Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gospel discussion continues

In relation to my last post (The Story about the Gospels), Sita Pati prabhu had a comment and I thought this could be a post in itself. I have given below my response.

Q. Will you also publish an academic account of the origin of Vedic texts such as Bhagavad-gita and the Bhagavat Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam)? Or will you insist that they be understood from "within the tradition"?Because Western academics will be equally unkind to your story of the origin of your scriptures.Be careful to throw stones if you live in a glass house.

A. Dear Prabhuji

Thanks for your comments. Please allow me to respond.

My intention is not to throw a stone or for that matter support a western academic viewpoint. I am talking about the gospels not becuase it does not conform with a Vedic view or a popular academic view but questioning the gospels based on how it speaks for itself as a scripture or "word of God".

I do not take an evaluation stand on the Gospels or for that matter the Vedas simply because I lack the in depth knowledge enough to evaluate both. I also can care less on how scholars interpret data. I know this because I have seen how they work up-close. Vedas, according to them for most part is mythology or mysticism. Therefore my post was not solely based on their interpretation of the data but rather on the scholarly presentation of the archeological finds and literature review of the old and New Testament. I framed my opinion based on that presentation.

My fundamental view point is this, if the people themselves who support the early Jesus Movement cannot ascertain the whereabouts of the authors of the gospels and thus establish their credibility, how then am I to understand (as a third person) after 2000 years that the canonical gospels indeed is the true representation of Lord Jesus. After all, Lord Jesus is the central figure in the entire New Testament.

One does not have to take any political position or any type of position (for or against) to pose some fundamental questions-

  • who wrote the canonical gospels and why should I read or adhere to their interpretation of Jesus story and not the others (like the other Gospel of Thomas, or the Gospel of Phillip or Mary Magdalene or anybody else!)?

  • Why did the early Church leaders only concentrate their story telling to the death and resurrection of Jesus (the Passion of Christ) and not giving equal importance to all of Jesus’s life teachings? If we look at the prominent gospels written at that time including the Canonical gospels, there is not only contradiction about when the incidents took place but also the entire image, persona and teaching of Jesus has been presented differently depending on the gospel.

If I am studying the Gita, it is one thing to interpret Krishna's words differently but it is another thing if I attribute a whole set of new slokas in the name of “Bhagavan uvaca”. I think this is a serious deviation and hence begs the question who wrote the Gita in the first place and the author’s original motivations.

This is the issue with the Canonical gospels. They all show Jesus and his teachings differently. The Gospel of Thomas completely shows the teachings of Jesus Christ differently from the other canonical gospels and better yet Thomas is characterized as a twin brother (Didymos) of Jesus and one of the 12 apostles who closely associated with the Jesus. The plot thickens, Thomas is called "doubting Thomas" because he questions the importance of resurrection of Jesus. If a close associate is questioning the canonical gospel central theme, then I am confused as an outside person intersted to know about Jesus Christ as to what he stood for and how he actually lived?

Therefore I would like to know the significance of the canonical gospels and its central themes but I am not able to find anything beyond human intervention. If the gospels are indeed just a story or just one version among the many, i rather be told as is and read it as such rather than the "absolute word of God".

Hare Krishna

1 comment:

Sita-pati das said...

Thanks for the further elucidation prabhu. Fascinating subject and you've got me thinking about a lot of things about our own tradition. I hope I can get some time to write some of them down...