A century ago worshippers generally had to accept whatever the Bible said or whatever the priest or minister handed down from the pulpit.
Television and the Internet have brought vast changes, and dozens of academics and producers are floating theories that clash with the traditional Easter story.
Even Judas Iscariot, the traitorous apostle and the most hated man in Christendom, was not such a bad guy after all, according to a recent book.
Nevertheless, hundreds of Central Valley youngsters will be burning effigies of the shamed apostle this weekend and generally misbehaving. Police are on alert.
The point may be a small one but a just-released book says that the Last Supper was on a Wednesday, not the traditional Thursday. The claim has to do with the calendars in force in First century Jerusalem and discrepancies between the four major gospels. Colin Humphreys, a Cambridge University scientist, makes a powerful argument. Pretty soon Costa Rican employees will be getting three days off in Semana Santa instead of the two days that are holidays now.
Mary Magdalene also has received a makeover. Instead of the redeemed harlot, she now is cast by some as the wife of Jesus and the head of the infant church after his death. Dan Brown’s book and subsequent 2003 “The Da Vinci Code” movie, although fiction, did much to popularize this opinion.
Jesus himself has gotten a makeover. Instead of the movie star with the flowing hair and commanding statute, Richard Neave, a forensic artist, created a face in 2002 that basically resembles most other men who lived in the Middle East at that time. Instead of a Greek god, the Jesus created by Neave is a swarthy fellowwho looks like he was sent from central casting for the title role in “The Merchant of Venice.”
Others have tried to determine how Jesus looked by studying the Shroud of Turin, said to be the burial cloth of Christ. Another one of those pesky television shows, however, claims thatLeonardo da Vinci faked the shroud with a camera obscura and even used his own face as a model.
Meanwhile, some investigators, including some in the Central Valley, discount the existence of Jesus and say the biblical story is just a retelling of a number of crucifixions of religious leaders down through the ages, beginning with Krishna. One such person is Sam Butler, who self-published “A CURSE ON ALL THEIR HOUSES – How Religious SCRIPTURE and Practices Support Intolerance, Violence, and Even War.”
The rabbit is going to leave just coal in his basket Sunday morning.