Sunday, November 30, 2003


It's been a light month.

11/25 -- The dilemma of seeking a publisher when those who have the knowledge for your work are afraid of its implications and those who have the right spirit for it lack the knowledge.

11/13 -- The fear that a very Jewish Jesus, a rabbi, will diminish him; but if Jesus can be fully human and fully divine, then he can also be fully Jewish and fully inspirational to Christians; one is no more paradoxical than the other.

11/10 -- Ghostly - a poem about a Jew searching for the historical Jesus.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

(Table of contents for each month posted at end of month.)


What do you do when the publishers who ought to be interested in your book (because of their knowledge) are frightened by its implications and the publishers who have the radical spirit to love your book hesitate because they don't know your field?

I am stuck in this no man's land. Publishers of books on the historical Jesus just want to put out safe books which do not challenge the scholarly world in any way. They want to hear the same old things, possibly with a little spin to make it seem like something new is being said. Anything really new is ruled out. They want to maintain a certain amount of confusion so that nothing can be firmly established about the historical Jesus.

There are independent publishers who do challenging work in the areas of politics, the environment, social issues, problems of minorities. But they have no interest in biblical history. They'd love to see academia exposed wherever it has seriously mangled the search for truth. But they don't know enough to take a chance on my book.

An honest work on the historical Jesus, based solidly on the facts, has nowhere to go. Gospel scholars have actually succeeded in creating so much fear about accurately recovering the historical, Jewish Jesus that it is impossible to get anyone's attention. Especially if you have discovered, as I have, that the very Jewish Jesus/Joshua was more in harmony with fellow Jews than in opposition and that he did not have a plethora of Jewish enemies as everyone still falsely imagines he had. Jewish leaders tried to save his life, but a book that proves that is unpublishable.

If only William Tyndale were around to help me and this book through this struggle. I call upon his spirit for help. And if anyone out there loves Tyndale and has any ideas about how I can get published, let me know.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

(Table of contents for month is last post of that month.)


I wonder how many Christians realize that every time they express a fear that understanding Jesus as a rabbi will diminish him and harm Christianity, they are making a contribution to antisemitism in the world. It's not the worst kind of racism against Jews, but it doesn't help.

Many of these same Christians have no problem when Jesus is studied as a Zen Buddhist or a Gnostic mystic. They don't feel any of this threatens Jesus or Christianity. You may even be delighted by his resemblance to a Zen master. But compare him to other rabbis and all sense of delight disappears.

Jesus as a rabbi or Pharisee stimulates this incredible anxiety that Jesus will become less wonderful. No other category has quite this effect.

As I said, this is not the worst, most vicious kind of racism against Jews. But this fear does keep racism burning at a very low ember. It's enough to keep alive a low opinion of Judaism that some future generation can fan into a bigger flame. You are passing on a subtle hatred that will have consequences one day.

It is not a good answer for Christians to say, We have nothing against Judaism; it's only that a Jewish Jesus who promotes Judaism is not for us.

A Jewish Jesus does not require Christians to become Jewish. It rather means getting to know him, the particular person he was, instead of trying to control him.

It's simply a matter of historical accuracy -- both as to Jesus and the meaning of his words, which are all grounded in rabbinic/Pharisaic wisdom. Running from this historical accuracy -- running full tilt -- may be due to a low level fear or it may be outright hostility, but it sure does not come from anything good.

More important, it creates a mood that is very different from how Christians respond to Jesus as a Buddhist or a mystic of any kind.

This mood towards Judaism -- this feeling that ancient Judaism is some sort of fossil that is distinctly unattractive to modern religious sensibilities and that it would make Jesus less attractive -- creates the most inaccurate ideas about where he stood with his fellow Jews. And that makes a revival of hatred for Jews a continuing possibility in our world.

Here's another way to look at it: Jesus is often said to be fully human and fully divine. This paradox (if it is a paradox) is easily handled by most Christians. But what about fully Jewish and fully inspirational to Christians? This is no more a paradox than the first one.

Yet somehow most Christians have a lot of difficulty with it. It doesn't go down as easy. It's not as acceptable as the first paradox. Making Jesus a fully Jewish human being creates all sorts of problems for Christians. That is not only sad. It is very, very frightening. And if you think there is no danger in this, you are living in a dark world.

Monday, November 10, 2003


What is a Jew, studying
there, studying, studying
under the light, pressed to the page
twirling his fingers
through and through
... the Gospels
What, yes, exactly, those books
not just his nose
buried there
but his ears, lips
humming to the page
hearing his ancient tune light up the words
a ghost, shining and diving
a ghost, selling memories
what could be more ghostly
than to get us remember
what has never been, never will be
part of our memory
We wiped it out long ago
out damned spot, out the Jew
long ago
once upon a time
a Jew, a rabbi
Joshua his name, Jesus the same
spinning Torah like any Jew
any Pharisee
listening to God
twirling through the words
again and again
in the book
always again
never silent, each letter
all Jews
diving in without fear
Joshua too, spinning, diving
to the word
And God said
there, that word
And God said
in that word, all of Torah
we hear, we hear
what could be more Jewish
we hear, how much we hear
and this too
we hear ... save him
that's what we heard
save him
no fear, just save him
there, our rabbi
from a Roman cross
all Jews, leaders too
working to save him
bending Rome to undo
its deadly aim
on our rabbi
just save him
(our sin we even tried)
(oh, what's the use)
(listening stopped, long ago)
all gone, all there
in the Gospels
the true story, unread
unlistened to
for centuries now
come to a halt
time and the tune
wiped out, might as well shout

Then the Lie ... the Lie
that grew
and grew
and grew
nothing new
it was the Jew
their leaders, their religion, their laws
tangled up in Jews
this they told, out it flew
spitting it out
what else is new
if you tell a lie
often and often
and still more often
it sticks, how it sticks
in the throat, in all our throats
we'll never be the same, again
no matter the truth
the truth
what is it
a ghost, diving and diving
riding and rising
oh rising
oh memories
oh God

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