Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Birth of God

They did it again for Christmas the editors of Der Spiegel, Germany's TIME Magazine, choosing for their feature article a religious topic. Here are the links for the years 2012 and 2013.

Title page of  Der Spiegel: God in the eruption of volcano Hala al-Badr

Red Baron's battered copy of the first edition
of Jesus Menschensohn from 1972
It was Rudolf Augstein the founder and long time owner of Der Spiegel who started it all culminating in his bestseller Jesus Menschensohn (Jesus, the Son of Man) in 1972. In the book Augstein presented rather old results of exegetes who had questioned the content of the New Testament around 1900. Augstein presented their findings in a comprehensible form spiced with his usually sarcastic remarks.

This year's topic in Der Spiegel is not the birth of Christ as the title suggests but the origin of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. According to the article the wrathful and punishing God of the Old Testament came out of the fire. Remember the burning bush? Behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob [Exodus 2:3-6].

I read in the article that archaeologists now locate "Mount Sinai" not in the Peninsula of the same name but further east in the Arabian Peninsula. With evidence from the bible they identify an eruption of the now extinct volcano Hala al-Badr as: Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently [Exodus 19:18].

I further read that the Old Testament apparently is full of euphemisms. Saul and David were no kings but miserable warlords frequently beaten by the Philistines.

Red Baron prefers the merciful loving God born 2000 years ago in a stable: While they were (in Bethlehem), the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them [Luke 2:6-7].

Rather early.
Today Elisabeth and I visited the local church in nearby Staufen where I took a photo of the crèche already set up. The scene is not yet illuminated. The people approaching the manger barely resemble shepherds, but donkey and ox are there, and Mary with the child is already present. The crèches in churches in neighboring France are ready too before Christmas but the child is always missing. The figurine will be added on Christmas Night.

Somewhat early as the crèche in Staufen I wish you all a

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

1 comment:

  1. Also with you and Elisabeth! Merry Christmas and a fruitful 2015! At our home we have nativity set up year round and since the baby Jesus is the smallest piece, he is the most often sought after by our 3 cats. This being said, you must wonder, are cats filled with the devil? Have a most Joyous Christmas!