For those of you who have not heard of the Jesus Project (or the massive write-up Richard Carrier did of one of their meetings), it is a secular attempt to reconstruct who Jesus probably was and the events in his life (if indeed there was a Jesus, which is a question which will be addressed). Here's an excerpt from the Jesus Project's Intro:
"We believe the mixing of theological motives and historical inquiry is impermissible. We regard previous attempts to rule the question out of court as vestiges of a time when the Church controlled the boundaries of permissible inquiry into its sacred books. More directly, we regard the question of the historical Jesus as a testable hypothesis, and we are committed to no prior conclusions about the outcome of our inquiry. This is a statement of our principles, and we intend to stick to them."
I certainly hope they will live up to such noble words.
They won't finish the Project until December 2012, so in the meantime I recommend checking out their list of articles and forums. Especially interesting to me was an "Open Letter to Lee Strobel". This guy really holds Strobel's feet to the fire for the self-deception he engages in. I really enjoyed his quote from Plato:
"….they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them, no one knows what awaits us."
I never knew about this before, but it really solidifies the link between the mystery cults and Christianity. I was annoyed that the author of the open letter did tell the exact source, but I own a copy of Plato's works and was able to find it: It is in Republic Book II 364e-365a.
I know this post has been sort of a disconnected ramble, so sorry. One final thing: Be sure and check out April DeConick's new blog post. It's pretty interesting.