A Preview of Sunday, March 15, 1015

On Sunday we will take a detour away from the Pre-Easter Jesus to Post-Easter attempts to define Jesus’ relationship to the Father, the Wisdom of God, and the Spirit. Here are some of the things we will discuss:

  1. What is meant by the theological term, “Christology”?
  2. Are the images of Christ found in the New Testament consistent?
  3. How do the images of Jesus developed by the earliest Christian communities relate to the ones that developed in later centuries? How is each related to what we find in the New Testament?
  4. The early Church was comfortable with identifying Jesus with feminine imagery such as “the Wisdom of God.” What happened to make later Christians so uncomfortable with such imagery?

Here are some things worth reading:

  • Borg, Chapter 5: Jesus, the Wisdom of God SOPHIA BECOME FLESH
  • BibleWisdom as ‘Sophia’ and Reason as ‘Word’
    • Proverbs 3:13-18; 9:1-6
    • Luke 7.33 -35 = Matthew 11.18-19.
    • 1 Corinthians 1:23-24, and 30
    • John 1:1-4, 10, and 14

Have a wonderful Saturday. I’ll look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Great Class this Morning / More Resources

I really enjoyed our time together this morning. Your insightful comments and discussion made it a very engaging time. I hope you found the partner discussions meaningful.

Here is a link to the LA Times series that I mentioned, and from which the pictures at the end of class came.

Product of Mexico, LA Times

Just below the video you will find a row of tabs. Each tab takes you to a different article in the series.

A Preview of Sunday, February 22, 2015

What are the implications of thinking about Jesus and God as experience rather than as objects of belief? In this class we will think about our own experiences of “the Spirit of God” and how we might understand them more profoundly by understanding what the New Testament authors said about Jesus’ experience of “the Spirit” and the experiences of the early churches. Here are some readings to consider:


  • Page 17 “Beyond Belief to Relationship”
  • Pages 37-39 “Implications for the Life of the Church


Thinking about each of the following passages in light of our recent discussions of Jesus’ own spiritual experience, what could “Spirit” or “Holy Spirit” mean other than the third person of the trinity in each text?

  • Luke 4:14-21
  • Acts 4:8 and 31
  • Acts 7:55
  • Acts 13:52
  • Romans 15:13

The Galilee that Jesus Knew

The Biblical Archaeology Society has made freely available a number of books recently that discuss archaeological finds in the area of Ancient Israel. These books are targeted not just at biblical scholars, but at general readers interested in what archaeology has to show about the ancient world in the areas relevant to the Bible.  One of these books, The Galilee that Jesus Knew, is relevant to the discussion that we began this morning (the cultural and historical context of the Pre-Easter Jesus). Clicking the title of the book in this paragraph will take you to a page where you can download a free copy.

Jesus and the Politics of his Day

This evening as I listen to Dr. William Barber’s sermon at Riverside Baptist Church in New York, I am reminded of a book that I read many years ago on Jesus and politics. Jesus and the Politics of his Day is a collection of essays by prominent biblical scholars on the political context of Jesus’ ministry.

You can read the entire book online at Cambridge University Press ebooks.

You can hear Dr. Barber’s sermon here:

Presentation from this Morning

I’ve uploaded the presentation I used this morning (February 1, 2015). You can view it online here: Pre-Easter and Post-Easter Jesus.

The Birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke

I have uploaded a table comparing the stories of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke, the only two Gospels to address the issue. If you have a chance today, take a look at it and think about what it implies about the authors’ perspectives on this event.

Click the link below to see the table.

Birth Stories

A Preview of Sunday, January 25, 2015

Topics for Discussion

  • Differences in the synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke
  • Images of Jesus
    • Fidelistic
    • Moralistic
  • Parallel Stories – What do the differences mean?
  • From belief to relationship
  • The Pre-Easter vs. Post-Easter Jesus

Suggested Readings


Chapter 1, cont. from How I See Jesus Now to end of chapter


Two ways to follow Jesus: John 3:16, Matt 7:1 & Luke 6:31

Parallel Genealogies: Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 (click to view these passages)

2nd Week – Jan 18, 2015

Your comments provided the class with some great fodder for some engaging discussions in the weeks ahead. Since several comments spoke directly to how the Bible was developed, Michael is preparing a presentation in response to those questions and to discuss your additional questions.

In preparation for this coming Sunday, we suggest these readings:


Chapter 1: from opening Meeting Jesus Again through the section titled Seminary and Beyond.


1st Corin. 13:11

Questions from Opening Sunday

On Sunday, January 11, 2015, we wrote responses to three questions. What follows is a compilation of the responses you provided. In a number of cases I had to guess at which question some of you intended your comment to address. If I got it wrong, just let me know and I’ll move your response to a more fitting place. You can contact me using the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page.

What are you curious about?

  • How do we nurture our congregation to become even more alive and joyful and welcoming to new members?
  • How can we re-form a church to move beyond being a force for divisiveness?
  • Religion as mental illness
  • Canon fodder, and how not to be it
  • Curious about how and why (history, need) Christianity took hold and grew (in the 1st century).
  • How does being a person of progressive faith differ from being a compassionate humanist?
  • The lectionary
  • What are key/basic elements in progressive faith?
  • How do I strengthen and build my relationship with God?

What questions do you have about the Bible, Jesus, or God?

  • Doubts about the resurrection / ascension story – What was happening (history, people, need) to inspire this profound story?
  • How were these stories passed down – altered – in 1st and 2nd centuries?
  • How do we see divinity and what it means in a modern world?
  • Immaculate conception
  • Translations decided
  • How can we see these elements [key/basic elements of progressive faith?] in our beliefs and understanding of God and Jesus?
  • Who makes lectionaries?
  • How [are we to] understand literal stories?
  • Is Jesus literally God incarnate?
  • How much to take literally so that I can continue to be a Christian. What are basic doctrines of a progressive Christian?

What do you hope we cover in this class?

  • Is there a movement of the Spirit in Scripture that is essentially feminine? What attributes of Jesus, the Son, and God the Father might be illuminated to give room for more feminine images?
  • Does our organizational structure, physical building, and order of worship restrict us from fuller involvement in our local community?
  • A sense of still being in but not of the world, while being able to embrace neighbors rather than traditional separateness – where is our identity?
  • Learn more about the Bible
  • I need some contemplative time — otherwise I consider this an assignment — so wait!
  • I’m interested particularly in the “supernatural deeds attributed to Jesus. How do we understand / interpret these? Is it possible to reject the supernatural elements (miracles, raising the dead, etc.) of Christianity and still be Christian?
  • Is there a point at which the bible became ‘fixed’ — passages weren’t added or deleted? (As opposed to being revised/reworded to become more contemporary (i.e. Good News Bible)?
  • How are people to interpret the Bible when most don’t have an historical background / knowledge?
  • Is there still truth in some of the scripture that we may believe is not literally true?