Jesus Against Christ – Nelson Pallmeyer – Book Review
I recommend this book for anyone interested in tracing the use of apocalyptic imagery to re-interpret Jesus – his life, his death, and his teaching. Near the end of the book, Pallmeyer describes how Matthew used apocalyptic to reshape the parables of Jesus, turning the lead characters into God-figures that consistently sent people to the torturers and other horrific punishments. This is such a new take on understanding the parables and how the gospel writers distorted Jesus against his own anti-apocalyptic message.
Pallmeyer defines well the Christian longing for revenge via apocalyptic and hell. This whole chosen people mindset that sees salvation in terms of enemies destroyed, thus fulfilling the perverse human longing for revenge on others, all made sacred in this pathological religious mythology. The very worst of human impulses is made sacred, and nowhere more intensely than in the Christ myth of Paul, and how Paul “betrayed” Jesus.
The overall benefit of Pallmeyer’s book far outweighs any quibbles. This is a stellar piece of research and commentary, along with Lotufo, and some of Ellen’s work. They are unique in getting the centrality to religion and religious pathology, its resulting damage to humanity.
This book helps to improve the long term human condition when taken into consideration with the work of James Payne and Stephen Pinker on how the human impulse for meaning affects humanity overall, and how this impulse has been profoundly distorted throughout religious history.
Robert D. Brinsmead
This is a life-changing book. It made me realize how I had read the OT prophets with some rose-coloured glasses. They did have some great contribution to make on humanitarian focus rather than religious rituals and justice as merciful deliverance from oppression, but I went back and read the prophets again, and even in Dueteronomy-Isaiah, there is a continual drumbeat of threats of divine violence against enemies of Israel to the point of being embarrassing. After all, this is supposed to be the Word of the Lord. Nelson-Pellmayer points out that the violence of God is so prominent in the OT that it overshadows all the winsome attributes of God. Of course there are diamonds in this Biblical literature, but more and more we are compelled to accept Jefferson’s assessment of diamonds buried in mountains of dung. We honor Nelson-Pellmeyor for frankly facing up to the evidence rather than pretending it is not dung, and trying to harmonize it with the diamonds.