Thursday, December 14, 2006

A New Gospel Harmony

There is a new Gospel Harmony that might just make Tatian and Ammonius of Alexandria wake up and take notice. It's called ONE or The Unified Gospel of Jesus. See the web site here. This harmonization aims to eliminate or transcend the distinctives between various texts and present the entire story of Yeshua in a single, cohesive, user-friendly novella. It even comes in two varieties depending on your theological preference: a "Divine Version" and the "Universal Version". The major difference seems to be that the Universal Version eliminates for skeptics all those pesky miracles and possible connections to divinity that get in the way of Yeshua's real life story: removes certain divine miracles that necessarily require a Christian faith. Where it does so, the removal is well-documented for scholars. For example, the UNIVERSAL version does not reference Jesus being born of a virgin or rising from the dead.
--ONE, sample page 77
I'm almost as excited about ONE as I was about the laughable, tendentious, arrogant "Scholar's Version" by the Jesus Seminar. What...the butchered, watered down gospels in something like the Living Bible or the Message aren't accessible enough? Anyone who wants to compare gospel texts can easily find bibles, software, or web pages that lay it all out conveniently for cross-referencing. And if anyone wanted a Harmony, Tatian's Diatessaron is not out of reach. Such are so readily available that there is even a site which displays the Greek of similar or identical Gospel events and sayings from the Synoptics in parallel--the Four-Color Synopsis--so that every different or identical word can be seen against its counter-parts.

The major problems I have with the Harmony are three-fold:

1. By eliminating the distinctives of each gospel, it affectively destroys the ability that gospel had to communicate its message the way it intended.
2. The harmony must necessarily recommunicate the data in a new way--not from the perspectives of those gospels themselves, but from the perspective of its harmonizer.
3. It is apparent that the perspective of the harmonizer is not one of concern for textual or historical integrity, but for the satisfaction of variant individual belief, thus affectively recreating Jesus in one's (and ONE'S) own image.

If the gospels are different cakes, ONE treats them as if they were nothing but the sum of their ingredients, remixes them, and comes up with a new cake that it calls the Gospel of Jesus, adding or taking away from the recipe to please the tastes of its consumers.


Post a Comment

<< Home