Theology From Exile Volume III The Year of Mark

INTRODUCTION

Since 1985 with the founding of the Jesus Seminar, the field of research on early Christian origins and the development of the New Testament must be described as “volatile.” With this third volume of commentaries the Westar Institute scholars version of New Testament translations of the gospels is more useful to the emerging theology than the NRSV. Quotations therefore may be assumed to be from “The Complete Gospels”(1) unless otherwise noted.

As an example of the transformation in the expected glacial progress of biblical scholarship, Marcus Borg agrees with the consensus that dates John’s gospel in the 90s; he also agrees with a theory gaining acceptance that John predates Luke, which is now thought to date from early second century.(2) The ground seemed to be shifting even more at the Westar Institute’s 2013 Fall meeting. The presentation of the report on the Acts Seminar included the suggestion by Joseph B. Tyson(3) that while scholars agree that the same person likely wrote both the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, Acts may have been written before the gospel. Even more dizzying for Christian tradition, the so-called “proto-Luke” known to and used by Marcion did not include Luke’s beloved birth stories and seems to end with the sharing of bread and fish on the road to Emmaus.(4) Faith as belief in the historical veracity of the accepted orthodox Christian understanding of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus appears more and more to depend on political and cultural shifting sands. Faith as trust in the value of Jesus’s message to sustainable human life on Planet Earth stands on the rock of human experience with distributive justice-compassion – whether of the Buddha, the Christ, or simple, evolutionary, human empathy.…