Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jesus And Women (Part 1)

AP: I have a book published by Trotta titled Jesús y las mujeres that some of you might be interested in. This is a very important topic. Actually the book was first published with Aguilar (Santillana 2008), and I not too long ago had the opportunity to revisit the book, update it, make a few adjustments to the order, before handing the final manuscript over to Trotta. I changed the order of some chapters, I have written some supplements have added three indexes (of ancient authors cited passages of the Old Testament and New Testament) and have modified somewhat the end of the Prologue with a short sentence of lament.

So what is the book about? What does it cover? Basically I just attempted to cover every single text found in Gospel literature of the first three centuries dealing with Jesus and women. I divided the analysis up into the following concentrations:
The image of the historical Jesus from childbirth
The situation of women in first-century Israel
The birth and infancy of Jesus
Jesus, his mother, and his family in public life
Jesus and other women during his ministry–e.g., women who followed Jesus; sinners; Jesus' friendship with women; women healed by Jesus; women in Jesus' parables and other sayings by him
Jesus on marriage and divorce in general
Jesus–married, single, bigamist, homosexual (there are texts for all of these found in the Apocryphal Gospels)
The special relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene
I have also added a discussion of the issue surrounding the alleged Coptic papyrus. Think Karen L. King. 
Basically we cover all of the important issues and their respective texts. We work through all of the "Gospel literature," which includes those Gospels accepted by the Church as well as those rejected by her.  And in every text I do not intend to give more than its original meaning. My goal is just to explain how a contemporary reader in its corresponding century would have understood such passages, as well as explain any (possible) historical value it might have.

If the conclusions are not to the liking of everyone, if I say that quite a few perspectives on the subject are a myth, it is because I truly believe it so. The truth is I wanted some of the conclusions to be the exact opposite, since the character, Jesus, who has been the focus of my study for many years, is someone I find fascinating in many respects.

What do I intend with this book?
1. Briefly summarize my vision of Jesus
2. Present the reader an exercise in simple text analysis using the tools that have exist today in philology and ancient history in order to distinguish the different levels or layers that we find in the texts, and there are four:
     2.1. The closest to the actual life of Jesus, that is the level of the Jesus of history. Accessing this level offers the possibility to get very close to the actual words of Jesus. We might not reach his exact words since those were almost always spoken in Aramaic, and the records of those words has since been lost because they were soon translated into Greek. This level gets you back to that translation of those records. In many cases it is reliable. 
     2.2. The level of the community of the closest followers of Jesus, that is his immediate disciples.
     2.3. The next level moves out chronologically to the second or third generation. This level represents  the point of view of the Evangelists, or the communities in which they lived. The chronological remoteness of Jesus is clearly seen in the Fourth Gospel, where "words" and "scenes of Jesus" that represent more the theology of the biographer–in this case the unknown author of the fourth Gospel–than the thinking and words of Jesus.
     2.4. This level is intensified most notably in the apocryphal Gospels, many of which are written long after Jesus lived (sometimes centuries), and they are full of legendary stories. The further out you move, the less historicity there is. 
3. Present the thesis and analysis in clear, simple language, without technical lingo, but completely scientific and based on the research criteria expressed in the Prologue.
4. Draw conclusions from the analysis of the texts for the Jesus of history, both of sting one of the themes or sections of the life of Jesus studied throughout the book as other general conclusions, which are none other than that I have been getting through the analysis of the texts in the different chapters. And here is where the book is more opposition because it doesn't want to accept another image presumably contrary to one previously having already in the he.
I want to stress here that most confessional authors are not critical enough and do not clearly distinguish between levels 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 explained above. This book is not focused on what Jesus' disciples might have thought about Jesus, what the authors of the Gospels or the communities in which they lived might have thought, or–jumping ahead–what Christians of today read into the Gospels. No, this book is focused on what we can scientifically demonstrate regarding the historical Jesus.

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