Fundamentalists are loath to admit the degree to which their faith is informed by Western culture Amid the throes of the current Culture War Christians should be able to distinguish between accumulated cultural artifacts and the core of First Century Christianity Unfortunately the Christian Right finds any attempt to identify non Biblical cultural practices as a thinly veiled attempt to deconstruct their carefully crafted comfort zone Many contemporary Evangelicals are unaware that many of their ancestors as recently as one hundred years ago eschewed such practices as an altar call or invitation hymn and used wine rather than rape juice in their communion observances Instead of an informed awareness of historical developments they proceed blithely as if today s worship practices represent the way things have always been done One of the reasons for this collective ignorance is that we have little opportunity to compare how the church developed in the West with how the church developed elsewhere We don t have the opportunity to answer the uestion What would Christianity look like if it hadn t developed in the West Martin Palmer s The Jesus Sutras provides us with an answer to this very uestionPalmer brings an intimate familiarity with Chinese spirituality to the task of translating and interpreting the various writings from northwestern China of the seventh to the eleventh century These early Christian texts represent a thread of Christian development that rose flourished and reached its zenith far removed from the historical controversies and councils that shaped much of Western Christianity From these sutras or sacred scrolls we can see a vibrant spiritual faith that was shaped by the Buddhist and Taoist culture around it rather than the pagan influences that impinged on Western Christianity Additionally we can trace the development of a form of Christianity that is at once familiar and alternately alien to the Christianity to which we are accustomed More importantly than providing answers to the shape and nature of Eastern Christianity beyond the influence of the Eastern Orthodox Church The Jesus Sutras raises uestions about how much of what we believe is accumulated baggage and how much is integral to first century Christianity This book contains no easy answers but instead raises hearty challengesThis is not a book for those who feel that we in the West and particularly in Evangelicalism have everything nailed down Rather such folk will find much to criticize in this book Palmer is certainly no advocate for Evangelical Christianity and does nothing to assuage any misgivings denominational partisans might have Instead he arranges the sutras in chronological order and allows the reader to discover how China shaped a form of Christianity that was able for centuries to speak Jesus Christ into a Buddhist culture The language idioms metaphors and allusions are so alien to our Western way of thinking that many would find these works to be heterodox declensions from an otherwise pure faith What the detractors would miss however is that much of what we accept in Western culture is the same sort of culture centric language idioms metaphors and allusions If one can imagine a theology of the afterlife that was uninfluenced by the likes of Dante or Milton one can then read The Jesus Sutras and find something worthwhile in these medieval Chinese texts The Jesus Sutras is an eminently readable chronicle and should be reuired for any student of comparative religions and theology Palmer does a masterful job of telling the story of his personal discovery of an eighth century pagoda that was the earliest known monastery in mainland China and a stone stele containing a sutra with distinctly Christian motifs uniue to China *While relatively unknown to the West the local inhabitants recognized that *relatively unknown to the West the local inhabitants recognized that Da in monastery was the most famous Christian mission in China during the Tang Dynasty Palmer s story telling ability extends to the way he Melvin Mencher's News Reporting and Writing gradually unfolds the sutras that chronicle the development of a uniuely Chinese version of Christianity The Jesus Sutras unfurls an astounding story of Chinese Christian development that both parallels and diverges from our own cultural heritage If anything it should humble the current crop of Culture Warriors andive them pause to evaluate exactly what it is they are making war for Are they seeking to protect Christianity from the onslaught of cultural relativism or have they already succumbed to cultural relativism by adapting their Christianity to Western culture The Jesus Sutras provides us with a way of exploring this uestion this is one of those books that made a lot of things click for me regarding spirituality culture an integrated worldview and contextualizationI wrote about it in 2005 pasted hereIt is an historical account of the first Christian mission to China led by the monk Alouben in 635 a piecing together of various strands of evidence a long lost Christian monastery now used as a Buddhist temple with Christian statues in the eighth century pagoda a sutra holy writing of stone in a stone library and The Jesus Sutras a collection of scrolls found hidden in a secret library that was sealed around 1005From these fragments the author pieces together a framework for what these early Christians believed how they acted and interacted with the myriad
