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October 24, 1997     The Message
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October 24, 1997

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October 24, 1997 1 1 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana The first historical mention of Jesus By FATHER JOHN DIETZEN Catholic News Service Question: Jesus Christ is surely one of the greatest fig- ures in history. Can you tell us if he is mentioned anywhere other than in the Bible? (Texas) Answer: I assume you are asking about early Christian history, around the time the New Testament was being formed. For us Christians, who believe that the coming of Jesus was the pivotal point in human history, it's dif- ficult to imagine how little interest he aroused apart from his own small community of followers. From an) viewpoint other than faith, he was, after all, merely the leader of a tiny off-shoot group ws, ina spectacularly insignificant corner of the of Oman tmpire. The first historical mention of Jesus outside the circle of Christians apparently was by Flavius Jose- phus, a Jewish historian who eventually won the close friendship of Vespasian and other Roman emperors. This historian's works, especially "The Antiqui- 7;f the Jews," completed about the year 94, were Y prized resources b,, St erome and other earl church fathers. Y " Y Toward the end of the book Josephus describes :2,urder the procurator Albi"nus, there was "'t etor e a group of judges "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" (Book XX 9.1). This would have been James the apostle, one of the three disciples closest to our Lord, who died as a martyr in the year 44. An earlier mention of Jesus in the "Antiquities" as a miracle worker who rose three days after dying was almost certainly added later by a Christian "copy editor." The first mention of Jesus by a pagan writer seems to be by the Roman historian Gaius Suetonius. In his Life of Claudius (perhaps about 120 A.D.) he writes, "Since the Jews made continual disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome." This is generally accepted as referring to the early Christians and to Christ, though the timing is rather faulty. Claudius was emperor some years after Christ. Question: A PBS television program on the Book of Genesis noted that after Cain killed Abel, God ban, ished him from the territory and marked him some- how. Cain then was afraid that anyone who recognized him would kill him. Who was he afraid of? Who was there to kill him? Cain went east and married and built a great city. How could he marry a non-existent woman? (Mis- souri) Answer: Such biblical dilemmas are another proof that not all, if indeed an), parts of the Bible can be read as straight history in the modern sense of that word. This is true at all stages, but in a p rticular way for the "pre-history" portion of Genes s, generally Chapters 1 to 11. It is the position of the Catholic Church that the Scriptural truth of these stories lies not in their scien- tific accurac); since the writers did not profess to be giving scientific descriptions of creation and early human histor}: They were writing truths of faith: that the world came from the loving hand of God; that humans were created in his image and were meant to live intimate- ly with him; that evil came into creation through human prideful desire to be like GKt; that even then God had plans to restore the broken unit; and so on. We can become tied up in endless conflicts and contradictions of this sort if we don't acknowledge that many literary forms were utilized by the biblical authors to convey their message. " At least, as I say, this is what the Catholic Church teaches, as explained in its official documents on bib- lical interpretation. A free brochure, in English or Spanish, answering questions Catholics ask almt baptism practices and spon- sors is availabh, by sending a stamped self-addtvssed enve- lope to Father John Dietzen, Holy Trinity Church, 704 N. Main St., Bloomington, III. 61701. (Questions for this col- umn should be sent to Father Dietzen at the same address.) Gok/en. dubilarians fiEar. ! e and Wilda (Ste-hens  S_..,=. ^ n " 1 elebrate their eth a_,. p , . u,:, u. ,..ale wtl c a,. O[u'ng anniversary wi a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10 , 19,.:t St. JOseph Church, Dale. They were married Oct. oeiate d l*eJOSeph Church. Benedictine Father Justin Snyder ot St. A y are the parents of three daughters: Linda Holmes They hay* o.ny, and Gall Hurst and Karen Neu, both of Jasper. Oal Cn sx grandchildren Mr Snvder retired from Peabod Oa -. ne is ares" " " ." Y le. dent of Professmnal Care Nursing Center, Ilustrial Insured and Residential p.o. Box 405 Haubstadt, IN 47639 1-800.766.2787 ,1 Bicknell Sandborn Monroe City 00Bank Princeton '  *" Pat0ka FLOWERS & MORE Complete Roral Service IDIEFREE ---i SERVICING ALL TY-WlDE I AREA HOSPITALS LIVERY "J & FUNERAL HOMES (.8,12):24-89:31 1 800 545-7296 Bob Jacobs i110}3, Wcsl Franklin St.. Evavillc i iii _ i i iill i i i Worth mentioning 'Strengthening Marriages' workshops this weekend Mike and Harriet McManus will present workshops Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25, on the theme, "Strengthening Marriages in Southwestern Indiana." The Friday sessions are for pastors and church staff. The Saturday session, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Manor, St. Mary's Medical Center, is for couples and lay ministers. In a recent letter to pastors and parish life coordinators, Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger, said that "Strong marriages are at the heart of a healthy church and I believe we as pastoral leaders should do everything we can to assist our families in this time when our culture is so individualistic." Neighboring parish to celebrate sesqui- centennial St. Plus Church in Troy, Ind., will celebrate its one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary on Sun- day, Nov. 2. Father Joseph Kundek, who served German-speaking parishes in Jasper and throughout the area, had plans drawn up for the first brick church, in 1847. The parish is in the Archdiocese of Indi- anapolis, and Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein will be the principal celebrant at the Mass, Nov. 2, at 10:30 a.m. EST. Dinner will be served at 12:30 p.m., and St. Mary's Choir of Hunt- ingburg will perform a concert at the Church at 3 p.m. Right to Life denounces abortion ruling Right to Life of Vanderburgh County Oct. 15 denounced U.S. District Judge David Hamilton's ruling on an Indiana law that requires abortion providers to give women full, factual information on risks associated with abortion, alternatives to abortion, and abortion procedures. Hamilton ruled that women need not receive this information face-to-face, but can receive the informa- "  ;::,, i  !i.iiT tion through a phone call. "Judge Hamilton's ruling destroys the intent of the law," stated Mike Ficter, Right to Life spokesman. The judge called the information provisions "useless, patronizing and annoying." Fichter calls the judge's comments a clear indication of his agenda and "a clear case of judicial activism." Searching for disciples The Deaf Fellowship for Jesus is searching for volunteers who would "like to become part of a small group of trained disciples who visit the deaf and hard of hearing sick" in the hos- pitals, nursing homes, or at their homes. Call Father Henry Kuykendall at (812) 476- 4646 TTY, or 476-7186 Voice. Anti-pornography campaign scheduled Morality in Media, Inc., has scheduled "Pornography Awareness Week" and the "Tenth Annual White Ribbon Against Pornog- raphy" campaign for Sunday, Oct. 26, through Sunday, Nov. 2. Holy Rosary/St. John is feeder league champion Holy Rosary/St. John won the Memorial Feeder School Football League championship Oct. 19 with a 15 to 14 win over St. There- sa/Good Shepherd. Brian Croce scored two touchdowns for the winners and Daniel Jochem scored twice for St. Theresa/Good Shepherd. In the other game of the day, Andrew Fritz scored the only touchdown as St. Bene- dict/Holy Name defeated Christ the King/Holy Spirit 6 to 0. Individual honors in the league went to Brian Croce for outstanding offensive play and to John Clark for outstanding defense. Evan Rice won the Tom Jones sportsman- ship award. , ....... , I [ i i i]ll "" .... ! '" BUILDING ht_ovi t1 toral Mortga SAVINGS BANK, FSB Evansville, Indiana 101 North Me#,dan Street 2(X) E. Van Trees St., Washington 812-421-7750 Washington. tN 254-36t2 , , 500, MamSt.,Petersburg. . |. .... ,. , -" ." . '.. ",,, . ........ .