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(111 Posts)
CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:23:03

I just went to a carol concert and had a good singalong. I do enjoy singing carols. I’m not in anyway Christian or religious and neither were my parents, I just picked up hymns and carols from primary school. Anyway, for the first time in my life (over 50 !) I started thinking about the actual words and about who Jesus was.

It has only just occurred to me how significant Jesus is! I know I’ve been singing about him for half a century but I never really thought about him before. I think as I grew up in a reasonably decent and civilised society most of his teachings seemed kind of common sense to me. For example, peace on earth, brotherhood of man etc. I suddenly thought this evening, first of all maybe these ideas were new for his time and secondly perhaps we can’t take them for granted. It feels like we may be living, or about to live in times where these teachings need to be restated, that they are not as universal or common sense as we assumed. Do I make sense or have I had too much mulled wine?

Obviously these are naive musings. I’ve never read the bible or anything.

Can anyone who actually knows anything about Jesus recommend a book (not the bible) which discusses Jesus as a historical figure? I’d like to know about how his teachings were understood at the time. How did they differ from contemporary teachings about morality etc. I know he’s an important prophet for Muslims too. Do Muslims take the same ideas from his teachings ?

This is Jesus 101 I’m afraid. I’m a complete theological novice.

TulipsInAJug Sat 16-Dec-17 22:27:19

Ahem. Why not the Bible? There are some very good, contemporary translations out there.

colouringinagain Sat 16-Dec-17 22:30:41

No, I can't I'm afraid but I completely know what you mean. Jesus and the Christmas story is actually amazing.

DancingLedge Sat 16-Dec-17 22:31:36

I'd be interested in the book that places Jesus in the wider historical context. How revolutionary was this at the time? I know some of the teachings are more interpretations placed on them, long after Jesus's time.
Let's hope someone knowledgeable pops in.

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:34:26

Isn’t the Bible also full of awful smiting and exhortations against homosexuality and stuff?

What I’m interested in to start off with is understanding the historical context of Jesus’s teachings. Were they really new ideas at the time? I’d like to know this because it puts a perspective on present day values in ‘christian’ societies I think.

BoldBean2 Sat 16-Dec-17 22:35:19

I like the Christian ethos but do not trust organised religion as I believe it's a means to control and manipulate the population.

I am Christian born but do not believe that Jesus was resurrected. I love a lot of the New Testament and there is a lot of great stuff on forgiveness, love etc. It's quite lovely but only as a philosophy to enable self reflection not a religion to adhere to.

BigFishy Sat 16-Dec-17 22:37:58

People did not need Jesus's teachings in order to be good. People who are good Christians would have been good anyway even if they were born in a different part of the World, and never got to hear about Christianity.

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:38:52

I mean I have totally taken ‘Christian values’ for granted until recently in fact the very expression has annoyed me because I guess I’ve always thought these were universal common sense values that we could all take for granted. But maybe this wasn’t the case in Jesus’s time and maybe actually these values have to be defended. I say this as a non Christian.

BigFishy Sat 16-Dec-17 22:39:43

The Bible is pretty horrific actually, detailing how to keep slaves.

DownWentTheFlag Sat 16-Dec-17 22:42:00

The Case for Christ might be a good place to start.
Also I would suggest reading one of the Gospels. The Gospels are more of a narrative of Jesus’ life rather than a list of rules or judgements.

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:42:03

Big fishy I have always believed the same as you, that people don’t need to know about Jesus to be good. But is there really an innate understanding of goodness? I used to think so but maybe we need a philosophy/religion to guide us? As I said before I am totally non religious. This idea has only just occurred to me.

lifetothefull Sat 16-Dec-17 22:42:26

Many years ago when I found myself in a very similar situation to you I went out to a 'spiritual' bookshop and looked for something as you describe. I didn't want to go to a Christian bookshop as I thought I would only find something one sided. I didn't want what my christian friend offered for the same reason. I found this
It really helped. You may gather from my user name that I did decide to become a follower of Jesus and have never looked back.
This book certainly doesn't feel like propaganda. It leaves it to you to decide what you think.

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:43:04

What is The Case for Christ? Is it a book?

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:44:29

Oh thank you lifetothefull that sounds exactly what I’m looking for !

DoubleRamsey Sat 16-Dec-17 22:46:32

Try the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) nothing homophobic or smiting in there.

TulipsInAJug Sat 16-Dec-17 22:46:44

The New Testament is vastly different to the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophecies Jesus' coming, but a lot of it is hard to stomach, true. Other parts, like the Psalms and Proverbs, are wonderful.

You should read the gospels though, they are the books that talk about Jesus' life and teachings. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You could read an entire gospel at one sitting, not too hard. And a modern translation will help.

sausagerole Sat 16-Dec-17 22:49:18

OP, you have some good questions. The best book I could recommend is 'Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes' by Kenneth Bailey. It's a collection of studies on the historical social/cultural context of Jesus' birth and interactions with people (as recorded in the Bible). It's an absolutely fantastic book,so interesting, insightful and easy to read and understand. If you can't get one I'll post you a copy!

Brahumbug Sat 16-Dec-17 22:51:59

Jesus teachings? Like slaves obey your masters, the unimportance of family compared to following him, he must come before your children, husband/wife, patents etc? Not so good really

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:53:19

Ok I will try the gospels.

Can anyone tell me though, are Jesus’ teachings and his life as described in the gospels really different from other religious teachings? Was Jesus unique or was he saying what all good people have always known ?

TulipsInAJug Sat 16-Dec-17 22:53:36

He never said slaves obey your masters, and the 'you must leave your family' was figurative speech, Brahum.

CDAlady Sat 16-Dec-17 22:54:51

Sausagerole that book sounds great. I’m off to google it.

BigFishy Sat 16-Dec-17 22:55:47

How can Christians tell you what happens after death, when they have never died?

The Bible teaches us how to keep slaves. Do you believe in slavery? Do you believe in Angels, actual flying creatures sent to give messages from God? How does Noah's Ark work? Every species of animal saved from a flood in a big boat...

The Bible wasn't even written by the people who actually feature in the Bibical stories.

TulipsInAJug Sat 16-Dec-17 22:57:01

No other religious writings are similar to Jesus' greatest sermon, the Sermon on the Mount.

BigFishy Sat 16-Dec-17 23:00:42

And Jesus had to die a horrible death for others sins What?

HeteronormativeHaybales Sat 16-Dec-17 23:00:48

'Slaves, obey your masters' is from Paul.

Jesus did talk about the potential rupture of family relationships in consequence of following him. There are also various instances in the Gospels of him slighting members of his own family to make a wider point (from memory: 'these [his followers] are my mother and brothers'). To put it in a broader context, the message here might be said to be about the fact that standing up for your beliefs can be divisive and painful and demand sacrifices.

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