Tuesday, April 21, 2015
How to read the Gospels?
Before Holy Week, I began to read a book by John Shelby Spong , an Episcopal bishop; the title of the book is "Liberating the Gospels" and it has caused quite a bit of controversy but I think the Holy Spirit wanted me to read this book and reflect on the truth that each Gospel story is trying to teach us. You see, Spong does not take the Gospels as literal truth but points out that they were written by Jews for Jews as the earliest Christians were Jews. Therefore, we should not take them literally but look for the truth they were trying to tell us. He shows how the Gospels are written as the Jewish midrashie literature of Jesus' era; the stories are not historic accounts of actual events, but interpretative narratives about the meaning of Jesus, using images and scenes from the Hebrew Bible.
I am not suggesting that you read this book, but I do think it is helpful to try to look at the Gospels as telling us truth about Jesus but perhaps the stories are not really true -yet the authors want us to grasp a truth and so we need to struggle with what we have taken literally to see what is being conveyed. I am wrestling with this as I love all the stories of the Easter apparitions. Still, I am open to admit that they may have been told to convey a truth and did not really happen as we think. Maybe I am not making much sense, but I thought some of my readers might be interested in knowing that I am finding a new way of reading the Gospels.