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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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2 World History, World Religions, and Worldviews 9


9 Chapter 2 World History, World Religions, and Worldviews esus Christ is a historical and meta-historical figure: his humanity and his divinity are interconnected. It is the purpose of this chapter to place Jesus of Nazareth in the broadest possible historical context. Later chapters examine in greater detail how peoples have responded to his person and work and how they have seen his place in world history; they also explore the meta-historical issues that are at stake. The chapter opens with a brief outline of world history, followed by a sur- vey based on a division of world history into five periods. Then follows an ex- amination of world history from the perspective of world religions, worldviews, and ideologies. It highlights the differences between peoples that view time and history as cyclical in nature and those that have adopted linear views.1 It also draws attention to fundamental distinctions that have come to the fore in modern times: secular and immanent views versus religious and transcendent views. Explicitly and implicitly these distinctions play a significant role in the present study. Outlining world history The time has long passed when world history could be constructed as the Irish archbishop James Ussher presented it in his Chronologia sacra (1660): he dated the creation of the world in the year 4004 B.C.E. and placed the whole of profane history within the biblical framework.2 Equally outdated is the nineteenth- century construction of world history promulgated by Auguste Comte. This French philosopher and sociologist regarded humanity...

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