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View Full Version : How did Dominic Crossan become a skeptic about Christianity?



rakovsky
12-05-2016, 01:24 PM
I am interesting in learning how Dominic Crossan became a skeptic about Christianity? Have any of you read enough about him to come across any biographical discussions he made?

I tried to find out the answer, and learned that he was in the catholic priesthood in the early 1960's and was a professor at a Catholic college but then left it to become a professor elsewhere. I know that he left the priesthood and married twice. I know that he helped run the Jesus Seminar with Marcus Borg in the mid 1980's and that his opinion is that Jesus did exist, based on writings by Josephus and Tacitus. He also points out that the early opponents of Christianity did not claim that Jesus never existed. But Crossan also sees Jesus' physical resurrection and prophecies of His Second Coming as myths or parables.

So my question is how, earlier in his life, did Crossan reach his skepticism? Has he written about this?

psstein
12-06-2016, 08:59 AM
Yes, he did. It's in his memoir A Long Way From Tipperary, which he wrote in the early 2000s. I read it about this time last year; it's pretty interesting.

robrecht
12-07-2016, 04:33 AM
I was going to suggest his memoir too, but have not personally read it.

Crossan does not believe in a physical resurrection, but if I recall correctly, he does believe in the resurrection, that the disciples had true visions of Jesus exalted after his death, the first fruits of the general resurrection, or something like that. He very much considers himself a Christian. I do too. I had a nice conversation with him once on a post-breakfast stroll at an SNTS meeting. He's a delightful man, by the way.

I don't know how he personally came to his view of the resurrection, but it is not an uncommon position among professional theologians and academics. I don't know if he has ever detailed an evolution of his views specific to the resurrection. Most of his work has been trying to get back to the earliest traditions of the teachings of Jesus prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

hansgeorg
12-07-2016, 05:10 AM
He's a delightful man, by the way.

That is precisely why it is unsatisfactory when psstein says of Farmer that he's a delightful man.

Adrift
12-07-2016, 05:25 AM
I was going to suggest his memoir too, but have not personally read it.

Crossan does not believe in a physical resurrection, but if I recall correctly, he does believe in the resurrection, that the disciples had true visions of Jesus exalted after his death, the first fruits of the general resurrection, or something like that. He very much considers himself a Christian. I do too. I had a nice conversation with him once on a post-breakfast stroll at an SNTS meeting. He's a delightful man, by the way.

I don't know how he personally came to his view of the resurrection, but it is not an uncommon position among professional theologians and academics. I don't know if he has ever detailed an evolution of his views specific to the resurrection. Most of his work has been trying to get back to the earliest traditions of the teachings of Jesus prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I take it you don't really put much stock in 1 Corinthians 15:14.

rogue06
12-07-2016, 05:35 AM
I take it you don't really put much stock in 1 Corinthians 15:14.
cf. verse 17. For that matter all of I Corinthians 15:12-19 and perhaps on up to v.34.

robrecht
12-07-2016, 05:42 AM
I take it you don't really put much stock in 1 Corinthians 15:14.
Nonsense. We've discussed this before, a couple of times, so you should know this is not true.

Adrift
12-07-2016, 06:16 AM
Nonsense. We've discussed this before, a couple of times, so you should know this is not true.

I honestly don't remember those conversations, but it wouldn't surprise me if you had some sort of ridiculous rationalization.

Cerebrum123
12-07-2016, 06:35 AM
I honestly don't remember those conversations, but it wouldn't surprise me if you had some sort of ridiculous rationalization.

Last time I had a discussion with robrecht I felt like this.

http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/i-feel-like-im-taking-crazy-pills.gif

Fortunately you came in the thread and pointed out just how far off the mark robrecht's posts were.

robrecht
12-07-2016, 08:58 AM
Last time I had a discussion with robrecht I felt like this.

http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/i-feel-like-im-taking-crazy-pills.gif

Fortunately you came in the thread and pointed out just how far off the mark robrecht's posts were.
My recollection is that Adrift took an admittedly cryptic comment of mine out of its original context and you repeatedly refused to accept my explanation of its meaning. There too you mischaracterized my views from an earlier thread that you had also abandoned. I think you should go back to either or both of these two earlier threads if you want to try to have a better understanding of my perspective.

robrecht
12-07-2016, 08:59 AM
I honestly don't remember those conversations, but it wouldn't surprise me if you had some sort of ridiculous rationalization.
You really can do better than this.

Adrift
12-07-2016, 09:01 AM
You really can do better than this.

