Recently a number of people at church have been reading John Bell's 'Ten Things They never Told Me About Jesus' and commenting on how refreshing it is. I have just read it. It's a really easy read and I guess what struck me most was that whilst it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, I have rarely heard anyone outside of a theology class speak about any of it. So why is that? Why do we who have been privileged to spend time really reading the gospels, discovering what first century Israel/Palestine was really like and glimsping new insights then revert to twee Victorian twaddle when we get into the pulpit? Actually, we don't all, and we don't always. Some of what he said I have said in sermons; some of it I have heard friends and colleagues say in sermons. But maybe we need to find creative ways of helping more people to discover for themselves not just these ten things, but how to discover 'more light and truth' from the Scriptures.
It really shouldn't surprise us to know that Jesus was fully male, had a sense of fun, liked food, got angry with evil and so on; these are things I've known for decades, long before I studied theology, so I was a bit surprised others didn't. But it is true that there are people aplenty who want to turn him into a feelingless plaster saint: I do recall someone telling me that Jesus on the cross was serene despite clear contradictory evidence in the gospels.
I think the big thing I gained from reading the book was not what it said, or even how it said it, but the reminder that it is all too easy to collude with untrue or unhelpful understandings of what the scriptures say and to deny others the blessing of learning to read them as 'grown up children' curious and open to discovering new and wonderful things of God. I think I feel a possible study series coming on!!