Religion Blog Post 7: The Jesus We’ll Never Know

Scot McKnight starts out his paper discussing his own teaching methods and how he gives his students a quiz at the beginning of the semester. The quiz has 3 questions. 1: “Did Jesus follow the rules?” 2: “Was he a worrier?” 3: “Are you a worrier?” The answers to these questions show that students answer questions 2 and 3 with the same answers, and ultimately, students picture Jesus similar to themselves (introverts picture him as an introvert and vice versa). This study is very surprising to me because I have not even considered this idea before. There are so many depictions  of Jesus around that I always thought everyone pictured Jesus the same. Most pictures of Jesus show him as a white male with a beard. There is so much evidence on how Jesus talked in the bible. I just figured everyone saw Jesus as the same. Now that I read this study, it makes sense that people could picture Jesus’ actions or sayings with different emotions behind them. I always pictured Jesus as very confident and unafraid, after all, he is the son of God. After reading the Gospel of Mark in class last week, I can see how people may picture Jesus as a worrier. Jesus was always trying to get away from people following him and he brings up multiple times to his disciples that he is going to be killed. McKnight goes on to say that the gospels cannot be trusted because they are interpretations of Jesus as well. The only images of Jesus that can be trusted are the ones that are similar between Judaism and early Christianity.
It is interesting to hear how historical scholars reconstruct what Jesus was really like and orient their faith around this reconstructed Jesus. Never before have I really thought of all the uncertainty around who Jesus really was. We have multiple accounts that Jesus was indeed real, found in the bible and countless other writings about Jesus that weren’t in the bible. If we have all this history, why are we still unsure about who Jesus was? Growing up in faith, I always had a set image of Jesus and his characteristics. Going to a church with people who have the same beliefs does not bring into account other possibilities of what Jesus may have been like. I feel a lot of the time people do not even share with others how they may view Jesus, but yet at the beginning of the semester when we all picked one word to describe God, hardly anyone had the same word. McKnight continues talking about all the various people who had an influence on what Jesus looked like or his personality. Whoever put together the bible would have picked the gospels that conveyed Jesus as people believed him to be. The Gospel of Thomas most likely did not make it because it had young Jesus killing people which no one would have liked to hear or read about. Since the bible was translated into Greek or was written in Greek, the Greeks would have had a large influence. I learned in my history class today that when explaining the ideas of monotheism to the Greeks to try and spread  it, the Israelites would have used beliefs or ideas that the Greeks could relate to most easily, such as comparing some of the beliefs in Jesus to ideas formed by Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates. In this way, the Greeks may have viewed Jesus slightly differently than the original Jews. I feel in this way, McKnight is right by saying that the true facts of what Jesus was like would be present in old Judaism and the new Christianity after it was influenced by the Greeks.
McKnight brings up the question, “With all these different images of Jesus, which Jesus are we going to believe in?” Will we just believe in the Jesus that is portrayed by the most recent historian? My whole life I thought that only God was up for interpretation and that the personality of Jesus was set in stone. I completely agree with the conclusion made by McKnight that history cannot take us all the way. It may show there was an empty tomb but we will never know for certain that Jesus died for our sins. This is where faith comes in and I think our image of Jesus is largely created based upon our faith in him.

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  1. headlightsatnight posted this