Bible: The New Testament
Analysis of Major Characters
Jesus’s identity is complex and changing throughout the Gospels of the New Testament. Jesus is at once a “bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16) and a small child who worries his mother sick because he stays at the temple for three extra days (Luke 2:46). Jesus is called a “glutton and a drunkard” by those who dislike him (Matthew 11:19), and he breaks social boundaries by associating with women and the poor. Jesus tells a man seeking eternal life to “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). While Jesus blesses the peace-makers, the meek, and the pure in heart, he overturns the tables of the money changers in the temple, yelling that they have made God’s house “a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). He is simultaneously a “Savior” (Luke 2:11) and a servant who lowers himself to the ground, washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:5). Jesus is bread (John 6:35), light (John 9:1), and water (John 7:38-39). He is also King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16), and tells a disciple, “[J]ust as you did it to one of the least of these . . . you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).
Simon Peter is one of the most sympathetic characters in the entire New Testament. Peter is determined to be Jesus’s best disciple, but prematurely thinks he understands what it means to follow Jesus. Peter does not believe Jesus’s prediction that he will deny having known Jesus, but Peter’s eagerness is immature, and he does end up denying his friendship to Jesus during the terrifying series of events surrounding the trial and crucifixion. Peter realizes his mistake and weeps bitterly. He is forgiven, and remains the rock upon which Jesus says he will build his church. Peter is a model of faithful discipleship. To this day, the Catholic Church claims apostolic succession from this very Peter, whose faith was as solid as a rock, but who was also at times overeager, afraid, and all too human.
Paul, an extremely well-educated Jew, is living in Palestine when he receives a vision of Jesus and becomes a follower. Paul, however, continues to call himself the “Jew of Jews.” Christianity is indebted to Paul’s tireless toil for the Gospel in the first century, and to his robust intellectual prowess, which brings Christianity from a small handful of fringe-society disciples to a church with a sophisticated theology treating such complex issues as the relationship between faith and works, and the balance between unity and diversity. It is clear that Paul, whom some have called “history’s first egalitarian,” develops an enormous range of church leaders, including many women, in his household churches that peppered the hillsides of the Roman Empire and the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
by godsgirl13, September 11, 2012
This is a great place to start in the bible!
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