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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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12 Presence and Representations of Jesus Christ in World History 355


355 Chapter 12 Presence and Representations of Jesus Christ in World History hen existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers published his Origin and Goal of History, in which he highlighted the all-important axial period of world history, he gave no attention to Jesus of Nazareth. The time period of Jesus’ life simply fell outside the designated axial years of 800 to 200 B.C.E. However, Jaspers’s The Great Philosophers (in German) (1957) celebrated Jesus as one of the “paradigmatic” figures of world history. Characterizing Jesus as “the world’s crisis,” Jaspers pointed to his unique emphasis on love for enemies, and his proclamation of “the end of the world and the kingdom of heaven.”1 Arnold Toynbee offered the perspective of a historian. Following his Study of History, he published Christianity among the Religions of the World (1957), in which he foresaw the survival of Christianity beyond the potential eclipse of Western culture.2 The present author joins Toynbee in contending that the living Christ is not bound to the West. He adds that the living Christ is not bound to Christianity as an established religion. Christ has the power to survive all human belief systems, Christianity as religion included. This chapter reflects on the closing sections of chapters 5–10 of this work. The first section considers the presenceand absenceof Jesus as the Mes- siah/Christ in world history. It begins with an analysis of the term “presence” and then places Christ’s presence in a linear perspective, distinguishing his con- temporary presence from his future...

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