Author EUGENE ROSENSTOCK-HUESSY
Publisher PICKWICK PRESS
What a remarkable man and author. A German born in 1888 and who passed away in 1973. A lecturer in Germany, receiving several doctorates and emigrating in the 1930’s from Hitler’s Germany to the USA, he taught at Harvard among other places and his writings are numerous. This particular book he regarded as his magnum opus and he refused to allow it to be published in his lifetime. He was born into a non-practicing Jewish family and became a staunch and committed Christian in his later teens applying all his prodigious talents to writing from a Christian perspective on philosophy, social issues and language in particular. His total convincement concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man and Son of God and as the end (and beginning of all things) is so evident in this particular small book which his answer to the ‘quest for the historical Jesus’ idea which began to be a popular approach to the dissecting of the four gospels in the 19th century and has developed since. I would say that he is not for the fainthearted as his style is most unusual.
This book has a helpful introduction by its editor which helps the reader to begin to grasp what Eugene is endeavoring to impart. As I read it I was aware that it resembles a work of art, a kind of portrait. It is a whole and reflects its author’s determination to reveal the total inadequacy of those Biblical scholars who attempt to neatly dissect the four gospels into their sources, into ‘bits and pieces.’ Because Jesus is “The Word” He is both the first and the last. He is true poetry and therefore the inspired gospel writers will reflect the wholeness, unity, priority, beauty, perfection and poetry that is Christ Jesus the Lord and Him crucified and risen. As far as this author is concerned the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are a unitary whole. His main motif is that they are a ‘ring.’ We ought to say, THE ring. He is not thinking in terms of a cycle that is ever returning, but the one true ring that concerns Christ and His incarnation. Of Him and His coming the four gospel writers write each contributing the necessary revelation that makes for speaking of Jesus as the Everlasting Word. Not just ‘a’ word; but much, much more, ‘the’ Word. The gospels are not to be pulled to pieces in search of contradictions and inadequacies but read as one whole each leading from one to the other and back again. They are a dynamic unity. My reading of this book made me not only think of a portrait in words but that this portrait is the result of God’s revealing work granted to one of His greatly gifted servants as he lived through the crucible of the massive shifts in society taking place especially through the period of the 1st World War (in which he served on the Western Front) and into the era of Hitler and the 2nd World War. It needs to be read and re-read I would say.