Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesuss Wife by Ariel Sabar © Anchor
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and host of RTs On Contact, a weekly interview series on US foreign policy, economic realities and civil liberties in American society. Hes the author of 14 books, including several New York Times best-sellers.
Ariel Sabar masterfully dissects the dishonesty and narcissism inherent in nearly all Christian theological work in his book Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesuss Wife.
Jesus Christ has been trotted out over the past two millennia to justify a litany of evils, including the Crusades, the Inquisition, the European conquest and genocide of the native peoples of the Americas, Puritan witch trials and the burning of heretics, slavery, the subjugation of women, the persecution of homosexuals, and, in the latest iteration, the endless wars in the Middle East.
Since there is so little known historically about Jesus, he is infinitely malleable. Every generation, and every brand of Christianity, has, for this reason, produced a Jesus in its own image. When I was a student at Harvard Divinity School, we read the German theologian Rudolf Bultmann, who, heavily influenced by Martin Heidegger, was an existentialist and who, of course, turned Jesus into an existentialist.
The liberal church is as infected with this disease as right-wing Christians who have twisted Jesus into a Rambo-like white, male messiah for American capitalism, American imperialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. And it is this dishonesty and narcissism, inherent in nearly all Christian theological work, that Ariel Sabar masterfully dissects in his book Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesuss Wife. Also on rt.com God Bless Abortions sign draped across massive Jesus statue in Arkansas by activists over attempts to ban terminations
Karen King, a professor at Harvard Divinity School, made a startling announcement in September 2012 at a conference in Rome. She had obtained, she told the gathering, a second-century papyrus fragment with a text suggesting that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that she was considered one of the disciples. King called the fragment, the size of a business card, The Gospel of Jesuss Wife a clever marketing ploy, especially since it was impossible to know where the text, which turned out to be a crude forgery, came from. Even if it was real, it could have been nothing more than a tiny scrap of paper rolled up and worn in an amulet. But King, if nothing else, was media savvy, and The Gospel of Jesuss Wife catapulted her discovery to international fame.
She had already gotten a taste of popular acclaim, hitching herself to Dan Browns 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, which was to Biblical scholarship what Raiders of the Lost Ark was to archeology. In the novel, Brown makes Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus, pregnant with Christs child when he was crucified. The Da Vinci Code was only a few degrees separated from the claims made by scholars like King, who published her book, The Gospel of Mary Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle, the same year as Browns novel. She instantly became a ubiquitous media presence, defending the novel despite its numerous Biblical and historical inaccuracies. She appeared in cover stories about the book in Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and became a regular on Code-themed TV specials, on ABCs Primetime, NBCs Dateline and CNN Presents, Sabar writes in Veritas. In some of these media appearances she was joined by Brown. On the movie version of Browns novel, starring Tom Hanks, King is listed as a consultant. The novel transformed King from a scholar whose intellectual passions had been confined to classrooms, academic tracts and the occasional church into a best-selling author with live audiences of hundreds and a television viewership of millions. The Gospel of Jesuss Wife returned her to the epicenter of popular culture and the mass media.
King has spent her career championing the idea that Mary Magdalene and women in the early church played a prominent role in Jesus ministry. She is a scholar of Gnostic texts, texts from the second to fourth centuries that did not make it into the church-approved canon. The Gnostics were condemned as heretics by the early church and their writings were banned. The Gnostics believed that an elect group of believers, themselves, had been given a secret knowledge the Greek word gnosis means knowledge of spiritual mysteries about the divine status of human beings that was obscured by the Old Testament and revealed to them by Jesus, who was regarded as an illuminator rather than the resurrected savior.
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