The Grand Inquisitor, then and now

The Grand Inquisitor, then and now

“The Grand Inquisitor” is a short story by the Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov (1880).  It is told by Ivan, an atheist, to his brother Alyosha (Alexi), who is studying at a monastery.  Ivan’s fable begins with Christ’s brief visit to Spain in the middle of the Spanish Inquisition.  Rather than arriving on clouds of glory, Christ quietly appears amid a crowd of people, healing some, and raising a dead child.  Though he speaks not a word, everyone knows who he is.  The Grand Inquisitor has Christ jailed. 

The people don’t want you, says the Inquisitor, because all you can offer them is freedom and salvation.  What people really want is magic, mystery, and authority.  Add bread, and they will follow you anywhere.  Christ made the mistake of offering them freedom. 

Instead of the strict ancient law, man had in future to decide for himself with a free heart what was good and what was evil, having only your image before him as a guide.  (Karamazov, bk 5, c 5)

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Paul, the first Jew for Jesus

Paul, the first Jew for Jesus

The apostle Paul has gotten a bad rap.  He is supposedly anti-Semitic, anti-woman, anti-gay, and anti-sex.  This reputation is undeserved.  In some ways he was more socially revolutionary that Jesus.  Not more revolutionary than Christ in terms of thought, the Word and deed, but more concerned with social revolution as the beginning of a new age.  Contrary to his reputation, Paul does not want people to stay in their places, or at least it’s a lot more complex than that. 

The main reason for this misunderstanding is that almost half of Paul’s letters are now considered forgeries of varying quality. 

Real letters: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans. 

Forged letters: Colossians, Ephesians, Titus, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians.

Several legitimate letters are probably composites of additional Pauline letters.  Furthermore, later scribes seemed to have felt free to make additions, especially concerning Paul’s attitude toward women (Wright, pp. 80-81, 424-425; Wills, pp 89-104).  Finding the real Paul is a task in itself.

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