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From four gospels forward to many Jesuses

Many interpretations tend to create the subject’s portrait in the author’s own image. Irenaeus applies the four living creatures not only to the evangelists themselves, but also to their portraits of Jesus: the four symbols are ‘images of the disposition of the Son of God’, depicting something of the meaning of Jesus – the lion his royal power, the ox his sacrifice, the human his human coming, and the eagle his Spirit (Against the Heresies, III.11.8–9). Just as you cannot have history without interpretation, so you cannot have biography without characterization. When the subject has changed the author’s life, and the author writes to change the reader’s, interpenetration of author, subject, and reader are inevitable. When the author believes that the subject is still alive and inspiring his writing, creative development will ensue. In fact, there is something elusive about Jesus of Nazareth; as the authorities discovered, just when you think you have nailed him down or even piled large stones on top of him, he has a tendency to pop up again in unexpected places!…

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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