Monday, 25 July 2011


Desmond Stewart's The Foreigner (1981) is 'A Search For the First Century Christ': a non-fiction (or minimally fictive) account of one possible Jesus -- a 'foreigner' because he grew up in Egypt. Stewart argues he may have been an Alexandrian Jew, who came back to Judea with a strongly Egyptianised, and therefore Hellenized, version of Jewish religion. For instance, he thinks he absorbed elements of 'wholesome sun worship' from Egyptian Hellenism; and that his words from the cross (Eli, eli, lama sabacthani) were actually addressed to elie, elie, the unaspirated vocative of Helios, the sun.

Me, I've sometimes wondered whether he wasn't calling on Elijah (that is, Elias):
In the Gospel of Luke, Herod Antipas hears some of the stories surrounding Jesus. Some tell Herod that John the Baptist, whom he had executed, has come back to life. Others tell him that it is Elijah. Later in the same gospel, Jesus asks his disciples who the people say that he is. The apostles' answer includes Elijah among others. However, Jesus' ministry had little in common with that of Elijah; in particular, he preached the forgiveness of one's enemies, while Elijah killed his. Miracle stories similar to those of Elijah were associated with Jesus (e. g. raising of the dead, miraculous feeding) ... During Jesus' crucifixion, some of the onlookers wonder if Elijah will come to rescue him, as by the time of Jesus, Elijah had entered folklore as a rescuer of Jews in distress.
This is based on the fanciful notion that Christ not only saw himself as a new Elijah, but saw the prophet as a kind of alter ego.

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