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Published: 29-10-2019

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The Shadow Of The Galilean By Gerd Theissen; A Look At The Community, Historical And Spiritual Conditions Of The New Testament Era

Gerd Theissen’s contemporary piece, The Shadow of the Galilean: The Quest of the Historical Jesus in Narrative Form, is recognized for its engaging narrative that explores the social, religious, and historical contexts of the era of the New Testament. Throughout the function, Theissen weaves biblical references and historical citations to give the reader insight into the tensions and turmoil of Jesus’ time. Prior to the beginning of every single chapter, Theissen pens a letter in response to his fictional colleague, Dr. Kratzinger. He utilizes this medium to justify his methodology, while entertaining doubts and objections his colleague raises.

The narrative opens with an introduction to the author and his fictional colleague. In his foreword, which is a letter to Kratzinger, Theissen confirms that he is writing a narrative about Jesus by means of the perspective of the fictional character, Andreas. He counters Kratzinger’s objection by stating that he uses historical sources to create about Jesus and readers can distinguish among truth and fiction by the citations in the text. Lastly, he states his goal is to paint a image of Jesus and the New Testament time that parallels scholarly research and is comprehensible to the readers. In other terms, he wants his work to be historically precise whilst also attractive to the contemporary-day reader. The following paper will summarize and analyze Theissen’s The Shadow of the Galilean, as nicely as critique the strengths and weaknesses of the narrative.

The fictional protagonist who doubles as the principal character, Andreas of Galilee, is initial seen in a jail cell. Andreas had been caught up in the chaotic demonstration of the Jews against Pilate’s tax laws when he was arrested. Andreas then undergoes the interrogation and accusation of the Roman officer. It is there where the reader learns about Andreas’ background. Andreas is from the city of Sepphoris in Galilee where he is a fruit and grain salesman. He is from the upper class, as his father is a decurion in Sepphoris. Soon after the officer’s interrogation, Pilate blackmails Andreas to find data and supply material about “certain religious movements in the country” in exchange for Andreas’ release and freedom from jail. Right after a lot wrestling with the believed of assisting an oppressive man, Andreas accepts Pilate’s offer you. Pilate’s officer, Metilius, then provides Andreas the activity of acquiring data on the Essenes- who they are, what they do, why they live apart from the society, and whether or not they have connections to John the Baptist, who also dwells in the wilderness. Andreas is also asked to get info on John the Baptist- his function, if there is any connection to the Nabataeans, and his followers. Andreas is tasked to travel around receiving the required data, and to send the benefits by army mail or by verbal report to Metilius. Andreas learns about the Essenes from a castaway, exiled Essene named Baruch. Andreas learns that they are a very disciplined community who decide on to live in the wilderness since they think they can greater serve God and obey His commandments there. They do not stick to the Jewish Temple celebrations or the Jewish calendar. The Essenes are “waiting for a miraculous transformation of the world.”

In the meantime, the news breaks out that John the Baptist is dead he was beheaded by Herod Antipas. Antipas imprisoned John the Baptist due to the fact John was telling him that it was unlawful for Antipas to marry his brother’s wife. Andreas visits his friends Chuza and Joanna, exactly where he learns that Herodias and her daughter was behind John’s execution. Collectively, they go over the implications of Herodias and Antipas’ marriage and talk about Jesus of Nazareth, a specific disciple of John the Baptist. Jesus appears to be a lot more radical in his teachings than John the Baptist. After John the Baptist’s death, Andreas, regarding his mission finished, reports to Metilius his findings. To his dismay, Andreas is assigned a second activity from Pilate: to “discover whether or not Jesus is a security danger for the state and regardless of whether he has any connection with the resistance fighters.” Andreas then spends the majority of the narrative researching and gathering information about Jesus from conversing with men and women. He initial goes to Nazareth, exactly where he learns from a poor couple Tholomaeus and Sausanna that their youngest son, Bartholomaeus, left them to be Jesus’s disciple. He learns from them that Jesus is for the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed. Jesus also says issues that are offensive to the populace of Nazareth. Shortly right after, on a company trip to Bethsaida Julias, Andreas is kidnapped and blindfolded by Zealots. It is there that he is reacquainted with his pal, Barabbas, and learns that Simon the Zealot left and followed Jesus. Jesus teaches Simon to love his enemies and to not fight oppression with oppression, but to “not resist one particular who is evil.” In order to assure his release from the group of Zealots, Andreas, in his letter to his parents, writes that he was imprisoned by the Romans. He properly assumed that when the Zealots read his letter, they would be a lot more welcoming. To Andreas’ gratitude, the Zealots read the letter and determined that he was also against the Romans. Prior to they released him, they demanded that he give info to them about the Romans and that he pay a small contribution to them.

The initial strength of Theissen’s The Shadow of the Galilean is seen in the author’s methodology. Theissen inserts citations all through his historical narrative. This is a strength since it gives historical backing to the thoughts, feelings, assertions, and details that Andreas says or hears from other characters in the novel. Also, it enables the reader to “see [the] net of truth and fiction for what it is.” In a sense, this makes it possible for Theissen to establish credibility and acquire the trust of the contemporary audience. The use of the appendix at the finish of the novel is also a strength, as the reader can study and receive a lot more data on the subject matter. Also, the reader can clarify some misunderstandings or confusions that he or she has about the topic at hand. For instance, much more details about Judas’ sons was needed even though reading about his sons carrying out the resistance to the Romans in secret. This data was discovered without having any problem in the appendix, exactly where it offered the sons names, James and Simon, and that they had been killed by crucifixion below Tiberius Alexander.

A weakness with Theissen’s novel is that he pens letters to a colleague, Dr. Kratzinger, who was thought to be actual, but is truly fictional. This is troublesome because it can potentially be biased. The author, Theissen, can impart criticism that is subjective or limited to what he feels Kratzinger would say. The present-day reader could have an totally diverse critique. Also, a fictitious character limits the credibility, or ethos, of the author. Theissen addressed feasible objections that he could formulate an answer to. Nevertheless, there may be other pertinent objections that are equally significant, but Theissen might decide on to ignore or leave them out due to his inability to answer them in a convincing or affordable way.
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