Friday, August 07, 2009

Another Milestone of Learning

As my few regular readers know, Good Witch and I have been pretty regular about taking courses from The Learning Company. We're concerned that our brains might atrophy if someone doesn't force us to think occasionally! Tonight we finished "Great Figures of the New Testament", a 24-lecture course by Professor Amy-Jill Levine.

Professor Levine, a Jew, holds the endowed New Testament chair in the religion department of Vanderbilt University. She's sharp and she's entertaining. She knows her stuff, and now we know a lot more stuff, too. My mind diverts to consider RWorld's recent post about how our culture pays less attention to experts than it should, and it occurs to me that Professor Levine, a Jew, knows far more about the New Testament than most Christian preachers ever will. Vanderbilt University obviously felt she was a prize catch!

Having finished the course, I reflect on its affect on my Christianity. Well, even the gospel writers had considerably different interpretations of Jesus, so I suppose I'm allowed to come to my own conclusions. Jesus was clearly human, and he said and did things so "pure" that it's hard for me to believe he was not "of God". But I have made a commitment never to limit God, so to say that Jesus is the "only Son", or "only Way", just doesn't cut it with me. I'm more comfortable with the idea that Jesus is "my Way". I can live and die with that.

Good Witch and I will next tackle "Shakespeare's Tragedies", a 24-lecture course. We've enjoyed learning history, music, psychology and physiology, hard science and religion from The Learning Company. Now it's time for literature. We'll keep you posted.


thimscool said...

I've got a friend that went to seminary at Vandy.

When I made fun of Baptists she set me straight about my misconception that Baptists are conservative by nature. She saw the Calvinists as the conservatives. Tell it to the Pope.

Of course, as your last post touched on, the words liberal and conservative have lost all meaning.

Ron Davison said...

I'm reading another book by Bart Ehrman (this, his latest, is Jesus Interrupted: revealing the hidden contradictions in the Bible and why we don't know about them). You might find it interesting. Reading this and other books, I'm growing more convinced that unity of thought was a fabrication by leaders who couldn't handle the contradiction inherent in even day to living - much less theology. As you say, even the authors of the four gospels are not in agreement on what Christ's life meant, but somehow this disagreement became a sign of weakeness rather than strength. That seems to me a weakness.