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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

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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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9 From World War I to the End of World War II 225

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225 Chapter 9 From World War I to the End of World War II n the eve of the twentieth century, as Vladimir Lenin and his associates organized support for the communist manifesto, a British writer claimed that Jesus was “the first and greatest socialist the world has ever seen.”1 Karl J. Kautsky’s Foundations of Christianity (in German) (1908) declared that Jesus must be understood as a proletarian, while Houston S. Chamberlain’s Founda- tions of the Nineteenth Century (in German) (1899) turned Jesus into an Aryan Christ.2 Two decades later, Alfred Rosenberg, who would ultimately become Hitler’s propagandist for Nazism and its anti-Semitic policy, wrote, “The hatred . . . of the person of Christ, which is found but thinly veiled in the works of the Jews today . . . has reached its summit in the systematic persecu- tion of Christians by the Jewish Bolshevik rulers in Russia. . . . Only excessive Christian tolerance could believe that the gulf between [Christ and Judaism] could be bridged. There can be no peace between Christ and Antichrist; either the one or the other must conquer.”3 The transformation of the gospel on behalf of political ideologies did not start with Lenin and Hitler. Since Constantine, Christians and non-Christians alike have co-opted Christ’s name for political purposes, with the end result of 1 James Leatham, Was Jesus a Socialist? (London: Twentieth Century Press, 1896), p. 3. Leatham made his claim even as he acknowledged that Jesus’ teachings focused on indi- viduals rather than on society as a whole. 2...

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