Sunday, August 06, 2006

BBC 1 Sunday - The miracles of Jesus part 1 - Rageh Omaar

Just watched the first instalment of "The miracles of Jesus" presented by Rageh Omaar. Having commented before seeing the program I thought I'd put my thoughts down now. ( I'm still not quite sure if he wrote the episode or collaborated in the material. ) Rageh introduced himself as an Muslim at the beginning - so let me state my faith as a Christian here - I'm not going to put caveats on every item I write, but you can view what I write in that light

Initial reaction was cautious. I thought the idea of linking some of the miracles Jesus performed to possible expectations of the Jews at the time was a good idea - but remember that's all it is. There are a few problems I could see with what Rageh presented. ( Though I do like his approach of putting the usual argument about do you believe in the miracles to one side - and concentrating on the impact of them being believed and interpreted at the time. )

1) The Wedding in Cana and the miracle of water into wine. This miracle was carried out reluctantly by Jesus at the bequest of his mother. It therefore seems it may not have been planned by Jesus. Hence you can't then speculate about what Jesus was trying to show - he was meeting a need bought to his attention. The only planning would have been God's. John 2 v1-12

2) The story of Jesus walking on water missed out Peter going out to walk to Jesus and making a few footsteps then sinking. Matthew 14 v22-32( The spin from Rageh and the image on TV was they only accepted him when they held his hand. Also the linking to Joshua was the most spurious of the attempts to phrase things in terms of 1st Century Jewish thinking ).

3) The language used - sorry I couldn't identify it [ please post if you know what it was] - used the name Isa for Jesus on a number of occasions. ( Sorry if I heard incorrectly here and I may well have- but its the impression I was left with. If true then its a subtle hint to Muslims which most Christians could be expected to miss ). See extract below - I am not a linguist or translator so I can't attest to the absolute accuracy of what follows, but it gives an idea arguments that can reasonably be made:

Jesus’ name was never ‘Isa ( see )

Jesus’ mother tongue was Aramaic. In his own lifetime he was called Yeshua in Aramaic, and Jesu in Greek. This is like calling the same person John when speaking English and Jean when speaking French: Jesu, pronounced "Yesoo", is the Greek form of Aramaic Yeshua. (The final -s in Jesu-s is a Greek grammatical ending.) Yeshua is itself a form of Hebrew Yehoshua’, which means ‘the Lord is salvation’. However Yehoshua’ is normally given in English as Joshua. So Joshua and Jesus are variants of the same name.

It is interesting that Jesus' name Yehoshua’ contains within it the proper Hebrew name for God, the first syllable Yeh- being short for YHWH ‘the LORD’.

Yeshua of Nazareth was never called ‘Isa, the name the Qur’an gives to him. Arab-speaking Christians refer to Jesus as Yasou’ (from Yeshua) not ‘Isa.

4) Perhaps the most worrying part is the introduction for next week when Rageh promises to go beyond the Church's teachings to reveal who Jesus really thought he was. This can only be speculation based on an incomplete study of one aspect of his life ( we are not even told which sources are being used for the miracles descriptions - as I have shown they vary from the Gospel descriptions).

I'm, afraid what is being presented is a theological speculation ( which is fine in itself when described as such), but should not be presented as fact. Surely some form of discussion should then follow to make the viewer aware of the diversity of opinions ?( a Jewish, Christian and Muslim representative would be interesting.)

What follows next week worries me - though I found this week program thought provoking - hence the post. But in short I don't think the BBC should be presenting academic theological argument as fact - especially without establishing the range of ideas and I think providing a guide to the Christian teaching on these key matters.

As a Christian I worry that peoples opinions will be formed by a very partial view of only one element of Jesus's life being speculated about from only one viewpoint. Surely the parables and teachings of Jesus deserve some coverage ?

Again lets see if they treat Islam the same way on TV ....

Added Later:

I'm afraid I've mised epsisode 2 - it was Boy in a Shed's birthday party and there was a party to over see. I mention this as I see a lot of people have found this post on Google and could be looking for comment on the second episode. Sorry don't have any yet - hope its on NTL watch again or BBC 3/4 sometime. I'll have a look.


Ginro said...

A christian myself I can understand the concern about this programme.
I'm not 100% certain, but I recall the name Isa being used of Jesus by the gnostics in their stories, and if this is so i.e. that this is the gnostic name for Him, this would explain the nonsense that muslims come out with and the name they give Him, as old Moh got his garbled version of Christianity from the gnostics.

Steven Carr said...

The miracle stories of Jesus are literary creations, plagiarised from the miracle stories in the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

This can be detected as easily as we can detect that some A-level students have copied their coursework from the Internet. Whole sentences are copied out. For example, when the author of Luke rewrites the story in 1 Kings 17 of Elijah raising the son of a widow he met at the gate of a city , to become a story of Jesus raising the son of a widow he met at the gate of a city, Luke copies out 'kai edoken auton te metri autou' from the old story. Luke also copies other phrases from the Elijah story when writing his story about Jesus.

