Symbols: Jesus

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Scholarship / K. Symbols /
via IonaArc 2005 07 05

The word, name, symbol, man, god … Jesus is at the core of the core of pk symbols. So simple sounding, its complexity is maximal, by now, its macroinformation near infinite.

Jesus is a core symbol for the culture: Jesus is a core symbol for pk: but pk must point out that pk’s usages may overlap but do not often match the usages of the culture.

Jesus probably was, but we can’t absolutely prove, a real man, living in an actual time and place. The history is hearsay: a perfect testing ground for faith. But what we mean by “Jesus” doesn’t altogether depend on facts historically verifiable. It’s the story which is the source of the meaning.

I deliberately simplify: Jesus was a good man (whether or not that’s an oxymoron). He meant well. Jesus was a carpenter (read a man of the people: blue collar): Jesus was also a scholar (all Jews are scholars) — he wowed the rabbis at age twelve, pissed them off when he got even smarter. Jesus was a teacher. (I don’t mean like Miss Tilly @ PS 417; I mean like Socrates.) A jillion other attributes have been poured onto “Jesus”: the son of God, the Christ, the good shepherd … And what kind of a healer Jesus was is way-open to question: curing the lame? raising the dead?

The attributes get in the way. Lop them off: Jesus was a good man —

too good for his society!

So we killed him. The Church killed him. The government killed him. The law killed him.

We didn’t just kill him, we tortured him to death: stripped his flesh off, nailed him upright into the most awkward position we could devise, then threw rotten tomatoes at him.

The two most legalistic states of the day, Rome and Israel, cooperated (!) to get rid of him.

Rulers don’t like leaders: especially not leaders who out-lead them. (It’s rulers, not leaders, who put people in jail, tax them, school them, draft them.)

Christianity sells Jesus as some sort of proof that God loves us. God knows what we are, and loves us anyway. He watched us execute our best so he could forgive us: give us infinite joy for all the remainder of eternity.

That’s a stretch. But the basic story — a good man happens, we kill him, we eat him, we drink his blood … Once he’s safely dead, we worship him … — that strikes me as as accurate a portrayal of human society as we have. It’s more true than either fiction or fact.

The ironies, the macroinformation, are endlessly rich: God sends us a message, we don’t get it. Then we form a new church and say we did get it: we’ll now speak for God.

Christians are different from Jews, from Romans? No, Christians are (almost) exactly the same.

Once again, the story hangs, regardless of the factual accuracy of some of the details. Some huge proportion of the words could be garbled. Some huge proportion could have been (no doubt was) edited for propaganda. Maybe the historical Jesus was actually a charlatan, didn’t heal anybody. But then some other man was good, wasn’t a charlatan, got tortured for his trouble. Maybe his name was also Jesus. The Jesus-side of the equation may have a few ifs but the human society side is bang-on. The story still hangs.

I can (and do) go on and on. But that’s as close to a nutshell as I can put “what Jesus means to pk.”

2008 04 28 Everything I say about Jesus, and everything you say as well, must now be reviewed against the scholarship now readily available at
2012 05 14 And Bart Ehrman has a new book out on the subject, Did Jesus Exist? 2013 10 12 Ehrman has many books out: on that and related subjects, all good.

K. Symbols

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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