Sunday, July 01, 2007

A NEW New Testament

When two great forces oppose each other, the victory will go to the one that knows how to yield. -Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching: Chapter 69

When I read the The New Testament recently, I was shocked both by anti-Semitism in parts of the Gospels, especially in synoptic gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the absurdity of Revelations.

The anti-Semitism comes in the portrayals of the Jews. Never in the words of Jesus. In Matthew 24:27 when the people/or the Jews in some translations call for the death of Jesus then proclaim as one voice, "His blood be on us, and on our children." Also Judas is the only disciple referred to as a Jew, when Jesus and all the disciples were Jews.

The Christians I know disavow most the hate and extremism evident some passages of the Bible, both the Old and New Testament. But they still embrace the whole book and "pick and chose." Doesn't that potentially lead to a moral relativism that opposes the concept of truth?

I fear that approach of accepting the entire Bible hinges on the fallacy that the Bible was put together by God. I know this seemingly fanatical belief is accepted by millions of Christians. But unlike the Old Testament where the political motivations are only inherent in the text, the New Testament's canonization was a documented process, part of a political PR campaign of early church fathers.

At the risk of offending people who feel they are better because of religion, I think open-minded, humanist Christians should consider a more modern testament, laid bare of the obvious political motivations of the past.

If you have faith in Jesus' good word, why not rid the document of the debasements of the past?

Here are my suggestions for a New New Testament:

I absolutely love and endorse the feminism, humanism and honesty of the Gospel of Mark.

It's probably the most influential story ever written-- created the Gospel genre (Gospel is actual taken directly from the name of Roman Proclamations, so political!)

While John possesses some of the same political antipathy towards the Jews of Luke and Mark, John is also a worthy and mystical document.

The Epistles of John range from fantastic to Karl Rove-inspired. I don't see much use for them.

While its construction and imagery are fantastic, Revelations reads to me like the paranoid product of some sort of religious infighting. It raises most of the problems in Christianity-- extreme end times thinking, constant waring and "the whore of Babylon" is blatantly a sexist reference to a rival female Christian.

How about a new Christianity based just on Mark and John?

I think everyone can agree that Acts should go. That's like the Super Friends of the Bible. Fun when you're young, but so glorifying to the heroes in a weird way.