A Religious And Historical Take On Jesus’ Life And Meaning

Novelist and biographer Jay Parini takes on the still-unfolding story of Jesus.

An image of a young Jesus in the workshop of St. Joseph in a 1640s painting by Georges de La Tour. (Creative Commons)

An image of a young Jesus in the workshop of St. Joseph, from a 1640s-era painting by Georges de La Tour. (Creative Commons)

Two thousand years on, and Jesus is still in the news.  The Pope, of course, cites Jesus – but afresh now as he talks about Capitalism and Marxism and inequality.  Megyn Kelly on Fox News lights up the social media world with her commentary on Jesus being white.  And of course, on every church door and mall decoration and pop radio station now, the signs and sounds of Christmas.  Christmas, as in Christ.  Novelist, poet, biographer Jay Parini is writing about Jesus lately.  The man.  His time and teaching.  And the story that inspires a faith.  This hour On Point:  the still-unfolding story of Jesus.

– Tom Ashbrook


Jay Parini, professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College in Vermont. Author of “Jesus: The Human Face Of God.” Also author of “The Passages of Herman Melville,” “The Apprentice Lover” and ‘The Last Station: A Novel Of Tolstoy’s Final Year.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Daily Beast: Who Was Jesus, Anyway? – “Who was Jesus anyway? After twenty centuries, there is not much anyone can agree on. The four canonical gospels don’t measure up to modern standards of biographical writing, and—outside of this material—there is precious little contemporary evidence, apart from a few glancing mentions of Jesus or the movement centered on him. In truth, Jesus did not, in his own time, attract much notice.”

The New Yorker: Who Am I To Judge? – “‘Who am I to judge?’ With those five words, spoken in late July in reply to a reporter’s question about the status of gay priests in the Church, Pope Francis stepped away from the disapproving tone, the explicit moralizing typical of Popes and bishops. This gesture of openness, which startled the Catholic world, would prove not to be an isolated event. In a series of interviews and speeches in the first few months after his election, in March, the Pope unilaterally declared a kind of truce in the culture wars that have divided the Vatican and much of the world. Repeatedly, he argued that the Church’s purpose was more to proclaim God’s merciful love for all people than to condemn sinners for having fallen short of strictures, especially those having to do with gender and sexual orientation.”

CNN: Seeking The Truth About Jesus — “There are probably as many visions of Jesus, and versions, as there are Christians. Many regard him as their savior, the Son of God sent to Earth to save human beings from themselves. Others see him as a great teacher, a healer or rabbi of extraordinary power, a holy man or prophet who proposed a new covenant between heaven and earth. To some, he represents a new world order, an egalitarian society, a preacher of nonviolence who asked us to turn the other cheek.”

Read An Excerpt From “Jesus: The Human Face Of God” By Jay Parini

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