Right Speech

I write this at a time of escalating violence in Israel and Gaza. This is not the place to discuss the violence. But this is a time to discuss why I created this blog.

This blog considers questions of religious difference and identity. I describe religious identity as a good thing, and religious difference as a catalyst for personal and spiritual growth. But the violence in Israel and Gaza is the product of religious difference, at least in part.  Some believe that religious difference leads to religious war. This is not my point of view, but now is a time to seriously consider that point of view.

I would like to view interfaith dialog as an anti-war effort. It is a commonplace notion that dialog leads to peace. But dialog can end in deadly violence; nothing prevents this. I would like to argue that it’s more difficult to seek the destruction of an enemy once one has engaged the enemy in dialog. But I’ve had occasion here to examine the dialog from major Jewish-Christian disputations during the Middle Ages, as well as that accompanying modern-day Christian efforts to proselytize Jews, and such dialog did and does not promote peace.

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Quest for the Historical Jesus (Part 2: Multiple Jesuses)

In my last post I sketched out the history of The Quest for the Historical Jesus (yes, that history has a history of its own!). You may have wondered why I spent so much time describing what’s come before … one reason is that this history helps explain what we see now, in the present-day Quest.

Let’s talk about the present day. We are in the midst of what the scholars call the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus. Characteristic of the Third Quest is an effort to understand Jesus within the context of first century Palestinian Judaism, and to ask how the historical Jesus led to the rise of early Christianity. In this way, the Third Quest is a change in direction – the criterion of double dissimilarity (discussed in my last post) led earlier scholars to judge as authentic the acts and sayings of Jesus that differed from Judaism and the early Church.

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