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Jesus Christ in World History

His Presence and Representation in Cyclical and Linear Settings- With the Assistance of Robert T. Coote


Jan A.B. Jongeneel

Jesus of Nazareth influenced – and continues to influence – the human community more than anybody else. This study describes and analyzes the perceptions and receptions of Jesus as the Messiah/Christ in six continents from the beginning of the Common Era until today. He appears to be present both within and beyond the traditional borders of Christianity. Individuals and peoples represent him and/or misrepresent him in their cyclical and/or linear settings.


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Foreword and Acknowledgments x


x Foreword and Acknowledgments The concluding years of my academic career have been dominated by the writing of Jesus Christ in World History. To some extent this work is a contin- uation of my 1971 Th.D. study at Leiden University, The Rational Belief in Jesus Christ: A Study of the Philosophy of Enlightenment. This new volume broadens the horizon in that it takes into account not two centuries but more than two mil- lennia; and it deals not only with the Western world but the whole wide world. The appearance of Jesus of Nazareth at the beginning of the Christian or Common era provoked—and continues to provoke—a great range of reactions in all corners of the globe. It is fascinating to see how the world’s peoples have responded to “the most outstanding personality of all time” (Sholem Asch, the Jewish novelist). The present volume aims to describe, analyze, and interpret Jesus Christ’s presence in world history and to note how the human community has responded and represented him through the centuries. At the very center of this study is the tension between two profoundly different ways of looking at time and history: Is history best understood as a repetitive, cyclical process, without direction? Is time essentially unchanging in its ceaseless rounds? Or are time and history fundamentally linear, involving direction and an ultimate goal, as the ancient Hebrew prophets insisted and Jesus himself affirmed? In 2000, the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) at...

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