drat. I desire Dot's ability to put things into words. :p

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:16 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:It doesn't say that God (or Yahweh or whoever) dictated the man born blind; but rather that he was so that the works of God could be made manifest. It leaves a lot open to question; could it, as I would believe, be the mans choice from before birth that he be born blind to be a spiritual demonstration to many?

Yeah, as I mentioned, I'm not all that certain that this passage is about literal blindness and Jesus's giving the man physical sight. Even Christians sometimes interpret this as I suggested, that the man was spiritually blind, and Jesus gave him the means of "seeing the light."

There's some question, too, about whether Saul's having had Jesus appear to him on the road to Damascus is meant literally. Some say that it wasn't an actual apparition but only a life-changing vision. Some maintain that it's a story put into concrete terms about the profound spiritual transformation that caused the man Saul to change his name to Paul and become a Christian evangelist.

Interestingly, I've encountered some argument that the stories about Jesus are simply mystery school tales developed to illustrate spiritual principles to the masses. Initiates of these schools would interpret them in ways far more complex than the literal.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:21 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:Drat. I desire Dot's ability to put things into words. :p

Ahhh...but you have insights that don't occur to me, TED.

We all have our talents.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by gillyflower on Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:26 pm

Jesus does not say that the man chose to be born blind. Don't you think he would have said that if he had?

Everything that happens, according to the Christians, happens for Yahweh's reason and because Yahweh wills it. The man was born blind because Yahweh wanted him born blind and Yahweh's reason was so that when he grew up, Jesus could provide a miracle to impress people or Yahweh could work a miracle and Jesus could tell everyone about it. It is very clear that "the works of Yahweh could be manifested in him" means a miracle provided. It is in the bible so that other people would read about it (or hear about it at the time) and be impressed.

I don't think that Jesus is claiming to be Yahweh here. He is simply saying that the man was born blind so that Yahweh could give him sight later, provide a miracle.

It is God's Will that people are born blind or with birth defects or with diseases, at least in the churches I've attended, and no one knows why it happens. I've heard that a hundred times in church along with saying that Yahweh never gives anyone any more than they can bear. Either he is in control of everything or he isn't.

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by gillyflower on Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:32 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:
TigersEyeDowsing wrote:It doesn't say that God (or Yahweh or whoever) dictated the man born blind; but rather that he was so that the works of God could be made manifest. It leaves a lot open to question; could it, as I would believe, be the mans choice from before birth that he be born blind to be a spiritual demonstration to many?

Yeah, as I mentioned, I'm not all that certain that this passage is about literal blindness and Jesus's giving the man physical sight. Even Christians sometimes interpret this as I suggested, that the man was spiritually blind, and Jesus gave him the means of "seeing the light."

There's some question, too, about whether Saul's having had Jesus appear to him on the road to Damascus is meant literally. Some say that it wasn't an actual apparition but only a life-changing vision. Some maintain that it's a story put into concrete terms about the profound spiritual transformation that caused the man Saul to change his name to Paul and become a Christian evangelist.

Interestingly, I've encountered some argument that the stories about Jesus are simply mystery school tales developed to illustrate spiritual principles to the masses. Initiates of these schools would interpret them in ways far more complex than the literal.

The Book of Q, yes I've heard that the NT started out as a selection of parables that Jesus, the teacher, used to teach to the masses, which were saved and used by other teachers. And it works for me.

However, the problem is, for me, does one point to a story like this and say, of course it didn't happen like it is reported! Yahweh wouldn't do that! Does one do that to all the stories about Yahweh that don't show the god in a good light? Just assume none of them happened?

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:05 pm

gillyflower wrote:Jesus does not say that the man chose to be born blind. Don't you think he would have said that if he had?

Everything that happens, according to the Christians, happens for Yahweh's reason and because Yahweh wills it. The man was born blind because Yahweh wanted him born blind and Yahweh's reason was so that when he grew up, Jesus could provide a miracle to impress people or Yahweh could work a miracle and Jesus could tell everyone about it. It is very clear that "the works of Yahweh could be manifested in him" means a miracle provided. It is in the bible so that other people would read about it (or hear about it at the time) and be impressed.

