The book “The Shadow of the Galilean” was written by Gerd Theissen and published by Fortress Press. The revised edition, with the ISBN 0800639006, was published in 2007. The 232-page text is narrated by a third person and provides a historical fictional account of Jesus’ life. Andreas, a Jewish merchant, is the book’s protagonist, and he begins by telling a relatable story that grabs the reader’s attention. Theissen’s decision to use historically correct incidents in the story is a strategy for making his ideas easier to grasp. The author’s knowledge of the New Testament and Theology and outstanding creativity makes it easier to bring history on the foreground as the events unfolded.
Andreas was supposed to unearth the truth behind the mysteries surrounding Jesus. The effort would be achieved through his historical investigative role and acting as the readers guide. Theissen wanted to develop a historical account of Jesus and present the events in the gospel books in a manner that is reader-friendly. Much of the focus is laid on the facts gathered through the interaction with the people and the direct experiences that he gained. Andreas story begins with getting caught up in a demonstration in which the citizens were criticizing the oppressive leadership under the Roman government. Andreas was unlucky, and he ended up in prison. To get freedom, a Roman officer blackmailed him to act as a spy and thus terminate the prison term without further persecutions. Grudgingly, Andreas accepted and began the first investigative mission in the Jewish community occupying a region in the Dead Sea called Essenes. Through his servants, Andreas was in apposition to understand the Essene community and relayed the information to the Roman supervisor. The official report, however, concealed some facts like the society disliking the Roman leadership doctrines and instead portrayed them as being disciplined religiously.
Later on John, the Baptist was killed alongside other fanatics that were considered as not living according to the Roman rules. Having made a good report about the Essenes community, Andreas was given another task of investigating Jesus of Nazareth who posed a danger to the Roman Empire. To begin tracking Jesus, Andreas used a couple, Tholomaeus and Susanna who gave a distorted account of Jesus teachings and accused him of taking their son away.
Andreas mission was however doomed after he was kidnapped by Zealots and later introduced to the ideas behind the Roman resistance. Later on, he was taken to Capernaum where he communicated with his master (Mathias) who had a sick daughter. The interaction was of utmost importance in revealing Jesus ability and willingness to heal the sick even on the Sabbaths day. Andreas further learned about the Jesus good personality that spread hope to the downtrodden, especially when dealing with the tax collector. In Tiberias, Andreas learned that many people than expected were following the teachings of Jesus like Joanna and Chuza. Jesus good actions and healings drew the attention of many people who openly came out to him to find the truth. Even the skeptical ones change their mind after reading Jesus account and the things that he stood for.
Jesus good account made Andreas present a report to Metilius that avoided statements like healing during the Sabbath day. Andreas wanted to use all the means to minimize the chances of the Romans arresting Jesus. Andreas friend, Barabbus was captured, and he had to propose a way to save him. The plan would only be a success if Jesus was sacrificed instead. After the crucifixion, Andreas and Metilius analyzed the life of Jesus and agreed to follow him. Besides these two, other people who witnessed the phenomena that happened after the death were convinced that Jesus had supernatural powers.
Theissen used the narrative that included the fictional character in order for the readers to navigate through the various scenes involving Jesus. Using the fictional Jewish man was a technique that had not been utilized before, hence an indicator of a high degree of creativity. The author went a mile further to include the relevant information about the culture of the people, an aspect that is captured superficially in the Bible. Although the explanation and the presentation of ideas and events might be awkward, it turns out that the information provided was of utmost importance. A keen reader who is also aware of the narration of the Bible will find out that the description of Jesus was fetched from the Bible. Through how and what a person speaks, it is possible to tell the character or even a stranger. Andreas was in a position to understand Jesus through the technique to make an informed decision of whether he was a threat to the societys order and the then politics surrounding the control of the Roman Empire.
Theissen provided few commentaries in the book in order to leave Jesus teachings and words open to readers interpretations. They can be compared to Andreas and his journey to unearth the truth behind who Jesus was. In many instances when an explanation of the Bible teachings is needed, the information ends up being corrupted, and the inside meaning changed. An in-depth analysis of the book reveals that the author aimed at providing a real account of the narrative in the Gospel books using a fictional character who lived during the time of Jesus. The desire to understand the historical setting triggers curiosity among the reads, making then read the Gospel texts in the New Testament. The choice of the narrative style was essential in giving an insight into what the Sadducees and the Essenes relationship looked like with the Romans. The story is also important in providing views of how different societies perceive Jesus.
The book has noble aspirations although there are some aspects that can be critiqued. Without the understanding the authors real intention, it because different to entertain the ideas presented for what may seem like blasphemy. For many years, religious institutions have been debating the appropriateness of the Authors teaching which is considered as being complex. The creativity and the theological knowledge in the book make the book to be a text worth recommending especially to the to those who would wish to understand the life of Jesus and other religious scholars. The authors technique can also be used to trigger creativity among other artists who wish to present a similar piece. Readers are further advised to lay focus on the Christs divine qualities that make him to get the human respect.
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