When NPR‘s Terry Gross interviewed New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, she asked him, in view of having documented his journey from Moody Bible institute to Agnosticism in “God’s Problem” and “Misquoting Jesus,” whether he has ever thought to check out other Faiths. Ehrman said that he knows that Buddhism has a very different attitude about suffering, but in the end he can’t imagine getting into any other religion because he feels that all religions have fundamental shortcomings. He said that he feels that he’s hardwired to turn on the point of whether there is or isn’t a God and it all follows from there.
I have to say that I agree with Ehrman on this. Having trusted in my Christian faith my whole life, I can’t quite see where some other take on religion might make up for the deficiencies I sense in what I was raised to believe in. I mean, if the most strenuously scrutinized religious texts fail me how am I going to consider other texts that seem to have even more obvious “deficiencies”? This is not a criticism of other faiths as much as a confession that I’m not going to go for something just because it’s different. Thus I found it most interesting when I saw this excerpt from a film made by an Iranian filmmaker on Jesus from an Islamic point of view in an LA Times story.
Thus, according to this filmmaker’s interpretation of the Islamic texts, just before his trial Jesus was taken to Heaven to be with God and God changed Judas Iscariot so that everyone thought that he was Jesus. Therefore the man that was crucified on the cross was not really Jesus but Judas. It’s such a radical departure from my own understanding of the story that it’s too easy to dismiss it as a fairy tale interpretation. Obviously the islamic version completely undermines any redemptive value to the crucifixion of “Jesus,” contradicting much of Paul’s writings. And that alone should be enough to shrug the story aside. Problem is, regardless of which direction one chooses to go, it all comes down to ones own unprovable Faith. JBB