At the Origin of the Christian Claim

At the Origin of the Christian Claim

Translated by Viviane Hewitt
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    At the Origin of the Christian Claim
    Book Description:

    Giussani argues that if we accept the hypothesis that the mystery entered the realm of human existence and spoke in human terms, the relationship between the individual and God is no longer based on a moral, imaginative, or aesthetic human effort but instead on coming upon an event in one's life. Thus the religious method is overturned by Christ: in Christianity it is no longer the person who seeks to know the mystery but the mystery that makes himself known by entering history.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6709-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    David L. Schindler

    At the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini in 1982, Pope John Paul II stated that “the basic human drama is the failure to perceive the meaning of life, to live without a meaning.” He went on to say that this failure indicated a failure to know the totality of the human person's resources - “those of an external nature, those of human nature itself, and finally the supernatural resources open to the person in Jesus Christ.”

    It is difficult to exaggerate our need today for pondering anew the basic human drama as identified by the pope. Does life...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
    Luigi Giussani
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    To approach Christianity means to approach a problem concerning the religious phenomenon. To consider Christianity in a way that is not somehow reductive depends on the breadth and depth of one’s perception and consideration of the religious fact as such. If, therefore, my aim is to discover how Christianity emerged, we need to review certain decisive features of the religious sense in general. Of what does this religious sense, the religious dimension in life, consist? Or, rather, what is the content of the religious experience?

    The religious sense, as outlined elsewhere,¹ is nothing more than man's original nature, by which...

  6. 1 The Religious Creativity of Man
    (pp. 11-20)

    Faced with the ultimate enigma, man has sought to imagine, to define such a mystery in relation to himself, to conceive, therefore, of a way of relating to it, and to express all of the aesthetic reflexes aroused by his imagination of the Ultimate.

    In his celebrated analysis of the various forms of the religious experience, the theologian and religious historian Rudolf Otto highlights the phases and content of that experience: the sense of a created being in the presence of themysterium tremendumandfascinansexpressed by the wordsqadosh, hagios, sacer.In this approach, man intuits a first facet...

  7. 2 The Need for Revelation
    (pp. 21-28)

    When faced with his destiny, with his ultimate meaning, man imagines its ways, which are the projection of his resources. But the more serious his reflection and emotions, the more he suffers from the ultimate enigma, like a storm of uncertainty, or the loneliness of bewilderment. Only the divine itself can adequately help the man who recognizes his existential impotence, that hidden divinity, the mystery which somehow becomes involved with man's trials, enlightening and sustaining him along his pathway.

    This cannot be anything but a perfectly reasonable hypothesis, that is, corresponding to the impetus and coherent with the openness of...

  8. 3 The Enigma as a Fact Within the Human Trajectory
    (pp. 29-35)

    Man’s demand for revelation sums up the condition of his spirit in conceiving of and realizing the relationship with the divine according to the alternative that this diagram expresses.

    The horizontal line represents the trajectory of human history, above which looms the presence of an x: destiny, fate, the ultimate something, mystery, “God.”

    Throughout the trajectory of history, in theoretical and practical terms, humanity has sought to comprehend the relationship binding its contingent reality, its ephemeral point, and its ultimate meaning, to imagine and live the link between its own transitory nature and the eternal. Let us suppose that the...

  9. 4 How the Problem Arose in History
    (pp. 36-48)

    There is a fact of history that claims to be the very realization of the hypothesis that the mystery penetrated the trajectory of history as an inherent and therefore earthly, human factor. We have seen that the further removed religious genius is from this claim, the more authentic it is. We now find ourselves faced with a religious phenomenon which instead is based on this very claim. Let us first reflect on the information that has been transmitted to us in the form of recorded data, and then we will explore the content of the claim.

    We have inherited an...

  10. 5 A Profound Certainty in Time
    (pp. 49-58)

    Let us observe now how the exceptional nature of the encounter was confirmed, how an impression, albeit laden with proof, became a conviction.

    Following the initial encounters, Jesus continued to live as he always had, like everyone else, in his own home, busying himself with his daily affairs. But those three or four men who had been so struck by him, had become his friends, visited him, and fished together. The second chapter of the Gospel of John recounts an invitation to a wedding. As was the custom, the guest brought friends, and since Jesus and his mother had been...

  11. 6 The Pedagogy of Christ’s Self-Revelation
    (pp. 59-69)

    Until now, we have sought to identify the psychological context and the historical moment in which, according to the Gospel texts, the “Jesus” problem arose. Jesus’ behaviour and actions were so exceptional that even the evidence of his family background, his personal history could no longer define him. And so the question arose: “But who is he?” Let us return to this point. Those who first raised this question knew him well. They were his friends, in his company. They went home with him. It is precisely the emergence of this question amid such human familiarity that is symptomatic of...

  12. 7 The Explicit Declaration
    (pp. 70-79)

    In the itinerary we have followed until now, I would like to stress the methodological aspects of how the Christian problem presents itself, the dynamism which brought it into being, because this dynamism has never changed over the whole span of history. In other words, the behaviour and attitude of this man were such that the more people stayed with him and followed him, the more they felt impelled to ask: “But what makes him the way he is?” So that at a certain point the question burst forth. In recalling the concept of moral certainty (cf pp. 4off), we...

  13. 8 Christ’s Conception of Life
    (pp. 80-98)

    1) We do not directly realize a person’s true worth, unless we see it with our eyes. What is within a person can be understood to the degree in which it reveals itself - and it reveals itself through “gestures,” as if by signs. They could be compared with symptoms which, for a doctor, are manifestations of a reality not directly perceptible to his observation. The more ingenious the doctor, the more capable he is of assessing the symptoms. So, to understand and judge the value of a person by his gestures, it is necessary to have “genius,” “human genius.”...

  14. 9 The Mystery of the Incarnation
    (pp. 99-108)

    Throughout his public life, Jesus demonstrated his profound capacity for dominion over nature. Nature obeyed him, as a servant obeys the master of the house. And we have also highlighted how those people who were without prejudice, without preconceived hostility, inevitably stood in awe of this daily spectacle.

    Let us stress this once again: Jesus’ power was not sporadic. If we were to deny or remove from the Gospels the miracles Jesus worked, we would be left with almost nothing of the very fabric of his public life. Moreover, Jesus worked miracles with sovereign serenity. He needed nothing: he healed...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 109-116)
  16. Subject Index
    (pp. 117-126)
  17. Author Index
    (pp. 127-127)