One of the main theses of this book is that today we can rediscover who Jesus really was only thanks to modern criticism. With the birth of the modern state or the modern science of politics, a substantial criticism of the exercise of political power by the churches began and an attempt was made to demonstrate that in the beginning both Jesus and the primitive church had no political functions. . With the birth of modern science, all ancient prescientific conceptions of astronomy, earth history, human physiology were subjected to criticism. And just then the theory appears according to which the Bible has a value, but only of an ethical and religious nature, not scientific or historical.
The book tries to analyze this big problem by dividing it into chapters, examining concrete cases, characters and concrete works, highlighting the different options that have been born in the modern era on Jesus and Christianity.
How was the Christian symbolic system formed?Every culture is a complex set of structures and symbols that guide individual and associated life. All human activities take place in spaces and according to rhythms that are regulated by the conceptions and institutions of a particular culture. Christianity settled in the ancient cities and the countryside, trying to gradually Christianize every aspect of life. Little by little, the ancient gods disappeared from heaven and the heavenly space was occupied by the Christian God, Christ Pantocrator, the Holy Spirit and the angels and demons of Christian theology.
The time was regulated according to the weekly rhythm with Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection in the center. The annual time was marked by the liturgical year. The main symbols of the city have become churches, sanctuaries, bell towers. The basis for the collective imagination was taken from the Bible. To replace the old symbolic system, Christians also used violent political means: destroying shrines and temples or turning them into Christian sanctuaries and churches.
The theaters where the traditional mythology and vision of the life of the great ancient tragedians and dramatists were transmitted were closed. The Greek philosophical schools and the theological schools of the Jews were closed. In place of the Iliad and Aeneid was now the Christianized and de-Judaized Bible. The theaters where the traditional mythology and vision of the life of the great ancient tragedians and dramatists were transmitted were closed. The Greek philosophical schools and the theological schools of the Jews were closed. In place of the Iliad and Aeneid was now the Christianized and de-Judaized Bible. The theaters where the traditional mythology and vision of the life of the great ancient tragedians and dramatists were transmitted were closed. The Greek philosophical schools and the theological schools of the Jews were closed. In place of the Iliad and Aeneid was now the Christianized and de-Judaized Bible.
But when modern science was born, the cosmology which had been formed in ancient times and which Christianity had Christianized gradually collapsed. When philology and the historical method and modern human sciences (history of religions, cultural anthropology and sociology) were born, the heavens and nature could no longer be used as symbols of the Christian religion, When another organization of civil life was born, the symbols of the city and the rhythms of time have changed. This is the origin of that incessant dialectic between modernity and Christianity that has characterized the last five centuries.
How did the Hebrew Bible turn into Christianity?Jesus was a Jew and did not want to found a new religion. The center of his preaching was the imminent appearance of the Kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God was to consist in the rule over all the earth of the Jewish God with the conversion of all peoples. The basis of Jesus’ certainties, all his images were drawn from Jewish culture and especially from the Hebrew Bible. The followers of Jesus, convinced of the imminence of a great upheaval, began an intense work of dissemination that soon reached almost all areas of the Mediterranean world. Over time, the majority of Jesus’ followers were made up of non-Jews and indeed people who despised the Jews and their culture. The Bible continued to be the basis of all Christian understanding, as it had been for Jesus, but now it had to be de-Judaized. A new text was composed: The New Testament that was added to the Hebrew Bible that changed its name to become the “Old” Testament. To Christianize the Old Testament, it was asserted that its conceptions alluded more or less explicitly to the coming of Jesus Christ, so that the true understanding of the Bible implied a conversion to Christ. The Jews without the Spirit of God and Christ could not understand it. He was not talking about the events of the Jewish people, but in reality about Christ and the Church. The Jews without the Spirit of God and Christ could not understand it. He was not talking about the events of the Jewish people, but in reality about Christ and the Church. The Jews without the Spirit of God and Christ could not understand it. He was not talking about the events of the Jewish people, but in reality about Christ and the Church.
