Is Jesus the Bible?

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Is Jesus the Bible? This is a question that has come up recently on Twitter, and lots of convos are going on right now that are having me tap into my seminary education and personal experience to respond. First, I need to say that I do not believe the Bible is inerrant. That is a 19th-century term used to justify slavery. There are a lot of resources backing up this statement too. Inerrancy also justifies sexism, but, for some reason, sexism seems to have always been allowed. So, me saying the Bible is not inerrant lets you know I do not think Jesus/God is the Bible. I do believe God is revealed through the writing of humans, then and now, and we see God’s character through stories and relationships. What is beautiful and true is God. God is love. I wrote a whole credo on this. Love is not as simple as good feelings that are subject to change at any moment, but a deep relationship that stands firm when nothing else does. What remains is what is true.   Here are some things some friends may not know or may not have known can be questioned. The gospels are beautiful, but there are problems. One problem is we do not have any writings from women and their experience with Jesus. Men wrote these stories. I am grateful for what we have but I grieve that women were not valued enough to have their work included. We know women informed a lot of these writings or their stories would not have made it in the story and be central to the story! But we miss their story all too often, because of patriarchy, as we read right over very significant encounters Jesus has with women as if the woman is the back story to the main story. If we do happen to realize a woman’s significant role (Rahab, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Woman at the Well), all too often she is either unnamed or gets labeled a whore if the name cannot be erased. It is wrong and women are still fighting this rhetoric and ideology today. It is okay to condemn language in scripture that is used to subordinate people instead of liberate them. You can use scripture either way but know that the Exodus and Jesus’ life on earth supports liberation of the oppressed. Pastoral letters and other letters/writings are not the God we see revealed in the Exodus or Jesus. The gospel of John is a crowd favorite. I like Mark and John both for different reasons—maybe it is the human and divine that I get from both accounts—Mark, humanity and John, divinity. But let me talk about some problems even with these gospels starting with John. John retelling the creation story is brilliant, but he used λογός(Logos) instead of σοφία (Sophia): In the beginning was the Word, instead of in the beginning was Wisdom. This has led some to believe that means Jesus is scripture itself. We talked about this in my NT class because we are not afraid of hard conversations. My professor is male but aware that without women he would not have his faith. He brought to our attention that this might have been an attempt to erase women from the story. Why gender competition is a thing, none of us know for certain. But when life gets complicated women are blamed, called names, and erased. Nothing new under the sun. If more women were in positions of leadership in churches and public office in Texas, I do not believe we would be fighting the horrific battles we are fighting today in a state that is becoming more and more every day a place I no longer recognize at all. Λογός is a masculine word in the Greek language and so is θεός, God. While the gender of a word does not make it actually male or female, it has made it so in our vocabulary and in how we view God. Words matter. Masculine terms are almost 100% used when we talk about God in our churches worldwide. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit terminology is problematic for anyone but men to hear themselves created in the image of God. This is also why I do not like the creeds, one of the reasons—there is more I want to resist with the creeds but the time is not here yet. Σοφία takes us back to Proverbs 8, chokhmah, Hebrew word for wisdom—also feminine. In Matthew 11, I like Matthew because he uses Wisdom literature, Jesus refers to the list of prophets, including himself, as wisdom. “Wisdom will be vindicated by her deeds” (Matt 11:19). Mark is the least the problematic gospel when it comes to more generalized language. Antisemitism can come out of the gospels—people used the gospel of John to justify the Holocaust because of the words “The Jews” written the way it is. It was not the Jews, it was power–just like we are seeing in Christianity right now. We used the word Judeans in my NT class to make ourselves more aware of our language and how it has the power to cause irreparable harm. We must take responsibility and do the work to help create a better world. Be better friends. Christianity has some reparations to do here. The evangelist who wrote John was a Jew and that needs to be understood. The only Gentile gospel is Luke. I am not going into Luke today, but there are issues with the same thing—and women. Critical thinking and interrogation is essential when interpreting any text—not just scripture. Our words have spirit beyond what is written in the plain text, and they always have a context.  To critique Mark, as promised, Mark leaves a woman we are supposed to remember every time the good news is preached unnamed (Mark 14). Is the Bible hopelessly patriarchal? I do not know. I am living by the faith of our ancestors in scripture who wrote to find a way out of no way and believe it does not have to be the case in the world that is to come—on earth as it is in heaven. Is Jesus the Bible? No. God was around before scripture was even written. But scripture is a beautiful place to see how God has been at work in our history all throughout time. It gives us a common conversation when our lives are so different from one another to help us see each other in our present context more clearly. And to know that our joy and pain are all written in this book of life. It is a human story. The good, the ugly, and all the complexity that comes with what it means to be human is written in scripture. The past talks to the present, but the present does not serve the past. We keep following the story of God into more inclusion.

 

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