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Jesus, the Unprecedented Human Being

Giosuè Ghisalberti

Does Jesus remain concealed by the very traditions intended to portray him? History and theology define Jesus to be a 1st-century Galilean or the son of God, a man limited by his time and place or exalted as the Messiah and Christ. He has been recognized as a Jewish rabbi or the prophet of a coming apocalypse. The quest for the historical Jesus and theology’s Christ of faith may both be essential and undeniable in the history of scholarship. Secular historians and the Christian church have made their claims. Jesus’ self-conception, however, has been neglected, his consciousness largely ignored. A new interpretation of the gospels presents Jesus as a unprecedented human being who will "utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 13:35) and make their meanings significant for the here and now. Jesus’ life from the virgin birth to the resurrection can neither be reduced to history’s scepticism nor theology’s affirmation. Is it possible to re-imagine the life and words of Jesus? He reveals himself to be a "first-born" who makes possible the second act of creation for every individual no less than for the social world.

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1 The Virgin Birth


The gospel writers open their accounts of the life of Jesus, his biography75 (however incomplete and fragmentary) with different beginnings, with an origin each of them believes to be decisive for the events to follow as they lead to a culmination neither expected nor foreseen. Jesus begins as the pre-creation logos in John, after his baptism of regeneration in Mark, and with two versions of the virgin birth in Matthew and Luke, all four of them complementary and with Jesus coming into the world as an inauguration and leading to a subsequent history for all people who become more than any particularity related to their origin. Girard’s argument is succinct as it is compelling. “In order not to betray Christ’s revelation, one must always keep all four Gospels in mind at once.”76 At once: without simply relying on comparison, the inter-relation of the three Synoptics, or the uniqueness attributed to John in order to single him out (or worse, to separate him) the revelations of Jesus are inseparable from his words and his acts. But when the writers of the gospels are attempting to portray Jesus according to specific needs, for their immediate communities, or in developing the “good news,” they are also relating him back to a three-part tradition in Jewish history – the patriarchal, the monarchical, and the prophetic as irreproachable foundations, even when, in the case of Matthew and Luke, they present the extraordinary origin of his life with a virgin woman who conceives him...

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