Monday, September 23, 2013

Jesus: The Man and the Metaphor

By Inas Younis, New Age Islam
September 22 09 13

What is truer than truth?  The answer - A story.
Once upon a time,   there was a man named Jesus, and the rest, according to Reza Aslan’s new book, Zealot,   is history. When Reza Aslan treats us to the un- romantic version of Jesus of Nazareth who walked on land, as opposed to the romantic version of a Jesus Christ who walked on water,   I have a blasphemous urge to ask, what does reality have to do with it? I am not saying that religion is myth;   I am just saying what Reza Aslan himself confirms.  That history is about facts,   not truths.  And Religious truth is not about what actually happened, but about what we believe actually happened.   Truth, the kind that is timeless, the kind that transcends circumstances, is always couched within a story. 
So when you expose a reader to what goes on behind the scenes,   you not only perniciously destroy the magic, but you tend to destroy the meaning.   Its not unlike watching a spectacular movie only to be given a play by play of how the special effects were fabricated.    And I just want to know, where my happy ending for Christ’s sake is.    No really, for Christ’s sake, not mine.
Because to be fair, long before I read Reza Alan’s book, I already knew about the historical Jesus.   The Jesus that is human, not divine.  The Jesus that was sent to liberate the Jews from Roman occupation, and fulfill, not abolish the law.   I knew that the early Christian church transformed Jesus from a revolutionary to a spiritual figure and memorialized him with universal principles like “love your enemy.”  I knew that the “son of God” was a designation reserved for Israel’s king.   And I may have known that the identity of Jesus became a contest between Paul, who dismissed the Law of Moses as irrelevant to salvation, and James, who said that the law was a requirement of belief in Jesus Christ.  And I thought everyone knew, that although Paul had never met Jesus, it was Paul’s version, which ultimately prevailed, when the council of Nicaea codified the teachings we now refer to as Christianity. 

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