4 thoughts on “Rev Dr Rob Marshall, Priest at St John the Evangelist, Welwyn Garden City

  1. Discussing the epic of Gilgamesh is a dangerous thing to do for a believer in the Bible. Surely the “Hebrew Scriptures” were handed down directly from god rather than partly copied from earlier stories?
    My childhood understanding from attending church and school RE was that the whole bible was important as it was all god’s word, not just the New Testament, although that bit was best as it featured the hero of the story.
    It made it far easier to dismiss religion as false when stories such as Eden, the great flood and other OT bits were so obviously myths. The nutty creationists believe the whole lot but our C of E contributors almost always talk about “The Hebrew Scriptures” as if they are not certain about taking ownership.
    A rather clunky ending too. We can be sure that there are no heroes amongst the anti-science, Old Testament loving creationists spreading much of the anti-vaccine propaganda. But Jesus, oh he is great.

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  2. So, no news story or person in the news ‘from a faith perspective ‘ then. Instead some tangled ramble about heroes (or are they zeroes?). What leapt out at me was:

    “Christian theology speaks primarily of service to others and concern for the poor and the outcast.”

    Strange then that the churches entrusted with this clear ‘business plan’ appear more like a giant corporation concerned largely with their own preservation; land, property and share-owning bodies, which spend vast sums annually maintaining a staff of operatives and wheedle money out of their adherents not primarily for ‘the poor and outcast’ butt to keep up spires, install lavvies in churches, purchase robes and flowers and generally maintain all the paraphernalia of worship.

    PaulT makes a very important point about the dangers of clergy or ‘believers’ acknowledging the source material of the BBOMS. That’s a thread it would be unwise to tug at. But the literary origins of various ancient texts, and the peoples that produced them are an interesting area of study. I’d much rather schools devoted time wasted on ‘religion’ to studies of peoples like the Sumarians, who (as far as is known) were the first literate civilisation, and those Middle Eastern communities that gave us mathematics and astronomy. These are topics that affirm the important interrelation of successive civilisations – and not the divisive, destructive woo-woo that divides them or puts them into conflict.

    It was almost embarrassing to hear Marshall continue the baffling and opaque ‘the first will be last and the last first’ rhetoric that has run through other recent TFTD offerings. Still made nothing clearer, though. I rather think that most people today are more amenable to ‘role models’ (despite the clumsiness of the term) than heroes. There have been too many ‘heroes’ who have ultimately proved less than heroic, and the concept fits uneasily in today’s egalitarian society.

    Karen Armstrong is quite wrong about the cuneiform tablets being like music – yes, a performer who knows the piece may need only to glance at the score before them, but the staves still contain EVERYTHING that makes the music – tempo, key, notation, phrasing, dynamics etc. She might more accurately have made a comparison with a sheet of bullet points. Just saying.

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  3. Some excellent points above. Religions do not suddenly spring into existence: they grow out of those that have come before, as well as taking bits from other contemporary faiths. The Epic of Gilgamesh inspired a number of ancient religions, including Judaism; but the Hebrew mythologies also drew on earlier Hittite examples, as well as being influenced by ancient Greek philosophy. The same goes for Christianity: Greek, Egyptian and even Buddhist influences have been suggested.

    Rob Marshall’s rhetorical question about heroes was indeed odd: the ancient concepts of heroism have little to do with current examples of hero-worship. But what is a hero anyway? The Rank-Raglan analysis of mythical heroes (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rank%E2%80%93Raglan_mythotype) lists a number of traits considered to be shared by a wide range of such characters, including virgin birth, reputation as son of God, law-giver, later rejection by others, etc. I doubt whether many cultural historians pay much attention to Rank-Raglan these days; but it is amusing to note that Jesus gets quite a high score as a likely mythical hero.

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