Traditionally, this week usually sees the major mainstream news weeklies putting Jesus on their covers or in some other way referencing Holy Week. Not coincidentally, those covers are often some of the magazines' biggest sellers on the newsstand.

Why is this year different from all other years? Because thinking about Christ's Passion came early, thanks to Mel Gibson. Newsweek already put "Who killed Jesus?" on its cover, and for the last six weeks or so other news outlets have examined similar questions raised by The Passion of The Christ. So several magazines that might have normally been inclined toward religion cover stories took a pass this year, including U.S. News & World Report, which doesn't have any religion articles in this week's issue.

Time, however, went the other direction.

Time asks why Jesus died
Weblog was beginning to wonder where Time's religion reporter, David van Biema, was off to. The magazine did a fine job profiling Rick Warren without him, for example, but it was odd to see such an article without his byline. Now we know the answer: Van Biema was busy putting together one of the best religion cover stories the magazine—or any mainstream news magazine—has ever done.

First off, yes, it's extremely refreshing to see an article about the way The Passion of The Christ depicts Jesus' death that doesn't focus on who's to blame. The question here isn't who killed Jesus, but why Jesus died. The theological term for how Jesus' death reconciled man and God is atonement.

Weblog can't do much more than encourage people to read this story, which reveals a thorough knowledge of the subject. There are some great lines from John R.W. Stott, as well as comments from Mark Noll, Jack Graham, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Al ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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