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Jesus for the Non-Religious
Cover of Jesus for the Non-Religious
Jesus for the Non-Religious
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Writing from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian, sketched a vision of what he called "Religionless Christianity." In this book, John Shelby Spong puts flesh onto the bare bones of Bonhoeffer's radical thought. The result is a strikingly new and different portrait of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jesus for the non-religious.

Spong challenges much of the traditional understanding, from the tale of Jesus' miraculous birth to the account of his cosmic ascension into the sky. He questions the historicity of the ideas that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that he had twelve disciples, or that the miracle stories were ever meant to be descriptions of supernatural events. He also speaks directly to those critics of Christianity who call God a "delusion" and who describe how Christianity has become evil and destructive.

Spong invites his readers to look at Jesus through the lens of both the Jewish scriptures and the liturgical life of the first century synagogue. He proposes a new way of understanding the divinity of Christ as the ultimate dimension of a fulfilled humanity. Jesus for the Non-Religious may be the book that finally brings the pious and the secular into a meaningful dialogue, opening the door to a living Christianity in the post-Christian world.

Read by Alan Sklar

Preface, prologue, and epilogue read by the Author

Writing from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian, sketched a vision of what he called "Religionless Christianity." In this book, John Shelby Spong puts flesh onto the bare bones of Bonhoeffer's radical thought. The result is a strikingly new and different portrait of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jesus for the non-religious.

Spong challenges much of the traditional understanding, from the tale of Jesus' miraculous birth to the account of his cosmic ascension into the sky. He questions the historicity of the ideas that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that he had twelve disciples, or that the miracle stories were ever meant to be descriptions of supernatural events. He also speaks directly to those critics of Christianity who call God a "delusion" and who describe how Christianity has become evil and destructive.

Spong invites his readers to look at Jesus through the lens of both the Jewish scriptures and the liturgical life of the first century synagogue. He proposes a new way of understanding the divinity of Christ as the ultimate dimension of a fulfilled humanity. Jesus for the Non-Religious may be the book that finally brings the pious and the secular into a meaningful dialogue, opening the door to a living Christianity in the post-Christian world.

Read by Alan Sklar

Preface, prologue, and epilogue read by the Author

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal Bishop of Newark before his retirement in 2000, has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard and at more than 500 other universities all over the world. His books, which have sold well over a million copies, include Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy; The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic; Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World; Eternal Life: A New Vision; Jesus for the Non-Religious, The Sins of Scripture, Resurrection: Myth or Reality?; Why Christianity Must Change or Die; and his autobiography, Here I Stand. He writes a weekly column on the web that reaches thousands of people all over the world. To join his online audience, go to www.JohnShelbySpong.com. He lives with his wife, Christine, in New Jersey.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine The intense devotion of the former Episcopal bishop of Newark to his subject is apparent. In his prologue, the author's voice expresses the intimacy of his commitment to Jesus, as well as his struggle for a personal appreciation of Him amid the Christian church's institutional appropriation of Him. Alan Sklar takes over in Part 1 as narrator. He conveys the appropriate sense of drama and emphasis, as well as excellent Hebrew pronunciation, with a tempered edge the author seems to lack. The result is a more lucid, albeit equally passionate, presentation that both theologians and the lay listeners will find compelling. Music at the beginning and end of each CD enhances the text. L.V.B. 2008 Audies Finalist (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 15, 2007
    Spong, the iconoclastic former Episcopal bishop of Newark, details in this impassioned work both his "deep commitment to Jesus of Nazareth" and his "deep alienation from the traditional symbols" that surround Jesus. For Spong, scholarship on the Bible and a modern scientific worldview demonstrate that traditional teachings like the Trinity and prayer for divine intervention must be debunked as the mythological trappings of a primitive worldview. These are so much "religion," which was devised by our evolutionary forebears to head off existential anxiety in the face of death. What's left? The power of the "Christ experience," in which Jesus transcends tribal notions of the deity and reaches out to all people. Spong says Jesus had such great "energy" and "integrity" about him that his followers inflated to the point of describing him as a deity masquerading in human form; however, we can still get at the historical origin of these myths by returning to Jesus' humanity, especially his Jewishness. Spong so often suggests the backwardness and insecurity of those who disagree with him that his rhetoric borders on the fundamentalist. His own historical and theological reconstructions would be more palatable if he seemed more aware that he too is engaged in mythmaking.

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2007
    Since the rise of the very outspoken Religious Right during the last few years, there have been many books that discuss the dangerous mix of politics and religion, such as Sen. John Danforth's recent, excellent "Faith and Politics. Jesus for the Non-Religious" mentions very little about politics but focuses on a unique interpretation of the life of Jesus of Nazareth by longtime Episcopal priest and bishop (and best-selling author) Spong. He tells a nontraditional, realistic story of Jesus, whereby Mary could not have been a virgin and Joseph was an ordinary man. This is certainly a noble and unique undertaking, but Spong unfortunately throws so much information and minute detail at the listener that it becomes one giant blur. It ends up being just another Jesus-themed work based too much on opinion and not enough on fact. One of the program's few saving graces is the chapter titled "Recognizing the Sources of Religious Anger," which offers cultural and historical links as to why people and groups have killed in the name of Jesus. Reader Alan Sklar has a clear, powerful voice, but he reads too fast, not allowing the listener a chance to absorb the wealth of material. Recommended only for libraries with large religion collections.Jesse M. Light, Memorial Hall Lib., Andover, MA

    Copyright 2007 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Jesus for the Non-Religious
John Shelby Spong
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