Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FRONTLINE: From Jesus to Christ

I’m just in a bad mood tonight. Ordinarily crap like this doesn’t bother me much anymore. But at the moment it’s making me want to kick something. “Jesus in the Gospel of John is difficult to reconstruct as an historical person, because his character in the gospel is in full voice giving very developed theological soliloquies about himself”—just to pick a sentence more or less at random. “In other words, the commitment to the belief that Jesus had been raised is the index of the apocalyptic commitment on the part of his followers.” Blah effing blah.

I don’t recognize most of the names involved in this project, but I figure anything that treats John Dominic Crossan and Elaine Pagels as authorities on Christianity doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. And anyway the title pretty much gives the game away. (Though Jaroslav Pelikan is fine.)

I only know this exists because I looked at the PBS schedule in today’s paper, thinking there might be something on that I would want to watch. Then I had to go look on the web and see what it was about. Should have just hit my thumb with a hammer and been done with it.

What does that first quote even mean, anyway?

I mean really: “...new and controversial historical evidence which challenges familiar assumptions about the life of Jesus...” This stuff is not new, and it’s not in the least controversial in the academy or in most of the PBS audience. The people you want to bother aren’t likely to watch, and the rest are just going to believe what you tell them. Like, you know, fundamentalists or something.

Just once I would like to see these conventional but nevertheless self-congratulatory minds challenge their own favored assumptions.

I think I should go walk the dog.