I don't think that Jesus is claiming to be Yahweh here. He is simply saying that the man was born blind so that Yahweh could give him sight later, provide a miracle.

It is God's Will that people are born blind or with birth defects or with diseases, at least in the churches I've attended, and no one knows why it happens. I've heard that a hundred times in church along with saying that Yahweh never gives anyone any more than they can bear. Either he is in control of everything or he isn't.

That is certainly one way to look at it, and I daresay the traditional Christian understanding of the passage. The problem with this interpretation is that Dot and I are far from a typical Christian viewpoint. Wink

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:08 pm

gillyflower wrote:Jesus does not say that the man chose to be born blind. Don't you think he would have said that if he had?

The only thing that this passage demonstrates is that Jesus says the man wasn't born blind because he or his parents had sinned in a past life. The passage is cited as evidence that there was belief in reincarnation at that time or why would Jesus have been asked this?

I wasn't implying that this passage either confirms or denies the belief that the soul chooses the circumstances of our birth before we're born. It can hardly do so.

For one thing, I don't believe that Jesus existed. I think these are all "superhero" stories originally meant to illustrate spiritual truths for the common folk in appealing and dramatic ways.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:10 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:That is certainly one way to look at it, and I daresay the traditional Christian understanding of the passage. The problem with this interpretation is that Dot and I are far from a typical Christian viewpoint. Wink

Precisely.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by gillyflower on Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:28 pm

DotNotInOz wrote:
gillyflower wrote:Jesus does not say that the man chose to be born blind. Don't you think he would have said that if he had?

The only thing that this passage demonstrates is that Jesus says the man wasn't born blind because he or his parents had sinned in a past life. The passage is cited as evidence that there was belief in reincarnation at that time or why would Jesus have been asked this?

I wasn't implying that this passage either confirms or denies the belief that the soul chooses the circumstances of our birth before we're born. It can hardly do so.

For one thing, I don't believe that Jesus existed. I think these are all "superhero" stories originally meant to illustrate spiritual truths for the common folk in appealing and dramatic ways.

Actually I do believe that Jesus existed, but I think that he was a revered teacher. I think the Book of Q has it more right than anyone else, just because that fits better IMO and seems more logical. I don't think that the Romans killed him though. I think that they were more than capable of doing so, it is just they were so good about records and they have none for this event. If the Romans killed him, it probably went down another way. Early Christianity was the religion of slaves and it would mean something to them to have the Romans be the bad guys however.

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:54 pm

I figure that Jesus had to have a basis in real life in some form or another. We go with what we have; that is, the scriptures we're left with, altered and raped. My faith, however, isn't contingent on whether or not he existed as the teachings stand regardless.

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:23 pm

gillyflower wrote:I don't think that the Romans killed him though. I think that they were more than capable of doing so, it is just they were so good about records and they have none for this event. If the Romans killed him, it probably went down another way. Early Christianity was the religion of slaves and it would mean something to them to have the Romans be the bad guys however.

The fact that there is no mention whatsoever of this execution in Roman provincial records is part of why I don't believe Jesus existed. You'd think as much potential as his drawing huge crowds had for civil unrest that some Roman official somewhere would have mentioned this guy Jesus who was costing them so much hassle and extra centurion duty hours trying to keep order in the province whether or not his execution was official. But there's not one mention of such a person.

I'm not denying that many of the characteristics attributed to him may have been those of some charismatic teacher or several such.