The feeling is mutual.

robrecht
12-07-2016, 09:07 AM
The feeling is mutual.
Can you be more specific?

rakovsky
12-07-2016, 05:31 PM
Yes, he did. It's in his memoir A Long Way From Tipperary, which he wrote in the early 2000s. I read it about this time last year; it's pretty interesting.

Thanks, P.S.

May I ask if you remember what he said on how he arrived at his skepticism on the main supernatural claims initially?

Unfortunately, only a bit of the book's beginning is online, and it's quite a long book.

rakovsky
12-07-2016, 05:34 PM
I take it you don't really put much stock in 1 Corinthians 15:14.

That verse says:
" 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. "

One of the main teachings is that Jesus bodily revived after death. Without Christ's physical revival, a main part of Paul's preaching would be fictional and misleading. But the preaching would still have some value, as in teaching ethics.

psstein
12-08-2016, 01:11 PM
I was going to suggest his memoir too, but have not personally read it.

Crossan does not believe in a physical resurrection, but if I recall correctly, he does believe in the resurrection, that the disciples had true visions of Jesus exalted after his death, the first fruits of the general resurrection, or something like that. He very much considers himself a Christian. I do too. I had a nice conversation with him once on a post-breakfast stroll at an SNTS meeting. He's a delightful man, by the way.


Yeah, Crossan's view is that the disciples had some sort of visionary experience that convinced them that Jesus had been raised into God. His view isn't impossible and goes in the theme of liberal Protestant scholarship. I tend to see Crossan as a continuation of the liberal quest, not as a member of the poorly named Third Quest.



I don't know how he personally came to his view of the resurrection, but it is not an uncommon position among professional theologians and academics

Agreed. I think it's the most likely option that doesn't involve a physical resurrection.

psstein
12-08-2016, 01:12 PM
That verse says:
" 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. "

One of the main teachings is that Jesus bodily revived after death. Without Christ's physical revival, a main part of Paul's preaching would be fictional and misleading. But the preaching would still have some value, as in teaching ethics.

I wouldn't say it was a bodily revival. I'd say that Jesus had the resurrection body, a body that is beyond physical and can do things that a normal body can't.

rakovsky
12-08-2016, 01:27 PM
I wouldn't say it was a bodily revival. I'd say that Jesus had the resurrection body, a body that is beyond physical and can do things that a normal body can't.

I think one must say that it could take physical forms. For example, Jesus wanted to prove that he had flesh and blood after his resurrection and was not just a nonphysical spirit in form, so he had the disciples physically touch his physical body to physically prove it to them.

KingsGambit
12-08-2016, 03:45 PM
The only thing I've read by Crossan was his book on the Lord's Prayer, The Greatest Prayer. (It was assigned to me in seminary.) Since I don't remember a whole lot about it, I'm looking back at the paper I submitted for it. It was pretty critical of the book (and I didn't know how that would fly with the professor) but I did get an A on the paper. (It was a liberal seminary and I felt like the token non-hostile conservative in there.)

I agreed with Crossan on what he called "Enoughism" being a biblical theme, that is, every person having enough. I was convinced that the Lord's Prayer spoke more to the economic realities of Jesus's world than modern people realize (and that "debts" is a better translation than "trespasses"). I was completely unconvinced by his claim that the Lord's Supper was really just about making sure everybody had enough to eat. I was also unconvinced by his rejection of the book of Revelation (he went on this tangent to justify complete non-violence, and because Jesus is involved in violence within Revelation's visions, his solution was simply to dismiss the book).

I accused Crossan of turning Christianity into little more than a social justice movement. My professor responded in his comments that Crossan was simply focusing on that one aspect of Christianity. Perhaps, but I want to know what else he believes.

It was a good lesson to me that an author I fundamentally disagree with can make many good points while still missing the forest for the trees.

rakovsky
12-08-2016, 04:48 PM
My impression from what you are telling me is that Crossan could just have chosen to focus on the justice aspect, but one of the reasons that he did not could be possible disillusionmentioned at that time with the most supernatural claims wrt Jesus, eg the Virgin birth.

KingsGambit
12-08-2016, 05:39 PM
My impression from what you are telling me is that Crossan could just have chosen to focus on the justice aspect, but one of the reasons that he did not could be possible disillusionmentioned at that time with the most supernatural claims wrt Jesus, eg the Virgin birth.

I don't wish to speculate about his motives, but no doubt there was some sense that abandoning these freed him up to approach Christianity in a way where he could cherry pick the aspects he liked and discard the rest.