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April 11, 2006

Jesuses -- 2: From Garry Wills

Here's an amoral (and apolitical) Jesus from an opinion piece by Garry Wills (and, presumably, his new book):


"The Jesus of the Gospels is not a great ethical teacher like Socrates, our leading humanitarian. He is an apocalyptic figure who steps outside the boundaries of normal morality to signal that the Father's judgment is breaking into history. His miracles were not acts of charity but eschatological signs -- accepting the unclean, promising heavenly rewards, making last things first.

"He is more a higher Nietzsche, beyond good and evil, than a higher Socrates."

Each of these Jesuses, of course, requires subtracting other Jesuses. This seems a significant subtraction. Jesus sometimes serves as a grab bag with something for everyone. I respect Wills' effort to deprive politicians (Republicans and Hillary) of Jesus. But Jesus minus charity and goodness doesn't seem to leave much for the two billion. (Oh, and Socrates, proponent of repressive oligarchy, is not my "leading humanitarian"; and I'm not quite sure how Jesus' thinking on good and evil is "higher" than Nietzsche's.)

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at April 11, 2006 2:13 PM


but aren't there also two Socrateses? The original skeptical, humble teacher and lover of wisdom and the politicized, dogmatic utopian?

Or am I just following the convention of ascribing the bits I like to Socrates himself and the bits I don't to Plato, without any good evidence?

Posted by: Caspar at April 11, 2006 3:48 PM

I lean toward the same convention. But even my attempt at a de-Platonicized Socrates ain't no humanitarian: more of an anarchic, anti-democratic, pain in the butt -- the little kid who always asks, "Why?"

Undoubtedly at least two of most of us. But Jesus sometimes seems to reach double digits.

Posted by: mitch at April 11, 2006 4:31 PM

I've managed to save up roughly $31457 in my bank account, but I'm not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

Posted by: Courtney Gidts at May 23, 2006 6:22 AM

I think everything is becoming unstable. Just as it has been reported here, there is a rebirth of fundamentalism around the world and simultaneously there is a growing fearlessness among the heretics to express their rational view of reality.

Nuclear weapons have become a commodity.
Dogs and cats, living together!!

The race is between science and Armageddon. Will we engineer our own evolution or our own extinction?

I'd buy the house, what have you got to lose?

Posted by: Jay Saul at May 23, 2006 11:38 AM

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