By Luigi Giussani
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Additional info for At the Origin of the Christian Claim
If God had manifested a particular will in a particular way in human history, if he had charted a pathway of his own leading us to him, the central issue of the religious phenomenon would cease to be man attempting to imagine God, even though this attempt is the greatest expression of human dignity; instead, the whole issue would lie in freedom's pure and simple gesture of acceptance or rejection. This is the overturning of the method. No longer is the focal point the striving of the intelligence, the drive of the will to construct, the stretching of the imagination, the weaving of a complex moralism.
It is a betrayal of the one Gospel, which is, as the opening lines of St. Mark say, the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark i: i). Fr. Pierre Rousselot (1915) put it admirably when he wrote over fifty years ago: 'Christianity is based on a fact, the fact of Jesus, the earthly life of Jesus. Even today, Christians are those people who believe that Jesus still lives. ' "10 A fact is a criterion that everyone can grasp. We can encounter a fact, come face to face with it, providing we have placed ourselves favourably in order to see it.
5 Now that we have confirmed that we are not dealing with a shorthand record, a word-for-word account, or a draft of a news report, we must confront the object as it appears - as a memory and an announcement - in order to understand it. We must face it in its totality and ask ourselves: "Is it plausible? " Any other method would evade the object as it is today and would, therefore, be applied to something, that was, in the final analysis, non-existent. The full futility becomes apparent of the efforts of those exegetes - whether they are believers or not - who strive to achieve something like a "neutral" photograph and tape-recording of the historical Jesus.