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Jesus, Lazarus, and the Messiah

Unveiling Three Christian Mysteries

Charles Tidball With Robert A. Powell

306 pp.  
6" x 9"
Illustrations: 6 b/w



Published:  May 2005


“Humanity as a whole produced evangelists as mediators, who provided revelations that can be understood only gradually. These scriptures will be understood more and more as humanity progresses.”
Rudolf Steiner, 1911

Raphael - Terranuova Madonna (c.1505)At the heart of the mystery of Christianity, we encounter the divinity of Jesus Christ—the revelation of the descent of God from the spiritual world into the material world for the sake of humanity. To unveil the meaning of this cosmic event, authors Charles Tidball and Robert Powell (in two chapters) draw on four very different sources: the Gospels themselves, medieval and Renaissance tradition and art, the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, and the spiritual science, or Anthroposophy, of Rudolf Steiner.

Viewing the former in the light of the latter, the authors unravel three key riddles: the nature of Jesus, the identity of Lazarus and the meaning of his initiatory “raising from the dead,” and the Messianic mystery of the incarnation of the Christ. In the process, much is learned of the actual dating of the Gospel events, as well the repercussions of these events in history.

This is a book for all those who want a deeper understanding of the New Testament Gospels and, especially, for those interested in the “Jesus mysteries.”

  • Foreword by Christopher Bamford
  • Introduction: The Interrelations
Part One: Developing an Understanding
  • Frames of Reference
  • Primary Sources
  • Significant Methodology
Part Two: The Mystery of the Two Jesus Children
  • Biblical Evidence
  • Artistic Evidence
  • Preparation for the Incarnation
  • Alternative Viewpoints
Part Three: The Mystery of the Beloved Disciple
  • Three Different Views on Lazarus
  • From the Scholarship of Dr. König
  • From the Visions of Sister Emmerich
  • The John Mystery (by Robert Powell)
  • The Johannine Tradition (by Robert Powell)
Part Four: The Mystery of the Incarnation of the Christ Being
  • Further Understandings from “Chronicle of Christ’s Ministry”
Further Material:
  • Afterword
  • Appendix:
    • Biographical Material
    • Authenticity of Sister Emmerich’s Visions
    • The Bare-Bones Story (21 BCE–CE 44)
    • Selected Entries from “Chronicle of Christ’s Ministry”
    • Three Excerpts from Irene Johanson’s Book The Three Disciples Called John
  • Glossary
  • Index

Reviews & Endorsements:

By the Rev. Canon Michael Wyatt

Dr. Charles Tidball, principal collator and interpreter of the iconography of Washington National Cathedral, has completed a remarkable study of open-ended dimensions of the story of Jesus in the four Gospels. His explorations move in realms that will not be familiar to many readers, and are all the more challenging and interesting for that very reason.

In many ways, this is a peculiarity of Christianity. For religions dedicated to realization or enlightenment, the probing of subtle meanings is considered essential for full religious expression. These further spiritual insights, when taken in a flat literal (and therefore false) sense, appear to contradict the religion’s teachings. But such distress is only conceivable under certain rational viewpoints which insist that only one articulation can be accurate. In a sense, the contradiction itself signifies that more than mundane factual claims are involved here, that the figure in question far transcends the categories in which we hope to confine him.

No one who has ever paused over the incomprehensible claim that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, and who has studied the Church’s writhing attempts to explicate that claim, should be surprised that the transcendent appears to contradict the evident. Tidball’s book moves beyond orthodox paradoxes to lay out a complex interpretation of the person of Jesus that strives to reconcile textual contradictions (such as distinct genealogies in Matthew and Luke), and to explicate his cosmic significance using sources outside the mainstream of the tradition. The principal task of this book is to weave together these extra-biblical accounts of the life of Jesus in order to examine certain questions that Tidball posits.

Some of Tidball’s potentially startling material falls within the questioning of standard biblical scholarship. Was the “beloved disciple,” for example, Lazarus raised from the dead? It is an attractive suggestion, since the Gospel of John is the only Gospel that mentions this beloved disciple, and it does so only after the raising of Lazarus, who (the evangelist repeatedly asserts) was beloved by Jesus.

Other material, though already known and respected within the Roman Catholic Church, will be unfamiliar to other readers. How, for example, might we receive and incorporate the visions of devout people? Are they private consolations or gifts to the Church? The testimonies of Anne Catherine Emmerich, whose detailed visionary witnessing of the last days of Jesus provided in detail the narrative for Mel Gibson’s film on the Passion, are received by Tidball as credible and reliable; he incorporates them into his reflections.

Some of what is here may baffle and even offend; is it possible that there was more than one Jesus, representing different lineages (Solomon and Nathan), and that this very multiplicity is carrying out the purpose of god to fill all things? Rudolf Steiner, the principal explicator of anthroposophy in the last century, is used as the authority for those claims, by which an extraordinary vision of cosmic spiritual evolution is laid out, in which Jesus Christ is expressly “at the highest levels of the spiritual world.”

Tidball and his co-author Robert Powell offer a remarkable opportunity to consider the inexhaustible meaning of the Christ, particularly seen as the confluence of cosmic intentions for the divinization of humanity—an expectation for us clearly articulated in the great theologian Arthanasius. Not the least of what amazes here is Tidball’s commitment and the consistency of his achieved synthesis.

If nothing else, this book opens doors for us to look in and witness a rapt devotion to Jesus that reaches far beyond the claims of the Nicene Creed. I myself can never fail to be interested in what others say about the Lord I follow and in whose hands I have placed my life, so that I might compare those claims with what I would claim, informed by the more familiar use of Scripture, tradition, and reason.

Cathedral Age, summer 2005

The Rev. Canon Michael Wyatt is a Canon Theologian and Director of Education at the Cathedral College, Washington National Cathedral and a highly regarded teacher and preacher with particular expertise in religious education to both the churched and the un-churched. He serves the Washington National Cathedral as Canon Theologian, focusing particularly on Biblical scholarship and interfaith initiatives.

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