The Hidden Jesus by Donald Spoto


The Hidden Jesus: A New Life by Donald Spoto

The book was a healthy read seeing that it helped me understand the views of Jesus from a different angle then myself (Catholic Theologian). One of the reasons I picked up this book is because Spoto is known for writing biographies and I was curious to see how a professional biographer would handle Christ. Although Spoto is a master with words, I don’t think he would argue that the whole canon of Scripture is inspired from Genesis to Revelation.  Spoto does try to highlight specific areas of Jesus life that we just don’t know that much about. I have included some paragraphs that I enjoyed in The Hidden Jesus.

108 – “But randomness does not necessarily imply purposelessness; what we call chaos may not be disorder at all, but rather a clear sign of the limitations of our comprehension. Our sense of what is proper pattern and order may, in other words, not be the only sense of pattern. A random moment—an exception in the expected order of things—then becomes the carrier of an even greater significance than the pattern itself. Ordinary human experience validates this approach. In our own individual histories, is not a moment of apparent accident or chance often later seen as the bearer of great significance and even as the beginning of a new stage of life? If I did not attend this school at such a time, for example, I would not have had this inspiring teacher, taken this important course of study or gained this lifelong friendship. If your parents had not met at such and such a moment, they would not have become your parents. If you had not attended this or that meeting, you would not have met the love of your life or begun an important career. It is no exaggeration to assert that the most important elements of human life and love are as dependent on what we might be called purposefull accident as on deliberation, intent and goal-directed action. The French novelist and playwright Georges Bernanos put it well: ‘Ce que nous appelons hasard, c’est peut-etre la logique de Dieu’–What we call chance may be the logic of God.”

143 – “Jesus is very much aware that those who ‘lust in the heart’ —who intend to translate desire into mere selfish gratification–will lose themselves in the bargain; they will have no higher frame of reference for their actions than the pursuit of pleasure. If alcohol or food, sex or influence become addictive, if they control us, we have to employ radical surgery, just as a gangrenous limb must be amputated, the body invaded with a scapel so that disease  may not destroy, or tons of infected hamburger recalled so that people will not become ill. Extreme measures are thus often called for in the world of the body: is the life of the spirit less important….There is a modern mania about purity in foods, an obsession with weight, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, exercise—all of them legitimate issues, to be sure. But while there is high energy spent on what goes into our mouths, where is the concern for what goes into our eyes and ears, for what feeds the spirit? There is so much that is lovely to see, hear, read, behold: why are we so often indifferent to the violence and ugliness that assault and diminish us, often in the name of news or entertainment? In the name of freedom, perhaps something of our humanity is chipped away when we claim so proudly that nothing offends us. A very great deal ought to.

149 – “One of the most powerful examples of forgiveness emerged from an experience of such horror that it is difficult for us to imagine. During the Holocaust, countless children were exterminated at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. When the place was at last liberated, a piece of paper was found, placed with the body of a dead child; on the paper were words written by an uknown dead prisoner: ‘O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us—remember instead the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when those who have inflicted suffering on us come to judgment, let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.’

245 – “The Jesus whom faith proclaims as the Lord of the universe is no longer defined and limited by time and space, as he was during his life in the flesh; he is, however, accessbile to human beings who are still defined by time and space. And if some reply that the only way for an ‘intelligent person’ (whatever that means) to accept the Resurrection is to reduce it to something only historical and verifiable, then we are in the realm of what the American Scripture scholar Luke Timothy Johnson has called ‘epistemological imperialism,’ a denial of any realm of reality outside one’s control—which is neither good history nor good science. Such objectors have made a prior judgment that material explanations are the only rational, sound justifications for everything in reality. The problem with this narrow perspective is that it has no room for artists, poets, composers, for those who give their lives to another in love and for those who give loving lives of service to many. The language of faith, like that of the poet, the lover and the mystic, does not simply relate secular facts about what occurred in history at a particular moment in time. Faith experiences and speaks of the divine initiative and intervention in the world, and that claim (as the distinguished Jewish Talmudic scholar Jacob Neusner has said  ‘does not come before the court of secular history, to be judged true or false by historians’ ways of validating or fasifying ordinary facts.'”

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