TIME Magazine columnist Joe Klein reflects on a course he took with religion professor Alan Segal, who passed away over the weekend. In memory of Segal, Klein writes:
"Segal was a delightful lecturer, a world-class Pauline scholar (he believed that Paul, one of the only Pharisees who wrote, had as much to tell us about ancient Judaism as he did about early Christianity). There were several memorable lectures on the social and political forces that accompanied the birth of Christianity. But on the essential question of what Jesus was really all about, Segal was content to show us a clip from the movie Ben Hur, where Charlton Heston is being marched through the desert as part of a chain gang. They reach a small town. As the Roman guard kneels down to rest, a shadow passes across his face. He looks up at a man--Jesus, obviously--offering him a ladle of water; the guard's eyes widen and soften; he is transfixed, then transformed, dissolved into kindness: born again, perhaps. "I imagine it was something like that," Segal said. "Some of us may have met people who inspired us, though perhaps not to so great a degree. Each of us will interpret it as we will.""