Things have changed with the modern era. The birth of philology and the historical method made it necessary to read the Bible in Hebrew and not in Latin, it imposed the understanding of the biblical text (like any other text) in the cultural context in which it was formed, that is, in a Jewish context. The Bible has returned to the original Hebrew meaning. The book highlights an important number of Jewish scholars who since the end of the 16th century have contributed to the recovery of the Jewish historical and cultural meaning of the Bible.
When was the concept of heresy born? Originally, the word “heresy” (which derives from the Greek word airesis , meaning free choice) meant only a group of people or a free conception among the many varied opinions that legitimately circulated in a given environment. It was not until the middle of the second century that the word acquired a negative meaning and came to indicate a deviant, reprehensible and reprehensible opinion. This change is a symptom of a radical turning point in the history of Christianity. That is, orthodoxy is born, the need to distinguish normative theories from theories considered deviant, reprehensible, precisely heretical. But this tended to deny the legitimacy of the plurality of Christian groups and trends that had characterized the first two centuries.
With the modern era, especially with the second half of the 16th century, the concept of heresy begins to be challenged. All Christian groups accuse each other of being heretics. Luther is a heretic to Catholics, while Protestants consider the pope a heretic. Then there are characters and groups that are considered heretical by both Catholics and Protestants. In this climate it is understood that the concept of heresy is a relative concept, which does not define the content of a person’s religious ideas, but only the condemnation that others make from his point of view. If we want to be objective, we must try to understand the point of view of those who support a certain interpretation of Christianity and renounce the concept of heresy. That’s when the first stories of Christianity are born that refuse to be put from the point of view of a certain supposed orthodoxy. These new stories simply attempt to describe the plurality of interpretations with which Christianity presents itself in both ancient and modern times. In essence, the concept of “heresy” is not used to understand, but only to condemn. Historical science asserts itself fully when it renounces the concept of heresy.
What has been the impact of modern science on the Christian theological system? The impact of modern science was enormous. In the late 16th century, Christianity adhered to the Ptolemaic view of the universe. This cosmological view was not just a scientific theory, but a sacred and coherent view of the cosmos in which Christianity was organically placed, thus fulfilling in turn the function of being a complete view of the universe. The overturning of the cosmological theory caused by Copernicanism necessarily involved an overturning of the Christian view as well. If the earth was no longer the center of the universe, the now traditional location of hell and heaven became impossible. Copernican cosmology implied the need for an overall rethinking of the entire religious vision of the universe.
The Aristotelian-Christian synthesis that took place in the Middle Ages was in crisis. Modern science has fundamentally criticized every aspect of Aristotelianism. The first question referred to the nature of the truth of Holy Scripture. The articles of the Creed about Christ’s descent into hell and his ascension into heaven no longer made any sense in the light of modern astronomy.
In the 1960s, some Catholic theologians tried to assert that the truth of Holy Scripture cannot be scientific, but neither can it be historical or cultural. The Holy Scriptures would have a different kind of truth. But this hermeneutic is far from established. Above all, theological consequences were not drawn in reformulating the central dogmas of Christianity.
How do the great religions deal with the problems of contemporary society? An important idea of the book is that the changes in religions in recent centuries depend largely on the fact that they are forced to react to the impact of modernity. The first of the factors that affected the three monotheistic religions in these two centuries is the spread of state organizations dealing with human rights. The second challenge to religions, of which I have already spoken, was the extraordinary development of modern science. The third factor represented the rational analysis of religions that developed in the West, especially starting from the 17th century. Finally, parallel to the scientific-industrial development,
Therefore, within the great religions, many different positions arose, some of which fully accepted the new principles, others denied them completely, and others only partially accepted them. The different religions (Christian, Jewish and Islamic, but also Hindu and Buddhist) split off or thus differentiated within them, giving rise to different currents and groups, still active today.