Freudian slip

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by Neil Godfrey

Chris Keith writes the following in his review of Anthony Le Donne’s new book, Near Christianity:

Despite my attempts, Le Donne continues to read Mark 15:35//Matt 27:46 as a divine abandonment and says, “Jesus also accused God of abandonment” (166).  I am not afraid of a Jesus who makes me uncomfortable, but I think there’s a better way to read that narrative that makes more sense of the full narrative.

The emphasis is mine. I thought, What a strange thing for a historian of to say! The thought betrays, I think, an unhealthy personal emotional investment in a certain view of Jesus. When an author appears to be coming out and boasting that they are prepared to break with a conventional theological view of their subject it suggests, to me at least, that the field is typically mired in agendas that are far removed from genuine and purely historical interests.



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5 thoughts on “Freudian slip”

  1. A difficult passage indeed. Once we get past that fraction of the readership who don’t recognize Psalm 22, just as Jesus’ spectators didn’t in GMark, we’re stuck with what Psalm 22 is. Complicated. Rich. Perfectly placed within Mark’s composition.

    It is the Invictus hymn from the cave. It really does open with an indictment of God, it ends in vindication, and the reason why Jesus will get no farther in his recitation is that he is slowly suffocating to death under his own weight. All that at once, all captured in the few words possible to a dying man.

    Whoever Mark was, and despite whatever unmet challenges which composition in Greek posed for him, he is a great storyteller, a dramatist of the first order. He places the perfect line on Jesus’ lips.

    I don’t know whether there was a Jesus. I only know what’s on the page. It is magnificent. A plague on whoever would reduce it to a sermon talking point, an either-or instead of a both-and.

    1. It’s not a difficult passage at all for a historian that has no emotional investment in the character. As a matter of fact, there’s no view of Jesus that should be difficult for a historian. That’s the problem: As soon as you encounter a “difficult” Jesus you are no longer being objective.

      1. I have no “emotional investment” in the character who is presented as speaking, and I found the inference of his intention in this passage difficult. It is not obvious how being a historian of all things would help me solve this problem more reliably or more easily.

        That the author Mark depicts his character as having made a difficult-to-interpret brief utterance during an epsiode of severe pulmonary distress (after being repeatedly, if probably unintentionally, cued by those around him to attend to the 22nd Psalm) would not usually warrant the conclusion that Mark’s Jesus himself was “difficult.”

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