I’m a little late with this post but wanted to alert you to a major topic for the discussion during our next session: if religion was not about belief until the advent of Christianity (and it was not), what can account for the sudden emphasis on belief beginning in the letters of Paul and continuing forward? This is not a question I’ve seen addressed anywhere so we’re on our own to come up with possibilities; no attempt is too far out, so put your thinking caps on!
Great session everybody! Thanks to Jennifer for providing the wonderful parody she read to us last week:
After the Sermon on the Mount
Then Jesus took his disciples up on the mountain and gathered them around him. He taught them, saying ….. (text omitted)
And Simon Peter said: “Do we have to write this down?”
And Philip said: Will this be on the test?”
And John said: Would you repeat that?”
And Andrew said, “John the Baptist’s disciples didn’t have to learn any of this stuff.”
And Matthew said, “Huh?”
And Judas said, “What’s this got to do with real life?”
Then one of the Pharisees, an expert in the law, said, “I don’t see any of this in your syllabus. Do you have a lesson plan? Is there a summary? Will there be a follow-up assignment?”
And Thomas, who had missed the sermon , came to Jesus privately, and said, “Did we do anything important today?”
* * *
We’re just at the point where everything changes so try to keep a relatively complete inventory of those changes as we finish up with Christology.
Thanks to all for your careful preparation and lively contributions to our discussion! As you could tell, I think that the one thing you should take away from the course (if you take only one!) is an understanding of the main difference between Judaism and Christianity. You by now know my answer! But I can tell that many of you are skeptical of it and I would like to consider other differences you find plausible so that I can make the argument that they result from the difference I take to be the main one. So, please, think about how you would describe the difference and we’ll consider each one next week. Including the one mentioned by Shaye Cohen, that Judaism is about sanctification and Christianity about salvation. (Can you formulate the argument that this is an outgrowth of the difference between cosmic monism and cosmic dualism?)
Based on our discussion, my guess is that many of you found it difficult to wrap your heads around the world-view of apocalypticsim. This is not surprising! It’s a very odd way of looking at the world to our twenty-first century minds. And that makes it rather hard to hear the storyline: this was Jesus’ message. He wasn’t providing advice about how to live in this world but in a world to come. That’s the argument we take up next week!