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1.      1. How would you define a prophet and who would you identify as a prophet in our day?
 
For me, a prophet is someone who brings an important, albeit usually uncomfortable, message to a certain group of people in a certain time. Prophets can be of the traditional spiritual sort (biblical prophets, gurus, etc.), but don't necessarily have to be. Someone today bringing to the world the uncomfortable message that we must change course in order to avoid the more extreme consequences of climate change would be a sort of environmental prophet.

2. Do you believe that archaeology and science can prove or disprove the Gospel message? Why or why not?
 
Neither archaeology nor science can either prove or disprove the Gospel message, because the truth of the Gospel, as far as I'm concerned, is rooted not in historical fact, but rather spiritual truth, which last outside and beyond history. If we approach the Gospel from a fundamentalist/literalistic perspective, the existence of a historical Jesus and the reality of a physical resurrection are of utmost importance – if Jesus did not exist or the resurrection did not happen (whether because Jesus died and remained dead, or because he survived the crucifixion) the whole basis of the Christian faith is destroyed.  This explains why fundamentalists often fear and oppose science.
 
If, however, we approach the Gospel from a mystical perspective (as did the Gnostics and as do esoteric Christians to this day), historical detail becomes less important, as the Christ message is allegorical and archetypal: the birth, death and resurrection of Christ embody eternal spiritual truths; events occurring in eternity, not in history. This message can neither be proved nor disproved by science or archeology.
 
3.      3. What role did the Apostle Paul play in the founding of Christianity? How would you characterize his teachings?
 
Paul is a very complicated figure. Some readings (orthodox) of Paul suggest intolerance, rigidity and moralism, while others (gnostic, mystery tradition) suggest more mystical, esoteric leanings. Yet, if we disentangle Paul from the orthodox interpretive tradition and the synoptic Gospels, we can see a more spiritual, universalized vision of the Christ teaching, detached from historical events and figures.
 
Whether we see Paul's message as an orthodox one or a gnostic one, it is nonetheless difficult to envision the Christian religion without Paul's writings. Paul's was so active in promoting his vision and such a prolific writer that some scholars have attributed the creation of the Christian religion to Paul. And given that Paul's writings are the earliest documents in the New Testament canon (thus having the potential to influence all the Gospels and other subsequent writings), it is practically impossible to reconstruct a Paul-less Christianity and come up with anything resembling today's Christianity (whether Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox).
 

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