This is another view of the historical Jesus produced by a scholar for popular audiences. This book is much easier to read than the last couple we have studied. There are many reviews of Zealot available on the internet, each emphasizing a different view of the historical Jesus and how Aslan has treated his own view. We will be concentrating on how we as individuals and as a group feel about the particular characterizations Aslan makes of Jesus. In this way, I hope we will each grow in our own understanding of what we think the message of Jesus was (and is) for the world.
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Week 8 Questions
1 – If James is the “undisputed leader” of the early church, why don't we know / hear more about him?
2 – pg. 200 The reference to the Gospel of Thomas is Th. 12 and is Black in the 5 Gospels.
3 – Why do you think James role diminished? (is this the same as 1, above)
4 – Do you believe the same things your siblings believe?
5 – The book of James is short. You may want to read it. Look especially for the Platonic soul.
6 – What do you think was going through Paul's head as he went through the purification ritual in Jerusalem?
7 – Constantine was baptized and joined the church in April of 337.
8 - How important is the idea that Luke is a devoted disciple of Paul? What if Luke-Acts was written in 125 CE?
9 – What is the importance of canon?
10 – Describe the difference between your view of Jesus and our author's.
11 – What did you like best and least?
Week 7 Questions
1 – Why didn't Jesus' disciples go back to “life before” after he was crucified?
2 – How much easier would it be to believe in resurrection 2000 years ago?
3 – It's easy for me to see the development of Christianity at the 100 year point (say, when Acts was written). But how do you get from 30 to 130 CE? Jesus was not yet deified.
4 – Marcus Borg has said Easter Sunday was 40 years after the crucifixion. Comments?
5 – Can you give another example of differences in religious / philosophical development based on language differences?
6 – What is the date of Stephen's death by stoning? Does Aslan's time line make sense?
7 – Why are Paul's comments about seeing Jesus or being an Apostle written as questions?
8 – Would you buy a used car from Paul?
9 – What kind of experience would it take for you to have as significant a change of heart as Saul had in changing to Paul?
10 – Paul's ideas would be unrecognizable to Jesus. Do you agree?
11 – What do you think of the purpose of Paul's letters as being correctives to preaching of those sent by James (and friends)?
12 – How did you feel when going through a ritual you didn't believe in?
13 – How well do you understand the differences between what Paul was preaching and what the “Pillars” were preaching?
Week 6 Questions
1 – How do you reconcile the story of Jesus' capture and trial with Aslan's comment that the trial is a fabrication?
2 – After the destruction of Jerusalem, our zealot is disappearing. Does it make sense to you to have this large transformation?
3 – Who do you blame for Jesus death? Why?
4 – Back in the last millennium, there was a study group called EPC. (Experiment in Practical Christianity) One meeting enacted the trial of Jesus. Represented were several groups, including: Pharisees, Judas, Sadducees, Peter, Pilate, the Crowd, Roman Soldiers, and those whom Jesus helped and healed. Pick one and defend it/him.
5 – How large was the group that arrested Jesus at Gethsemane?
6 – Aslan wants to start with Jesus nailed to a cross and work backwards. Scott, in TwR, wants to start early and work history forward. Which do you like, and why?
Prologue: God Made Flesh
7 – Aslan appears to accept the story of Jesus' physical resurrection. Would you recommend TwR to him?
8 – What do you think of the elevation of Jesus from man to God using Acts rather than Paul?
Week 5 Questions
1 – Do you have any insight into the banquet parables you would like to share?
2 – How is the Kingdom of God different from what we have now? Can the KoG be established by force?
3 – Do you agree that the God of Jesus was really violent?
4 – Do you agree that Jesus spoke in parables to prevent outsiders understanding?
5 – What are some characteristics of people / Gods that Aslan seems to be leaving out of his stories?
6 – Is the question “Who do people say that I am?” a casual question? Why does our author consider it so?
7 – What primary characteristic would you pick out to describe Jesus, and How would you build you image around that characteristic?
8 – What do you think of the “Messianic Secret”?
9 – What does “ Son of Man” mean to you?
10 – How do you relate Son of Man and Kingdom of God?
Week 4 Questions
Chapters 7 - 9
1 – John offers salvation through baptism. Exactly what do you get with this “salvation”?
2 – How has your understanding of baptism changed over your lifetime?
3 – Why did Jesus get (himself) baptized by John?
4 – What do you lean about Jesus from John?
5 – What part of the U. S. A. would you compare to Galilee? How and why?
6 – If Jesus' family “believe[d] in him and his mission”, what did they believe in?
7 – If Jesus' message was to the poor and outcast, why did any of the wealthy and powerful follow him?
8 – How do you see the difference between “he taught them as one with authority” and “not as the scribes”?
9 – Is it irrelevant how we view Jesus' miraculous actions?
10 – With God's help, one can perform “wonders”, but magic is different. How?
11 – pg. 111 Did Jesus reference Isaiah and actually say these words, or did Matthew just write his story that way?
12 – Where do you think rituals like Leviticus 14 came from?
13 – What does “The Kingdom of God is at hand” mean to you?
Week 3 Questions
1 – Site some examples of embellished writing in this chapter.
2 – Aslan talks about many “messiahs” from around Jesus time. How do these references demonstrate that Jesus felt and acted the same way?
3 – If 18 CE to 34 CE were the most stable years of the first century (around Jerusalem), why are we talking about the chaos leading up to the revolution starting in the mid 60s?
4 – Why do you think Aslan spends so much time on military history? Where is the basis for this in scripture?
5 – Would you pick a single anger motivated event in a person's life to characterize him/her with?
6 – How did you interpret Jesus' answer to the Roman Coin question before and after reading this chapter?
7 – The Jesus Seminar voted the whole “two sword” story in Luke as black. What do you think?
Week 2 Questions
1 – What happens when you use material written many years after a person's life to describe the details of that life?
2 – Does an apocalyptic messiah proclaim the end of the world or cause the end?
3 – How long will it be until we (people) learn that wars are only lost, never won?
4 – Of the 1,000,000 people in Jerusalem, how many had heard of Jesus? (What's your guess?) How many knew him well?
5 – Do you have a problem with the author building a big story on one verse (John 7:42) with his statement a page later saying: “Luke never meant his story … to be understood as historical fact”?
6 – How would you like to describe your messiah?
7 – Where did the “wood” worker part of tekton come from?
8 – Do any of you think that Jesus could read or write?
9 – What is the date of the doctrine of Mary's perpetual virginity?
10 – Do you agree that Paul thinks of Jesus as God incarnate?
11 – If Jesus were married, why would that be left out of the New Testament?
12 – Why is Sepphoris not mentioned in the New Testament?
13 – Do you agree that Jesus spent most of his life in Sepphoris?
14 – Are you agreeing with the speculations of our author?
Remember the Book Review idea. Find one you would like to share for about 5 minutes.
Week 1 Questions
1 – Share something about your youth camp experience.
2 – Always keep in mind: “Simply put, the gospels tell us about Jesus the Christ, not Jesus the man.”
3 – Gospel dating: Have you noticed that the dates are getting later as time goes on?
4 – What do you think of the author setting out his conclusions in the introduction, before any of his arguments?
5 – The Sanhedrin is populated by Sadducees.
6 – Comment on the author's description of the Temple.
7 – Does the author make too great a distinction between religious and political power for this period?
8 – If you were going to write a “social preface” to your picture of the historical Jesus, what details would you include?