Shuck and Jive

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jesus Seminar on WETS

Wayne Winkler of our NPR affiliate, WETS, interviewed Arthur Dewey and me regarding our upcoming Jesus Seminar on the Road.

You can listen to the 15 minute interview here

and catch it tomorrow (Saturday October 23rd) on the
WETS Community Forum.

The Roller Girls will be on first at 7:30.

Followed by Jesus at 7:45.

In the interview Art talked about the parables as that is the focus of the upcoming seminar.

There was not enough time to discuss his new book,

The Authentic Letters of Paul: A New Reading of Paul's Rhetoric and Meaning.

We could have a seminar on that. This is a fascinating book.

Paul, as we all have learned, is an obnoxious, obfuscating, misogynist homophobe.

But after being worked over by the Jesus Seminar he turns out not to be such a bad guy after all. From the Introduction:

This man is a thinker and rhetorician, a visionary and prophet, whose experience of God was so profound that he re-imagined the conditions of existence. This is a man who was alert to the world about him, able to use metaphors that both speak to and challenge his world. This is a utopian thinker who joins in the cultural debate of his time over what constitutes the value and meaning of humanity. This is a man who has glimpsed what it means to live beyond tribal or ethnic boundaries. This is a man who can imagine those considered outsiders as equals, a man who has found freedom and meaning in the rag-tag communities of "nobodies." p. 1.
How is it that we get from Paul the champion of superstition, gay bashing, prudery, and slavish obedience to dictators, to a "visionary and a prophet"?

The question should be asked in reverse. How did a visionary and a prophet of radical equality and justice become the Paul only Charles Colson and the LayMAN could love? It is because the church did the same thing to Paul that they did to Jesus.

Both Paul and Jesus were framed.

They were turned into caricatures of themselves and became cartoonish stooges of Empire (ie. notice the irony of the depiction above of Jesus in royal garb).

What Art Dewey and the Fellows of Westar have done is offer a fresh translation of Paul's seven letters. They regard Acts as a fiction (part of the framing story of Paul) and the other letters traditionally attributed to Paul as impostors. The Westar Fellows are not unique in this. We all learned this in seminary. Furthermore, some of Paul's letters have junk in them (interpolations) that Paul never wrote. And some of the letters are out of order or are a combination of more than one letter. The
Authentic Letters of Paul straightens all that out for us.

What is especially exciting is the new translation that changes the "churchy" words and concepts such as law, grace, sin, faith and so forth into language that helps locate Paul's thought in his context and provide a fresh interpretation (what all translation is) of his ideas and passion.

Will the book be controversial? No doubt. Folks will have legitimate disagreements with some of their decisions. Yet it will be an important contribution to the discussion on Paul and biblical literacy in general.

However, next weekend (Oct. 29-30), it will be the parables of Jesus with Art Dewey and Brandon Scott, world-class scholars on the the historical Jesus right here in Appalachia.

The Roller Girls and Jesus.

It just doesn't get any better than that. Check it out Saturday morning on WETS--89.5 FM.

1 comment:

  1. A small thought on Paul's letters in the right order: A simple examination finds that Paul's letters are in order of length, Romans being the longest and Philemon the shortest. That the pastorals do not fit in this schema may say volumes about what the people who put the books in order thought about the pastorals.

    The REALLY interesting thing about textual work on Paul's letters is attempting to separate out words, phrases, sentences and maybe more that were added for any of a variety of reasons from simple mistakes to intentional changes.