In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha has a great many people to feed with only a few loaves of barley bread and a little other food. He delegates the task of feeding. There is a complaint that the quantity is too small. The feeding continues and everyone is fed. There is surplus bread left over. This older story from Kings has exactly the same plot as the feeding of the 5,000 - only the numbers are different.

More plagiarism of the Old Testament miracle stories can also be found in other stories about Jesus.

The stories are not historical. They are not even original to Jesus.

It is just like some of the stories in the Koran

Take Chapter 2 Verse 249 of the Koran, which is about the first king of Israel, called Talut in the Koran.

So when Talut departed with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much of it as fills the hand; but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it.

So when he had crossed it, he and those who believed with him, they said: We have today no power against Jalut and his forces.

Christians will at once recognise this strange story about how God tested the army of the Israelites by making them drink from a river.

It is found in Judges 7:4-7.

The same analysis which shows that Koranic stories are copied from the Old Testament shows that Christian stories are copied from Jewish stories,

There are more details at Miracles

Man in a Shed said...

The point that Rageh Omaar was presenting was similar but with different conclusions - ie he makes the connection you do, but then speculates about the impact on the local Jewish population who would also have made the connection. (Which suggests that those connection were deliberate - and so plagiarism and design would look the same. )

What's perhaps interesting about the Gospels is that there are at least 4 of them. I remember (just) from my 'O' level religious studies that certain narrative is common to some and not others. I even remember my RE teacher going on about Q source ( a possible lost gospel ). Why mention this - well its much harder to control multiple versions by different authors. So fixing the stories would be difficult across the board.

Steven Carr said...

I don't understand your point.

There is only 1 miracle common to all Gospels, and the Gospel writers felt free to change what other people had written.

In Mark 8:23-25, Jesus cures blindness by spitting on eyes, although the cure does not work first time. Matthew and Luke drop this miracle ,as it was embarrasing. Matthew also drops the other account of Jesus spitting, in Mark 7:33-35. Matthew also drops a healing of a demoniac in Mark 1:25-27.

This left a problem for Matthew in that he was short of people healed as compared to Mark.

So he simply doubled up the number of people healed in the healings he did take over from Mark. In Matthew 20:29-34 , he doubles the number of blind people healed, compared to Mark 10:46-52.

This was almost certainly to make up for dropping Mark 8:23-25, as the word for eyes that Matthew uses in 20:34 (ommata) is only used here and in Mark 8:23, so this is Matthew's way of getting 'ommata' healed without having to say that Jesus spat on someone's face.

Because Matthew has left out one healing of a demoniac from Mark's Gospel, (Mark 1:24-29) , he doubles the numbers healed in Matthew 8:28-34 as compared with Mark 5:1-20 and imports the question from Mark 1:24 into Matthew 8:29, as he did not want to drop the story entirely.

It seems that the Gospellers believed that the miracle stories were malleable and could be edited and changed to suit their purposes. If they could do so, what credence can we put on their accounts?

Man in a Shed said...

My point is that its hard to fix 4 different accounts. If you interviewed 4 witnesses say of a street robbery - you'd have 4 different accounts. If they were exactly the same then you'd know there had been some collusion. The variety of the accounts wouldn't change the fact that the robbery had taken place.

On your more substansive points I'll have to get back later when I've finished working.

Man in a Shed said...

Sorry Steven its going to have to be tomrrow sometime. Got a bit caught up in the bashing of Reuters and the MSM in general.

Man in a Shed said...

Steven, OK here goes. Its does not surprise me that gospel accounts of the same events vary. Just look at how news stories vary over time - even in the modern media world. Stories in Lebanon illustrate this today.

The gospels share many aspects, or at least Mark, Matthew & Luke do. I think Mark is assumed to be the oldest.

As I open my copy of the New Testament and wonder through Matthew I find many aspects cross referenced to other gospels - and yes quite a number of miracles in that category.

A brief search on the Internet brings a long list of article on gospel comparison. I suspect you need to spend years studying the available source materials and theology to get a particular understanding. The rest of us have to rely on translations and the support of those who have taken this path.

Personally I'm happy with with the English language versions available to me and the process by which they were derived, and if I have any questions our local vicar used to translate the bible to a local African language and is fairly knowledgeable.

In the end we all, who don't speak Hebrew and ancient Greek, have to make a judgement call on this.

Steven Carr said...

Newspaper events do vary.

Mark says one person was healed. Matthew says two.

This is like saying one President was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and another report saying two Presidents were assassinated in Dallas, Texas.