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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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If there was ever a crucial period to consider Jesus’ internal struggle, between the routine of his daily life and the anticipation of a future he has envisioned, none may be more appropriate than the weeks and days leading up to an event in his life that has remained known but unexamined; increasing in tension as the moment arrived, Jesus has made an irrevocable decision (at the relatively late age of thirty of so) to leave his family in Nazareth and begin a completely different life. He will be homeless, a vagabond, with a purpose he senses with clarity and determination but also, understandably, some apprehension. The moment allows us to see and recognize the human Jesus, for the difficulty of his impending decision and the struggle of separating himself from his family, the life he has led, now drawn so completely by a calling it could no longer be postponed. Jesus had to act, to fulfill himself. “All the evidence points to a definite, though somewhat mysterious, turning point in the life of Jesus.”117 Although there will be other “turning points,” this one definitive act may be the most important of all.

Without this first decision, Jesus disappears from all recollection.

From the little information we are given, Jesus has been working as a tektōn, a skilled laborer in wood, stone, marble, or metal, perhaps in nearby Sepphoris, about one hour walking distance from his home. His days are long and...

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