Embracing the Human Jesus

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This is the initial entry for Embracing the Human Jesus by David Galston.
Meetings will run from January 13 to March 10, 2013 at our usual 7:00 PM on Sunday evenings.
Comments on this blog will include questions for each chapter and any comments readers would like to share with the group. As readers will notice, we never have time to get to all the questions in an evening. That means that sometimes your favorite question (either one the leader posed, or your own) will not be addressed. That problem can now be remedied here on this blog. Further, we can "prime the pump" by getting ideas flowing even before the meeting starts on Sunday evening. Remember the potluck at the last meeting.


Chapter 9 - Is It Still Christianity?

1 Is it still Christianity?

2 Of his “three big roadblocks” (pg 194), which do you find most difficult to overcome? Why?

3 Do you see any reasonable way to combine the apocalyptic tradition and the wisdom tradition?

4 What MOST attracts you to church?

5 Is the Trinity the most defining Christian doctrine? If not, what (do you think) is?

6 Do you see moving into the historical Jesus wisdom tradition as the “proper” evolution of Christianity?

7 What would you modify from our author's explanation to make #6 true?

8 How does or should the church influence you to change your lifestyle? (That may (or not) be two questions.)

Chapter 8 - Theological Challenges after the Historical Jesus

1 What does our author say about God that you disagree with?

2 Is your conception of God more like Greek or Hebrew history?

3 Where would you start if you wanted to convert God language to life language?

4 Do you know what the anthropic principle is?

5 Do you have a description of prayer that does not fall int either category of petitioning or thanksgiving?

6 How are you “bring[ing] to life an alternative future in the present activity”?

7 Are you “attached” to the title of Christ for Jesus? Why?

8 If Christ, as a synonym for the essence or divine quality of Jesus is not part of the New Testament, what is Paul talking about in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, perhaps the earliest (canonical) reference to Christ?

9 Was the elevation of Jesus to (part of) God a good thing? Why?

Chapter 7b - More about The Church of the Historical Jesus

1 To what extent are you able to set aside your current conception of church and consider the church of the historical Jesus? Is doing this interesting?

2 How do you notice authority and hierarchy in church?

3 With what would you replace the four traditional linguistic centers of guilt, judgment, sacrifice and proclamation?

4 How would this replacement affect your ideal worship service?

5 What do you think about “Every human experience is evidence of our connection not to what is transcendent but to what is immanent?

6 What do you think about the problems, if any, of segregating worship and education?

7 How did you feel when the pastor admonished someone to “Sit down!” when they got up to leave just before the benediction? Or am I the only one who noticed that exchange?

8 Which Banquet Example shall we use at our potluck?

Chapter 7 - The Church of the Historical Jesus

1 Are you interested in shifting church from apocalyptically centered to wisdom centered? Why?

2 Why would anyone worship a savior if salvation is unnecessary?

3 Does a historical Jesus community appear to offer a broader view than apocalyptic Christianity? Why?

4 Are there any parts of the Traditional Christianity table (page 151) that you don't understand (or didn't know about)?

5 Has Napa FUMC minimized guilt so much that we don't recognize the need for the “word”?

6 Be sure to read footnote 6.

7 Are you coming to church for the right reasons?

8 Be sure to read appendix 3.

9 Develop one question for each of the four movements of worship. Use either Traditional or Historical as a basis.

Chapter 6 - Life Philosophy in the World of Parable

1 What questions are NOT permitted at Napa FUMC?

2 Can you “demote” Jesus to a regular person? Why (or not)?

3 How do you feel that your self image has changed over your lifetime?

4 If you were to write a parable, what default view would you change?

5 “..., by God we simply mean life.” Comments?

6 How would your world change if there was no such thing as enmity?

7 How would you feel different(ly) if our final meal was entirely provided by the Lutz kitchen and not a potluck?

8 What conflicts do you see between the historical Jesus extending into wisdom with the church's Christ extending into dogma?

Chapter 5 – Life Practices and Schools in Antiquity

1. What is one “right reason” for following Jesus?
2. Why do you think “Apocalyptic concerns overrode wisdom teaching within a few decades of his (Jesus') death, ...”?
3. The quotes from Mark on pg. 93 are good examples of chreia.
4. How does advertising support the idea that money is more important than people?
5. In what sense are “All Men (and women) created equal” and what sense not? How important are the differences?
6. Is status only a social construct?
7. Compare the turn toward nature in Cynicism with many people today getting their religion from nature.
8. A fun book on Ecclesiastes is Lloyd Geering's “Such Is Life!”.
9. What is your favorite Jesus saying? Why?
10. How is our final meeting potluck the same or different from the banquet or Dinner Party?
11. Any comments on the Prodigal Son?

Chapter 4 – Unhearing the Apocalypse

1. How do you experience the apocalyptic Jesus already at church?

2. What are your arguments for or against Schweitzer's four points?

3. Can your (image of) Jesus have any knowledge of late first century issues? (ie. How much magic do you attribute to Jesus?)

4. Does heresy concern you?

5. Compare apocalyptic vs wisdom tradition with the Conservative vs Liberal discussion we had last week.

6. What does Son of Man mean to you?

7. Do you feel that you can distinguish between wisdom and theology in the New Testament?

8. Comment on the chapter's last paragraph.

I'm not concerned about heresy in the old fashioned sense. When it meant being burned at the stake, that was one thing, but now that it simply means "choice", it gives me the freedom to accept, modify or reject any church ideas I like.

Chapter 3 – The Jesus Voiceprint

1 pg 52: Do you agree that “whatever happened was possible, not incredible.”?

2 What don't you understand about the various types of biblical criticism?

Bring a piece of scripture (gospel), either aphorism or parable, to class that includes a “Jesus original” and a redaction by the writer. (Not one of Galston's examples.)

3 Do you understand “Kingdom of God” differently after reading this chapter, or is this all “old stuff”?

4 Do you have any comments about Galston's analysis of parables?

Continued from Chapter 1 - Why the Historical Jesus is a New Path

1 In your religious thinking, how much do you use literal thought and how much do you use archetypical thought? Do you know when you are using each?

2 Any comments on “...the practical consequences of turning away from archetypical thinking is turning away from Jesus Christ and turning to the historical Jesus...”? Do you agree with the last paragraph in chapter 1?

Chapter 2 - Biblical Criticism Comes of Age

3 Compare Josephus's Antiquities with FOX News.

4 When you read the Gospels (canonical or otherwise), do you have a primary interest or viewpoint? What is it?

5 Which of the seven pillars do you find most interesting, and why? Do you disagree with any of them? Also, why? Would you replace any or add others?

1 What can you say now, assuming you have not finished the book, about the difference between the apocalyptic model vs. the wisdom model of Jesus? (Where are we starting?)
2 How do you feel about neo-orthodoxy?
3 Name something in the momentum of the Jesus movement that is only modern and not something Jesus himself ever taught (or thought)?
4 Why do you think the first 1800 years of Christianity was about belief rather than practice? (Or was it?)
Chapter 1 - Why the Historical Jesus is a New Path
5 Why (or not) do you think taking the historical Jesus to church is worthwhile?
6 How would the birth of Jesus be announced in today's world?
7 David (our author) says there is no alternative to relativity. Do you agree? Why?
8 Do you agree that “We need different options today?”