Monday, August 9, 2010

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

Western scientific mentality steers us in the direction to deny the status of 'fact' (and therefore of truth) to anything not demonstrable by repeatable verification.

What if I say that on November 22, 1963...."A man with a rifle from a warehouse window shot and killed another man in a passing car." Every word is true (assuming we accept the Warren Commission finding), but how plain and meager the facts are. But take it further and say.."The President of the United States was assassinated." This is more fully factual because the victim is identified, the murder is stated as political and the overall perspective is truer.

Lets take it a step further and say that..."Men everywhere felt that they had looked into the abyss of evil and people wept in the streets." This actually tugs at the heart and is truer in a different way. It presupposes the other statements, and goes beyond them to describe more clearly the horrible nature of what happened.

Now look at the Gospels and the New Testament in the light of the above statements. They are much more like the third statement, involving more of the heart and soul in a confession of shared meaning - tied to history and to event.

That's how it is with Jesus - no neutrality, mere records or empty chronology. Rather a living participation and heart felt entanglement. For Jesus' story can't be described without a fuller telling involving heart, mind and soul.

Christian faith is fact, not mere telling of history, but poetry, not simple expressed imagination. Like the arched bridge that grows stronger with the weight placed upon it, so the story of the Gospels, bear up with reassuring strength, under the devotion of the centuries to Jesus the Messiah.

"What is music, asked Walt Whitman, but what awakens within you when you listen to the instruments? And Jesus is the music of the reality of God, and faith is what awakens when we hearken." Amen.

Wow, overlooked contributions from the Middle Eastern Christian perspective that have rarely been exposed to those outside the Arabic-speaking Christian world are readily available, texts that have inspired the faithful for nearly two millennia.

The idea that early Christianity was limited to Greek and Latin expressions has distorted historical reality and weakened our understanding of the roots of Christian theology and spirituality. During the 3rd and 4th centuries Syriac was the third international language of the church.

Middle Eastern Christians are the forgotten faithful, much like the Celtic Christian tribes dating back to the early Galatians and other Celt's scattered in Briton and Ireland.

We have so much to learn from our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and the wonderful book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey is a a great starting point.

Cheers,
O'

3 comments:

  1. I just wish I had been exposed to this branch of Christian faith decades ago....so much insight and clarity of Biblical interpretation from middle eastern eyes......

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  2. Hi, I am from Australia.

    Please find a radical (meaning going to the root) Divine Perspective of the Secrets of the Kingdom of God as Taught and Demonstrated by Saint Jesus of Galilee.

    http://www.beezone.com/up/secretsofkingdomofgod.aspx

    And of Real God

    http://www.adidam.org/teaching/aletheon/truth-god.aspx

    ReplyDelete