At SBL I attended a presentation by Dominic Crossan, of Jesus Seminar fame, in which he outlined what he thought was the central theological problem of the Bible. According to Crossan it is the reconciliation of the peace-loving Jesus–”love your enemies”–with Jesus the warrior messiah of Revelation. Is God a god of love and peace, or a god of war?
To me this position represents a rather astonishing misreading of the Bible. From the perspective of the ancient authors and readers, the central theological problem of the Bible is: Why hasn’t God destroyed evil yet? Evil is real. God, as cosmic judge, must destroy Evil, and restore cosmic order and justice. The ancients asked: Why does God allow Evil to persist and indeed be victorious in the world? That’s the central theological question of the Bible from the ancient perspective. The answer of Revelation is that Evil’s victory in the world is temporary, and God has a plan to destroy Evil in the end.
It is perplexing to me how someone like Crossan can study the Bible all his life and still be trapped in presentist readings of the text like this. If we ask the wrong questions, we will inevitably get the wrong answers.
His paper was on “Ritual Praxis in Ancient Jewish and Christian Mysticism,” an examination of some methodological issues relating to trying to understand ritual praxis (practices) of ancient mysticism. His paper can be read here:
See my comments here: Response to Davila SBL 2011
I attended SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) last weekend, and listened to a talk by Bart Ehrman, the darling of the New Atheist crowd. He said he has a new book coming out in March 2012 (with HarperOne I believe), Did Jesus Exist? on the Jesus-Myth theory. (I also heard that it will be an ebook only.)
Basically he is going to argue that the Jesus-Myth theory–that Jesus never existed and was fictionally cobbled together from myths and legends–is a bunch of bogus nonsense.
There was also a paper presented by Brent Landau (U. Oklahoma), “Jesus Never Existed”: An Intellectual History of the Jesus-Myth Thesis which also debunked the Jesus-Myth. He said that, as far as he is aware, no one has ever presented a paper at SBL advocating the theory. He said it is a pseudo-scholarly fringe movement recently popularized by the New Atheist crowd.
My examination of the biblical “Host of Heaven” as deep background to the idea of deification.
2.4 Host of heaven
I haven’t read it yet, but I believe this book is from a kind of New Age esoteric perspective.
Wasserman, J. The Temple of Solomon: From Ancient Israel to Secret Societies, (Inner Traditions, 2011). ISBN 1594772207
The ever ebullient and prolix Harold Bloom on Mormonism and the election here.
Ben Blackwell, Christosis: Pauline Soteriology in Light of Deification in Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria, (Doctoral Thesis, Durham University, 2010)
My examination of the qědōšīm, “Holy Ones” in the Hebrew Bible as deep background to the idea of deification.
2.3 Holy Ones
Here is my review of the Israelite concept of YHWH as “God of gods” as more deep background on the idea of deification.
2.2 God of Gods2
I’ve written an essay examining the concept of the “Sons of God” in the Hebrew Bible as deep background to the idea of deification.
2.1 Sons of God