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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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4 Jesus, the Messiah/Christ 51


51 Chapter 4 Jesus, the Messiah/Christ orld history as it is normally taught in schools is the history of the devel- opment of civilization. We are, naturally, the civilized people, and we are the point of the story. The Bible tells the story from a different view of what is significant, from the belief that the point of the entire story has been made in the doings and sufferings and triumphs of the man Jesus.”1 To this bold assertion of Bishop J. E. Lesslie Newbigin, we may add the words of the German church historian Karl Löwith: “What really begins with the appearance of Jesus Christ is not a new epoch of secular history, called ‘Christian,’ but the beginning of an end.”2 In the previous chapter we noted Joseph Klausner’s outline of the belief in the coming Messiah as a unique contribution of ancient Israel to the modern world. Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is that promised Messiah.3 This chapter, dealing with Jesus’ messiahship and place in world history, is divided into three main sections: (1) Sources of our knowledge of Jesus; (2) Jesus’ life and work; and (3) Jesus’ identity in his own eyes and in the eyes of the apostles and authors of the Gospels.4 (It should be noted that “Jesus” is the Greek form of “Joshua” or “Jeshua” in Hebrew.) Sources of our knowledge In the first decades of the Common Era, Jesus of Nazareth was known only by oral history. Today...

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