Was Jesus Masochist?
On March 21, 2011 At 2:30 pm
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The hypothesis that Jesus was masochist hinges on our interpretation of Jesus' understanding of his messianic mission.
In the first approach, we shall consider, seriously, the possibility that the interpretation of Jesus' messianic mission, primarily in terms of the Suffering Servant prophetic figure of the Deutero-Isaiah, was the retrospective interpretation of the disciples of Christ in the early Christian Church rather than of Jesus himself, in his lifetime.
It is, alternatively, possible that Jesus' self-identification with the Suffering Servant figure of the Deutero-Isaiah was one which dominated his perception only at a late stage in which the inevitable tragic end of his career became obvious to him.
Either of the alternative scenarios above weaken the hypothesis of psychological masochism in Jesus.
The third possible scenario is that in which Jesus' understanding of his messianic career had been dominated by a self-identification with the Suffering Servant prophetic figure right from the beginning. Such scenario would strengthen the hypothesis of a strong element of psychosexual masochism in Jesus' personality.
Given the dominance of the Ancient Jewish notion of the Messiah as a superhuman military commander and savior of Israel, only an individual with a significant element of masochistic psychosexuality would have preferred to identify his messiahship primarily with the Suffering Servant figure of the Deutero-Isaiah.
In the context of the foregoing analysis, any observation that the emphasis on the identification of Jesus with the Suffering Servant prophetic figure was post-resurrection becomes significant.
In the New Testament Gospel of Luke, Jesus' first reference to his career in terms of the Suffering Servant motif is in Luke 9:21, just before the transfiguration and commencement of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Prior to this, there is very little hint of a Suffering Servant notion of his career in Jesus' words and deeds.
The circumstantial testamental evidence would, therefore, appear to weaken the thesis of masochism with regard to the personality of the historical Jesus, for the New Testament portrays a Jesus who became obsessed with his self-identification with the Suffering Servant figure only at a late stage in his career in which the inevitability of failure might have become self-evident.
The foregoing argument, however, does not exclude the possibility that gradual intensification of masochistic preoccupation occurred in Jesus as his messianic career progressed. It would be consistent with the character of an individual with latent masochistic psychosexuality for masochistic delusions to intensify in time till preoccupation with extreme acts of self-mortification, as proof of messianic identity (rather than military glory and conquest), becomes dominant.
It should not be taken as incidental that a masochistic psychosexual constitution is exceptionally suited to the elaboration of the type of "delusions" (as a skeptic would hold) which led Jesus to Golgotha.
JohnThomas Didymus is the author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus"