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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Speaking of Historical Ignorance...

Remember this heated thread from November? I was listing some alternative to Jesus being the Messiah or a madman (CS Lewis's two options) when he claimed things like "The Father and I are one."

My first possible option was:

'1) Jesus claimed "to be God," but meant this in the way a Hindu would, where, if the acolyte says "I am God," the sage says, "You've finally figured this out, hey?"'

Some fellow David chided me, saying:

'1) Jesus was a Jew and not a Hindu. This is not a legitimate alternative, because God Almighty/Yahweh does not have alternative meanings to a Jew (at least in the first century AD).'

At the time, I noted that there had been Buddhist missionaries through the Near East by that time. But, I neglected a much more prevalent, possible source for such an idea in 20 AD Palestine: Stoicism. The Stoics taught that all souls are just sparks of the divine fire, and actually are parts of God. And Stoicism had tremendous influence in Jewish thought at that time. So, far from it being impossible for a Jew of 20 AD to think that way, it is a near historical certainty that there were many Jews who were thinking thoughts just like that.

1 comment:

  1. Gene,

    I enjoyed this post. I have been studying other religions, and I have begun to take philosophy of religion courses here at Texas Tech. As a Catholic, I have noticed that the Church is somewhat friendly to other religions;

    "The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things..."

    -The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 843)

    I also think that Lewis' argument is absolutely terrible. I just have some quick comments, though;

    a) Upon my (small) amount of study with Hinduism and Buddhism, I don't think that Hindu guru's and bodhisattva's are thought of as "divine" until they undergo some form of "enlightenment." But Christ was seen as Divine upon his birth.

    b) I would assume that Keith Ward, a philosopher that I am coming to enjoy immensely, would have some good reasons as to why he does, in fact, think that Christ was the Incarnation of the Divine Mind - this is especially interesting, since Ward's area of expertise is the study of religions and their philosophy, something that he has done for a very long time - especially Hinduism, which he has studied for its philosophical musings on Idealism!

    I am not arguing that Lewis' argument is sound - I don't even think that it is valid! I just thought I would put some stuff out there after I had considered this a bit last night.

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