#Of Cultures And Religions Around #cultures and religions around The result is a fascinating depiction of a Christianity that is adaptive hospitable and relevantThese early Chinese Christians drew upon imagery from their understanding of the Taoism Confucianism Buddhism Jainis. In 1907 explorers discovered a vast treasure trove of ancient scrolls silk paintings and artifacts dating from the 5th to 11th centuries AD in a long sealed cave in a remote region of China Among them written in Chinese were scrolls that recounted a history of Jesus' life and teachings in beautiful Taoist concepts and imagery that were unknown in the West These writings told a story of Christianity that was by turns uniue and disturbing hopeful and uplifting The best way to describe them is collectively with a term they themselves use The Jesus Sutras The origins of Christianity seem rooted in Western civilization but amazingly an ancient largely unknown branch of Christian belief evolved in the East Eminent theologian and Chinese scholar Martin Palmer provides the first popular history and translation of the sect's long lost scriptures all of them than a thousand years old and comparable in significance to the Dead Sea Scrolls Gathered deciphered and interpreted by a team of expert linguists and scholars th. ,
Martin Palmer Ì 0 reviewIrmation of humanity s innate The Cheerleaders Missing Panties ENF Book 3 goodness that has become corrupted over time They offer different solutions Taoist acting without acting returning to the state of an uncarved block or pu Christian renewal through eternal resurrection life found in Jesus but ultimately look at humanity in the same wayI see Palmer as falling victim to the popular error that wants to assert a kind of conspiracy to the Church that Jesus in fact propagated a kind ofnostic spirituality that was hushed over by the Council of Nicea in 325 He wants to identify with a tolerant church that escaped politicization one about so little is known that he can project his own beliefs upon it Surely the East has succeeded where the West has failedIn fact in reading his translations of the source texts and trying to ignore his commentary I find a range of beliefs held by the early Chinese church everything from staunch orthodoxy to syncretic heresy There are beautiful expressions of the Trinity side by side with a downplaying of the Resurrection soteriology next to reincarnation By donning The Consummation of the Ages (A.D. 70 and the Second Coming in the Book of Revelation) gnosticoggles Palmer ignores the real diversity of what happens to Christianity when it engages a new cultureMy final complaint and perhaps an unfair one for a book aimed at a popular audience is a lack of the texts in the original language As a Sinologist I would like to be able to examine Palmer s translations some of which come from very rare resources Some of his translations from the Tao Te Ching are far from the scholarly norm and I wonder if these errors crept into his Jesus Sutra translationsSutra by the way is his translation of the Chinese character ie jing or ching depending on your romanization system While it was used to translate the Sanskrit word sutra it s enerally rendered classic text or scripture in English It s the same character in the Tao Te Ching or the I Ching It s even used in the translation of the Holy Scriptures of Christianity the sheng jing or which in accordance with Palmer s techniue should be called The Sage s Sutras In the 8th century Christian missionaries arrived in China from the Syriac speaking Christian world the Church external to the Roman Empire that didn t participate in the Councils that defined the religion in the Greek speaking world There they established a monastery and worked to spread the ospel creating missionary literature and liturgies that spoke to the Chinese context In clear and compelling prose Martin Palmer tells the story of that mission so far as we know it and the story of his interdisciplinary team s work to translate and understand the surviving texts from that Christian mission which he calls The Jesus Sutras In every aspect texts context scholarly methods this book offers rich material for fruitful religious and historical reflectionI recommend reading it in conjunction with Philip Jenkins The Lost History of Christianity an overview of the history of the Yes There were Christians in China before Marco Polo In The Jesus Sutras Martin Palmer tells the story of Nestorian Christianity in China by unpacking and commenting on seventh and eight century writings found sealed in a cave at Dunhuang alongside Buddhist and Manichean texts Palmer s book is aimed at a popular audience and he has a rare talent for presenting complex information in a *clear and lucid manner without distorting the story Palmer s ability *and lucid manner without distorting the story Palmer s ability outline the core tenants of major world religions or the rise and fall empires within a couple of very readable paragraphs is rivalled only by the Jesus Sutras themselves As Palmer argues these texts preached Christianity to an audience familiar with Confucian Taoist and Buddhist thought and they did so using language and concepts that their readers would have understood One text which Palmer entitles The Sutra of Cause Effect and Salvation explains that A Visitor came to
