Jehoshua: Signs and Wonders

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New novel explores early Christianity based on historical research

Garrett Glass was born in and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago in a "typical Catholic family" six kids. He grew up going to Mass and studying in Catholic schools. Glass says he wrote the book "because our 30th wedding anniversary was coming up and I was thinking, 'What could I get her that I couldn't buy at Costco? And these ideas have been in my mind for a long time. I sat down one day and wrote chapter one. It was so easy to do.

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I had spent my career writing business papers and blogging. Here I felt like I was an opera director. Ever since then, he has had an abiding interest in the origins of the stories which are told about Jesus Christ, and the religion which bears his name. The explosion in the s of research and books about the historical Jesus attracted his interest as well, and it was then that he began writing in his head a novel that explains what we know about the historical Jesus.

Having retired a few years ago from a career as a banker, he now has the time to put these thoughts on paper. By Tom Holmes. Most likely, the story of Jesus and his followers that Oak Park resident Garrett Glass tells in his newly published novel Jehoshua, Signs and Wonders, is not the one you heard in Sunday school. Start with the name. In fact, Glass' book can be seen as a deconstruction, i. Jehoshua begins with graphic descriptions of Jesus' crucifixion, reminiscent of Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ.

It portrays Jesus as a very human being, complete with sexual drives, much like Nikos Kazantzakis described him in The Last Temptation of Christ. Glass includes intrigue and deception in his novel in the tradition of Hugh Schonfield's Passover Plot, and he reconstructs the life of Jesus in the same creative way that Dan Brown treats the possibility of Jesus being married in the Da Vinci Code.

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The motivation to deconstruct came while Glass was living in New York after graduating from Northwestern University. There he read in the New York Times reports coming out of the Jesus Seminar during the s and '70s, in which biblical scholars used the analytic tools of what is known as the "historical critical method" to analyze the Bible like any other piece of literature. This kind of analysis, for example, concludes that both Matthew and Luke quoted Mark in their gospels as well as a non-extant source scholars refer to as "Q.

I got very disillusioned and felt almost deceived by what the Catholic Church had taught, or not taught, me.

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  • Glass recalls that when he was growing up, the Church portrayed the Gospel writers as kind of like secretaries who transcribed God's dictation to them. They need to be explored and explained, and when you attempt to do that, a very rich world of possibilities opens up. I could put the words I wanted into the characters I was creating. I could give them emotions. By the time I got to the second chapter, I found that the characters were taking on a life of their own.

    He created a character, for example, named Lemech, a trader who bought Jehoshua's cloak from a Roman soldier, cut it up in pieces and sold it as having magical qualities to people who believed in the crucified messiah's healing powers. He then discovers that he actually looks a lot like Jehoshua and carries out a plan to pretend that he is the risen savior. Besides trying to provide a good read for those who buy his book, Glass acknowledged that the act of writing has itself become part of his own spiritual pilgrimage.

    In an as yet unpublished book titled, Who Cut God's Hair, he writes, "This little book came about because a number of my readers wanted to know my opinions about God. In my book Jehoshua: Signs and Wonders, I wrote about the first 25 years of Christianity from the assumption that no miracles took place.

    This naturally led quite a few readers to wonder if I was an atheist. Here's his answer: "The philosophy of this book is very simple to state: I believe in God; I simply believe that he is an illusion we have created in our minds.

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    It may seem that I am temporizing in this statement, and not really taking a stand on whether God exists. But the truth is, to a certain degree God does exist, and does not exist, at the same time. He seems to exist in our mind, which is capable of creating powerful illusions of reality, and we can go our whole lives believing in his existence. Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment. Religion student. Thanks for highlighting this, Tom.

    The book reminds me of some of the papers we were asked to write in college--I did my religion degree work with a professor who had this as one of his main areas of study. You made me curious to check out the novel.

    Nicely done! These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Was there a Jesus? In his Antiquities , of the twenty-eight high priests who held office from the reign of Herod the Great to the fall of the Temple, no fewer than four bore the name Jesus: Jesus ben Phiabi , Jesus ben Sec , Jesus ben Damneus and Jesus ben Gamaliel. The surfeit of early Jesuses includes:. Too strange to be a coincidence!

