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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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6 History

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Jesus has been in the temple of Jerusalem for the better part of the day, speaking to assembled crowds and surprising his new listeners (those who are visiting Jerusalem from the diaspora) with a teaching they have never heard before; they are astonished by his new and unparalleled doctrines and ones that cannot be separated, in part, from his previous acts in the temple and the disruption of the sacrificial system.

He has returned to the temple at the most opportune moment, when both fellow Jews who are dispersed throughout the empire and gentiles (merchants, for example) have converged on the city of Jerusalem during the feast of Passover. Uncompromising and intent on bringing his ministry to a culmination, Jesus’ presence in the temple, and his role as a teacher, remains defiant and he surely expected there to be repercussions from the people who have been aware of his activities from the beginning. Jesus knows his acts have been provocative to the extreme. His confrontation with the moneychangers and the sellers of animals has been full of rage, physical and on the verge of violence. The rumors of the incident are everywhere and the unprecedented act has come to the attention of the authorities who now have one more reason, a judicial one, to arrest and bring him to trial. With Pontius Pilate in the city, there may no more opportune moment. The repudiation of the sacrificial system was simultaneously an attack on Judaism and on...

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