Albert Nolan’s Jesus before Christianity is a historico-critical reading of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. It allows the reader to see the man Jesus through the lenses of Jews of his time in first century Palestine. Nolan here focuses on the humanity of Jesus and his teachings – the compassion he demonstrated, the company he kept, the solidarity he stood for, and the kind of “kingdom” he inaugurated. Understood in the context of socio-political and religious movements of that period, these highlight Jesus’ courage, audacity, and uniqueness and establish the ground on which faith in Jesus was to grow.
The MA project presented is a translation of this work from the English revised 1992 edition of the text to Filipino. The translation was undertaken in the hopes of contributing to what is presently a very limited selection of Christological literature focused on Jesus’ humanity in the Filipino language. It is written for the intended readership of teachers of adult catechism (whether in the university or parish settings) and spiritual leaders of Tagalog-speaking grassroot communities and can be used to supplement catechetical programs, retreats, recollections and reflection sessions.
In the longer term, the writer hopes to help deepen the faith of Filipinos in Jesus by leading them to a greater appreciation of what kind of a person he was and what he stood for during his earthly life, and how this humanity is constitutive of the Christ-event that would eventually reveal his divinity. Related studies have shown that the Christian spirituality of Filipinos is weak in this respect and that the over-emphasis on Jesus’ divinity without a firm grounding in an appreciation of his humanity has led, in part, to the “split-level Catholicism” of Filipinos. This dichotomy between the spiritual and the daily-life has, in turn, weakened the sense of urgency of the need for a Christian response to the threateningly overbearing social problem of poverty and inequality in Philippine society. Such problems further magnify the significance of promoting a Filipino understanding of Christ that is faithful equally to Jesus’ humanity as it is to his divinity.