RECENT books on Christ have often come from expatriates — scholars who live and teach outside their own Countries. Irish-born James Mackey, who published Jesus the Man and the Myth (1979) teaches in Edinburgh. Jan Sobrino the author of Christology at the Crossroads (1978) grew up in Spain but risked his life lecturing in San Salvador. Edward Schillebeeckx the author of Jesus (English translation 1979) and Christ (English trnaslation 1980) is a Belgian but has spent his academic life in Holland.
Australian Jesuit Gerald O'Collins, 52, who has been teaching full-time at the Gregorian University in Rome sinee 1974 has just published with Geoffrey Chapman (London) his Interpreting Jesus. O'Collins considers the expatriate situation can make theologians less nationalistic in approach and more sensitive to the cultural factors people bring to their interpretation of Jesus and his work.
His study resembles those by Mackey Sobrino and Schillebeeckx in that it presents Christ as the one' who offers redemption to suffering human beings.
Sometimes the whole issue of
redemption was postponed to another volume or even left to other authors. Nowadays more and more theologians agree that it is simply not feasible to discuss who Jesus Christ is apart from what he did and does for us. Significantly the present Pope wrote his first encyclical on Christ. and entitled it Redeemer of Man.
Although O'Collins shares common ground by discussing Jesus simultaneously as both Son of God and saviour of the world, he differs from Mackey, Sobrino and Schillebeeckx in at least three major ways.
First, they construct their studies on the basis of Jesus' ministry as reported by Matthew. Mark and Luke.
Without ignoring that ministry, O'Collins builds his book around Christ's death and resurrection.
Second, he consistently uses liturgical traditions and prayers to illustrate his case. Mackey, Sobrino and Schillebeeckx bypass the liturgy and for the most part draw only from the New Testament.
Third they have little to say About various symbolic elements which can contribute to a comprehensive study of Jesus' divine identity and saving mission.