segunda-feira, maio 28, 2007

The Transformation of Kinship in the New Testament

by Gabriel Andrade

One of the most challenging questions asked of Jesus is to be found in Matthew 22: 23-30, Mark 12: 18-24 and Luke 20: 27-35. The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, address Jesus, telling him the story of a widow who, because of the Levirate law, ends up marrying seven brothers sequentially. "In the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her" (Matthew. 22: 28). The Sadducees wish to embarrass Jesus by driving him to a logical jam, attempting to show the impossibility of resurrection. But, Jesus answers: "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew. 22-30).

Jesus manages to overcome the challenge of the Sadducees and affirms his prescription of love. The Sadducees only think in terms of mimetic rivalry: if the Kingdom of God exists, it is threatened by the brothers’ jealousy over their wife. Jesus’ answer is a way, once again, to proclaim a Kingdom free of mimetic rivalry: brothers who shared a wife will not be rivals, because there are no husbands and wives in the resurrection: only angels all participating of God’s love.

This is a most important passage for mimetic theorists and Girardians. It further proves Jesus’ program of love, placing emphasis on the need to avoid mimetic rivalry. But, the passage is also significant for another important reason: it is one among many passages that display a reaction against traditional concepts of kinship. (...)

Jesus has come to bring the sword and not peace. His message is profoundly apocalyptical, for in a world where once the truth is known, sacrifice no longer works, and the cultural institutions it supports come tumbling down. Perhaps one of Jesus’ most disturbing words are to be found in what is known as the "Little Apocalypse" in Mark 13. There, he announces the terrible violence that the world will bear. One of the most eerie announcements is: "And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents, and have them put to death" (Mark 13: 12).

For Raymund Schwager, this passage was of capital importance for his biblical hermeneutics: "At the end of time, conflicts among human beings will become so severe that even the most intimate family relationships will be incapable of healing the rifts, or even of covering them up. To be sure, deadly persecutions within families are not mentioned in general but only in connection with the gospel. But this could very well become the occasion for special enmities, precisely because it uncovers the hidden truth among family members as well as among others" (2000: 149). Even the core of society, the family, will be threatened by the gospels’ revelatory power. Kinship will no longer function, for it is based upon a sacrificial violence that the gospels have made ever more difficult.

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