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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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1 Perceptions and Receptions of Jesus Christ 1


1 Chapter 1 Perceptions and Receptions of Jesus Christ esus of Nazareth has had a greater impact on individuals and societies than anyone else in world history. Jews know him as one of Israel’s great children. Christians accept him as the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament of the Christian Scriptures) and Muslims respect him as ‘Isa al- Masih, one of the main prophets of humanity. Jesus is honored also by many people from other religious traditions. An example is found in Mahatma Gandhi, the spiritual and political leader of twentieth century India, who regarded Jesus as the great symbol of the eternal law of non-harming, non-killing, non-violence (ahimsa).1 Moreover, Jesus has influenced not only individual persons and reli- gious communities but also world history as a whole. Our calendars reflect his central importance, as most of the world marks the passing of years in terms of the date of his birth: B.C. (before Christ), or B.C.E. (before Christian/Common Era). The topic of this study is the ongoing interaction between Christianity and non- Christian religions, worldviews, and ideologies in world history, with attention focused on Jesus Christ.2 Through the centuries, individual Christians and Chris- tian communities have had an impact on their neighbors and have likewise been influenced by their surroundings. This study undertakes to survey, analyze, and interpret that interaction. It deals with this theme in the framework of the shift from the cyclical to the linear view of time and history, which was pioneered...

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