Tuesday, December 8, 2009

* The Quest, The Questor, The Question: Albert Schweitzer 1875-1965

Dr. Albert Schweitzer at his hospital in Lambarene, Gabon, where he is buried today.

When Giants Still Strode the Earth: the Twentieth Century

(Schweitzer, Freud, Einstein, Churchill, Franklin/Eleanor Roosevelt, DeGaulle, Picasso, Stravinsky, Horowitz, Marian Anderson, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, King)

It has been said that if you dropped Albert Schweitzer into a jungle with nothing but a pen-knife he could construct an entire organ from scratch. He gave organ recitals throughout Europe every few years to raise money to support his hospital in Lambarene. In addition to being a medical doctor, he was a scholar and theologian:("He held Doctorates in three major subjects - theology, philosophy and medicine and was an accomplished organist and world expert on Bach"). He practiced medicine in Africa until his death at 90 in 1965.

One of my relatives insists that I wish him a “Merry Christmas” and nothing less. “What’s with this ‘Happy Holidays’ crap?” he says. “Its Jesus’s birthday. Say the word ‘Christmas' ”.

Well, my relative would be unhappy to know that Jesus’s birthday was more likely in March or April than December. And he’d be even more annoyed to find out that Jesus wasn’t Jesus’s name: His name was Joshua ben Joseph (Joshua, son of Joseph). Finally he would really be ticked off to learn that Jesus (Joshua) wasn’t even Christian: he was Jewish, from the day of his birth to the day of his death, and that he never intended to start a new religion.

He never uttered a word except in his native Galilean tongue, Aramaic, or his synagogue professional tongue, Hebrew. (Maybe a Latin or Greek word here and there for flavor.) He definitely NEVER uttered a word of King James's elegant and luscious English!

And then my relative would really flip out when he heard that scholars can’t even decide how many words spoken by Jesus in the New Testament can actually be traced to his mouth. Some scholars say as few as 31 words, others as many as 10,000 words.(The theological argument has a name---the ipsissima verba jesu: the very words of Jesus) None of them would declare, like some untutored lay folk do, that
every word in the New Testament must have been written by God or his son, the god Jesus.

What would really drive my relative over the edge is that Jesus, like most middle easterners, was probably short, oval faced, greasy haired and brown-skinned, at LEAST as brown-skinned as Barack Obama, if not more so. (Even the forged Shroud of Turin outlines such a figure, so the forgers must have believed it historically accurate, unless they wanted their forgery discovered.)

Let's not even begin to raise the questions Albert Schweitzer asked in The Quest of the Historical Jesus.

Let's definitely not.

Merry Christmas.


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