Was Jesus fully human?

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Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)

While this verse can be read in terms of a pragmatic wisdom regarding worry-warts and unnecessary anxiety, I think a deeper reading can also be procured that  ultimately brings into the question Jesus’s humanity. Is it possible for a human to ignore the future and live entirely within the present moment? When a father looks at his daughter, can he only see the current instant irrespective of his wishes and desires regarding the future: to teach her how to drive or walk her down the aisle? From a Heideggerian perspective, we are always throwing ourselves into the world (so that the past “resonates” with our current interpretation of the world) and  simultaneously projecting possibilities into the future. We are thrown projection. It is this temporal horizon that gives human mental life the curious transcendental feature of being more than a series of instant nows being transposed through time as if human experience was like a simple train moving along the tracks. As Bergson points out, this form of temporality lacks “duration” and can not account for the continuity and interpenetration of past-present-future which makes up our phenomenal experience.

It seems then that if we take the above verse seriously, we can see how radical Christianity is on a fully realized phenomenological level. The ueber-Christian is not really human is the phenomenological sense understood by Heidegger as Dasein. Dasein projects hus possibilities into the future to the extent that when it looks at hus daughter, hu literally sees the future. Not quite in an abstract, theoretically sense – although this is a possible mode of cognition – but rather,  in the enactive sense of “now”-perception being expanded beyond the immediate given of sensory input. As with seeing a coin spinning around on the table, the capacity for memory creates a perceptual field transcendent to the instant-moment and in the same sense, future-memory creates a transcendence that moves forwards in time.

How then can we follow in the footsteps of Jesus by not giving a thought for the morrow? Our basic outlook on the world, on our friends and family, on the familiar environment we reside in, is steeped in terms of temporality, forwards and backwards. The horizon of human experience is not that of the idealized instant, living like a Zen monk in the perfect Now. We do not live in the Now. Our lives are spaced out; time is but a horizon into past happenings and future possibilities. Was Jesus fully human then? Our answer here must be negative.

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Filed under Philosophy, Theology

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