Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lego Mommy: John, Chapter 8

Part 8 of my "Lego Mommy" Series, in which the alert reader may be disappointed upon beginning to understand the series' title. It turns out that I may have been all along mispronouncing the Greek rendition of Jesus' famous "I Am" pronouncements; I'm not entirely sure, but from poking around on the Internet I find that it does seem to rhyme with Lego Amy rather than Lego mommy. The secret is out. Jesusianismists, you were right all along: evolutionism is a lie; darwinumism is a fabrication; my only reason for writing these screeds is that I want to go on sinning. Shall I change the series' title and pretend that I was never mistaken? No! I'm not a Jesusianismist. I think what I'll do instead is just say that it's my patriotic duty as an American to mispronounce words in any foreign language. Yeah, dat's de ticket. Patriotism.
  • Verses 1 - 11: This might be my favorite snafu in all of the bible. The story so often held up by Jesusianismists as an example of Jesus' love, mercy, compassion, understanding, and gentle tolerance of human nature. A crowd of Muslims -- no, I guess they were Jews -- wish to stone a woman to death, claiming to have caught her in the act of adultery. Jesus utters the timeless, unspeakably beautiful phrase, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." All of the Muslims -- no, I guess they were Jews -- slink away with their tails between their legs. There's just one problem with this beautiful story, which my NIV bible expresses wonderfully: "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53 - 8:11." It's really too bad, as it would have been a great support for people who claim that Jesus had a good message. It's also a shame that this story would have represented the first meaningful thing Jesus had to say in the Gospel of John. After seven chapters, I've begun to notice that he simply hasn't said anything. I guess there's still hope, given that there are thirteen chapters left. Cross your fingers, unless you fear that Yahweh will strike you down for using magic.
  • Verse 14:  "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid..." A direct contradiction of Chapter 5, Verse 31, "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." In my mind, Jesus begins to appear more human, more like your run-of-the-mill religious figure: quarreling with his siblings and the people in his home town, running his ministry in places where people don't know his early-life reputation, manipulating crowds with his personality but never saying anything of substance, castigating his opponents for getting God's message completely backward. His modern representatives embody his nature perfectly.
  • Verse 15: "I pass judgment on no one." Except entire cities like Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, per Matthew 11:21 - 23. And "all who do evil," per Matthew 13:41 - 42. And the wicked, per Matthew 13:49. And "every plant not planted by [his] heavenly Father," per Matthew 15:13. And an entire generation that looks for a miraculous sign, per Matthew 16:4. The occasional fig tree, Matthew 21:19. Teachers of the law and Pharisees, Matthew 23:13 - 33. Unfaithful and/or unwise servants of God, Matthew 24:51. The spiritually unprepared, Matthew 25:1 - 12. Worthless servants of God, Matthew 25:30. Those who aren't kind enough to Jesus' brothers, Matthew 25:41 - 46. And that's just in the Gospel according to Matthew. I don't feel like going all the way through Mark and Luke again.
  • Verses 17 - 18: "...the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." But Yahweh is not a man.
  • Verse 26: "I have much to say in judgment of you..." I guess this annuls Verse 15. Jesus was a Muslim, I think. Doctrine of abrogation and all?
  • Verse 43: "Why is my language not clear to you?" He's kidding, right? He seems to have miraculously forgotten that he is deliberately confusing his listeners, as he explained in Matthew 13:10 - 12.
  • Verse 44: "[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning." Who murdered all those infants, toddlers, and preadolescent children back in Genesis 7:21, Numbers 31:17, Joshua 6:21, 1 Samuel 15:2 - 3? Not the devil, I'm pretty sure.
  • Verse 46: "If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" It's hard to determine the truth status of one's words when one spends one's time gushing nonsense.
  • Verse 58: Jesus claims to be Yahweh itself, announcing, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, ἐγώ εἰμι!" Really? This is his explicit claim to being Yahweh itself? Well, maybe. Besides the fact that it's perfectly reasonable to ignore someone who is raving, which he has been doing almost non-stop for eight chapters, announcing "I Am!" in Greek is simply not the same as claiming to be Yahweh. Jesus could have meant any number of things, or he might have meant nothing at all. Jesusianismists often accuse evolutionismists of taking scripture out of context. I want to put Jesus' pronouncement into the context of eight full chapters of absolute nonsense, and come to the obvious conclusion that he is simply continuing his incoherent stream of bullshit. Also note that he has been saying "ἐγώ εἰμι" throughout this chapter: Verse 12, "Eγώ εἰμι the light of the world." Verse 18: "Eγώ εἰμι one who testifies for myself". Verse 24: "If you do not believe that ἐγώ εἰμι, you will indeed die in your sins." Verse 28: "Then you will know that ἐγώ εἰμι". As I've said before, I'm no expert in these matters, but there's something fishy about this story. The phrase ἐγώ εἰμι seems to be rather common in Greek, not a big deal when it has a predicate, such as insane, which would have been apropos. It also seems to have been ok for him to say it without a predicate, as in Verses 24 and 28. It's only after Verse 58 that "the Jews" attempt to stone him. I conclude that saying ἐγώ εἰμι without predicate is not tantamount to claiming to be Yahweh, else the Jews would have attempted to stone Jesus much earlier in the conversation. Instead, it seems to me that the Jews' reason for wanting to stone Jesus was simply because he was blaspheming, by very clearly pronouncing Yahweh's name--even if it was a Greek rendition--underscoring the fact by preceding it with "...before Abraham was". I don't want to give the impression that I know anything about ancient Jewish culture, but I can read about the Talmud. In the Talmud there is a section called the Nezikin, which addresses civil and criminal proceedings relating to damages. Within the Nezikin there is a tractate known as Sanhedrin. Chapter 7 Mishnah 4 of this tractate says that blasphemers are to be stoned. This was Jewish law at the time. As I've asked before: if it were so vitally important for us to believe that Jesus is Yahweh, why would he have announced it in such an obscure, tortuous way that is so easily interpreted otherwise?
  • Verse 59: "...they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds." Not God.

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