Since the beginning of time, people have come up with many proposals and ideas in a bid to expose the true identity of Christianity as a religion. This implies, Jesus, the main man behind this religion, has received varied portrayals. It is interesting though how this portrayal has continued to change with time. This paper shall therefore involve a comparison of articles in order to explore how Jesus and Christianity has been presented since the high middle ages till today.
The following are two excerpts for Hildegard’s Scivias: its mouth is gapping downwards in order to pull down by deception those who are tending towards celestial regions but it is lying down because the son of God (Jesus)destroyed so much of its strength that it cannot stand up……..the second quote form the documents goes thus:…its head has been so crushed that the left side of its jawbone is dislocated . This means that his pride was so overthrown by the Son of God that even the enmity of Death is already destroyed and cannot exert its full strength of bitterness.
The two quotes above gives a unique depiction of Jesus, as the ultimate warrior who defeated the beast and offered back freedom and redemption to man(Salvation). He has taken so much power form the beast that it cannot stand. This implies the fighter Jesus, fighting for the children of his Father. Hence form this depiction, his ministry on earth wholly involved countering the devil on behalf of mankind a mission which he eventually accomplished on the cross.
The following are quotes from Bernard’s “The sermon on the song of songs”
….thus you became a savior both of men and beasts, so countless are your mercies…..how precious your name….the instrument of salvation…if it lacked saving power, it would not have won me and what wonder if the name of the bridegroom is poured out, he himself is poured out, he emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave… the other excerpt which has a close connection with the above is….run then O pagans for salvation is at hand, the name is poured out which saves those who invoke it..
From the above portions of the written material, we get to meet the savior Jesus once more. The only difference this time is, he is not saving by defeating the beast but by dwelling the hearts of those who believe in the power of his name. In this case, he is depicted as all powerful and much of this power is so hidden in his name that those who mention it are saved. In both cases, Jesus has been depicted as the savior although the aspects come in different angles going by the contents of the two materials. The aspect of the spiritual marriage between Jesus and the Christians is also emphasized in the materials especially by Bernard who repeatedly refers to him as a bridegroom.
Jesus in during the later middle age
In this portion of the paper, I will analyze some excerpts from Mirandola’s “Oration on the dignity of man”, some of the portions have been highlighted below.
God the Father, the supreme architect had built this cosmic home we behold…..the region above the heavens he adorned with intelligences….and the excrementary and filthy parts of the lower world, he filled with a multitude of animals…..but the craftsman kept wishing there was some one to ponder the plans of so great work (that is man). From yet another portion of this work, the story goes thus,. But there was not among is archetypes that from which he could fashion a new offspring….nor anything which he could bestow to his new son as an inheritance…..
The above two portions of the work by Mirandola bring out one aspect so clearly that noticing it is inevitable. Jesus during he later middle ages was slightly pushed away form the picture. He appeared as a distant figure. In this case, the only dominant relationship is that one between God the Father and man his creation. This implies, not much of about Jesus has been explored rendering him almost inexistent. Perhaps one can believe that in this case, he is God himself because he isn’t appearing anywhere.
It is possible to identify the distinction in the way Jesus and his work was presented during the high and the later middle ages. For instance, in the high middle ages, the aspect of the masculine, savior Jesus is dominant. He is portrayed as the one who fought and defeated the devil. On the other hand, the later middle age almost pushes him behind the scenes and portrays Jesus not as a masculine figure. Perhaps he is the God of grace a God of life who is both inner and spiritual.
Excepts from the shack give another impression of who Jesus is according to the way he has been presented today. For instance, on page 178 while answering Mack’s question, he says….its simple Mack, its all about relationships and simply sharing life at the same time on page 192 Papa says this about Jesus…..through his death on the cross, I am now fully reconciled to the world…. From the two portions of this text, it is notable how much Jesus is fully brought back to the scene.
In the story, he mostly appears while in conversations with Mack. This can be interpreted thus; he is moving with Mack through his pains and changes hence the Lord with us. At the same time, Jesus is still being presented as that perfect link between man and God, the sacrifice through which Man got reconciled with God the Father. In addition, Jesus is still presented as the one behind salvation and liberation. In this case, his salvation is a little bit more specific, salvation form the pains and sufferings of the world.
Compared to the prior presentations of Jesus, he is today seen as a savior in a deep spiritual connection with those who believe in him. It is totally different from the way he was presented in the later middle age where he seemingly was pushed away from the people and simply prevailed as a distant figure. In the current world, he is with us, making the steps with, helping us through the daily challenges of life and answering our many questions of life either through the word or by answering our prayers.
1. Mohler, A (2008): A Look at The Shack. The New York Times
2. Young, P(2007): The Shack. New York: Windblown Media
3. Hozeski, B (1995): Hildegard Bingen’s Mystical Visions. Santafe: Bear and Company.
4. Farmer, S (1998): The Evolution of Traditional Religions and Philosophical Systems. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
5. Bookser, J (1997): Finding The Historical Jesus. Yale: Yale University Press.
6. Holdsworth, J (2008): Commentary on the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Context. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.