Jump to content

Thoughts From Western Civ


Recommended Posts

So I started going back to school this summer and my first class is western civ. I am going for an environmental science degree so I wasn't interested in this class (it’s a requirement). However, I am so glad to be in it. I have a couple of thoughts from what we have gone through so far.

 

1. When you look at history the evolution of God is so transparent. First there were spirits, then there were gods, then one god must be the ruler over the other gods, then there is only one god, and finally then his followers must make everyone submit to the one god.

 

2. My jaw almost hit the floor when I read the chapter about the Pharisees. The NT makes them out to be Jesus's biggest enemies and the ultimate assholes. However, when you examine their beliefs they are almost exactly the same as modern day orthodox Christianity. I can’t be the only person who finds this extremely ironic.

 

3. It turns early Christians were not as strict in their attitudes about sex and other worldly things as one might think. It seems that after Constantine made Rome Christian they were no longer persecuted so they had to find another way for their flesh to suffer. Also there was not as much concentration on correct teaching (thought police) until good ole Constantine came around and hammered out the doctrines of orthodoxy.

 

Anyway I did not expect to find so many answers in this class.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's interesting. When I took Western Civilization many years there was very little covered that related to Christianity or any other religion. Oh, it was touched upon but not to any depth at all. After all,

parents didn't want anything bad said about Xtianity, even though the parents themselves didn't know

anything about Xtian history. bill

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really? In my class we have gone very in depth into the beliefs that shaped western societies.

My professor is good about pointing out which people borrowed beliefs from each other.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

2. My jaw almost hit the floor when I read the chapter about the Pharisees. The NT makes them out to be Jesus's biggest enemies and the ultimate assholes. However, when you examine their beliefs they are almost exactly the same as modern day orthodox Christianity. I can’t be the only person who finds this extremely ironic.

 

Hrm, how does your book describe them? There's, alas, a lot of bad scholarship on the pharisees - E.P. Sanders devotes about two whole books (if you add up the chapters dealing with them and descriptions of them from several of his books) to how a rather bad description of the pharisees is present in many works on them - in fact, he even points out how the most quoted scholars on them often provide sources for their claims, where the sources say the exact opposite.

 

Interestingly enough, the NT doesn't really make them out to be that bad - it's just that most commentaries and books of biblical interpretation assumes the NT does make them out to be just that bad, and run with that assumption when interpreting everything they do. So it's not unusual your preachers and clergymen will think the bible makes them look much worse than it really does; the problem here, really, is that early protestantism retrojected their ideas of what they were fighting for onto the Jesus narratives.

 

Essentially, the early protestants objected to catholicism for having certain traits. They then came up with the idea that they were fighting the same fight Jesus fought, and so they read the NT with that assumption. Modern evangelicalism and fundamentalism, of course, has turned into something very much like what protestantism pretended it was fighting against, so ...

 

I do recommend E.P. Sanders 'Paul and Palestinian Judaism', the first few chapters are a really good deconstruction and criticism of the mainstream Christian view of the pharisees, followed by a rather credible reconstruction of pharisean theology based on textual evidence (unlike the mainstream Christian view, which is based on second-hand and third-hand recountings of textual evidence).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, but that's what causes so much of the religious violence, after all. Nothing quite so threatening as a heretic - someone who believes almost, but not quite, the exact same stuff you do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I started going back to school this summer and my first class is western civ. I am going for an environmental science degree so I wasn't interested in this class (it’s a requirement). However, I am so glad to be in it. I have a couple of thoughts from what we have gone through so far.

 

1. When you look at history the evolution of God is so transparent. First there were spirits, then there were gods, then one god must be the ruler over the other gods, then there is only one god, and finally then his followers must make everyone submit to the one god.

 

2. My jaw almost hit the floor when I read the chapter about the Pharisees. The NT makes them out to be Jesus's biggest enemies and the ultimate assholes. However, when you examine their beliefs they are almost exactly the same as modern day orthodox Christianity. I can’t be the only person who finds this extremely ironic.

 

3. It turns early Christians were not as strict in their attitudes about sex and other worldly things as one might think. It seems that after Constantine made Rome Christian they were no longer persecuted so they had to find another way for their flesh to suffer. Also there was not as much concentration on correct teaching (thought police) until good ole Constantine came around and hammered out the doctrines of orthodoxy.

 

Anyway I did not expect to find so many answers in this class.

 

Yeah, apparently, we have to thank Constantine for a lot. How ironic, in Christianity, we were to be thankful that God used Constantine to help spread the word. Haha, and, now as ex-Christians, it's STILL thanks to Constantine what we went through.  I mean, not totally JUST him, but it is odd, isn't it? How much influence he has really had probably never even really knew. How ironic.  And, yeah, the early Christians didn't seem so bad. 

 

I've always been disturbed about the pharisees. They got into so much trouble for practicing their beliefs. I don't know. The Bible really IS convoluted once you get out of it. It's hard to believe that so many people have followed it for so long. Just bizarre, really. Guess that's life, though. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

The faithful are not interested in looking at any real history. It's like looking behind the curtain, and knowing the truth would ruin everything.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The faithful are not interested in looking at any real history. It's like looking behind the curtain, and knowing the truth would ruin everything.

I know when I used to hear history that contradicted the bible I would try m hardest to block it out of my mind. I guess faith requires willful ignorance.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interestingly enough, the NT doesn't really make them out to be that bad - it's just that most commentaries and books of biblical interpretation assumes the NT does make them out to be just that bad, and run with that assumption when interpreting everything they do. So it's not unusual your preachers and clergymen will think the bible makes them look much worse than it really does; the problem here, really, is that early protestantism retrojected their ideas of what they were fighting for onto the Jesus narratives.

I don't know, you sure about this interpretation?  Jesus calls the Pharisees "broods of vipers" (Matthew 12:34) and tells his disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees" (Matthew 16:6).  As DK said, I've also read independent literature about the Pharisees, and found them to be far better than what the New Testament portrays them as.  And it seems to only have harsh words for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Interestingly enough, the NT doesn't really make them out to be that bad - it's just that most commentaries and books of biblical interpretation assumes the NT does make them out to be just that bad, and run with that assumption when interpreting everything they do. So it's not unusual your preachers and clergymen will think the bible makes them look much worse than it really does; the problem here, really, is that early protestantism retrojected their ideas of what they were fighting for onto the Jesus narratives.

I don't know, you sure about this interpretation?  Jesus calls the Pharisees "broods of vipers" (Matthew 12:34) and tells his disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees" (Matthew 16:6).  As DK said, I've also read independent literature about the Pharisees, and found them to be far better than what the New Testament portrays them as.  And it seems to only have harsh words for them.

 

Clearly there was a strong tension between Jesus and the Pharisees. However, duly note that there's very little about what they actually *taught* in the NT. Most of the assumptions about what they taught turn out to be rather misleading and based on thin air. All we get to know is that what they teach is like leaven. OTOH, we also know what they taught is much closer to what Jesus taught than what the sadducees were teaching was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.