Paul's vision was to make his brand of Judaism -- with the recognition of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah -- a world religion easily accessible to everyone. At no time did he repudiate Judaism or declare that he represented a new religion.
Christian dogma and devotion, as sincere as it might be, robs the mother who bore Jesus of her humanity. The very concept of an asexual "mother of God" is alien and foreign to Jewish culture and to the Hebrew Bible.
Wouldn't you assume that the newly established Church would want its devotees to immerse themselves in the sanctioned New Testament, especially since the Church went to great lengths to eliminate competing Gospels?
More than 75 otherwise unknown documents from the early Christ movements of the first and second centuries have been discovered in the past 150 years. As they have been translated and studied, it's become clear that many of them belong to the very heart of Christian beginnings.
The Coptic Church is the West's last link to an early form of Christianity, and to a tradition of eremitical life that has all but disappeared from the modern world. Copts remind us of what Egypt means as a repository of all that the West holds dear in terms of thought, culture and civilization.
The earliest Christian communities considered heterosexual marriage to be fraught with problems and was thus to be avoided. Christian leaders argued that married people were too distracted by their familial obligations to be wholly devoted to God.
The Gospel of Judas has been reexamined and again found to be authentic. By analyzing the unique ink used and how that ink interacted with the ancient papyrus, scientists concluded anew that the document is genuine.
Jesus died on a Friday. Some women went to the cave where he was buried on Sunday morning and found the stone in the front of the tomb rolled away. Jesus was not dead but had risen from the grave. The greatest comeback in history had taken place!
To say Christ does not need Christianity is like saying a farmer does not need agriculture. If by agriculture we mean Monsanto and McDonald's, then perhaps the statement is true. But if by agriculture we mean the practice of farming, then the statement is an oxymoron.
An influential movement speaks beyond the confines of its origin, crosses tribal boundaries and touches people who might otherwise have no connection with each other. These communities do exist, they always have. But they are often hidden away and hard to track down.
We live in a time when Catholic priests are an aging and shrinking group, damaged in morale and reputation, overstretched in their monopolization of all sacramental services. What we really need are no priests.
The claim that our religious beliefs and practices are right because they are ancient goes way back in our history. But an important new book points out that Christian heresy did not emerge when some misguided Christians deviated from a "pure" and "original" orthodoxy.
We might not always agree on the meaning of Jesus' participation in Jewish festivals, but we can agree that Jesus honored these traditions of his people. For Christians, this model should invite an appreciation for Jewish tradition.
Alan Segal graced us for a while -- to teach and inspire, but, most of all to befriend those who shared his mortal journey. Whether or not he was conscious of it, he did his part to heal, repair and transform this world.
"In the Footsteps of Jesus" is the culmination of a very personal 15-year quest for the historical Jesus. I spent part of that time trying to retrace the footsteps of Jesus and those who followed in his wake.
Perhaps because of the long informal establishment of (Protestant) Christianity as America's culture-religion, long ago the American Church became confused about what exactly it means to be the Church.
Ever since their discovery, the scrolls have aroused passions on a scale that is extraordinary for an academic subject. Now that those passions have cooled, the time is ripe to ask what we have really learned from this remarkable discovery.
Is it true? Is it a fake? Should we care? If Jesus was married, would it overturn the patriarchy that for 2,000 years kept women out of ordained leadership? Would it allow men to be married and ordained in the Catholic Church?