The Life Of Jesus

Anti-Climacus thus emphasizes once again that it is the abased Christ who issues the invitation to all to come unto him, and it is precisely this combination of abasement and divinity that creates the possibility of offence at him. To illustrate this claim, he constructs an imaginative mini-history of the life of Jesus divided into two periods (PC 40-56). In the first period Jesus is portrayed as being idolized by the crowd but doubted, scorned, and scoffed at by the established order, represented in Anti-Climacus's account by persons from the (Danish) cultured elite: the sagacious and sensible person, the clergyman, the philosopher, the sagacious statesman, the solid citizen, the witty scoffer. These personages are mystified by Jesus but nevertheless reject him because he does not conform to their various preconceptions of what an extraordinary person should be like or do and because it is 'sheer madness' and a 'delusion' on his part to consider himself to be God (43, 49). In the second period of Christ's life all their predictions come true, as the people turn away from him and he comes to no good end, walking straight into the trap laid for him by the established order. Assuming for the moment that Christ was only a human being, Anti-Climacus asks how 'this frightful inverted relation' can be explained, inasmuch as no one, or practically no one, accepted the invitation of Christ but opposed him and put him to death (57). The answer, Anti-Climacus suggests, is to be found in the fact that Christ did not conform to the merely human conception of compassion and human misery but exhibited divine compassion in the 'unlimited recklessness' with which he concerned himself with the suffering of others (58). People are prepared to show compassion to others 'to a certain degree', he notes, but 'To make oneself quite literally one with the most wretched (and this, this alone is divine compassion)' is 'too much' for them (59). They are thus offended at the loftiness of Christ, which they are prepared to believe in at a distance for an hour or so when a poet or orator depicts it to them but certainly not when it is manifested in actuality, in their daily life.

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