A few weeks ago, in my “New religiongeschichtliche Schule” post, Hypatia made an observation that prompted this post. She observed that many people think that Jesus appeared at the time he did because God had devised a world in which the Gospel could spread rapidly and far and wide:
Christianity could not have arisen except out of the Jewish scriptures. Nor, I learned in my Bible class, could it have spread across the globe if it hadn’t arisen within the far-flung empire of Rome. That period was “ the fullness of time”.
I absolutely agree with this thinking, and want to make a few observations on point.
Religionsgeschichtliche Schule is a term that has dominated the study of Christianity in academic circles for 150 years. It is translated from the German as “History of Religions School.” In this case it means ‘school of thought’ rather than a physical place, and is a reference to a group of influential scholars. They are important because most of their core ideas are still going strong on the internet and are currently taught in the Religious Studies Departments of many universities.
A number of bad ideas got their start with the religionsgeschichtliche Schule, including “Pagan origins” of Bible stories and the idea that the divinity of Jesus developed late in the history of the Christian movement.
A colloquium was held at the University of Edinburgh a few weeks ago, titled “Varieties of Theism in Antiquity,” and amounted to a series of new scholarly papers presented by a group of academics who celebrate the countervailing views that have debunked the ideas of the original religionsgeschichtliche Schule.
G-d save the Queen. I have a new Christmas tradition, for the past three years, which is listening to the Christmas broadcast of Queen Elizabeth II of the UK and British Commonwealth of Nations. She has stepped into the spiritual breach, and has been bringing the Good News to her subjects. She begins with themes of home, and ends with the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Here is her message for this year. It is well worth your nine minutes of time.... [Read More]