Newsweek asks, "Who killed Jesus?"
Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham is an award-winning reporter. But he's neither a theologian nor a historian, so one may wish that he "showed his work" a bit more in this week's cover story, "Who Really Killed Jesus?" (It's a subject U.S. News & World Report put on its cover four years ago.) It's clear that he did quite a bit of research, but some of his statements certainly raise the question, "Says who?" This especially comes into play when Meacham sets himself up as a better recorder of events than four well-known reporters: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

"The Bible can be a problematic source," he writes. "Though countless believers take it as the immutable word of God, Scripture is not always a faithful record of historical events; the Bible is the product of human authors who were writing in particular times and places with particular points to make and visions to advance. And the roots of Christian anti-Semitism lie in overly literal readings—which are, in fact, misreadings—of many New Testament texts."

The points to make and visions to advance depended on downplaying Pilate and emphasizing Caiaphas in the Passion narrative, according to Meacham (though this is common among many scholars today; this concept certainly doesn't originate with Newsweek). "The [Jewish Temple] elite looked down on Jesus' followers, so the New Testament authors portrayed the priests in a negative light," Meacham writes. "We can also see why the writers downplayed the role of the ruling Romans in Jesus' death. The advocates of Christianity—then a new, struggling faith—understandably chose to placate, not antagonize, the powers that were. Why remind the world that the earthly empire which still ran the ...

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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 editorial director. 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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