Myth or Reality? : A Bishop's Search for the Origins of Christianity
Baker & Taylor
A bold look at a fundamental principle of Christianity, Jesus's Resurrection, pinpoints five clues that help solve the mystery of Easter, offering a vital perspective on modern faith and the afterlife. 30,000 first printing. $30,000 ad/promo. Tour.
Blackwell North Amer
In his previous books Living in Sin?, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, and Born of a Woman, Bishop John Shelby Spong courageously challenged traditional Christian positions on sexual morality, literal interpretation of the Scriptures, the understanding of women, and a variety of other issues central to the current cultural debate. Now, in Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, Spong takes a daring look at the very foundation of Christianity - the Resurrection and the story of Easter.
The key to our understanding these events, Spong writes, is recognizing that the Early Christians were Jewish by background and deeply shaped by their formative Jewish tradition. With a close comparison of the New Testament witness to antecedents in the Hebrew scriptures, Spong argues convincingly that many of the details of Jesus' life and his crucifixion are not historical, but derive instead from the Jewish tradition of Midrash, expository teachings that employ the retelling of sacred stories from the Jewish past in order to understand the powerful experience of God in the Jewish present.
Through this radical Jewish reading of the Christian story, Spong discovers startling clues to the mystery of the Resurrection and offers a provocative reconstruction of what actually happened when the reality of Easter first dawned in history. Among his fascinating conclusions are a physical bodily resurrection was not originally part of the Christian Easter claim; the Resurrection actually occurred in Galilee, not in Jerusalem; the phrase "on the third day" does not refer to chronological time; the Easter claim and the Reenactment of the Christian Common Meal are deeply intertwined; the story of Jesus' burial and the account of the empty tomb are in fact late-developing Christian legends; the Jerusalem account of Easter was created from the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, which occurs some six months after the passover; the triumphant journey of Palm Sunday was actually undertaken not by Jesus, but by Peter and others from Galilee, well after the crucifixion.
In opening up these possibilities about the way the first Christians understood the Resurrection, Spong brings the essential, authentic message of Easter home for all people. He makes a powerful case for these new insights that will rivet the reader's attention to each page. While this book may be deeply threatening to some, to others it will prove not only exhilarating but faith-creating. Yet all will find a doorway to truth opening before them.
In all of his books, Bishop Spong urges his readers to delve beneath ancient descriptions of Christian truth until they touch the experience that forced the descriptions to be written in the first place. For spiritual seekers in today's world, this book offers a radical approach in order to reach a conclusion that is real and life-giving. Resurrection: Myth or Reality? will also create a new meeting place where Christians and Jews can come together with mutual integrity and respect.
A new look at Jesus' resurrection pinpoints five clues that help solve the mystery of Easter, offering a vital perspective on modern faith and the afterlife
[San Francisco, Calif.] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1994
xix, 320 p. ; 22 cm