Thursday, January 19, 2006
Christ the Lord?
Anne Rice, whose previous books include Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned, recently converted to Christianity. I believe she is Roman Catholic now. Her recent novel is entitled Christ the Lord. In an afterward, she tells the fascinating story of her research into the truth about Jesus. She compared the scholarship of those who did, and those who did not, accept the historical reliability of the biblical gospels.
After all, “Jesus scholars” come in many varieties. Those who appear on television speaking about the “historical Jesus” often hold views hostile the historic Christian faith of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. (It is a radical branch of this type of “scholarship” that undergirds the radically popular Da Vinci Code novel.)
Here is how Ann Rice describes the surprise she felt when she found that many who were known as "Jesus scholars" were actually hostile to him:
"Many of these scholars, scholars who apparently devoted their life to New Testament scholarship, disliked Jesus Christ. Some pitied him as a hopeless failure. Others sneered at him, and some felt an outright contempt. This came between the lines of the books. …
"I’d never come across this kind of emotion in any other field of research, at least not to this extent. It was puzzling.
"The people who go into Elizabethan studies don’t set out to prove that Queen Elizabeth I was a fool. They don’t personally dislike her. They don’t make snickering remarks about her, or spend their careers trying to pick apart her historical reputation. … Occasionally a scholar studies a villain, yes. But even then, the author generally ends up arguing for the good points of a villain or for his or her place in history, or for some mitigating circumstance, that redeems the study itself. … [I]n general, scholars don’t spend their lives in the company of historical figures they openly despise." (Christ the Lord, p.314)
It is important for believers and unbelievers alike to recognize that scholarship – at least “Jesus scholarship” – is not free from bias. Is it even possible to be unbiased concerning a historical figure who demanded an answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?”
Posted by Ken at 7:13 PM