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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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8 The Resurrection


“It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus’ last words may be relief as much as accomplishment.

The events to follow after his death on the cross, as reported by all four gospel writers (and whatever its history, real or mythic) create a remarkable testimony that, despite its compelling meaning as all the followers of Jesus understood it at the time, was by no means unanimous. The resurrection of Jesus (as an event to be thought, more than merely believed or denied, as if could be reduced to what could be known) is the first challenge all his followers must face; most especially for all those who did not see him, they had to make a once in a lifetime decision based on a proclamation – as Paul so clearly understood and twice repeats.

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:12)? There are obviously some people, within the Corinthian community of Christians, and no doubt in other places as well, who do not believe in the resurrection; belief and doctrine remain suspended, without finality because some attribute the idea to mere superstition, idle dreaming for those unable to accept the most unavoidable reality of all. Jesus has died. They are on their own. Paul leaves us with a doubt experienced by some in the Corinthian community and with his own defense of the necessity of the...

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