But I don't think we have any definite evidence that Jesus existed.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by john5180 on Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:44 pm

I read somewhere years ago that it was believed that Jesus, the man, was a compilation of five different charismatic Rabbis of the era. In the same article, it spoke of the man supposedly set free when the choice was given to either free Jesus or Barabbas. It seems that Barabbas' first name was Jesus. Either way, this article doubted the actual existence of a Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by Roman authorities. The absence of records was an important factor.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by john5180 on Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:52 pm

TigersEyeDowsing wrote:I figure that Jesus had to have a basis in real life in some form or another. We go with what we have; that is, the scriptures we're left with, altered and raped. My faith, however, isn't contingent on whether or not he existed as the teachings stand regardless.

For the record, TED, the teachings of Jesus are hugely important pieces of work. That said, these teachings are not unique to Christianity, or even that specific cult of Judaism which later became Christianity. What the man Jesus taught was common knowledge to Jews of the time. What makes it so unique, (to me at least), was the way it was presented.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by sacrificialgoddess on Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:58 pm

john5180 wrote:I read somewhere years ago that it was believed that Jesus, the man, was a compilation of five different charismatic Rabbis of the era. In the same article, it spoke of the man supposedly set free when the choice was given to either free Jesus or Barabbas. It seems that Barabbas' first name was Jesus. Either way, this article doubted the actual existence of a Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by Roman authorities. The absence of records was an important factor.


You know what that book was? I would like to read it.

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:04 pm

john5180 wrote:I read somewhere years ago that it was believed that Jesus, the man, was a compilation of five different charismatic Rabbis of the era. In the same article, it spoke of the man supposedly set free when the choice was given to either free Jesus or Barabbas. It seems that Barabbas' first name was Jesus. Either way, this article doubted the actual existence of a Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by Roman authorities. The absence of records was an important factor.

I've not seen any mention of how many, just that the scriptural Jesus probably had some basis in any number of fireball preachers of the time.

Yeshua or Jesus was a fairly common name at the time, so who knows?

Maybe we're merely reading the papers produced by a Greek composition class assigned to create a deity appealing to the common people. I'm kidding, but the point is that we know nothing about what the origin or purpose of these stories may actually have been. The original writers might be delighted, appalled or somewhere in between by how we interpret the stories about Jesus today.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by john5180 on Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:37 pm

I can't remember the book, SG, and I've been trying to look it up online since posting this. I read it somewhere around 1997, and it's just too long ago for me to remember.

I'll keep looking and try to prod Fang's memory at the same time. As I recall, someone on the old Beliefnet board had read it too; unfortunately, I don't recall who it was that I talked to about it then either.

Sorry.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:43 pm

sacrificialgoddess wrote:
john5180 wrote:I read somewhere years ago that it was believed that Jesus, the man, was a compilation of five different charismatic Rabbis of the era. In the same article, it spoke of the man supposedly set free when the choice was given to either free Jesus or Barabbas. It seems that Barabbas' first name was Jesus. Either way, this article doubted the actual existence of a Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by Roman authorities. The absence of records was an important factor.


You know what that book was? I would like to read it.

Try Robert M. Price's The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. I don't recall that it mentions the possible origins of a composite Jesus, but Price deconstructs the Gospels and examines what characteristics of Jesus he thinks were derived from other classical sources (including The Iliad and The Odyssey interestingly) as well as analyzing what aspects of the stories have no basis in known history. Really fascinating and quite scholarly in its approach. Definitely not light bedtime reading, however. It's a bit of a slog actually. I've only read portions of it but found those quite impressive.

He has qualifications, having taught New Testament for a number of years.

Now, if you want something highly speculative and just plain enjoyable to read, try Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries. It presents in somewhat more digestible form what the origins of the Jesus persona likely were.

Also, there's an interesting little book by a guy named Randel Helms called Gospel Fictions. He simply demonstrates why nothing about Jesus can be anything but myths derived largely from older ones of savior deities.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by jumbojava on Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:48 pm

gillyflower wrote:You know, we should do a poll, a personality test as it were:

1. Do you feel most comfortable thinking that everything that happens in your life is preplanned by a deity/committee of deities?

2. Do you feel most comfortable thinking that everything happens like it does to you because you have chosen to have it happen like that?

