The work I encounter for this project continues to fascinate me. It also continues to deepen and expand my understanding and appreciation of the Bible, the world in which its events are situated, and the political climate that dictated how its content would ultimately be shaped.
Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth provides an interesting, informative examination of Jesus as well as a few key players in the early Church. As I mentioned, I had expected a book that investigated Jesus and determined that he was not the man that the Bible portrays. Instead, this book handles these important figures with respect, and in his discussion, Aslan seeks not to destroy but rather to untangle much of the content that the New Testament has skewed. In so doing, he is able to re-contextualize it, which provides a clearer picture of the faith people are following.
Predictably, Aslan doesn’t bother addressing any of the supposed gay content in the Bible. Why would he? Even though the Bible surfaces in mainstream discussions about homosexuality more than any other conversation, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. But Paul, on the other hand, says a lot about homosexuality—particularly in Romans. And even when discussing him, Aslan never touches homosexuality. Instead, he focuses on what’s important. Do I think that this means Aslan has no opinion on homosexuality? I have no idea, but by focusing on what he does, Aslan by extension asks people to focus on what matters too. Too often, people are focusing on a minute detail by devoting so much energy to homosexuality. This turns the “issue” into something bigger than the Bible does. So why should we?
Furthermore, we should consider the source. As Aslan’s chapter devoted to Paul demonstrates, we should take a moment to think long and hard about the authority to whom we have granted a major say in our society’s thoughts on homosexuality.
To say that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong is accurate. Yes, it’s in there. But if the source within this book was discredited by the very organization/movement he professed to represent, why then are we taking his word for things? We can’t turn back time and interrogate Paul. Why then don’t we bother relying on the people who could? To disregard what they believed over Paul seems problematic, and not just on the gay issue. What else might he be mis-representing? It seems clear that if Jesus actually met Paul—as opposed to supposedly visiting with him in the spirit form—it seems clear that he would have set him straight.
My journey on this blog continues in May, as I discuss a book I found called The Year of Living Biblically, by AJ Jacobs. My sense is that it’s a somewhat humorous take on what happens when a person tries to follow the Bible literally. I don’t know what if anything it will add to this project, but I’m going to read it with an open mind.