This World Uniting Body Andworld uniting body and He was happy in this world without troubling His spirit The union of body and soul was made by the sacred spirit of God Just as flavor creates food so the i life breath creates the body and the soul All this comes from God Venerate God and all will be as it should be and will become clear to you Whatever you do in life will have its karmic impact upon your soul and will affect the physical life of the soul A person can only change his karma residue by being born again into this world Do Le grand bazar d'après le film de claude zidi good and you will live to be in the world beyond this world The other world can be found by doing acts of karma in this life by living properly in this world This world is like a mother s womb in which you are shaped for the world to come Read my full review at This intriguing work explores the discovery of a Chinese Christian monastery and a cache of writings that prove Christianity was introduced to China as early as the 5th century These works drew upon the vocabulary of Taoism and Buddhism and adopted cultural idioms in order to communicate theospel to the Chinese in a way they could understand Some of the content of these Jesus Sutras is very noncontroversial other components such as references to reincarnation may cause orthodox Christians to regard the Taoist Christianity as an heretical form of the religion The book is fascinating not only for revealing documents produced by early Christian missionaries but because it provides a ood historical overview of the Eastern Church which often receives very little exposure in Christian histories The work would have been improved by a better organization of the material which would also have avoided redundancy Overall however it is an engaging and highly readable book. Ill intact and within it in 1998 Palmer and his team found evidence including statues underground passageways and artifacts that helped them uncover and recreate the era and rituals of the Taoist Christians The Taoist Christians who wrote the Jesus Sutras recognized euality of the sexes preached against slavery and practiced nonviolence toward all forms of life In particular this tradition offered its followers a hopeful vision of life on earth and after death than the dominant Eastern religions teaching that Jesus had broken the wheel of karma and its conseuent punishing endless reincarnations Vividly re creating the turbulence of a distant age that is remarkably evocative of our own times Palmer reveals an extraordinary evolution of spiritual thought that spans centuries A thrilling modern uest that is also an ancient religious odyssey The Jesus Sutras shares a revolutionary discovery with profound historical implications imparting timeless messages and lessons for men and women of all backgrounds and fait. M and Shamanism of Tang Dynasty China which allowed them to present a radical image of Christ as the Dharma King sending your raft of salvation to save us from the burning streams even saving us from karma and reincarnationIt struck me as an amazing way to interact and dialogue with the Chinese culture to come at it with such an intimate knowledge of the people s beliefs fears and understandings of life and the afterlife Our Modern Western Evangelical Protestant understanding of the ospel always tends to hinge on the sacrificial death of Christ as atonement for our sins relying on the legal metaphor of God as judge accepting some and damning others But how would we make ourselves understood to a culture that doesn t understand the afterlife in those terms but rather see them as endless karmic reincarnations ie we are doomed to be forever reincarnated until we A Handful of Dust get it right here on earthuote from one of the Sutras Beyond knowing beyond words You are the truth steadfast for all time Compassionate Father Radiant Son Pure Wind King three in one Supreme King Will of Ages Compassionate Joyous Lamb Loving all who suffer Fearless as You strive for us Free us of the karma of our lives Bring us back to our original nature Delivered from all danger Sutra of Praise to the Three Powers AD ca 780 790 see page 203 This is another one of those books which once read make you want to shake people by the shoulders and shout Read This not because the book is exceptionally well written though the writing and research are veryood but because it represents something which ought to be part of the Es ist was es ist great conversation on the topic in this case the history and nature of Christianity yet somehow isn tREAD THIS BOOK Fascinating book the texts themselves are beautiful the story well told and the challenge to modern Western Christianity