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Saturday, April 17, 2010

What I'm Reading Today: Luke 23

There have been many wonderful things I’ve gained from reading the scholarly work of individuals like John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg. They have helped me understand both the sacred writings of our faith and the traditions of Christianity in new and exciting ways.

One of the examples I would give of this is the way they have talked about the portrayal of whom was primarily responsible for Jesus’ death. Each of the Gospel, for instance, portrays the religious leaders of Jesus’ day as having primary responsibility for Jesus’ death. The political leaders come out looking remarkably innocent. Luke’s Gospel is perhaps the one that comes closest to putting some responsibility on the political leaders (i.e. pointing out that they didn’t see that Jesus had done anything wrong and could have let him go but instead decided to cave in to public pressure).

So why might the authors of the Gospels been so willing to put all of the blame squarely on the religious establishment and let the political leaders off the hook?

Traditionalists would say, “Because that’s where the primary responsibility belonged.” Folks with a more progressive bent like Crossan and Borg would say, “Because the newly emerging movement wanted to fly under the radar of the political establishment so they told Jesus’ story in such a way as to avoid offending the political leaders.”

Which of those perspectives captures the fullness of the truth?

Those of us who live 2,000 after the fact will never know the answer to that question with 100% certainty. Instead, our conclusion will be shaped by our faith – and that’s okay. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that all events that happen do so within a context – and that context shapes the way we tell our story.

With that in mind, I would invite you to spend some time today thinking about the ways in which your particular context has influenced the way you tell Jesus’ story? How has your level of education, your social/economic location, your racial/ethnic identity and your religious background shaped your narrative?

Once you get in touch with the ways these things have shaped your experience of Jesus’ story, perhaps it will help you be more aware of/sensitive toward the way other people’s context has shaped their telling – and you’ll be able to give them more space and respect.

Til next time…

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