I have to disagree with Christopher Webber ’53, who rather contemptuously rejects Robert Wright ’79’s definition of what Jesus meant by neighbors (letters, Nov. 4). Wright says he meant only Jews. Webber says no way: He meant all of us. Well, before he starts citing the various Gospels as though they were authentic newspaper accounts of the man Jesus, Mr. Webber should do some outside reading himself. He should read Christian scholars like professors Marcus Borg or Bart Ehrman or Karen Armstrong. Try Bishop Jack Spong or Father Dominic Crossan. When he does, he’ll discover that the Jesus of the gospels is a post-hoc creation by men who never knew him. They were writers from a young, late-first-century movement trying to reach out to a non-Jewish audience. And in the process they inevitably modified Christ’s message.
Wright has it right: It was to his fellow Jews that the actual Jesus (a deeply devout Jew and zealous nationalist) was aiming his message. Naturally, we would all prefer Luke’s more ecumenical version. But his words are not reliably the words Christ spoke. Nor do they reflect the tribal ethics Christ proposed.