If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. Cynthia Bourgeault is a masterful guide to Jesus's vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teachings for yourself.
An investigation into the historical Jesus and the veracity of the Gospels- Reveals the biblical Jesus as a composite figure, a blend of the political revolutionary Judas the Galilean and Paul's divine-human Christ figure - Matches the events depicted in the New Testament with historically verifiable events in Josephus' history, pushing Jesus' life back more than a decade - Demonstrates how each New Testament Gospel is dependent upon Paul's mythologized Christ theology, designed to promote Paul's Christianity and serve the interests of the fledgling Gentile Christian communities Scholars have spent years questioning aspects of the historical Jesus. How can we know what Jesus said and did when Jesus himself wrote nothing? Can we trust the Gospels, written by unknown authors 40 to 70 years after Jesus' death? And why do other sources from the time not speak of this messianic figure known as Christ? Drawing on the histories of Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Daniel Unterbrink contends that the "Jesus" of the Bible was actually a composite figure, a clever blend of the Jewish freedom-fighter Judas the Galilean and Paul's divine-human Christ figure created in the middle of the first century CE. Revealing why Paul was known as a liar, enemy, and traitor in other Jewish literature, he shows that the New Testament Gospels are not transcripts of actual history but creative works of historical fiction designed to promote Paul's Christianity and serve the interests of the fledgling Gentile Christian communities. He demonstrates how each Gospel is written in light of the success of Paul's religion and dependent upon his later perspective. Matching the events depicted in the New Testament with the historically verifiable events in Josephus' history, Unterbrink pushes the dating of Jesus' life back nearly a generation to a revolutionary time in ancient Judea. He shows that the real historical Jesus--the physical man behind the fictional stories in Paul's Gospels--was Judas the Galilean: a messianic pretender and Torah-observant revolutionary bent on overthrowing the Roman government and galvanizing the Jewish people behind his vision of the coming Kingdom of God. In the greatest cover-up of history, this teacher of first-century Israel was replaced by the literary creation known as Jesus of Nazareth.
An examination of how the teachings of Jesus reveal the essential role of sexuality in spiritual growth and transformation- Shows that Jesus did not come to redeem humanity from the life of the flesh, but to honor it as a spiritual path - Uses Hebrew, gnostic, and early Christian source texts to reveal the true context of the words attributed to Jesus - Explores the spiritual and physical relationship shared by Jesus and Mary Magdalene Of all the major religions, Christianity is the only one that has utterly rejected sexuality as one of the many paths that can lead to enlightenment and salvation. But if Jesus was indeed "the Word made flesh" and serious consideration is given to the mystery of his Incarnation, is it reasonable that physical love would have been prohibited to him? Drawing from the canonical and apocryphal gospels, the Hebrew esoteric tradition, and gnosticism, Jean-Yves Leloup shows that Jesus did not come to save humanity from the life of the flesh but to save the life of the flesh so that it would truly transfigure all people. Leloup explains that when Saint Paul said it was good to be without women, he did not cite any words of Jesus in support of this contention. In fact, Paul's statement utterly contradicts the words of God in Genesis: "It is not good that man should be alone." Leloup argues that the elimination of the divine feminine and sacred sexuality set in motion by Paul's words does not reflect the true teachings of Christ, and that the transformation of Jesus into a celibate is the true heresy. His research restores Christ's true human sexuality and shows it to be a vital part of humanity's spirituality. Leloup contends that by understanding the sacred nature of the embrace shared by man and woman as a true reflection of humanity made in God's image, Christianity can again become the powerful path of transfiguration Christ intended.
"Fascinatingly and convincingly drawn . . . Aslan may come as close as one can to respecting those who revere Jesus as the peace-loving, turn-the-other-cheek, true son of God depicted in modern Christianity, even as he knocks down that image."--The Seattle Times " Aslan's] literary talent is as essential to the effect of Zealot as are his scholarly and journalistic chops. . . . A vivid, persuasive portrait."--Salon
"This tough-minded, deeply political book does full justice to the real Jesus, and honors him in the process."--San Francisco Chronicle "A special and revealing work, one that believer and skeptic alike will find surprising, engaging, and original."--Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power "Compulsively readable . . . This superb work is highly recommended."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for Following Jesus
"Few writers have influenced me more than Henri Nouwen. These newly published lectures offer fresh and timely insights amid the familiar cadences of Nouwen's prose, written from a place of deep anxiety but even deeper hope."--John Inazu, professor of political science, Washington University in St. Louis, author of Confident Pluralism "In Following Jesus, beloved pastor and spiritual mentor Henri Nouwen guides the reader on the journey he has traveled as a follower of Jesus. Without minimizing the anxieties, fears, and brokenness that touch down in every reader's story, Nouwen gently leads the way into a life that centers on Jesus and engulfs the follower with God's love, a sense of belonging, and a purpose that endures. Truly a wise and welcome word for anyone in this age of anxiety."--Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women and Finding God in the Margins
In this bold, momentous work, the Pope seeks to salvage the person of Jesus from today's "popular" depictions and to restore his true identity as discovered in the Gospels. Through his brilliance as a theologian and his personal conviction as a believer, the Pope incites us to encounter Jesus face to face. From Jesus of Nazareth ". . . the great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: But what has Jesus really brought, then, if he has not brought world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God He has brought the God who once gradually unveiled his countenance first to Abraham, then to Moses and the prophets, and then in the wisdom literature-the God who showed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth. He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love."
It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily... But who do you know who lives like that? Do you? In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus. Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment -- a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.
"Magisterial. . . . A learned, brilliant and enjoyable study."--G za Verm s, Times Literary SupplementIn this exciting book, Paula Fredriksen explains the variety of New Testament images of Jesus by exploring the ways that the new Christian communities interpreted his mission and message in light of the delay of the Kingdom he had preached. This edition includes an introduction reviews the most recent scholarship on Jesus and its implications for both history and theology. "Brilliant and lucidly written, full of original and fascinating insights."--Reginald H. Fuller, Journal of the American Academy of Religion "This is a first-rate work of a first-rate historian."--James D. Tabor, Journal of Religion "Fredriksen confronts her documents--principally the writings of the New Testament--as an archaeologist would an especially rich complex site. With great care she distinguishes the literary images from historical fact. As she does so, she explains the images of Jesus in terms of the strategies and purposes of the writers Paul, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John."--Thomas D'Evelyn, Christian Science Monitor