Book Review: “Mark, Canonizer of Paul” by Tom Dykstra (2012) — Pt. 2

Chp. 3: The Chimera of Oral Tradition      Like the Aramaic substratum thesis (Casey et al) the poor oral tradition has really been taking a beating lately and seems to be going the way of the dodo. I have no problem dispensing with the oral tradition theory and so skipped this long chapter on the first run-through. Dykstra asks (41): “How can a narrative written 30-plus years after the events that it records include such vivid detail..?” And: “How is it that Mark’s elaborate narrative appeared suddenly out of nowhere after three decades?” Whoah. This dating is increasingly passé. Accumulating data are showing that the Gospel of Mark probably dates to the second century CE, not the first (hence GMt and … Continue reading

Book Review: “Mark, Canonizer of Paul” by Tom Dykstra (2012) — Pt. 1

I recently finished an excellent book by Tom Dykstra, a virtually unknown American writer whose work deserves a careful read by those interested in Christian origins. The title, Mark, Canonizer of Paul: A New Look at Intertextuality in Mark’s Gospel (OCABS PRESS, 2012) won’t raise many eyebrows. After all, no one questions that the Gospel of Mark postdates Paul. And most would also agree that Markan theology and Pauline theology are in virtual lock-step: salvation comes through belief that we have been saved by the atoning death of Jesus on the cross. That is the so-called Pauline kerygma. Stated baldly, salvation comes through belief (in salvation). Christianity has managed to flourish for two thousand years based on this circular proposition. … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 4

          “I think that [the Catholic Church] stands for everything most hostile to the mental emancipation and stimulation of mankind. It is the completest, most highly organized system of prejudices and antagonisms in existence. Everywhere in the world there are ignorance and prejudice, but the greatest complex of these, with the most extensive prestige and the most intimate entanglement with traditional institutions, is the Roman Catholic Church. It presents many faces towards the world, but everywhere it is systematic in its fight against freedom.”         —H.G. Wells, in an interview with J. Rowland, editor of the London Literary Observer (March, 1944).   The conclusion of excerpts from Wells’ book, Crux Ansata:       (P. 109) The history of England since the Reformation … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 3

… Ever since the Church of Rome became rich in the fourth century there has been a spirited struggle for the control of the treasury. As early as 366 more than 160 of the supporters of the rival candidates had to be buried, and as late as 1492 the ‘butcher’s bill’ was more than 200. This struggle is now more refined; though when the Pope says his first mass he still has nobles at hand to take the first sip of the wine and see that it has not been poisoned.    If Pius IX had soreseen the election of Leo XIII he would have excommunicated him, but if Leo XIII had foreseen that at his death the cardinals would vote for … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells) – Pt. 2

Excerpts from Crux Ansata (cont.) (P. 22)     As early as the fifth century Christianity had already become greater, sturdier and more enduring than any empire had ever been, because it was something not merely imposed upon men, but interwoven with their deeper instinct for righteousness. It reached out far beyond the utmost limits of the empire, into Armenia, Persia, Abyssinia, Ireland, Germany, India and Turkmenistan. It had become something no statesman could ignore.    …The Church was to be the ruler of the world over all nations, the divinely-led ruling power over a great league of terrestrial states… The history of Europe from the fifth century onward to the fifteenth is very largely the history of the failure of this great idea … Continue reading

An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (by H.G. Wells)–Pt. 1

Book review with excerpts Part One H.G. Wells (best known for his science fiction classics War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Doctor Moreau) penned his provocative book, Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church in 1943 during the Second World War, following the author’s tenure as Minister of Allied Propaganda. Crux Ansata (Lat: “Cross with a handle”) refers to the symbol which in the late Middle Ages came to represent the Christian religion centered in Rome. The book caused an immediate sensation, provoking bitter rebuttals from the Church and conservatives in the West. Such reactions are understandable when one notes that Wells ends with a chapter entitled “Why don’t we bomb Rome?” (In … Continue reading

The Politics of Archaeology in Israel

Christine R. Perdue’s master’s degree thesis, “The Politics of Archaeology in Israel” (University of Oregon, Interdisciplinary Studies, 2005), is a blistering indictment of Israeli government policies regarding the practice of archaeology both on Israeli soil and in the occupied territories. According to WorldCat only one copy of this thesis exists, namely, at the University of Oregon library. In a fortuitous coincidence, I happen to live only a few blocks away. Perdue reveals her overall goal on page 2: “I will argue that archaeology in Israel has been politicized successively through the efforts of colonialists, biblical archaeologists, the process of nation-state building and tourism, and that ‘the facts’ of archaeological investigation have been and continue to be determined through political agendas … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 3

(Published Easter Sunday) On this Easter Sunday, ‘year of our Lord’ 2013, we may note that Father Thomas Brodie’s Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus offers the world a closely reasoned analysis showing that “Jesus of Nazareth” is a fiction, a literary construct cunningly based on Jewish scripture. Brodie has done nothing less than deconstruct normative Christianity based on literary source criticism. Of course, Thomas Brodie is no Johnny come lately, no dillettante, no wild-eyed hater of Christianity… He is both a Dominican priest and a distinguished bible scholar with an extensive resumé of published work going back many decades. Throughout his academic career, Brodie’s specialization has been literary source criticism. In this domain, he is the expert. Brodie … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 2

Though himself a priest, Brodie is alive to the faults of the Church. He writes: [F]or many, the message about Jesus Christ is mired beneath layers of pain and anger, because, regardless of how you interpret the Christian vision, history is strewn with sickness, accidents and disasters; and the religious institution or its representatives have done harm: crusades; inquisitions; imperious use of authority; involvement with brutal regimes and conquests; mistreatment of people, of peoples, of women, of children, and of those who are different in some way; unduly black-and-white rulings on wrenching moral and medical issues; cover-ups; and thousands of diverse kinds of offenses committed by members and ministers of the church. How could anyone believe the message given by … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 1

I have just finished reading Thomas L. Brodie’s Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery (Sheffield Phoenix, 2012). A friend gifted me his copy (thanks Alan) and that prompted me to immediately read this important monograph and to delay the rest of the “to read” pile on my desk. Being a painfully slow reader, I spent several weeks on the book and now offer my extended comments on this signal publication in the history of Jesus mythicism. Beyond the Quest is a mixture of two things: autobiography and historical-theological analysis, all (except chp. 7) written in an accessible style—like having an extended cup of coffee (p. xv). Jesus mythicists may not be that interested in the … Continue reading