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Cross-Shattered Christ : Meditations on the Seven Last Words
Father forgive them; for they don't know what they are doing. Christ's final words from the cross--the seven sayings from the Gospels long pondered by Christians--are both familiar and strange. They are difficult words. As prominent theologian Stanley Hauerwas eloquently says, "We are at once drawn to these words, yet we fear taking them in our hands."
In Cross-Shattered Christ, Hauerwas offers a close and moving reading of each of Christ's last sayings. This small, powerful volume is theologically rich, yet full of humility-meditative, but never "preachy." In true Hauerwasian fashion, the pithy discussion opens our ears to the language of scripture while opening our hearts to a clearer vision of God. Resisting the temptation to "psychologize" or read Christ's words solely through the lens of our own need, Hauerwas avoids taming "the wildness of the God we worship." Touching in original and surprising ways on subjects such as Mary, the incarnation, and our need to be remembered by Jesus, Hauerwas uncovers what he calls the sheer "differentness" of God.
Ideal for Lenten meditation and devotion, Cross-Shattered Christ offers a transformative reading of Christ's words, a reading that goes directly to the heart of the gospel. It bids us "come, draw near, fear not, and behold the mystery and the wonder of Jesus's cross."
This spare and unsparing book of meditations by Hauerwas, a professor of theological ethics at Duke, departs from the style of some of his other work. The theologian's characteristic wit is absent ("There is no humor in these meditations," he cautions readers at the outset), and his usual aggressive style vis-�-vis other thinkers has been considerably muted. However, Hauerwas readers will recognize his customary iconoclasm, emphasis on the Trinity and determination to begin any theological conversation with God, not with human experience. Hauerwas strips down the seven last sayings of Jesus to their barest essence, refusing to psychologize or proffer easy explanations for hard truths. For the third saying ("Woman, behold thy son!"), he points out that the Jesus of the New Testament was nothing if not anti-family, and then launches into an utterly fascinating argument that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is presented as the "new Abraham" throughout the Gospels and the Book of Hebrews. Many readers will find it refreshing to see a Protestant theologian recognize Mary's unique role in salvation and in the church. One note of caution: although these essays are short and the entire book clocks in at right around 100 pages, even serious readers will find that this is not a collection to be consumed in a single sitting. It would make excellent devotional reading for all of Holy Week, using each reflection for a full day's rumination.
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Baker Publishing Group
December 31, 2004
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