very apt This is aood translation of the Dunhuang manuscripts I think there are some earlier translations but this one is the best It also A Series of Unfortunate Events gives aood Love (Slater Brothers, general background of the circumstances under which they were discovered and aeneral account of the rise and decline of early Chinese ChristianityI don t think that the description of the scrolls as Taoist really carries any weight and I don t know where he is etting this I d say that the scrolls do not have any particular Chinese ideology just Chinese terms God is referred to as the One Sacred Spirit or the World Honored One the Holy Spirit as the pure Wind Satan becomes the Great Evil Ghost angels become flying immortals and saints and prophets become Buddhas So I see terminology borrowed but no ideology If there is an ideological basis it would be in Buddhism rather than Taoism because of the strong aversion to killing A strong case can be made for Ebionite beliefs being the basis of the Sutras For example John the Baptist as well as Jesus are vegetarian corresponding to the view the Ebionites had of John and Jesus and this would explain the precepts about not killing First off I d like to say that the subject here is fascinating in the last hundred years it s come to light that there was a thriving Christian community in China as early as the sixth century nearly a thousand years before the next major *MISSIONARY MOVEMENT IE THE JESUITS PALMER WRITES ABLY ABOUT *movement ie the Jesuits Palmer writes ably about discovery
of this community s artifacts and about the rowth of the early Syrian church whichthis community s artifacts and about the Tiempo hendido: un acercamiento a la vida y obra de Antonia Palacios growth of the early Syrian church which from present day Afghanistan across the silk road to Tibet and even China His style is toward a popular audience summation and application reign over investigating thorny scholarly issues This is no flaw as I believe it was his intention toet the word out about a uniue form of non Western Christianity And indeed such beautiful artwork as lotus flowers and dragons cradling crosses deserve to be brought out into the daylightHowever Palmer has an ax to rind he sees Western Christianity as too dogmatically narrow minded and hopes to offer Taoist Christianity as he calls it as a remedy an example of how to adapt to the
larger world in pursuing this hypothetical olden ageworld In pursuing this hypothetical Let the Fire Burn golden age sacrifices rigor and consistency For example his translations bounce between Eastern and Western religious terms placing them as he finds convenient for his situation The name Jesus is translated as Jesus when he wants to make a heterodox text sound western and as Ye Su Chinese for Jesus when he wants to make an orthodox text sound easternHe also blames much of Western Christianity s faults upon original sin which he contrasts with the TaoistTaoist Christian concept of original nature According to Palmer the concept of original is invented by Augustine and caused the Church to emphasizeuilt and penance which then led to bitterness and hatred and the crusades and Puritanism and everything else wrong The Jesus Sutras instead borrow a term from Taoism called original nature which asserts that humanity is primally The Colors of Memory A Novel good and has only been corrupted by evil societiesThis original sin vs original nature dichotomy is erroneous on several levels One is that he either willfully misinterprets the doctrine of original sin or just doesn t really understand it First of all original sin or ancestral sin is upheld by both Catholicism and Orthodoxy though emphasized in different ways and has clear biblicalrounding in the letters of Paul Secondly to ascribe all the errors of the Church to one small doctrine is ludicrous Third original sin does not deny the imago dei or the image of GodThis I think would be a better comparison Taoist original nature and the imago dei Although they are surely different they overlap in several ways such as in the aff. Ese sacred texts present an inspiring use of Jesus' teachings and life within Eastern practices and meditations and provide an extraordinary window into an intriguing profoundly entler spiritual Christianity than existed in Europe or Asia at the time or indeed even today Palmer has devoted than a decade to seeking the extant writings and other evidence of this lost religion His search was triggered by an encounter with an immense mysterious carved stele stone from the 8th century that resides in a Chinese museum collection called the Forest of Stones The Chinese text on this stonecommemorates the founding of a religion of light in China by a reat Western teacher and features a uniue cross that merges Taoist symbolism with the Christian cross The scrolls the stone and a strange map of the area around a hallowed temple where Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching before disappearing forever Mabon Celebrating the Autumn Euinox gave Palmer enough information to rediscover one of the earliest Christian monasteries At the site was an 8th century pagoda st.