Spring 2005

The Ages of the Life of Jesus: The Mystery of the Baptism in the Jordan

José Granados

“When it describes the ages of Jesus’ life and identifies the laws that shape his time, the theology of the mysteries unlocks the meaning, not only of Christian existence, but of history and of the world itself.”

The twentieth century saw great interest in the mysteries of the life of Jesus.1 Certain theologians gave Christology an original focus by structuring it around the mysteries. The idea was to begin with the history of Jesus, with his concrete life in the flesh, and to consider this life precisely insofar as it is salvific for man, which is to say, capable of leading him to communion with God. Consequently, the central focus was on the relation between the concrete human history of Jesus, on the one hand, and the eternal God who is beyond the flow of time, on the other.2

This Christology of the mysteries made it possible to respond to what had always been a major concern of modernity. Modernity, after all, considered itself to be the New Era, and so asked insistently about the meaning of history. Many questions having to do with the passage of time began to be posed from the eighteenth century on.3

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1. A. R. Batlogg’s study Die Mysterien des Lebens Jesu bei Karl Rahner. Zugang zum Christusglauben (Innsbruck, 2001) shows that the theology of the mysteries is one of the keys to Rahner’s work. Something similar could be shown in the case of Hans Urs von Balthasar. The theology of the mysteries was also the main focus of the collective work Mysterium Salutis. Other Christologies also followed this line, for example, C. Duquoc, Christologie. Essai dogmatique (Paris, 1968), 17–126.

2. Cf. A. Grillmeier, “Das Mysterium und die Mysterien Christi,” in Martyria, Leiturgia, Diakonia. Festschrift für H. Volk, ed. O. Semmelroth, K. Rahner, and R. Haubst (Mainz, 1968), 71–91.

3. Cf. R. Koselleck, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts (Stanford, 2002), 154–169.