    According to the Biblical account, Pilate offered the Jews the release of just one prisoner and the cursed race chose Barabbas rather than gentle Jesus. Perhaps the truth is that a single executed criminal helped flesh out the whole fantastic fable. Gospel writers, in scrambling details, used the Aramaic Barabbas knowing that few Latin or Greek speakers would know its meaning. Jesus ben Sirach.

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    Jesus ben Pandira. A wonder-worker during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus BC , one of the most ruthless of the Maccabean kings. Imprudently, this Jesus launched into a career of end-time prophecy and agitation which upset the king.


    Scholars have speculated this Jesus founded the Essene sect. Jesus ben Ananias. He prophesied rather vaguely:. Arrested and flogged by the Romans, Jesus ben Ananias was released as nothing more dangerous than a mad man. He died during the siege of Jerusalem from a rock hurled by a Roman catapult. Jesus ben Saphat. In the insurrection of 68AD that wrought havoc in Galilee, this Jesus had led the rebels in Tiberias " the leader of a seditious tumult of mariners and poor people " — Josephus, Life Jesus ben Gamala. It did him no good. When the Idumeans breached the walls he was put to death and his body thrown to the dogs and carrion birds.

    Jesus ben Thebuth. A priest who, in the final capitulation of the upper city in 69AD, saved his own skin by surrendering the treasures of the Temple, which included two holy candlesticks, goblets of pure gold, sacred curtains and robes of the high priests. The booty figured prominently in the Triumph held for Vespasian and his son Titus. Jesus ben Stada was a Judean agitator who gave the Romans a headache in the early years of the second century.

    He met his end in the town of Lydda twenty five miles from Jerusalem at the hands of a Roman crucifixion crew. Not one merits a full-stop in the great universal history. But then with so many Jesuses could there not have been a Jesus of Nazareth? The problem for this notion is that absolutely nothing at all corroborates the sacred biography and yet this 'greatest story' is peppered with numerous anachronisms, contradictions and absurdities.

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    For example, at the time that Joseph and the pregnant Mary are said to have gone off to Bethlehem for a supposed Roman census, Galilee unlike Judaea was not a Roman province and therefore ma and pa would have had no reason to make the journey. Then again, we now know that Nazareth did not exist before the second century. It is mentioned not at all in the Old Testament nor by Josephus, who waged war across the length and breadth of Galilee a territory about the size of Greater London and yet Josephus records the names of dozens of other towns.

    The 'Lord's Prayer'? Mediaeval monks counted the repetitive chanting of 'Our Fathers' on pebbles or beads strung on a cord. Most knew no Latin and had no idea what they were saying. The New Testament is awash with prayers, hymns, and confessional statements. Tellingly, the early church did not attribute to its superhero the actual words of any of its prayers or hymns something we might have expected of a great 'Teacher' A sole exception appears to be 'Our Father' — but is it??

    What becomes obvious is that the 'Lord's Prayer' evolved along with the legend of 'the Lord' himself. In the first four centuries of Christianity references to the ' Lord's Prayer' actually are quite rare. Sure, it is to be found in Matthew chapter 6 and Luke chapter But none of the Christian Apologists , for example, even mention it by name! But a version of the prayer is to be found in a curious early second century document called the Didache.

    In this tract aka Teaching of the Twelve Apostles we find a familiar refrain chapter 8. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil: for thine is the power, and the glory, for ever. Proof positive? Not at all — we are talking of a document rejected by the Church in the 3rd century! The twelve apostles mentioned in the full title of the Didache are not twelve flesh and blood disciples of a Jesus but a reference to the twelve sons of Jacob representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

    The Didache does not appear in any Bible because it is quasi-Jewish scripture!! According to this pre-gospel tract, "in the last days" it is "the Deceiver of the world" who is to appear as "the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders " not any divine carpenter chapter The legend is still evolving. In the Didache there is no virgin birth, no ministry, no crucifixion. Older Jewish devotions provide even earlier antecedents for the prayer. One version of the Kaddish has it:. The invocation 'Father' Abinu or Abba is common in Jewish liturgy for example, in the 5th, and 6th benedictions of the Shemoneh 'Esreh — the '18 blessings' — which according to tradition, were composed during the Second Temple period 6th century BC - 70 AD.

    The first and principal part of the 'Our Father' is a prayer for the coming of the 'kingdom of God' , exactly as in the Kaddish.

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