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Washington Post's Jewish-Art-About-Jesus 'taboo' extends to theology, too

Washington Post's Jewish-Art-About-Jesus 'taboo' extends to theology, too

That Jews have issues in considering the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth should come as little surprise. Christ, as Jesus was later called, challenged the spiritual orthodoxy of his day, and remains a challenge to the faith of millions. The bottom line: If Jesus is the Messiah, then Jews (and everyone else) has to make a decision to accept or reject Him.

In Israel, where, cultural sensitivities are high, then, it’s no surprise that Jewish art challenges the taboo of Jesus,” as the Washington Post noted recently.

Nevertheless, it is a little surprising that at the very epicenter of news coverage of this issue in Jewish and Christian experience, there’s practically no discussion of, well, theology.

Diving in:

At the center of the Israel Museum’s newest art exhibit stands an imposing, life-size marble figure of Jesus. The sculpture, titled “Christ Before the People’s Court,” would not be out of place in a church in Rome.
Yet in this depiction, the Christian savior wears a Jewish skullcap.
The sculpture, created by Russian Jewish artist Mark Antokolsky in 1876, is part of a collection of more than 150 artworks by 40 Jewish and Israeli artists who have used Christian imagery to challenge long-held taboos in both communities. It showcases the evolving attitudes of Jewish, Zionist and Israeli artists toward a figure whose place in Jewish history has been negotiated and reinterpreted over more than two millennia.
It is a risky statement for an Israeli museum.
Throughout history, Jews have traditionally shunned Jesus and his gospel. And while the Holy Land might be his accepted birthplace, for Jews in the modern state of Israel there is often resistance to learning about or even acknowledging Christianity.

Again, that's no surprise: As the Post notes, the better part of the past two millennia have been occupied by those blaming Jews for the death of Christ, culminating in the Shoah, the attempt to exterminate the Jewish race undertaken by Germany's National Socialist, or Nazi, party.

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Why does the Bible include two different family trees for Jesus of Nazareth?

Why does the Bible include two different family trees for Jesus of Nazareth?

THE QUESTION:

In the accounts of Jesus’ Nativity in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, why are the genealogies so different?

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Because there are no Christmas-y questions from readers awaiting answers, The Guy raises this Yuletide classic himself. When Matthew and Luke recount the birth of Jesus they present different genealogies with fascinating intricacies. The following can only sketch a few basics from the immense literature on this.

The Bible provides no roadmap, leaving us to ponder who was included, who was omitted, how the passages were structured, and what all this might mean. Reader comprehension is difficult due to multiple names given the same person, the lack of specific Hebrew and Greek words so that a “son-in-law” was called a “son,” legal adoption, and “levirate marriage” where a widow wed her late husband’s brother to maintain the family line.

Family trees were of keen importance for the Hebrews and carefully preserved. The central purpose in both Gospels was to establish Jesus within King David’s family line, a key qualification for recognition as the promised Messiah.

Matthew starts right off with the genealogy in the first 17 verses of chapter 1. Beginning from the patriarch Abraham, it extends through three sections of 14 generations each, down to the conclusion with “Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” The passage then immediately specifies that Joseph was not the biological father because Jesus was conceived miraculously by the Holy Spirit (1:18-21).

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Atheism studies: New York Times scores scoop on a planned program at University of Miami

Atheism studies: New York Times scores scoop on a planned program at University of Miami

If there is a God, he must be smiling on the New York Times.

The newspaper beat everyone else in announcing a planned chair for the study of atheism at the University of Miami -- said to be the first in the nation.

The 1,000-word article suffers, however, from a lack of secular-style skepticism. But let's look at the good stuff first:

With an increasing number of Americans leaving religion behind, the University of Miami received a donation in late April from a wealthy atheist to endow what it says is the nation’s first academic chair "for the study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics."
The chair has been established after years of discussion with a $2.2 million donation from Louis J. Appignani, a retired businessman and former president and chairman of the modeling school Barbizon International, who has given grants to many humanist and secular causes -- though this is his largest so far. The university, which has not yet publicly announced the new chair, will appoint a committee of faculty members to conduct a search for a scholar to fill the position.
"I’m trying to eliminate discrimination against atheists," said Mr. Appignani, who is 83 and lives in Florida. "So this is a step in that direction, to make atheism legitimate."

The article notes a rise of interest in atheism, including conferences, courses and even a journal -- and names names, like the American Humanist Association and Pitzer College's "Secularism and Skepticism" class. Another coup is a phone talk with uber-atheist Richard Dawkins in Britain.

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