This book was written by six authors and is edited by one of them. The editor, and orchestrator of the Jesus at 2000 symposium, is Marcus J. Borg. He became a faculty member of Oregon State University in 1979 and when he retired, he was a Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department. He was widely held as an influential and prominent voice in progressive Christianity, up to his death in 2015. He was educated at Concordia College in Minnesota, and then through a Rockefeller rothers Theological fellowship, he studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He obtained a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Theology degree at Mansfield College, Oxford.
The author that I am focusing on Harvey Cox, was a Professor of Divinity at Harvard University for over 30 year at the Harvard Divinity School until he retired in 2009. He attended University of Pennsylvania, Yale Divinity School, and finally, received a Ph.D. degree in history and philosophy of religion from Harvard University in 1963. Before his retirement, he tried to keep in touch with Christianity as a whole, that is, how it was viewed and practiced in other parts of the world. He also called himself a church theologian, which meant he followed the church in its confrontations with the world. He is also an ordained American Baptist minister, showing that he is a believer and not just a scholar. What is this book about?
This book is an adaptation of the symposium held in 1996 called Jesus at 2000. It features prominent scholars such as Harvey Cox, John Dominic Crossan, Alan F. Segal, Huston Smith, Karen Jo Torjesen, and Marcus J. Borg. It was a televised event that broke records and was made into a collection of each of the speakers’ lectures. It was created to be distributed in America and in Europe. In the Preface and Acknowledgements, it is noted that this book was to serve as a resource for undergraduate students taking one of their first religion studies classes. There are short questions and answers at the end of each section that were asked and replied to at the actual seminar. Each lecturer, that is also an author of the book, revised their portions of the text to give perspectives they have found in their studies on Jesus, historically, analytically, and culturally. What role does Jesus play in the book? In this book, where we have historians, philosophers, scholars, and analyst, Jesus serves as common ground when looking at cultures from each of the perspectives that the lecturers provide. Harvey Cox, for example, an analyst, gives his experience as a professor at Harvard University to present contemporary culture of Jesus. Historically and in present-day, we see that Jesus continues to be a figure that anyone would recognize. What was the thesisexplicit or implicitof the section you read?
I read the revised lecture of Harvey Cox titled Jesus and Generation X. The thesis he offers is quite implicit, focusing on Jesus’ paradoxically increasing and decreasing influence on later generations, specifically Generation X, those born in between 1960 and 1980. Without actually being able to place them in any labeled group, he calls the an anomalous conglomerate, much like the variable X suggests. His unofficial study is ran parallel to his classes, in which he makes observations on his students perceptions and experiences with Jesus and religion in their day and age. He ends his lecture like he did his classes with the question that Jesus asked his disciples at Caesarea Phillipi: Who do you say that I am? in Mark 8:27. (Cox 91) Choose one passage that you found interesting, surprising, shocking etc. Type out the passage. Then, in your own words, explain the meaning of the passage. The cultural resymbolization of Jesus will undoubtedly continue and, I think, expand. But a very critical question remains: What is the relationship between the historical reconstruction of Jesus and the imaginative resymbolization of Jesus? What is the proper interplay between historical studies, on the one hand, and poetry, iconography, and cinema, on the other, for the spiritual life of twenty-first-century Generation Xs to come? Do the historical records and the canonical Scriptures set any limits on the freewheeling play of the religious imagination? Do the new imaginative portraits suggest anything about what historical research might be most appropriate? In short, do these two trajectories have anything to do with each other? I found this interesting because it reminds me of a different discussion in a classroom 700 miles away from where I am. It reminds me of the overlapping of science and religion, if there is such an overlap, and to which I thought there would be. To me this passage is saying that would you be able to separate the historical from the spiritual? Can you further historical knowledge on a person like Jesus without inhibiting another cultural aspect of him? This knowledge is obviously arising as we become further from the time of Jesus and really, the peak of religion’s puissance. But to say these trajectories, as Harvey Cox puts them, of history and culture are unrelated would be extreme. What did you learn about Jesusthe historical figure or the figure that the author presents?
I have learned that Jesus’ place in the world is not going to be taken away. Even when we may think that a new generation would have no interest in religion, a person’s curiosity and quest for a new hero will always bring us back to Jesus. I have never given the idea of religion or a deity or Jesus much thought but I have learned that it is inescapable, and actually a peak in my interest. The contemporary role that Jesus’ figure plays teaches me that humans need a great man character. What was familiar about this Jesus?
To my previous knowledge of Jesus, it was familiar that he was a fading figure to a lot of those around me. It was familiar that although I viewed him as I did, he was also so important to others, that it seemed he was actually a revived character. These two ideas are present in Cox’s experience with his students at Harvard. What was strange about this Jesus?
In the book, Cox describes Jesus in the eyes of a practicing Buddhist artist from Sri Lanka. He describes the image as Jesus sitting in the lotus position, surrounded by the ugly demons of ego, but with his right hand touching the earth, as the Buddha’s did at his moment of enlightenment (Cox 95). He also describes an image of what we are to assume is Jesus as a crucified Jew wearing Jewish prayer shawl and surrounded by drawings of the expulsions, pogroms, and murders that have pursued the Jewish people for centuries (Cox 96).
These two images are strange to me because I have never seen Jesus in the image of Buddha or as a Jew that is crucified. When Jesus comes to mind, I picture a bearded white man, wearing a crown of thorns, skinny and lacerated, on a cross. I have not pictured him as an enlightened one. What do you think is the meaning of the image you’ve chosen? What does it say about Jesus or about the author’s views of Jesus? From this picture, I believe that it gives Jesus age, not just from the title of Jesus at 2000. But from what he is shown to be. Because this book had multiple authors, and each of them had different backgrounds and experiences with Jesus, I think this would be a fair representation from each of their views of him. Although they do not see him as a black man or an Israelite with bronze skin like the history of the world seems to suggest, their image can be said to represent an important and wise Jesus.
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