John Dominic Crossan is among those who have shaped and continue to shape my understanding of who Jesus was and why that matters for me as one who seeks to earnestly follow the Way of Jesus. His two most recent books have each made my top books of the year in the year they were published: The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus (2012 Top Books List) and The Greatest Prayer Ever: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer (2010 Top Books List). I look forward to his next book How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis through Revelation, which will be available in March 2015.
In a response to a recent interview question asking about Crossan’s own faith journey being consistent with the Jesus he has spent his life studying, Crossan answered in part:
My own personal commitment to Jesus’s non-violent revolution is this: unless we change Christian theology back to its Jesus-roots, it has been and will always be an obstacle to what Jesus stood for, lived for, and died for. The only option for long-term change towards radical social revolution will involve not just surface changes but deep changes and that involves theology– that lost and forgotten link between “religion” (bad) and “spirituality” (good). It’s about theology, dummy, as Jesus said to Pilate.
The Jesus Seminar, a group Crossan co-founded, has done amazing work to help provide greater clarity about the person and teachings of Jesus. Many other recent efforts have also been helpful, including Stephen J. Patterson’s new book The Lost Way: How Two Forgotten Gospels Are Rewriting the Story of Christian Origins, which topped my list of book recommendations for the current month. Or, for a less scholarly effort focused on translating Jesus priorities into possible ways for those who follow the Way of Jesus to live well today consider my own Jesus Priorities eBook, published last year.
- Do you agree or disagree that returning to our Jesus-roots is a worthwhile venture? Explain.
- What does it mean to you to seek to return to your Jesus-roots?