Garry Wills: Jesus a ‘mystery,’ not a role model

What follows is an excerpt from Sally Quinn’s interview with Garry Wills, author of the new book, “Why Priests? A … Continued

What follows is an excerpt from Sally Quinn’s interview with Garry Wills, author of the new book, “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition.” Read an earlier excerpt here.

Quinn: “You know, one of the things that fascinated me was when you talk about ‘what would Jesus do’? And then you say, how can it be true that human beings are supposed to pattern themselves after Jesus’ life? And he offers no paradigm for married people or parents since he was celibate and childless.

“Was he a family values model when he left his parents without telling them, and went off for days while they searched in anguish for him? Or when he refused to admit his mother when she asked to come into his company, and refused to attend his father’s funeral? I mean, I’ve always … I really have a problem with Jesus not being nice to his mother. (Laughter)

Wills: “Yeah, he’s not a role model. He’s a mystery. He’s something, as Justin said, he seems to be living in a higher weather system and he is. Unless he is of this tremendous mystery, he’s not really joining us as other than us, as God. He’s not the same as we are, and he’s not simply a role model.

“The funny thing is, some fundamentalists now have adopted what used to be the old humanistic reading of Jesus. ‘Oh, he was just a nice human, and we should imitate that.’ He wasn’t just a nice human. He was a very odd mystery of God and man. He’s not a role model in that sense, though people tried to make him that.”

About

Sally Quinn Sally Quinn is the founding editor of OnFaith.
  • Drmj

    The New Testament, the story of Jesus, was written, rewritten, translated and retranslated . Most of the Apostles could not read or write. Word of mouth was the only way the message of Jesus was given. It was at least 60 years before anything was written down. Paul did write many of the books after the Four Gospels. He patterned the Christian Church after the Rules and regulations of the Hebrews way of worship. He never met Christ. The books of the Bible were cherry picked by Constitine. So who is to say “what was Jesus like?”

    Your ideas will be based on bias,& political expediency. The message Christ gave, if you believe the Bible, was “Love God and one another”. That kind of takes care of it, I believe. Oh by the way most of the other great religions say much the same.

  • TN-Christian

    The real mystery is why critics of Jesus Christ never read and seek to understand the Bible before criticizing Jesus. Jesus never was married but He commented a lot on married life (cf. Mat.19:1-9). His example of sacrificial love and understanding is certainly an example for both the married and the unmarried.

    Regarding Jesus leaving His parents without telling them, did you ever ask “why?” Read Luke 2:49-51. He was not being a rebellious child. They knew from the beginning that they were raising a child with a mission (Mat.1:32-33; Luke 1:32-33).

    And where in the record did Jesus ever refuse to admit His mother when she asked to come into His company? Perhaps you refer to Matthew 12:46-50. Matthew never says that Jesus refused to admit His mother into the group.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that Jesus refused to attend His father’s funeral. Please supply your readers with that information.

    You also implied that Jesus was not nice to His mother. I refer you to John 19:25-27. Here Jesus is in agony on the cross for my sins and He makes mention of Mary. He makes sure she will be cared for after His death. Surely this is an example of a son’s love for his mother? If that isn’t love, what is it?

  • kpharri

    “Jesus never was married…”

    Do we actually know that?

Read More Articles

shutterstock_188022491
Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pile_of_trash_2
Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_188545496
Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

5783999789_9d06e5d7df_b
The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

sunset-hair
From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

shutterstock_186686495
The End of Surveillance for New York Muslims — For Now

How American Muslims modeled the right response to systematic injustice.