Walter Wink, 1935 - 2012
Walter Wink died on May 10. The New York Times called him “an influential liberal theologian whose views on homosexuality, nonviolence and the nature of Jesus challenged orthodox interpretations.” He was Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York. He wrote a number of books, some of which won awards. He also wrote the foreword for my book The Lost Religion of Jesus, which is his main connection to my life.
Walter Wink was someone who saw the connection between Christianity and real life. An article he wrote for “The Fourth R” describes his life perhaps better than the New York Times obituary. Here is someone who takes his life’s work seriously, seeks to connect scholarship to the real world, and sought to push scholars in that direction, as a lot of people would likely tell you.
What is likely less well known is that he also realized that Jewish Christianity and the Ebionites posed a fundamental problem for historical Jesus scholarship, and sought to connect that to the real world. Continue reading
One of the big problems that people have with the idea that Jesus was a vegetarian is the “fish stories” in the New Testament — stories in which Jesus distributes fish as food to people, or in one case actually eats fish. If Jesus was a vegetarian, then what are these stories doing in the New Testament?
We can get an important clue as to what they are doing in the New Testament if we take a quick look at what their effect is and has been. From the point of view of a meat-eater, these fish stories are very convenient. Jesus ate fish, therefore eating meat must be all right. Continue reading
Jesus drives out the demons
One of the critical issues in the early church was the “table of demons.” Both the Ebionites and Paul discuss this with great energy. So, what is the “table of demons” and should we avoid eating there?
Paul discusses the table of demons at I Corinthians 10:21: “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Continue reading
Just before his death, Jesus went into the temple and disrupted the business supporting the temple operations, by driving out all those who were buying and selling the sacrificial animals. It was this act which led to his arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus was killed because he was a palpable and physical threat to public order. That public order was embodied in the temple in Jerusalem, where animals were constantly sacrificed to appease the desires of a bloodthirsty God — or to appease the priests, depending on your point of view. But why did Jesus do this? Continue reading
O. K., you’ve seen the DVD of the Discovery Channel program on the Jesus family tomb found at Talpiot. Perhaps you’ve even read the book The Jesus Family Tomb co-authored by Simon Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino. But, you’ve done a Google Search and found out that almost no one else likes the idea that the Talpiot tomb — with references to Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Mariamne, Matthew, and Jose — is indeed the tomb of the Jesus, the presumed founder and Messiah of the world’s largest religion. Continue reading
From time to time I get questions about a negative review of my book, The Lost Religion of Jesus, posted on Amazon.com by Shemayah Phillips, as well as about his web site, Ebionite.org. [UPDATE 2021: the web site “Ebionite.org” has ceased existence and has now been taken over by someone else not interested in the Ebionites; it was last functioning during 2016.] Phillips says that my book is terrible, suggests that the Ebionites were not vegetarian, and that I’m advocating gnostic views!
Phillips’ review is cast as a response to the vegetarian issue: “Firstly, it is an apologetic book for vegetarianism with a religious ‘seal of approval’ applied . . . the author’s previous loyalty to vegetarianism and non-violence . . . makes him jump at questionable sources identified as ‘Jewish-Christian’ which he lumps all together as ‘ebionite.'”
What is going on here? Have I got the Ebionites completely wrong? Were the Ebionites really vegetarian? (And, worse yet, am I really “gnostic”? Are my parents reading this?) Continue reading
The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity. By Keith Akers. Lantern Books, 2000. 260 pages, with indices and bibliography. $20.
This book can be ordered from Lantern Books, or from book services such as Abe Books or Amazon.
Jesus’ preaching was first and foremost about simple living and nonviolence; he never intended to create a new religion separate from Judaism. Moreover, Jesus’ radical Jewish ethics, not a new theology, distinguished the followers of Jesus from other Jews. It was the earliest followers of Jesus, the Jewish Christians, who understood Jesus better than any of the gentile Christian groups. Continue reading