Zeitgeist: Comparing Jesus...

We watched this video clip in my Church History class last night. Many of you have probably already seen some of this. What do we do with it? I think it really goes to the heart of some of what we've been talking about lately: that there are good arguments against the validity - particularly the supernatural validity - of Christianity. Not to mention all sorts of challenges that arise from many of Christianity's myths shared in common with contemporary pagan religions.

This video series has wrecked all sorts of people's faith, just like the Da Vinci Code, before it. Should it be that easy to destroy a worldview? Perhaps, if it's wrong. But what if we (as Christians) have merely built our house on the wrong foundation. It was suggested in class that Christianity was never meant to be a presentation on absolute, propositional truth. It was meant to be a supernatural engagement with Jesus of Nazareth.



Sabio Lantz said...

A friend sent me a link to this video last year -- he was all excited. We are both atheists. I watched it and told him immediately that it is very contrived and wrong. Since, it has been debunked in many circles of atheists (more trustworthy than theists who would of course attack it ! smile).

But this leads to a question I have for Christians that fits Peters theme here: "If someone could prove to you that Jesus did not exist or was totally human and not divine, would you still believe in God?"

HCJoel said...

Peter, I don't like to be that guy who says, 'You gotta hear this sermon that my pastor did,' but in this case I will be that guy. We did a series in which we looked at Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and 'Zeitgeist'. Check out 'Duped?' at www.themeetinghouse.ca - you might even be able to download the videos on iTunes. Many, if not most, of the alleged similarities have, as noted by Sabio, been demonstrated to be false (e.g., the folks behind 'Zeitgeist' copied bad info from someone else who just made it up). Bruxy gives a whole laundry list.

Sabio, I don't know if I would continue to believe in God if it was "proven" that Jesus did not exist or was human and not divine. I might not believe in Jesus anymore but there are so many more evidences (not proofs) of God's existence for me that I would find it hard to deny. Of course, those led me to follow Jesus and Jesus leads me to know God's existence. It's intertwined in many ways for me. Why do you ask? What do you think of the various possible answers?

Irritable said...

I think Sabio is right -- there's a lot in the video that is overly sensationalized and just plain wrong. Things don't line up quite that neatly.

But I do think -- purely as a layman on this issue -- that there are plenty of common tropes employed in the Jesus narrative. Though the details aren't as clear-cut as this video makes it seem, ideas like virgin (or otherwise special) birth, divine parentage, ascension, death and resurrection, the numbers 3, 4, 7 and 12, and so forth, do seem to be common stock for religious storytelling in the ancient world.

It is difficult, I think, to see the the Jesus narrative(s) as constructed whole cloth from these tropes for purely propagandistic purposes. I think it's equally difficult, though, to say that any specific claim about Jesus was utterly unique in that time and place.

In addition to pagan parallels, there is a whole range of messianic claims made of others before and after Jesus (and these claims themselves bear evidence of being informed by the socioreligious context in which the Jews found themselves in exile).

What is unique, though, is the specific constellation of claims about Jesus and the social context out of which those claims come. Even if the early church completely made up the stories of Jesus, they did so in the service of a sociopolitical vision that might still be worthy of our attention.

Irritable said...

By the way, I don't think the early church just made the stories up -- I think it is far more complicated than that, but also more complicated than simply taking any of the Biblical accounts at face value. The truth is, we don't really know exactly how such stories come about. Any folklorist will tell you: it's a messy business.

Irritable said...

Okay one more -- sorry:

If your faith is the sort that can be wrecked by The Da Vinci Code, you're better off without it. :)

Sue said...

One question: Are the words for "sun" and "son" homophones in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic? Are they linguistically related at all? I don't know; maybe one of you does?

Jim said...

The film seems to gain credibility by its short declarative statements of "truth." It took very little research to discover that much of the "true" statements were simply false/made up. There are several resources "de-bunking" the movie. Similar to the Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown states that the information on art and religious organizations is "true" when much if it is simply made up.) the movie sounds authentic, but is not. It is not worthy of spending much time discussing.

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