I was challenged/comforted by this

January 12, 2010

“”At the heart of the Gospel narratives is a controversy concerning the identity of Jesus Christ. In the Synoptic Gospels, those closest to Jesus regularly misidentify him. I have shown in previous work how the gospel of Matthew is structured around the distinction between disciples (the Greek word mathetes) and those who follow(the Greek word akolouthein and its variations). Often disciples are physically close in proximity to Jesus, yet they often misunderstand his words and actions. An epithet Jesus uses on the disciples on a number of occasions in the narrative “those of little faith.” The ones who most often recognize Jesus’ true identity are apparently minor characters in the stories: a leper, a Roman centurion, the Gadarene demoniac, a paralytic, a hemorrhaging woman, two blind men, a Canaanite woman, and the centurion at the foot of the cross. Within the passion narrative itself the only true followers, the ones who recognize Jesus’ mission and ministry must follow the road to the crucifixion, are Joseph of Aramithea and, most important, Jesus’ female followers. So the Gospels themselves witness to the fact that Jesus’ own idenity is most likely to be recognized by those who live on the boundaries, beyond the pale, and on the margins. These stories give no support to those who would assert that insiders have a unique and incorrigible grasp of the Gospels’ truth. On the contrary, those who are apparent outsiders recognize Jesus’ identity and thereby witness to the truth. Mutatis mutandis we should hardly be surprised if, in our own times, authentic witness to the truth comes not from those who are apparent insiders within Christianity, but precisely from those religious others who too often have been consigned a place beyond the pale of truth but may in fact be carriers of it.”

-Miroslav Volf


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