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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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Epilogue: The Axial Significance of Jesus Christ 379


379 Epilogue The Axial Significance of Jesus Christ o figure in world history has received so many, and so diverse, images and titles as Jesus of Nazareth. In the New Testament one discovers about one hundredfor example, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45)and in the centuries that have followed at least a similar number has been added, with participation from every part of the globe.1 Although Karl Jaspers’s axial period of world history (chap. 2) omitted Jesus of Nazareth, the many titles attributed to him point to his axial significance.2 Traces of his impact through the centuries can be observed among Christians and non-Christians alike. This epilogue deals with four interlinked aspects of Jesus, the Mes- siah/Christ: his personality, originality, finality, and normativity. It recapitulates previous materials and offers overall perspectives. It recognizes the basic dis- tinction between cyclical and linear views of time and history. As stated by Toynbee, “The interpretation of the rhythm of the Universe as a cyclic move- ment governed by an Impersonal Law admits of an endless series of successive avatars of God, bringing revelation and salvation to His creatures in successive cycles; but the possibility of recurrence is incompatible with the dogma that 1 Theologians such as Friedrich E. D. Schleiermacher, Karl Barth, and Paul Tillich have emphasized the relevance of viewing Jesus Christ as the “last Adam.” A recent academic study focuses upon six other titles, four of which are post-biblical: Martien E. Brinkman, De niet-westerse Jezus: Jezus als Bodhisattva, Avatara,...

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