Thinking Anglicans

opinion for Holy Saturday

James Martin in The Huffington Post asks Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?
The Times has a series of articles to mark Holy Week. The Archbishop of York has written “Our destiny is sure, but Jesus never promised an easy journey” and placed a copy outside the paywall.
In The Vancouver Sun three Anglican priests (Peter Elliott, Ellen Clark-King and Chris Dierkes) born in different decades write about how they experience Holy Week from their own perspectives: Easter celebrates faith, hope and love.
Paul Handley writes in The Guardian: In this for the long haul. “Easter Day is all the more special for Christians who fail in self-denial during Lent.”

Martin Wainwright writes in The Guardian about Last Supper … or penultimate supper? Scientist challenges Maundy Thursday. “Cambridge professor Sir Colin Humphreys claims Last Supper took place on a Wednesday, not a Thursday.”
Christopher Pearson covers the same story in The Australian Search for the real man in the Gospels.
Humphreys himself writes in The Huffington Post: The Mysteries of the Last Supper and Jesus’ Final Days.
Two sceptical responses are by Mark Goodacre Dating the Last Supper a Day Early? and Andrew McGowan Christ our Passover: Making Sense of the Gospel Accounts of Jesus’ Death. Goodacre has several links to other articles.

In the New Statesman leading public figures and scientists explain their faith to Andrew Zak Williams: I’m a believer.

Aleks Krotoski in The Observer asks What effect has the internet had on religion? “Online, God has been released from traditional doctrine to become everything to everybody.”
The entire Fall 2010 issue of The Princeton Theological Review was devoted to articles on The Church after Google. You can download all 122 pages as a one megabyte pdf file.

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Theological uncertainty. “Holy scriptures can demand that their believers do evil things. Would this be true if evil didn’t prosper?”

Timothy Beal writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Bible Is Dead; Long Live the Bible.
Michelle Boorstein writes in The Washington Post about Sign of the times: Updated Bible.

Simon Barrow writes for Ekklesia about The religious betrayal of God and its antidote.

Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian that There’s no such thing as ‘big society’ – just many small ones, under steeples. “Churches are the obvious place for revived localism yet their potential remains locked behind regulatory clutter and spiralling costs.”


  • Erika Baker says:

    The best comment on the discovery that the Last Supper may not have taken place on Thursday came from the wonderful Archdruid Ellen:

  • peterpi - Peter Gross says:

    In certain ways, we live in a hyper-rational, objectivist age. News stories are expected to focus on only “Who, what, when, where.” Historians and news reporters are expected to focus on facts, and leave their biases behind.
    If we stop thinking of the gospels as newspaper articles, as factual, straightforward accounts, then discrepancies become irrelevant. The gospels were meant to tell the “good news”, to spread the word, to propagate the faith. Each gospel writer, then, attempts to attract a different audience by emphasizing different aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry. Furthermore, in English, and I assume the original Greek texts, there is a qualitative and literary difference between John and the other three gospels. Literally from the first word, John’s gospel is more theologically dense. Not just telling a story, but deliberately introducing concepts not found in the other gospels. Not to mention engaging in what I call linguistic “combinations and permutations”, saying the same thing over and over again, but that’s just me.
    In that context, what does it matter if the Last Supper took place on a Wednesday or Thursday? Or whose house it took place in? Or how many courses there were? Or whether anyone stayed behind and helped clean up? What’s important is not “when” it took place, but “that” it took place. And what Jesus did during that Supper.
    “Do this is remembrance of me”. And Christians have been commemorating that Supper for roughly two millennia since, and so keeping Jesus’ words and deeds alive.
    Regarding Judas, without Judas, there’s no arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, and death. With no death, there’s no resurrection. Therefore, to me, for Christians to beat up on Judas is pointless. If Judas hadn’t betrayed Jesus, what then?

  • I’m wondering which churches ignore Maundy Thursday??

  • Bill Moorhead says:

    A good piece by Fr. Martin. I’m inclined to agree with William Barclay and Sam Rockwell — Judas was trying to force God’s hand. (No other explanations seem to make much sense to me.) And so I said in my homily last Wednesday evening (before I had read Fr. Martin’s column):

    Yes, there is a discrepancy regarding the date of the Last Supper. We’ve always known that. Archdruid Ellen makes good sense on this. As I wrote elsewhere a few days ago, “The placing of the Last Supper on the first night of Passover (Mark, and apparently Paul; obviously an early tradition) or on the night before Passover (John) are theological constructs for the authors, not chronological/calendrical issues. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure which (if either) is calendrically accurate. (I asked Jesus about it, and Jesus replied, ‘Why is it important to you that you should know this?’)”

  • Peter, more recent research indicates that gospel writers were, in fact, following the disciplines of history and biography as they were observed in their era. They were in fact making a serious attempt to get facts right.

    And as for Judas – Jesus had make himself obnoxious to many – the big guns were out. If not Judas then somebody. There always is somebody to try to shoot down the uncomfortable voice of truth and love.

  • “The Fathers of the Church understood that not everything in the Bible was literally true, but were relaxed about it; they were interested in more important stuff.”

    – Dr. Andrew McGowan –

    Andrew McGowan, Warden of Trinity College at the University of Melbourne, does not beat about the bush in his overview of the biblical record – especially as it touches upon the Passion and Death of Jesus. This is a very welcome antidote to the sort of biblical fundamentalism that is coming out of Moore College, Sydney. It is also proof positive that Australian Anglicanism has a whole lot more to offer than the Sydney Diocese’s version of puritanical religion.

  • peterpi is surely correct when he questions the biblical literalists, whose concern seems to be the perceived synchronicity of bilical passages that will somehow ‘prove’ their particular pietistic view of the redemptive enterprise. The primitive evangelical desire to ‘harmonise’ the Gospels begs the question of their provenance – in ways that can only draw criticism, where, in fact, the truth about Christ is something that can never be captured by mere words alone. The Word-made-flesh in Christ has to be experienced to be fully believed. This is why the Eucharist is so important for our Christian formation.

  • peterpi - Peter Gross says:

    To Simon and all the other staff at the Thinking Anglicans world headquarters,
    To all readers of this, site, I say “Happy Easter!”
    May the message of that day, however we perceive it, remind us that there is more to life than we see, there is reason for hope, love, charity, we can be bigger than ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *