I read the well done article by Michael Posner on the book, ‘The Lost Gospels’ by Jacobovici & Wilson and couldn’t help note that in the comments string were the inevitable references to ‘blasphemy’ and, by at least one poster, an accusation that it was ‘mocking god.’
Inasmuch as each faith and belief structure interprets god in their own way and own minds eye; inasmuch as groups often existing within the same faith and belief structure can differently interpret their same ‘god,’ there is a significant flaw in the accusation that something of faith with which one, or one group, does not agree becomes ‘blasphemous’ or is ‘mocking god.’
And this is true since, above all, there is not a unified or in any way monolithic interpretation of what is god, who is god or, for many others, if a corporeal and/or self aware ‘god’ even exists.
To state that the historical discussion of a married ‘Rabbi Jesus’ is blasphemous really only means to me that someone, or a particular groups of persons, do not agree. And while individuals are free to be as offended as they wish, labeling and demeaning another as ‘blasphemous’ would infer the purity of and the ultimate accuracy for the beliefs by the accusing individual or group.
And it is exactly here where the ‘flaw’ of blasphemy begins.
In this, the general reference to ‘blasphemy,’ is highly problematic in itself since it really only infers that one (the accused blasphemer) has not accepted the ‘god’ of and speaks differently than another (the accusing blasphemed).
And, the right to individual belief structures and interpretation of belief and faith is fundamental to each individual human. Because my understanding and belief structure is different from yours hardly makes me ‘blasphemous.’
It just means that there are different perspectives, different ways of understanding and different /belief structures.
History, in a sense, is the real god as it works and reworks story and myth; legend and fact; that which is recorded versus the often myriad interpretations of that record. It is the process of History which guides how a particular interpretation of that which happened earlier along its own very long and often hard to manage timeline is subsequently understood and then integrated.
How humanity assimilates these different interpretations and that which has been and is being presented depends on where we are on the timeline of History.
And the creation of the original Old, and, later, the New Testaments are not at all immune. How humankind now ‘understands’ our respective faith structures has been shaped for us over a very long period of time.
We need to recognize, too, that where we exist on the very long timeline of History guides what and how we believe and interpret; how we ‘understand’ and apply that which has preceded us.
In this way, the study and presentation of an historical framework for a married ‘Rabbi Jesus’ is hardly new though it has been long suppressed. It is also hardly ‘blasphemous’ but yet another component and another presentation on the guiding timeline of History.
In fact, Thomas Jefferson from his point in early American history so despised all the ‘supernatural’ aspects of Jesus he wrote his own bible to make Jesus a purely mortal however highly evolved and gifted teacher, leader and guide for his people at his (Jesus’) particular point on the historical timeline.
How history is understood to very much include the history of human faith is impacted by all of the same variables as is the case with the study of more traditional historical accounting and accountability.
As a relevant aside, how many believe that there really was a ‘King Arthur’ since, after all, Arthur has had about as many varied interpretations and presentations as are possible to count? I’ve actually investigated some of this area of history and believe Arthur was real; not a ‘King’ but a very powerful…what we might call now…’warlord’ of his time.
History has the power to create and History has the power to take away….
How any one individual now interprets faith or what they think they know in a broader way – was Jesus mortal or divine; did Arthur exist and, if so, was he a King or not – has been guided by long ago writing, subsequent changes that then were written and rewritten based on the passage of time to include differential interpretations driven by human political and social agendas along the very long timeline of History.
One point the Posner references from the book with regards to the practice of celibacy in the Catholic Church was, I think, well taken by the authors and a good example of this exact discussion and the process of History.
In the 1st Century (CE), History tells us that the first pope, Peter, along with most of the apostles chosen by Jesus were married men. We also know that across the history of Judaism, unmarried Rabbis/religious leaders have been and remain highly unusual and, often, not even employable.
With this, the assumption that an ancient and then revered Jewish leader and teacher of the faith would also be married seems very reasonable.
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries most priests remained married. It was not until the Council of Nicea in 325 CE that it was decided that once ordained, a priest could not marry. In 385 CE, the pope advised that priests could no longer sleep with their wives and around 600 CE, Pope Gregory said that even having sexual desire was sinful.
Celibacy, then, was not fully enforced or even identified as compulsory for at least 600 years following the identified time of Jesus’s death (taken from: http://futurechurch.org/brief-history-of-celibacy-in-catholic-church).
These were the adaptations based on the passage of time based on the process of History. It appears more and more, then, that the subsequent demand for priestly celibacy actually had little, if anything, to do with whatever exactly was happening during the identified time of Jesus.
It also is not irrelevant to mention the near historical cliché which says that the ‘winners write the history.’
This really only references that those who are in charge at given points, places and locations along the historical timeline each have their own unique impact. It references that individuals and groups are able to decide at their point in time and History how to present themselves and how they then wanted a given belief or perceived ‘knowledge’ to best presented and assimilated as per their own and/or classes’ priorities.
And this is a process which, as History and humankind always do, will necessarily include those beliefs whether they be social, political or faith-based that are guided and framed by the point in History at which they are presented.
This book and commentary is anything but ‘mocking god’ or blasphemous whether the reader agrees or disagrees. It is yet another point on the long standing timeline of History as it continues to guide, shape and reshape humankind, our understanding of and interactions with our current world.