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  •  Definitely, (1+ / 0-)
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    kraant

    and the reference to Zoroastrianism is a good one, although it's not discussed nearly enough as an antecedent to certain Christian beliefs (maybe because it was even more influential on certain Christian sects that were judged heretical).

    Although, I think the faithful might take issue with the way you frame the argument: that Jesus arrives at these notions via certain other philosophies.  If Jesus was indeed God, then these teachings exist ex nihilo, really.  Personally, I'm an atheist, so I prefer your assessment, but I'm just playing devil's advocate.  Pun intended, I suppose.

    Still, the Greek influence is even more potent in, say, the Gospel of John, which is written with an eye to the language of Greek rhetoric, and incorporates a lot of Greek thought (John is the only Gospel that asserts Jesus' divinity!).

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 03:13:22 PM PDT

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    •  Yeehaw ... historical theology (1+ / 0-)
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      kraant

      I think you could make the argument that God has moved history in a certain direction with a purpose.  Yea, that won't make the literalists pleased, but I tend to side with the Stoics who chucked the philosophy and tried to get their main points across using the Christian myths (even if they understood them as metaphor).

      Democrats are the party of those who are working, those who have finished working, and those who want to work. -- Elizabeth Edwards

      by philgoblue on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 03:22:05 PM PDT

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      •  Agreed; (2+ / 0-)
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        TiaRachel, kraant

        as an atheist, I've practiced religious tolerance, but I can't imagine how some religious groups reconcile themselves to clear historical development of certain theological concerns.

        It's always seemed to me like that awkward moment in Dante's Purgatorio when we find that Cato's job is to stand guard at the entrance of the antepurgatory.  Has Cato always been there?  Even before Cato lived?

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 03:25:11 PM PDT

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        •  No Purgatory Existed (1+ / 0-)
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          kraant

          before Christ.

          Democrats are the party of those who are working, those who have finished working, and those who want to work. -- Elizabeth Edwards

          by philgoblue on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 03:27:33 PM PDT

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        •  History of Religions. (1+ / 0-)
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          kraant

          but I can't imagine how some religious groups reconcile themselves to clear historical development of certain theological concerns.

          This is only a problem if one thinks of religious truths as propositions, akin to "the chair is in the room," instead of metaphors that attempt to capture religious experiences that often leave people with a sense that language is profoundly inadequate to the task of communicating what's at the heart of them.  Friedrich Schleiermacher was a Protestant theologian at the begininning of the nineteenth century who developed this core insight.  Contemplation is the first step, and although he ended up writing a systematic Christian theology, he acknowledged that a religion without God could be just as valid as a religion with God, because "God" is a concept derived from the primary experience of contemplation.

          Although fundamentalists try to explain it away, the Bible shows clear historical development of religious ideas, from a God who can be stolen by enemies (1 Samuel 4-7) to a God who is God of the whole universe (Isaiah).  The point isn't that one version is true, and the other isn't.  It's that any insight builds on earlier insights.

          -8.75, -6.10 "Now I am a gay man. I know what a phone service repair man is meant to look like." John Scagliotti

          by dirkster42 on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 09:29:38 AM PDT

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    •  devil as God's advocate (1+ / 0-)
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      kraant

      Your comment reminded me of Eli Wiesel's Trial of God in which it turns out that the devil is God's greatest defender--an important caution against apologetics, no?

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