Mauro Pesce and Adrianna Desto, Encounters with Jesus: The Man in His Place and Time.

Fortress Press, 2011. Chapter Two

In this section P. and D. offer readers their view of the itinerant lifestyle which Jesus adopted and what that lifestyle choice says about him. They commence We may wonder why Jesus began this way of life. … An anthropological analysis of places and mobility allows us to get a better grasp of his experience. … From this perspective, Jesus’ refusal of a stable residence can be defined as a continuous calling into question of the relationships and the bases of human existence (p. 25). So, there it is, the reason that Jesus became a wanderer. And even more precisely It is, in fact, this absence of a network of pre-existing relationships that gave those whom he met greater freedom to welcome or to reject his message and his lifestyle (p. 27). So what does all this mean? It means that an anthropological examination of the life of Jesus shows him to have been a driven man – a man driven with a sense of urgency and mission who basically just could not be still. But Jesus was not merely a nomad or a traveler or a pilgrim. His itinerant life was totally uncertain and exclude[d] fixed relationships (p. 29). To be sure, he had disciples who traveled with him but the usual fixed relationships of life (home, family, workplace) were abandoned by him in his quest to fulfill his mission. Jesus did not travel. He moved from place to place, he pressed forward. He went quickly – not to see places but to meet persons. … [And because country people could not travel easily, given the fact that they had to tend their farms and families], anyone who wanted to meet the country people had to go where they were (pp. 31-32). At this juncture P. and D. may have buttressed their already overwhelming case by noting the constant use of ‘immediately’ in Mark’s gospel. Mark’s use of that word certainly does portray a Jesus who is ‘on the go’ – which is exactly what our authors wish to show. Having shown Jesus as itinerant in a bold and provocative way, P. and D. do a bit of exegesis on Luke 12:22-28, which they call the ‘code of the itinerant’.

Every day, Jesus starts walking again. He realizes his plan afresh, sustained by his hope in God (p. 33). But, so very interestingly, when Jesus shows up in your town it isn’t exactly a welcome thing. He’s a disruption. Jesus called people from their work to follow him: there was a collision between two trajectories, two practices, two conceptions of time. … Jesus’ time was not cyclical. His itinerancy had unforeseen elements… His conception of time was totally dominated by something urgent: the kingdom of God is close at hand… Jesus had little time, and he could not waste the time that still remained to him (p. 37). What strikes the reader here is the sense that Jesus proclaimed the inbreaking of the kingdom of God by breaking into people’s daily routines and disrupting them: just as God disrupts this world with his world. But Jesus, P. and D. insist, also was a man of solitude. In fact, they see it as immensely important that We must not underestimate the significance of this search for solitude, because it shows us that Jesus was very much aware of being different from others. It is the symptom of his need to situate himself in a space and a time of his own (p. 38). That’s insightful! FurtherHis entire religious experience moved between the two poles of attention to the people and concentration on his own inner life (p. 39). In sum, this particular chapter opens a quite intriguing window on the life of Jesus. It offers readers a perspective which they may not have considered previously and in Historical Jesus scholarship that is quite an accomplishment.

Jim West Quartz Hill School of Theology

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