3. Do you feel most comfortable thinking that prior to your life you were permitted to choose some options for it? (Control split between you and deity(s) of choice.)

4. Do you feel most comfortable thinking that life is a great big crap shoot and the game isn't rigged? Anything is possible!

5. Do you feel most comfortable thinking that there are patterns to the universe that you may not understand (some order) and some chaos deliberately built into it and you and the gods navigate it as best as possible? (This is not #3 because here you don't think any being is in charge, or if a being is in charge of the overall program, it is so far from being within your understanding and it's motives and possible goals so far removed that there might as well be no one in charge. I suspect that this is where I fall.)

6. Do you feel most comfortable thinking that life is a test set up by deity or deities unknown and your job is to keep doing the test until you win the right to become the test giver?

Other suggestions welcome!


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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DotNotInOz on Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:09 am

Veeerrry interesting! I decided that I'd get into Price's The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man and finish it.

Just completed his consideration of what evidence we have for an historical Jesus. Answer: none at all. He does an exhaustive survey of not only the relevant biblical passages but also the commentators, specifying dates for the writings where they can be reasonably estimated by cross references in the writings themselves. Price argues rather persuasively that the earliest gospel, Mark, could easily be no earlier than late first century and quite likely somewhat later than that rather than the decade or so after Jesus's crucifixion that Christian apologists claim.

The infamous census that supposedly required a heavily pregnant Mary to go with Joseph to Bethlehem didn't even occur until a decade later than Jesus is assumed to have been born. And December 25 on the Julian calendar was celebrated throughout the Roman Empire as the birthday of Mithras as well as being the eighth day and greatest feast day of the Saturnalia. Curious how that date would come to be associated with this new savior deity.

This book is much more intriguing than I thought!
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:31 am

john5180 wrote:
TigersEyeDowsing wrote:I figure that Jesus had to have a basis in real life in some form or another. We go with what we have; that is, the scriptures we're left with, altered and raped. My faith, however, isn't contingent on whether or not he existed as the teachings stand regardless.

For the record, TED, the teachings of Jesus are hugely important pieces of work. That said, these teachings are not unique to Christianity, or even that specific cult of Judaism which later became Christianity. What the man Jesus taught was common knowledge to Jews of the time. What makes it so unique, (to me at least), was the way it was presented.

I agree.

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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by DeavonReye on Tue Dec 22, 2009 12:04 pm

When I hear of such books, . . . these are my thoughts:

"I wonder if what is being presented is actually true, or a way to bash a religion. If it IS true, why hasn't this information been looked at by bible scholars? If it has, why did they reject this information? If they see it as good information, why continue preaching from the pulpit?"

I think I may have to pick up a copy of this book. It may be a good read for someone, who has had a lifetime of christian indoctrination, to see why such theology is flawed.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

Post by ZenYen on Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:32 pm

DeavonReye wrote:When I hear of such books, . . . these are my thoughts:

"I wonder if what is being presented is actually true, or a way to bash a religion. If it IS true, why hasn't this information been looked at by bible scholars? If it has, why did they reject this information? If they see it as good information, why continue preaching from the pulpit?"

I think I may have to pick up a copy of this book. It may be a good read for someone, who has had a lifetime of christian indoctrination, to see why such theology is flawed.

This information is well known to many Bible scholars. John Shelby Spong is one clergyman who has written popular books about how the Bible came to be and the dates of the various writings, etc., yet he still finds something worthy of worship at the core of Christianity. Karen Armstrong is a former nun and now Bible scholar and writer who is in a similar position. Bart Ehrman is a former fundamentalist who, precisely because he engaged in real scholarship, tossed his fundamentalist beliefs behind once he learned truth.

Of course, leaders of a more fundamentalist ilk simply deny all that scholarship and claim that Spong, Armstrong and others are making things up or being misled by Satan. You can't show evidence to a brick wall and expect the wall to learn something.
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Re: What Exacty did Jesus Fix?

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