Century Marks

Century Marks

Jesus the Jew

Post-Holocaust Christian theology has learned to take seriously the Jewishness of Jesus. This has had the salutary effect of encouraging some Jews to take Jesus and the New Testament more seriously, says Jewish scholar Edward Kessler. Jewish scholars such as Pinchas Lapide, Géza Vermes, David Flusser and Amy-Jill Levine have even made Jesus and the New Testament the object of serious study. Lapide concluded that Jesus’ resurrection actually happened, because he could find no other explanation for how Jesus’ disciples became a jubilant community of believers so quickly after the crucifixion (Theological Studies, March).

Mission field?

Adoptions of foreign children have been increasing among some American evangelicals, with children coming from African countries like Ethiopia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Adoption is often an extension of pro-life beliefs, a way to address world poverty and a means of evangelizing children. It is also seen as a way of emulating God who through Christ has adopted humanity. Of the 201 accredited adoption agencies registered with the U.S. State Department, over 50 are explicitly Christian, not counting the Catholic agencies. Some families in the U.S. have been suspected of neglecting and abusing adopted children. From 6 to 11 percent of international adoptions fail. The failure rate for children adopted as adolescents is about 25 percent (Mother Jones, April 15).

First unions

Cohabitation is preferred over marriage among nearly half of women age 15 to 44, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. Marriage is part of a first union for less than one-quarter of women in this age bracket. Un­married couples are staying together longer and more are having children. Within three years of cohabitation, 40 percent of the women had gotten married, 32 percent still lived with their partner and 27 percent had left the relationship. Those with a college education are less likely to choose cohabitation and more likely to move quickly to marriage (USA Today, April 4).

Evangelical politics

At least since the 1980s American evangelicalism has increasingly associated itself with conservative, often Republican, politics. Comparing evangelicals in the U.S. with those in Brazil, Erin McAdams and Justin Earl Lance found that evangelicals in Brazil are not as conservative. In response to the statement, “The government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep,” 96 percent of Brazilian evangelicals agreed but only 67 percent of Americans did. Brazilian evangelicals are no less theologically orthodox than their American counterparts. One reason for the difference is that no political party in Brazil endorses abortion, which takes that issue off the table. Brazil has a multiparty system and only in 2002 did one party target evangelicals (Boston Globe, April 1).

Best sellers

Fiction was not highly regarded by Americans in the 19th century. The country, says Randall Fuller, was focused on industry, success and salvation, not artistic achievement. Many were taken by surprise, then, by how Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin drew people into its antislavery narrative and moved them emotionally—sometimes to the point of embarrassment. Her novel, which she claimed she didn’t write (“God wrote it. I merely did His dictation”), was outsold in the 19th century only by the Bible (Humanities, March/April).