The Bare Bodkin

Jesus’ Simple Message

When you get intimately familiar with any artist’s work, you become delightedly aware of the development of his style.  I was reminded of this lately while working on a book about Shakespeare; more than ever, I was impressed by the vast difference between the “middle” Shakespearean style and the later style (or styles).

The pithy monosyllables and simple syntax of Julius Caesar (I’m sure you can recite much of it yourself) hardly seem to have been written by the same man who makes King Lear bellow almost incomprehensible things.

We find similarly amazing differences between, say, the early and late string quartets of Beethoven.  Close attention to any creative artist, I suppose, will yield parallel cases.

An observation of Chesterton’s brought this to mind.  In The Everlasting Man, he remarks that Socrates’ death seems to interrupt, rather arbitrarily, conversations that might have gone on forever; whereas Jesus’ death occurs exactly where the salvation story requires it.  Nobody, as far as I know, has ever purported to distinguish between earlier and later styles of Jesus, or to imagine how He might have changed if He had lived longer.

All four of the Gospels tell us the same story.  Jesus is suddenly arrested and murdered by His enemies, as His friends and disciples flee.  The Crucifixion is not an interruption but a climax. ...

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