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Theme – Our Jesus, Their Jesus
Your job is to interpret, in your own words, what the following statements and claims might entail for one of the first nine chapters of R. S. Sugirtharaja’s Jesus in Asia. In other words, write a well-organized, argued, and theoretically persuasive essay about the nature and significance of just one of these “Asian re-imaginings” of Jesus’s life.
More specifically, argues Sugirtharaja, with regard to such re-imaginings:
What runs through them are the “interventionist possibilities” of postcolonial thinking, where knowledge generated by the colonizer meets up with a refusal of the colonized to accept the colonizer’s view that the colonized are innately inferior to them. (8)
And thus Sugirtharaja asks:
Is it possible to write about a continent and its portrayals of Jesus without reducing its regional, religious, and cultural complexities into a single version of truth and reality? (10)
Seeming to answer his own question, Sugirtharaja states near the end of his study:
It is almost a cliche to say that everyone fashions a Jesus to meet their own needs, and unconsciously imitates the very Jesus they conjure. (248)
Hence, Surgirtharaja states emphatically:
These Asian thinkers…were relentless in their affirmation that “God lives and reigns far beyond… [Jesus’s] own little neighborhood.” All of them believed, to use the words of Pandipeddi Chenchiah, that Jesus could not be “understood in a single context.” (254)
Therefore, Surgirtharaja concludes:
Whereas [Albert] Schweitzer solemnly pronounced that Jesus refused to be “detached from his own time,” these Asian interpreters were trying to drag him into their time and context. Their aim was to extricate Jesus from his historical moorings so that he could live at any time, including in the present. What they were looking for was not the Jesus of “then” but a Jesus of “now.” (256-7)
Please feel free to creatively and critically utilize all resources provided thus far by the course, including the centrality of Sugirtharajah’s Jesus in Asia, daily lectures, as well as any image/video material shown in class thus far. Of course, you may use outside resources – just cite appropriately.
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