the fatherless Jesus from Galilee (book review of Fatherless in Galilee)

December 26, 2007

What?

Someone at School

Called you

A bastard…

Illegit…?

 

Is that all?

Tut-tut-tut-tut

Is that why you cry?

Come and sit

On my lap.

 

Now tell me

Who was the greatest Man

That ever lived?

The Saviour

Redeemer

The Light…

King of Kings

The Prince of Peace…

My big boy,

Tell Mommy.

 

What was his father’s name?

Was the carpenter

Really his father?

Stop crying

My love.

            “Pearls of Crying,” from O. P’Bitek’s Song of Malaya (1971)

I’ve been reading Fatherless in Galilee by Andries van Aarde the past few days. Prof van Aarde was one of my lecturers, but in all honesty, most of us were scared to death of the guy. I don’t really know why, but I’m pretty sure he was one of the most-feared lecturers our faculty had seen in the past few days. Nontheless, the guy was absolutely brilliant!

This book has seen a lot of critique, negative critique, supposedly because it would be denying core doctrines, also in the little war going on within the Dutch Reformed Church, together with our little DVD (see for example this or this), the name has been mentioned. But as someone I know once said, you’ll never be able to preach about Jesus in the same way as before after reading the book. This I have found to be true.

Pointing to the role of the fatherless, those who didn’t know who their father was, in ancient Jewish society, van Aarde show that Jesus, being fatherless, would have been considered an outsider, similar to the Samaritans, not been allowed in the temple for example. But whatever society might have said, Jesus considered God to be his father, in spite of the fact that this was not supposed to be “possible” for the fatherless.

Thus, the fatherless Jesus was an outsider, and sides with the outsiders. He didn’t take the role of the traditional “saviour” figure of Jewish society, that would come as a noble, as someone of high status, and bring salvation to the suffering, those of little status. He came as an equal, as an outsider himself, and brought salvation for those that were considered outsiders.

We tend to forget this baby Jesus, this man Jesus. Focusing on an exalted post-Easter, or post-resurrection, Jesus, we tend to think of Jesus as a wise man, a glorious religious leader, a king. But the earthly Jesus was the friend of the poor, an outcast, a brother to the fatherless, but a child of God.

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4 Responses to “the fatherless Jesus from Galilee (book review of Fatherless in Galilee)”

  1. Bertus! Says:

    Uitstekende boek, maar ek dink dit is ‘n sonde om daarvan te hou.

  2. cobus Says:

    mmm… dan’s dit ‘n goeie ding sondes word vergewe


  3. […] popular, because of his participation in historical Jesus research (on which I’ve written here). Van Aarde has recently been showing some interest in emerging literature, wrote a brilliant […]

  4. Egmont Marx Says:

    Where can one buy this book? eggiecathy@hotmail.com


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