Saturday, November 15, 2008

Google Jesus - Week 3 Assignment

One of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament comes when Jesus at Caesarea Philippi asks his disciples who the crowds think him to be. They reply with a series of choices—Elijah, John the Baptist, etc. Then Jesus asks of them: “Who do you say that I am?” This weeks lesson works with this theme. We’re going to visit three web sites that give different answers to our question. These are substantial sites that you should explore and sample areas that are of interest to you.

Barry Smith, a Baptist professor, offers an entire online course on the Life of Jesus. Pick a section(s) that interest you and spend some time with the material. Cam Howard presents a portrait of Jesus based on the work of Marcus Borg who you met in last week’s assignment. Finally, the Jewish Encyclopedia allows us to look at the ministry of Jesus through the eyes of Jewish scholars.

We begin our assignment with a Mahon’s Smith’s Land of Israel. This is not just a map of first century Israel. Left click on one of the place names and check out the resources that pop up about that location and its relation to Jesus. We conclude with a brief essay by Gerd Ludemann, a secular scholar and skeptic who has written extensively about Jesus and the origins of Christianity. His summary of Jesus and his ministry is insightful even as his conclusions are disheartening. And finally, a bonus assignment for those with time and interest in the topics shown.

Online Assignment

Mahlon Smith – Land of Israel (Click here)

Barry D. Smith - Life of Jesus (Click here)

Cam Howard’s Portrait of Jesus (Click here)

The Jewish Encyclopedia – Jesus of Nazareth (Click here)

Gerd Ludemann – The Life of Jesus (Click here)

Bonus Assignment

Did Jesus Oppose the Purity Laws - Paula Fredriksen is William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of the Appreciation of Scripture at Boston University . She specializes in the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity, from the late Second Temple period to the fall of the Western Roman Empire . In 1999 she received a national Jewish Book Award for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity. This article originally appeared in Bible Review. She is, I believe, a Roman Catholic convert to Judaism. (Click here)

Jesus and Women - Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School , Department of Religious Studies, and Graduate Department of Religion. Her most recent publications include The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, the edited collection, The Historical Jesus in Context and the fourteen-volume series, Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings. She is an Orthodox Jew.

This lecture was delivered to the Otter Street Church of Christ in Nashville, TN. The Church of Christ traditionally has not permitted women to teach, preach, or take public worship leadership roles because of their belief that such activity violates God’s will, as seen in such passages as 1 Corinthians 14:34 where Paul writes that “women should remain silent in the churches.”
(Click here)

Online Question of the Week
How would you describe Jesus’ ministry from a historical perspective? Try your hand at providing a brief thumbnail sketch of Jesus and his ministry in just a few sentences with these limitations: no confessional language or theological descriptors (Savior, Son of God, etc.).

Reading Assignment – Jesus and the Land
Read Chapter 3, pp 71 – 109

The author presents two “conversion experiences” that he presumes for Jesus. But what about Jesus’ baptism by John? In what sense was that too a “conversion experience”? Share a few comments around the idea that Jesus’ faith developed through a series of religious experiences.


Judy H. said...

Brevity is not my strong suit, but here's my attempt at a "brief thumbnail sketch" of the historical Jesus and his ministry:

Around the year 27 CE, a Jewish peasant of the Natzorean clan, known as Jesus of Nazareth, became known in Palestine as a teacher and healer. Originally a follower of John the Baptist, Jesus returned to his homeland in the Galilee, settling in Capernaum, where he gathered his own group of loyal disciples. Shortly after John's death at the hands of Herod Antipas, Jesus launched his own ministry, centered primarily in a triangular area north of the Sea of Galilee, from Capernaum east to Bethsaida and north to Chorazin. His reputation for healing, coupled with a revolutionary social message, soon attracted large crowds and brought him under the dangerous scrutiny of Herod Antipas and the Roman government. Continually on the move, Jesus and his followers traveled briefly to the Decapolis, Phonecia, and Gaulonitis, before arriving in Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover. Shortly thereafter, Jesus of Nazareth was accused of treason and subsequently executed by crucifixion outside the city walls, bringing an end to his brief career.

Judy H. said...

Loved the "surprise" bonus lecture by A.J. Levine! Kudos to the Otter Creek CoC for inviting her; most Churches of Christ would not be so welcoming. I can say that, being a (black sheep) member of the CoC!

As a longtime student of women's gifts and women's roles in the church, I appreciated many of Ms. Levine's points. These three stood out:

1. In Protestantism, the feminine presence of God has pretty much been obliterated.

2. Keeping women nameless or leaving them out of the New Testament story altogether gives us an incomplete picture of the gospel.

3. In the sexual ethics of Jesus, women had dignity and value as full members of the family of God. Their importance was not based on biology or marital state or reproductive capacity. In the family of God, all members play an equal role, and everyone has a place at the table. And while these family members act with love and respect toward one another, the only true authority they answer to is God the father. Amen.