The Brothers Karamazov: Part III

hans_holbein_body_of_dead_christ

The Body of the Dead Christ by Holbein the Younger

In part III of The Brothers Karamazov, our main character, Alyosha, is grieved by the death of his closest companion, Elder Zosima. Zosima not only died, but his corpse has begun to corrupt, which supposedly didn’t happen to Elder’s bodies and monk’s bodies. Alyosha is actually offended by all of this.

But it was justice, justice he thirsted for, not simply miracles! And now he who, according to his hope, was to have been exalted higher than anyone in the whole world, this very man, instead of receiving the glory that was due him, was suddenly thrown down and disgraced? Why? Who had decreed it? Who could have judged so? These were the questions that immediately tormented his inexperienced and virgin heart. He could not bear without bitterness of heart, that this most righteous of righteous men should be given over to such derisive and spiteful jeering from a crowd so frivolous and so far beneath him. (Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov)

This drew my mind to what Søren Kierkegaard says in his Training in Christianity about the offense we feel about the humiliation of God in the figure of Jesus Christ (on the cross, in the mocking and derision, in the incarnation itself).

The disciples who had believed in His divinity, and in this respect had surmounted the offense by holding fast to their faith, are now brought to a stand by lowliness, by the possibility of offense, which consists in the fact that the God-Man suffers exactly as if he were a mere man. (Søren Kierkegaard, Training in Christianity)

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