By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
To Nietzsche and others, submission stinks of weakness, but that attitude deliberately ignores the cross‘s power. Rome’s eventual adoption of Christianity under Constantine, built upon the martyrdoms of Peter, Paul and numberless others, had philosophical and political implications: Church and state in the West were intertwined for at least a millennium and a half.
The philosophy of Jesus fits a conqueror poorly. A Crusader had to read his Bible with one eye shut, and Germany under Hitler needed to revive interest in its pagan roots. Rulers have always been able to claim alliance with God, but the inevitable presence of Christ has been an obstacle, because Jesus represents the masses, and his kingdom is not of this world. As Miles points out, the first murder, Cain‘s killing of Abel, was motivated by rivalry over God’s affections, and religious contention is the devil‘s domain.
We’re all descendants of Cain, of course, not Abel. And Miles‘ emphasis on the common roots of Christianity and Judaism will not endear him, regardless of his pacifistic intentions, to many scholars, who, as scriptural explicator Donald Harman Akenson has written, are ”paid to joust.“ Miles anticipates as much in his acknowledgments, where he tips his hat to New Testament commentary in general, but wishes to ”spare individual scholars from a paternity claim that might be most unwelcome.“
The rest of us can take comfort in the fact that a person’s interpretation of the Bible often tells us as much about the interpreter as about the Bible itself. About Miles, we learn from his book that he‘s a very learned, very insightful man, but mainly a humanist. About the Bible, we learn that seeing God and Christ in human terms isn’t a bad way to go; in fact, it may be the only way we really have.