Friday, June 13, 2008
Misquoting Jesus (misquoting Joseph?)
Yes... I am 50+ pages deep in yet another book, this time it is Misquoting Jesus, by Bart Ehrman. I'm going to have to put it aside to focus on Ehrman's God's Problem, but I can't wait to go back to it.
So far it has been along the lines of a Gospel Doctrine teacher's dream... oh so much proof that the Bible is full of mistakes (both accidental mistranslations and intentional alterations).
For me, it has been eye-opening in another way. As Ehrman has laid the groundwork for the emergence of Christianity from Judaism (to show the formation of the written Bible as we have it today), I see a lot of parallels with the emergence of Mormonism from Christianity; A movement started by a charismatic young visionary, growing out of an older pre-existing tradition, gaining a devoted following (that are persecuted by members of the older tradition as well as the political leaders), the calling of other leaders to help manage the growing numbers of members (and the changes these new leaders bring to the movement), the martyrdom of the original charismatic leader but the continued growth of the movement anyways, the politics of leadership within the organization, the clashes over doctrine, the eventual solidifying into a cohesive acceptable doctrine and practice, the emphasis by the leadership on the 'apostolic tradition' of the church as the antidote to questions over scriptural interpretations (i.e. they have the "authority" from God and are divinely inspired to know the true interpretations), the cleansing of the church by casting out 'heretics' who's interpretations do not meld, the fringe groups, the splinter groups, etc...
Ehrman's intent has been to show how far removed the 'official' collection of writings that make up the bible is from the actual life and teachings of Jesus.
Likewise I can't help but think how far removed from Joseph Smith the current LDS church is today. Harold Bloom commented "...as an outsider, I am puzzled by the current SLC hierarchy. If there is any spiritual continuation between Smith and Gordon B. Hinkley I am unable to see it." -Sunstone March 07 pg 18
It seems that both movements use their respective founders as mascots for organizations that have little in common with the founder's original intents.
Of course, this isn't what Misquoting Jesus is about, I just couldn' t help making my own (uneducated and un-researched) connections.
(Growing I was always taught that Joseph Smith, like all the prophets, was a type and a shadow of Jesus Christ. Perhaps this feeds into my reading.)